Flat-pack sawhorses

You’ll have to wait until Monday for the thrilling conclusion to my Wizards and Warriors series. Today on fun-for-Friday FAIC, some thoughts on sawhorses.

I made these light-duty sawhorses out of some scrap two-by-fours in 1997: (Click for a larger image.)


As you can see they have been well-used in the last eighteen years. These disassemble easily but they are quite heavy. Since they’re held together with screws in soft wood, the screw holes gradually expand and make the sawhorses prone to wobble and fall apart. It’s finally reached the point where they’re not worth repairing anymore.

I got to thinking about what characteristics I’d like replacement sawhorses to have. Light duty is fine; I’m typically going to be using them to hold boards to cut with a circular saw in the back yard. They don’t need to hold up heavy equipment. Easy disassembly is a high priority, as is easy storage. The existing sawhorses are awkward shapes when disassembled. And of course I wanted to make the new sawhorses out of stuff I had lying around my garage.

I found two fair sized sheets of thin plywood that were in “L” shapes — you know, the shape you get when you cut a rectangle out of a sheet of plywood. And I had the sides of a plywood computer desk I’d found in a giveaway pile by the university. The student housing around the University of Washington is a gold mine for free, low-quality sheet goods at the end of the spring term. This particular desk was better than most, being made of oak-faced plywood rather than particle board.

Last year I helped friends going to summer festivals to build a great deal of playatech furniture, and that got me thinking. The awesome thing about playatech furniture is that it packs flat, it requires no tools to assemble, and it can all be made out of cheap plywood. So I got out a jigsaw, hole saw and a router and built these in no time:


Elderly cat sold separately.

They are super lightweight, pack flat and have an abundance of places to clamp things — and if I need more places to clamp things, it’s just a hole saw away. If I need another one, I can use the existing ones along with a pattern-copying router bit to make a third in no time. And if I need more rigidity, I can clamp a couple of two-by-fours to the undersides to hold the two sawhorses together.

In the “great minds think alike” department, apparently I am not the first person to be inspired to make three-legged plywood sawhorses. The design linked to there takes this idea, buffs it way the heck up, and adds a lot of interesting accessories.

Perhaps the most satisfying thing so far about these is that the last job the old sawhorses did was to hold up the new ones while they were being routed out, and the first job the new sawhorses did was to hold the old ones while I disassembled them. A nice symmetry there.

UPDATE: A commenter asks for a photo of a disassembled sawhorse; easily done. Note that the bottom edges of the triangular support are beveled so that it sits flat on the ground when assembled.


7 thoughts on “Flat-pack sawhorses

  1. I will not likely make these, but I take pleasure in the idea that the support “A” looks like it could be cut from the rectangle we cut from the plywood to make the “L”s.

    • Since I made these out of scraps from other projects I had no need to try to optimize a layout that would get as many as possible cut out of one sheet of plywood. It seems likely that doing so would not be too difficult.

  2. You should put a pattern up on the web. Something where you take a 4×8 sheet of plywood, and cut a set of sawhorses out of it. Of course, being Canadian, you can confuse everyone by specifying Canadian plywood sizes (Canadian plywood comes 4 feet by 8 feet by some number of millimetres).
    I just noticed that the page you linked to does just that (a PDF download for a fee).

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