How to Build a Sawhorse

Carpenter pushing wood into saw.
gilaxia / Getty Images

How to Build the Ultimate Wood Sawhorses

Saw Horse against white background.
The Spruce / Chris Baylor

While saw horses are typically something you'd think of finding on a job site, they can be especially useful in the workshop. A good set of sawhorses can be used as the base for a temporary table, to hold a portable table saw, to stack lumber, and more.

These stands are versatile, very sturdy, and quite easy to build. Once you have a set, you'll never run out of things you can do with them, even after you've completed building your perfect workshop.

Difficulty Level

  • Woodworking: Easy
  • Finishing: Painting if desired, but not necessary

Time to Complete

  • 30 minutes

Tools Required

  • Miter saw or Circular saw
  • Cordless drill or corded power drill
  • Layout square
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil

Materials Needed

  • Nine (9) 2x4 8-feet long
  • 2-1/2 or 3-inch deck screws

Build the I-Beams

3D rendering of cross section of wood blocks.
The Spruce / Chris Baylor

Cut a 2x4 into two pieces, one at 47-inches and the other piece at 49-inches. Repeat this step twice, so you have three of each size.

Next, assemble the I-Beam as shown above, starting with the three 49-inch boards. On the ends of two of the boards, mark a centerline across the short axis of each end, as shown by the top and bottom boards in the diagram. When those four marks are in place, mark a centerline down the long axis at each end of the third board, as shown by the centerboard in the diagram.

Using the screws, attach the top board to the centerboard. Place a few screws down the length of the top board and into the centerboard, making certain to keep the centerlines on both ends aligned. When the top board is attached to the centerboard, flip the assembly over and attach the bottom board in the same manner. When complete, you should have a long I-Beam.

Repeat the entire process with the 47-inch boards.

Connect the Legs to the I-Beam

3D rendering of saw horse leg with nails.
The Spruce / Chris Baylor

Using the uncut stock, cut 8 32-inch legs. You may be able to get three legs out of one 2x4 if the original stock is a little bit longer than 8-feet in length.

Set aside the 47-inch assembly for the time being, and we'll work with the 49-inch assembly. Lay the I-Beam on its side. Grab one of the legs and place the end just under the lip of the top board of the I-Beam.

Making sure that the side of the board is flush with the end of the I-Beam, attach the leg to the I-Beam using two screws into the centerboard and two into the bottom board of the I-beam, as shown in the image above.

Once one leg is done, repeat with the other leg on the same side of the I-Beam. Then, flip the entire assembly over and attach the legs to the other side of the I-Beam.

When all four legs are attached, stand the assembly on its legs and check for any wobble. The legs can be spread out slightly by hand if necessary for all legs to be on the floor evenly.

Once the 49-inch I-Beam assembly is completed, perform the same steps on the 47-inch I-Beam.

Attach the Side Stringers to the Sawhorse Legs

3D rendering of saw horse.
The Spruce / Chris Baylor

Cut two 49-inch pieces from two 2x4's. Save the cutoffs, as they'll be used in another step.

Using the tape measure, place a mark 10 inches up each of the four legs on their outsides. Square the mark using the layout square.

Attach one of the two cut pieces to the two legs on one side of the assembly, aligning them just on top of the square marks and with the ends of the boards flush with the sides of the legs. Repeat on the other side. Two screws at each connection will suffice.

Attach the End Stringers

Take a piece of 2x4 stock and place it over the ends of the two side stringers you attached in the last step. Using your pencil, scribe two lines onto the end board to match the outside ends of the side boards.

Cut the ends at the marks you scribed. Attach the end board to both the two legs and the ends of the side boards as shown.

Repeat on the opposite end, and this sawhorse is complete.

Build the Second Sawhorse

Now that the 49-inch sawhorse assembly is completed, we'll turn our attention to the 47-inch assembly. Since the 49-inch assembly will stack on top of the 47-inch unit, we'll need to construct this one a bit differently.

Make a mark 10-inches up each of the four legs, on the inside this time. Square the mark using the layout square.

Trim the two cutoffs you retained from the last side stringers to 47-inches in length. Attach them as shown in the image, paying attention to stay on the top of the pencil lines and with the ends of the boards flush with the sides of the legs.

Attach the Spreaders to the Second Sawhorse

To finish the second sawhorse, we'll use a similar technique to the one we used on the first sawhorse.

Cut the two boards to the lines, and attach them to the legs with two screws on each attachment point.

Stacking the Completed Sawhorses

Saw horses stacked on top of each other against white background.
The Spruce / Chris Baylor

The woodworking for these sawhorses is now complete. You may wish to paint them, but that is a matter of choice.

To stack the finished stands, the 49-inch unit simply sits on top of the 47-inch unit, as shown in the picture above. The two stacked units will easily fit into a corner of your shop until you need them.