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The perfect sawhorse? These come close.

The perfect sawhorse? These come close

Sawhorse substitutes are easy to find--a knee, a table, a chair, or a stair--but that's all they are, substitutes. For sawing, painting, or any other job where you or your project must be elevated, nothing works quite as well as those old-fashioned four-legged beasts of burden.

The proportions of the ideal sawhorse are debatable and can be altered to fit your needs, but we made the two shown here about 2 feet high, 48 and 39 inches long. These sizes make best use of standardlength materials and create horses that are a good height for sawing lumber or letting you reach 8-foot ceilings.

The two types cost less than $10 a pair, and the hour or less it should take to build them will be made up many times over in time saved on future jobs. (For ready-made leg brackets and other sawhorse parts, see page 104.)

The two lightweight but surprisingly strong sawhorses at left require only 8 feet of 2-by-4 and 32 feet of 1-by-4. You simply cut the I-beam top rails to 4 feet long and the legs to 2 feet long. We joined them with 2 1/2-inch (8d) cement-coated nails, but screws and glue would make the joints more durable. The disadvantage to any nailed-together horse is that as it gets older, its joints loosen, making the legs weaker.

The horse shown at right requires angle-cutting the top rail, plywood gussets, legs, and crotch blocks. Because it uses heavier materials, gussets, and countersunk carriage bolts, it's stronger than the other design. If joints loosen, they can be tightened by turning the wing nuts.

For a pair, you'll need three 8-foot 2-by-4s, four carriage bolts with washers and wing nuts, and some plywood scraps. Cut the wood as shown in the drawing (a table saw is best for ripping the top rail, but other saws would work). Place legs flush against the rail, mark their position, then nail gussets to the legs. Slip the rail into the leg assemblies; turn the sawhorse over, position the crotch blocks (they won't touch the rail), then drill bolt holes all the way through with a 1/2-inch bit.

Photo: Surprisingly strong team of horses

Hardworking sawhorses easily support the 200-pounds-plus distributed along plank. Anatomy of this simple horse shows 2-foot-long 1-by-4 legs nailed to 4-foot-long 2-by-4 and 1-by-4s

Photo: Angled cuts and gussets give extra strength

Built to last, this horse has plywood gussets that add stiffness. Reared horse reveals tightening secret: crotch block wedge held with bolt and wing nut. Legs, gussets, crotch, blocks, top rail are angled 15|. Design: Jim Piazza, Menlo Park, California
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Date:Aug 1, 1984
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