Sawhorses: Episode 1


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In this first episode, Paul covers the stock used and gets going with the layout using a board to get the correct angles for the leg recess. Once the recesses are cut, Paul shows the method for laying out the compound angle using a scribe cut to get the correct splay, before cutting and fitting the joint. Then they can be glued and screwed into position.

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  1. SharpPencil on 21 September 2016 at 4:38 pm

    Paul if you turned up as a new subby on site, making these, you would have half the site stop to watch you…..superb

    Thank you John 2V

  2. tenbears on 21 September 2016 at 5:42 pm

    Why a nine inch block. I’m sure there is a reason for the included angle and the resulting splay of the legs. Could you share that with us.

  3. southofnonorth on 21 September 2016 at 6:42 pm

    I was a little dubious about sawhorses – I needn’t have worried! Loads of great info!

  4. maximus on 21 September 2016 at 9:14 pm

    At the ripe old age of 49, I’ve decided to give this woodworking malarkey a crack to see what I can come up with. How refreshing is it to watch tutorials were the need for safety glasses, gloves, ear defenders and respirators are not needed? Watching Paul work is almost hypnotic as well as fantastically knowledgeable which can’t help but to give you that quiet confidence that is so often missed out by others who are in the same line of business.

    • bryandmack on 23 September 2016 at 9:14 am

      Great post. I have sold most all my power tools since being one of Paul’s “apprentices”.

  5. Josh S on 21 September 2016 at 9:54 pm

    i first attempted this from Paul’s blog a while ago and gave up because I couldn’t get the compound angles right! This makes it look like I can have a go much easier!

  6. Joseph Palas on 22 September 2016 at 12:58 am

    That a vacuum that kicks on at 12:20 and persists until 14:07? Cleanliness is next to Godliness!

  7. BrianJ on 22 September 2016 at 1:28 am

    Love it. thank you for taking the time and effort to make this project come to life. I really appreciate your teaching style.

  8. ballinger on 24 September 2016 at 12:37 pm

    Definitely building a pair of these!

  9. nbcguy on 5 October 2016 at 11:01 pm

    Finished a pair of these this afternoon using 2x6x36″ for the beam and 2×4’s for the legs. Funny how even a seemingly simple project can teach something new (the layout process) and be enjoyable all the while. Thanks to Paul and the rest of the team!

  10. jeffdustin on 23 April 2017 at 4:13 am

    Any ideas on how to use drawboring instead of screws? I like the wood on wood look and using local materials when I can?

  11. sidorenko91 on 27 April 2017 at 9:04 pm

    Best sawhorse design hands down. Thank you thank you

  12. Justin Spaeth on 5 July 2017 at 6:04 pm

    Thanks for this video series Paul. My students will be building the workbench and needed some saw horses to help them out. With a bit of work, I should have 12 of these ready to go for the school year!

    • Philip Adams on 7 July 2017 at 2:08 pm

      Great work, and all the best with that!

      • Justin Spaeth on 11 July 2017 at 3:12 am

        That Compound seat cut is turning out to be a tough one. After some practice I have made a couple of “Master” legs that seat well and have crisp lines. Great practice in taking it slow and correcting small mistakes right away in the cut. 39 more legs to go!

        • ballinger on 29 August 2017 at 9:57 pm

          Rote repetition is awesome, how did it go in the end? Did you get your 12 together?

  13. Harvey Kimsey on 21 July 2017 at 11:44 pm

    Just made short sawhorses out of yellow pine I found on the street. I wanted something closer to sawing bench height. Excellent practice at laying out compound lap joint and sawing to the line. I cut the gussets from plywood, which I think is very strong.

  14. Paul Whoknows on 15 September 2017 at 7:02 pm

    Thank you, I always wanted to make a mini-portable bench (vise included) with the structure of a sawhorse like this, but the compound angle joint was too intimidating for me, now is no longer, thanks again 🙂

  15. Ecky H on 15 September 2017 at 10:27 pm

    Not only inspiring woodworking, but also great explanations. Thanks a lot!

    There’s one question left for me: How to chose the reasonable height of the saw horse?
    These ones are higher than a usual saw bench – so I have no idea, which body measurement has to be used which rule of thumb…

    And my favourite quote is at 28:24: “If all else fails, use a big hammer.”

    • Colin Wells on 16 September 2017 at 3:22 am

      My amateur guess would be:
      It’s the height that when you put a knee on the work, on top of the sawhorse you are comfortable and flat footed on your other leg.
      Maybe optimize for 2 inches for most lumber, and then you can easily still cut plywood.

  16. Tony Lenge on 16 September 2017 at 1:57 pm

    What type of glue does Paul use? It looks like ordinary white glue?

