A good pair of sawhorses is worth their weight in gold. No workshop, construction site, or DIYer should be without at least one pair of simple, stackable sawhorses.
Sawhorses make perfect supports for cutting lumber, plywood, or pretty much anything else. Add a plywood board between them and you’ve got an ideal makeshift workspace. Clamp a 2 x 6 in between and you’ve got a sturdy elevated platform to stand and work from.
Some folks have even taken to using them indoors for a rustic looking desk or table. Sanding and staining these sawhorses would work well if you had that in mind.
There are a hundred different ways to make sawhorses, but if you’ve got spare wood lying around, why not use it to make your sawhorses. In this case, I used a few spare 2 x 4s, as well as an extra 4 x 4 fence post.
These sawhorses are pretty basic and no-frills and require a minimal number of tools and materials. Also, they shouldn’t take more than a few hours to complete.
Despite that, I’d put them up against any other sawhorses out there!
Tools, Materials & Cut List
- Circular saw
- Hammer and chisel
- Tape measure, pencil, speed square
Materials & Cut List:
- 3 pieces of 8-foot 2 x 4 lumber (for legs)
- 1 piece of 7-foot 4 x 4 (for crossbeams)
- 2 ½” wood screws
- Wood glue
Building Simple Stackable Sawhorses
Step 1: Cutting the Legs and Crossbeams
The first step is cutting the legs and crossbeams to size.
Each crossbeam measures 42”, so if you have a 7-foot 4 x 4, start by cutting it in half.
Each leg measures 30”, so you’ll want to cut each 2 x 4 into three 30” sections for a total of 8 legs. This leaves you with one spare piece of 2 x 4 lumber. Cut them square to start off, and save the miter cuts for the next step.
Step 2: Cut Bevels into the Legs
The trickiest step is cutting the bevels into the legs. As the old adage goes – make sure to measure twice and cut once!
Each leg has a 20° bevel on cut into the top and bottom of the leg (on the same side). The upper portion is 20°, while the bottom is 20° from square. Take a look at the diagram below to see what I mean.
If you have a miter saw, you can use it for these angled cuts, but I just used a circular saw and carpenter square to guide the cuts.
The upper bevel is a little trickier to cut than the lower one. I staggered the legs, drew the 20° bevel line, and clamped the four legs together to make the cut. Then I used a circular saw to make the bevel cut. The saw doesn’t cut all the way through, so you have to flip it over to finish the cut.
The lower bevel cut is easier than the upper one. Simply clamp the legs flush together with the wider portion exposed, adjust the cutting angle to 20° on your circular saw, and cut straight through.
Now that your legs and crossbeams are all cut to size, you’ll need to cut out the dadoes that hold the legs in place.
Step 2: Cut Dadoes into the Crossbeams
Each crossbeam has four 3.5” wide dadoes cut 2.5” from the crossbeam end. The dados are cut 1” deep.
Set the circular saw cutting depth to 1”, and use a guide to make the first two precise cuts on either side of the dado. Then use the saw to make cuts every ¼” or so.
I used a hammer to knock the remaining wood left between the saw kerfs. Then I used a chisel to flatten and remove any excess material. You don’t need to be too precise here, just get it reasonably flat.
You can also use your saw to remove most of the material. Simply slide the blade side to side and watch the excess wood melt away.
Step 3: Attach the Legs to the Crossbeams
Next, line the upper portion of the legs with the top of the crossbeam. Four 2 ½ inch screws along with a bit of wood glue will create a rock-solid connection. You can also use nails here if you like.
Wait for the glue to dry, and you’ve got yourself a pair of rock-solid simple, stackable sawhorses.
The thing I like about these particular sawhorses is that they didn’t cost a dime! All the wood used was scrap wood I already had on hand, and the result is a durable pair of sawhorses that will last for years of heavy use.
If you were to buy the wood new, you’d still be able to build them for about $25 to $30.
If you don’t happen to have 4 x 4 wood on hand, you could easily replace it with two 2 x 4s nailed or screwed together.
One thing to consider when you’re making sawhorses is their height when completed. These sawhorses stand a little over 28” tall when assembled.
This is a good height for most average height (5’10 to 6’) males. If you’re significantly taller or shorter than average, you’ll want to adjust the leg length to suit your needs.
Also, if you use your sawhorses primarily as a workbench with a board attached to the top, then you’ll want to go a few inches taller. If you use them as a platform to stand on – like when your painting exterior windows or cleaning a house’s exterior – you’ll want to go even longer than that.
If you’re building sawhorses for the first time and you’re not sure exactly what height you’ll want, go a few inches longer than you think. It’s pretty straightforward to cut the legs a bit shorter later on, but making them taller will likely require you to cut all new legs.
If you’re looking for a pair of sawhorses to use right away, check out my post on the best adjustable sawhorses.