Making Traditional Saw Horses
Traditional saw horses like these were once commonplace but have disappeared from most joiner’s shops for different reasons. These work horses rely on four compound housing joints undergirded by direct bird’s-mouth seating atop the legs and two broad gussets that distribute stresses and arrest the possibility of leg-spread under weight. Here are my methods for making a pair I find suited in height, strength and weight. As I say, 2×4’s are good stock to build from. My sizes are finished out at 1 1/2” by 3 1/2” for the legs and 1 1/2” by 3 1/2” for the crossbeam. You can of course alter these sizes to almost any practical size you want and increase length and height by using longer pieces. You know your personal needs so build accordingly. 24” long legs will give a saw horse height of about 22 1/2”. I have made my saw horses 30” long. If I need something longer I simply add longer boards or 2×4’s on top and that works fine for most work.
Cutting list for two saw horses
8 @ 1 1/2” x 3 1/2” x 24”
2 @ 1 1/2” x 3 1/2” x 30”
4 @ 3/4” x 11 1/2” (long) x 11”
My first step was to plane the edges so that I had square-edged stock, which I like, looks best and gives square edges to mark recesses and shoulder lines from. I used a #4 Stanley smoothing plane for this and it takes only two minutes per edge. Not slow, not hard, not too much trouble. Result! Pristine handwork and clean, smooth wood alongside self satisfaction and fulfilling work.
Repeat for the other three legs.