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Sawhorse setup - beginner question

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Forum topic by ctychick posted 796 days ago 7527 views 0 times favorited 34 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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ctychick

8 posts in 860 days


796 days ago

I definitely need some kind of elevated work surface, but I’m a beginner and don’t want to go crazy with something fancy. I plan on buying a couple of sawhorses and a sheet of plywood, but I have a couple of questions…

1. Does the plywood get attached to the sawhorses in some way? It seems to me that the plywood could easily shift around while I work if it wasn’t locked down in some way. When I look at the sawhorses out there, I don’t see an easy way of adding a clamp, unless I’m missing something.

2. Is there a brand or type of sawhorse that I should look for? I want to go budget but reliable. HD is my only local big box store, so something that can be purchased there would be idea.

3. Should I be getting a basic sheet of plywood or are there certain specs (thickness, type, etc.)?

Thanks so much!


34 replies so far

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

2419 posts in 938 days


#1 posted 796 days ago

A sheet of plywood on sawhorses is a temporary solution at best. You have to start somewhere so build your own sawhorses there are a zillion plans you can find online for that. Here is one
Sawhorses are very useful and every wood worker should know how to build a pair. It would be quite easy to screw the plywood to the sawhorses for stability. 3/4” plywood is minimum thickness for a work bench, a double layer would be better.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Rex B's profile

Rex B

307 posts in 837 days


#2 posted 796 days ago

For the sawhorses, buy some brackets like this (or there are lots of other types out there) and use cheap wood to complete them. Or, to go even cheaper, google sawhorse plans and build some completely out of wood. Here is one example. Plus, this is a good beginner project to get some experience.

-- Rex

View SnowyRiver's profile

SnowyRiver

51451 posts in 2067 days


#3 posted 796 days ago

You could just build the sawhorses out of some scrap 2X4, lay the plywood on them and either put some screws in each corner into the sawhorses, or use a clamp to clamp each corner. Another way to do this that makes a good workbench is to put an old solid core door on a couple of saw horses. Its much thicker than plywood and wont sag. You can find old doors that are cheep at recycling centers like Habitat for Humaniity ReStores.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View madts's profile

madts

1222 posts in 926 days


#4 posted 796 days ago

You can make your own.
http://shoppingmatchmaker.com/sawhorse.html

If you have a problem just screw through the plywood into the horses.

-- Thor and Odin are still the greatest of Gods.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

3324 posts in 2547 days


#5 posted 796 days ago

You might even want to consider the folding sawhorses. I have two Sawhorse brand that have been great.
They re light and strong. Sure are easy to store. http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=12322183&cp=1259459
See the link.
Bll

-- bill@magraphics.us

View RussellAP's profile

RussellAP

2935 posts in 873 days


#6 posted 796 days ago

My primary work bench is a couple saw horses I made with the brackets sold in HD and a piece of 4×4 MDF. It’s as solid as anything I’ve worked on.
There isn’t a set of horses you can buy that would be good for a workbench though. You have to make it yourself.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View crank49's profile

crank49

3325 posts in 1557 days


#7 posted 796 days ago

I used those yellow, heavy guage folding steel saw horses from HD and a double thickness of 3/4” plywood for a top, before I built my bench.
In fact, I built my bench, upside down, right on top of those very saw horses.
Since they are steel, you have to attach a 2×4 across the top to avoid wrecking your saw blades when sawing on top of the saw horses; screw holes are provided for that.

I don’t think any of the plastic ones would be strong enough.
OR, as everyone else has suggested you could make your own; tons of plans available.

I made some custom ones of my own even though I still have the steel store bought ones.
You always need a portable place to work on outside projects. At least I do. YMMV

-- Michael :-{| “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” ― A H

View ChuckC's profile

ChuckC

679 posts in 1521 days


#8 posted 796 days ago

Saw horses are great but you are probably better off getting some 2×4 and making a simple frame with 2×4 legs and then put the same piece of ply on top of that. It would be stable and at a more appropriate height.
Good luck!

View FirehouseWoodworking's profile

FirehouseWoodworking

621 posts in 1860 days


#9 posted 796 days ago

I haven’t seen anyone else talk about them, so I’ll chime in.

I have four of the folding sheet metal sawhorses sold in hardware as well as the big box stores. I think they work great. They are light weight and fairly sturdy when set up.

