Thoughts and updates from the shop

Shop Basics: Sawhorses

No matter what kind of work you do, you need some kind of platform or place to hold your work. One of the mainstays of woodworking work piece holders is the saw horse.

One thing I'm learning from working in Michelle's shop is how frequently she uses her saw horses: every hour of every day. She uses a simple, lightweight, elegant style of saw horse originally designed by James Krenov.


This style allows you to get very close to your work without bumping into clunky 2x4 legs. They can be positioned close together for small pieces by staggering the legs. This also allows them to stack together and store easily in a smaller footprint.

I decided I needed to make some for myself. I started by taking measurements of her horses because I pretty much wanted the exact same thing. (I'll put the dimensions at the end of this post for anyone who wants them.)

I had a couple of Beech boards leftover from a closet trim project that just happened to be the perfect size for four horses: two tall, and two short.

I wanted to practice my mortise and tenon joinery so I used through tenons on all the pieces. The mortices were first drilled out as much as possible with a 5/16" bit, then cleaned and squared with chisels.

I tried a tenoning jig on the table saw for the first set of tenons, but decided it was easier to cut the rest by hand with my dozuki saw.

I've only had them for a few months, but they're incredibly useful already. They allow me to work on both of the large mohagany doors I'm building at once, and I can even store one of the doors on the lower stretcher beams to keep my worktable and bench clear for other parts of the door work, like the panels and moulding.

I used the short saw horses to hold the panels while I stained them.

Cut list

From 4/4 lumber.

  • Top: 35 ½ x 1 ¾ (Qty 4)
  • Stretcher: 29 ¼ x 2 ¼ (Qty 4) (oversized by 2" for two 1" tenons, final dimension between legs = 27 ¼")
  • Foot: 16 x 1 ¾ (Qty 8)
  • Short leg: 16 x 2 ¼ (Qty 4) (+1" for tenon = 17")
  • Long leg: 27 ¼ x 2 ¼ (Qty 4) (+1" for tenon = 28 ¼")

All dimensions in inches