    • Philip Adams on 18 September 2017 at 4:04 pm

      Hello Tony,
      Paul uses PVA wood glue:

      • Noel Rodrigue on 27 August 2018 at 7:53 pm

        Philip, I haven’t seen notes to that effect here, but there are a few places where Paul’s comments come out muffled; probably the mike’s placement or it’s pointing inwards. I’m only leaving the note here because this is such a rare occurrence & I thought you needed the feedback.
        The video is really nice, thanks.

        • Philip Adams on 28 August 2018 at 2:28 pm

          Hello Noel. Thank you for the comment. We are constantly at work to improve the audio, so hopefully the new content has been clearer for you.

  17. Craig Gamble on 29 September 2017 at 3:40 pm

    Started to make a couple, thanks Paul for the videos great stuff.

  18. Ken J on 10 November 2017 at 3:19 am

    Walking around a very big Lowes store in the USA, with a very big lumber section, I saw no lumber that fitted the cross beam size (1 3/4″ x 3 3/4″), but the studs here are all 1 1/2″ so they will work for the legs.

    Even laminating 2 studs together will only get to 3″, but then it will almost be a square and not really the right shape

    Making the cross beam out of a stud seems like it will be too narrow

    So I’m wondering where people are getting their crossbeam material from?

  19. Jeremy Thornton on 28 November 2017 at 11:22 am

    It’s not clear to me how you created the 90 degree angle at around the 2 minute mark. If I had a pair of compasses, I understand that I could draw an arc at 3 units up from the base mark and another 5 units from the second mark and where they intersected would be the tip of a right angled triangle, but with a ruler, we’re just guessing, right?

    • Philip Adams on 29 November 2017 at 3:16 pm

      Hello Jeremy,
      Here is the process using 3, 4, & 5 rather than the 3×6, 3×6 and 5×6 that Paul used. Does that clarify anything?

      The same process as doing it with the pair of compasses I guess.

      • Jeremy Thornton on 1 December 2017 at 10:20 am

        Nope, I still don’t get it.
        I understand that we’re using pythagorean triples (multiples of 3, 4, 5) to specify a right angled triangle and using the right angle to produce a 90 degree straight line from some point A.
        Where I’m having difficulty is that if you are using a ruler, you mark a point on a straight edge (point A), then mark 3 units in (point C) – but that point isn’t necessarily on the 90 degree line that you are aiming for (if it was there’d be no need to proceed).
        You then mark the other end of the right angled triangle (point B) 4 units along the straight edge and use this to measure 5 units back towards point C. My issues is that if C isn’t on the 90 degree line to start with, it’s not going to be exactly 5 units from B.
        If we were using a compass, C would be the intersection of the arcs, exactly 3 units from A and 5 units from B which would give us a right angled triangle (and therefore our 90 degree line from A), but I just don’t get how it’s in any way precise with a ruler.

        Think I’m missing a key point…

        • Jeremy Thornton on 1 December 2017 at 12:02 pm

          Oh, now I get it. Just re-watched and Paul is using a horizontal line to approximate a compass arc, then measuring the hypotenuse line to the point where it intersects. Seems like it would be clumsy for close work, but reasonable accuracy at the scale of this project.

          • Philip Adams on 1 December 2017 at 3:44 pm

            Great. Certainly works better on a larger scale. My example was probably too small to be very accurate.

          • Hugo Baillargeon on 23 March 2018 at 12:43 am

            I wasn’t able either to understand how the “sinus side” Could already be at 90 degrees without translating to reach the 30 inches mark… Probably to slow to understand.

        • Greg Wold on 24 October 2022 at 8:13 pm

          Paul addresses this at the 1:37ish mark: “Ignore this line, because it came after this.” So what you’re seeing in the video is Paul re-creating the vertical, perpendicular line using the same process he’d already completed before the video started. You might see, as he (re-)marks that 18″ point up the line, that there’s already a mark there?

          So, ignore the existing line, pretending the board’s bare. Make the marks Paul shows you, then let that line re-appear as he strikes a line down his “straight-edge”.

  20. Edwin Walters on 19 March 2018 at 4:55 pm

    so far this project (my first here on site) has revealed just how much work my hand sawing technique needs!
    it seems following a line may be a bit trickier than Paul makes it looks.
    on the bright side – I get 8 legs to practice on.

  21. ted clawton on 17 October 2018 at 5:38 am

    Hi, it appears Paul uses a 2×6 for the crossbeam, but the plans call for a 2×4 … I guess it’s just a matter of preference whether one uses a 2×6 or 2×4 for the crossbeam, right? Thanks.

    • Philip Adams on 17 October 2018 at 3:26 pm

      Hi Ted. Just checked add the legs are 2×3’s and the crossbeam is a 2×4 as in the cut list. Perhaps it was the relative width that was misleading. You certainly can use a 2×6 if you wish.

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