I have had them for about 15 years now. They are covered in paint and lacquer and glue and still going strong. I take care when folding them up so the legs are not bent. A little care, like with any other tool, and they will last forever.

I screw a length of 2×6 to the top of each saw horse. When the 2×6 gets all cut up, I unscrew it, flip it over, and screw it back on.

If I need a work surface, I will lay a piece of 3/4” plywood or an old slab door. If it it light work, it’s an old hollow core door. If it needs to be more solid, I have an old solid core door.

Cheers!

-- Dave; Lansing, Kansas

View Loren's profile

Loren

7169 posts in 2234 days


#10 posted 796 days ago

Hollow core door works good for an assembly and layout
table. You cannot pound on it but the torsion box-like
construction makes them stay flatter than plywood.
MDF or melamine will stay flatter, but of coarse these
are very heavy sheets and if left outdoors the edges
get wet the thing swells and gets ruined eventually
as a work surface.

In terms of support you can get 2 of those yellow folding
steel sawhorses and tie them together with a couple
of straight 2×4s and lay your door on top of that.

I have both the steel and the folding plastic ones and
I think the plastic ones are easier to use. The steel
ones have individually adjustable legs. On uneven surfaces
the steel ones will twist when you put weight on them –
it’s not a bad thing and its a factor in the way they are
made that comes in handy sometimes, but be aware of it.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

1153 posts in 883 days


#11 posted 796 days ago

I think the folding steel horses are a bit shorter than the wooden kit ones (I may be incorrect). The wooden ones are a great height for a bench. I would run a 2X4 stringer on each end of the saw horse top to connect the two horses at the length you want. Put a couple of more 2X4s in the frame cross wise and put your top of choice on. You could even put some supports and a lower storage shelf on the whole affair.

View DKV's profile

DKV

3056 posts in 1090 days


#12 posted 796 days ago

Build your first workbench. You do not need an interim saw horse bench. Buy some 2×4s, a solid core door and find a free plan at fine woodworking or any of the other mags. If you want to woodwork then woodwork…
Don

-- 2014 will be a different year...at least for me it will.

View Viking's profile

Viking

857 posts in 1782 days


#13 posted 796 days ago

Once you have your sawhorses built you might want to check the Rockler sawhorse brackets to secure your top.

http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=25430

Good luck.

-- Rick Gustafson - Lost Creek Ranch - Colorado County, Texas

View PutnamEco's profile

PutnamEco

155 posts in 1873 days


#14 posted 796 days ago

I‘ll cast another vote for build them yourself.

A pair built like this shouldn’t cost more than $20 in 2×4s, put some 3/4“ exterior plywood over the top and you’re set.They can be made very quickly if 10 8’ 2×4s are cut in half and 2 of those halves are cut in half again and then assambled without the top surface extending past the legs.

If you insist on buying a pair, I will recommend Trojan Tools sawhorses as they are simple. strong, and versatile, being that you can make them up with any length or width of 2x material

Yes, I know this sawhorse looks rough,it’s the only one I have around that I can get a clear picture of, it has been sitting outside uncovered for many years and was thrown together in about 10 minutes, to hold a bunch of 12” x 12” x 12’ timbers off the ground and has been abused ever since. With a little time and effort these sawhorses can be made to both look and function well.

There are some simple to build folding ones around as well, If your interested.

-- “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt

View nwbusa's profile

nwbusa

1016 posts in 873 days


#15 posted 796 days ago

“Build your first workbench. You do not need an interim saw horse bench. Buy some 2×4s, a solid core door and find a free plan at fine woodworking or any of the other mags. If you want to woodwork then woodwork…
Don”

This is the kind of high-handed response that really irritates me. Who are you to say what the OP needs or doesn’t need? Giving an opinion is one thing, but to provide a smartass statement like “If you want to woodwork then woodwork…” is far from helpful, especially to a new member who may or may not have the skills, equipment, or desire to build their first workbench right this moment.

OP, I would suggest that you do indeed look into building your own sawhorses if that’s the route you want to go. Using a full sheet of 4×8 plywood might be a bit unwieldy. You might consider having a sheet cut down to 2×8 and doubling it up for added ridgidity. If eight feet is too long for your space, you could also cut it down lengthwsie to something more manageable (say five or six feet). The HD store should be able to do that for you.

-- John, BC, Canada

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