Some sawhorses I’ve used were built bull-strong for house construction; others were so feebly put together that they quickly became kindling. The style I like most is based on a James Krenov type used for a mortise-and-tenon exercise 30 years ago at furniture-making school. Those horses were made of 4/4 hard maple with legs like an inverted-T and upper and lower crossbars that are through-tenoned, wedged, and glued. Variations on that style have become the mainstay in my shop.

Tom DeVries

This pair of sawhorses converts from crossbeam (right) to sling (left). The lower beams' tenons are wedged to lock them permanently in the uprights' mortises.

I wanted knock-down sawhorses for travel and storage, so I designed a set with cross bars attached with dowels and carriage bolts. I made these of spruce 2x4s and with upper cross pieces I can remove and replace with carpet-strip slings screwed to the uprights. For displaying a pair of lapstrake canoes, I made two pairs of “show horses.” I worked out a simple, break-down design with loose-wedged tusk-tenons for the lower cross piece and a sling made of soft, polyester three-strand rope attached through holes in the uprights with fancy stopper knots. These stands readily break down to two parts and lie flat for transportation or storage.

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