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Low sawhorses seem counterintuitive as a work surface, given that they’re shorter than most work- benches, but you won’t believe how much you’ll use these to raise your projects above clutter on your workbench, or on the floor for projects too tall for your bench, like cabinetry. Build two of these at a time, then rest a plank or piece of plywood on top for a convenient work platform. If you build these out of construction lumber or 5/4 stock instead of the 1" pine that we use, they’ll easily be strong enough to stand on. If you make the lower shelf out of 1⁄2" plywood, you can shave some weight without sacrificing strength.
Plans and Materials
- Parts A, B, E, F are cut from 1x4 pine. The actual dimensions of this stock are 3⁄4 inch thick by 3 1⁄2 inches wide.
- Parts C and D are cut from 1x12 pine. The actual dimensions of this stock are 3⁄4 inch thick by 11 1/8 inches wide.
- Use #6 x 1-1/4-inch wood screws to connect Parts F and C. Use #8 x 2-inch wood screws everywhere else.
Cut the Sides
Start by crosscutting the sides using a circular saw and a 40-tooth ATBR combination blade. Choose whichever end will become the top and mark its center. Then measure and mark 1 3⁄4" out from the center and make a mark on the left and right. On each side of the panel, measure 11 1⁄2" up from the bottom, and draw diagonal lines from there to the marks at the top. This produces a cut line with a pleasing slope and space for the horizontal 1x4 T-brace at the top. Make your measurements carefully, particularly if you are building two sawhorses. You'll want them to be the same height so you have a stable work surface.
Now mark the triangular cutout at the bottom. Measure in 3" from each edge and draw a 45-degree line toward the panel center. Cut along the sloping lines with a jigsaw to the point where they intersect .
Attach the Cleats
Lay a cleat against each side of the sawhorse and use it to mark the reference line for the cleat's position .
Screw the cleat to the sides, crosscut the shelf to length, and clamp the sides of the shelf . Screw the shelf to the cleats with 1 1⁄4" screws.
Crosscut the shelf support to make a snug fit between the cleats. Drill pilot holes through the sides and into the support's end grain. Drive screws through the sides and into the shelf support. Next, crosscut the top so that it is flush to the outside face of the two sides.
Clamp it in place, drill its pilot holes and then screw it to the sides using 1 1⁄2" screws. Crosscut the top support to make a snug fit between the two sides, drill pilot holes through the sides and into the support's end grain and drive screws to fasten the support .
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Roy Berendsohn has worked for more than 25 years at Popular Mechanics, where he has written on carpentry, masonry, painting, plumbing, electrical, woodworking, blacksmithing, welding, lawn care, chainsaw use, and outdoor power equipment. When he’s not working on his own house, he volunteers with Sovereign Grace Church doing home repair for families in rural, suburban and urban locations throughout central and southern New Jersey.