My friends don't think much about my plans to build a sawhorse. Maybe they remember their dads all bent over cutting boards with a handsaw. They probably think power tools have made the sawhorse obsolete. Maybe they think the plastic kind work fine. I say that a wood sawhorse may be one of the most valuable (and forgotten) shop accessories I will own. Here are a few reasons why.
Workbench vs Sawhorse: Which is Stronger?
Unlike the straight legs on a workbench, sawhorse legs tilt outwards from the top (splayed). Mechanical engineers know that this immediately adds strength to any kind of structure. Add to that a couple of side braces (gussets) and it becomes an indestructible frame that can effortlessly hold hundreds of pounds. A workbench, on the other hand, is more likely to wobble over time, and will need to have its joinery tightened up periodically.
Get Up Close to Your Project
My biggest complaint with most shop work tables is that one side of my project always seems to be unreachable. Using a sawhorse can solve this problem quite nicely. The open-frame design lets me easily move around a project during construction, and move in close to sections that would otherwise be hard to reach.
Using a Sawhorse as a Clamping Station
Seems like I'm always searching for someplace to clamp a board. I try to use the work tables in my shop, but sometimes my clamps don't fit over the edge of the table top very well, and I end up with lose, floppy boards. Now I'm convinced that the best place to clamp boards in on a sawhorse. The 2x6s and 2x4s that most sawhorses are built from make perfect surfaces for clamping. And 2x lumber is thin enough that I can get by using smaller clamps. That definitely saves me a few bucks at the home center.
Using a Sawhorse to Cut Large Panels
Cutting down large sheets of plywood can be a pain. If I'm not down on my hands and knees in the garage, then I'm precariously trying to balance a 4 x8 sheet on the edge of a table. If I can get a couple sawhorses built, I will instantly have one of the best panel cutting stations I've seen. Simply add a 1x4 board across the bottom of each sawhorse to serve as a support for the plywood sheet. Then position a sawhorse at each end of the panel and lift the plywood up onto the supports. Be sure to clamp both sides of the plywood to the sawhorses. You can then use a circular saw and a ripping guide to safely cut down a plywood panel into any size you need - without ever having to get down on the floor.
See Sawhorse Plans