Sawhorse setup - beginner question

  • Advertise with us

« back to Focus on the Workspace forum

Forum topic by ctychick posted 05-08-2012 01:07 PM 18811 views 0 times favorited 34 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View ctychick's profile


8 posts in 2237 days

05-08-2012 01:07 PM

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


4682 posts in 2315 days

#1 posted 05-08-2012 01:20 PM

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

320 posts in 2214 days

#2 posted 05-08-2012 01:22 PM

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


51457 posts in 3444 days

#3 posted 05-08-2012 01:25 PM

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


1855 posts in 2303 days

#4 posted 05-08-2012 01:27 PM

You can make your own.

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

4901 posts in 3924 days

#5 posted 05-08-2012 02:40 PM

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.
See the link.


View RussellAP's profile


3103 posts in 2250 days

#6 posted 05-08-2012 02:43 PM

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


4030 posts in 2934 days

#7 posted 05-08-2012 03:20 PM

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

View ChuckC's profile


828 posts in 2898 days

#8 posted 05-08-2012 03:28 PM

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


705 posts in 3237 days

#9 posted 05-08-2012 04:54 PM

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.


-- Dave; Lansing, Kansas

View Loren's profile


10250 posts in 3611 days

#10 posted 05-08-2012 05:18 PM

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.

View dhazelton's profile


2754 posts in 2260 days

#11 posted 05-08-2012 05:53 PM

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


3940 posts in 2467 days

#12 posted 05-08-2012 06:14 PM

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…

-- This is a Troll Free zone.

View Viking's profile


880 posts in 3159 days

#13 posted 05-08-2012 06:23 PM

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

Good luck.

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

View PutnamEco's profile


155 posts in 3250 days

#14 posted 05-08-2012 06:33 PM

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


1021 posts in 2250 days

#15 posted 05-08-2012 07:19 PM

“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…

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

showing 1 through 15 of 34 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics