How to Use a Sawhorse


A sawhorse can be used for a lot of different things. As woodworkers, we primarily use them as a working surface and even sometimes to create a workbench or table. If you get creative, you might be able to come up with plenty of other ideas as well.

If you are going to use a sawhorse, you need to understand the safe and efficient ways to do so! This guide is all about how to use a sawhorse. We’ve got all of the instructions and basic tips that you might need right here.

What Do You Use a Sawhorse For?

For woodworkers, we generally use sawhorses to create a workspace or to stabilize materials while we cut them. These handy little tools give you a portable base that allows you to lay materials on top of them and then get work done.

When they are used properly, they are stable and steady so that you can work safely. Of course, this does require you to have some basic knowledge about how to properly use them.

Sawhorses act as a support mechanism. Think of them almost like table legs but with a bit more functionality and ability than a traditional table leg.

In most cases, your sawhorses will offer support near the ends of your materials. If you are working with really long materials, you may need a third sawhorse for support in the middle.

How to Properly Use a Sawhorse

sawhorse being used properly in a woodworking studio

In most cases, you will actually probably need to plan on having two sawhorses for your work. While this is not always the case, it is the most common scenario. If you buy sawhorses, you can often buy them in pairs.

If perhaps you are looking at sawhorses and it comes with only one, you should probably go ahead and buy two of them. They work much better this way.

Generally, you will need to be able to secure your table setup to the sawhorse. This is often done with clamps and boards but it can also be done with screws if your sawhorse will accommodate bolting down materials.

Once you have your sawhorses, you can set them up in just about any way that you need for them to work for you.

Follow these basic steps to use a sawhorse

  1. Determine how far apart your sawhorse stands will need to be to accommodate your work.
  2. Unfold each sawhorse and set them up at this allowable distance
  3. Make sure that your sawhorses are set up in such a way that they will be stable and not wobbly.
  4. Use the sawhorses to support your materials as needed for work.

Now, let’s cover quickly how you can support your materials. In a basic setup, you can use the sawhorses to just hold a material that you are cutting. In this case, you just need to secure the materials and then cut them in the center so the pieces fall inward towards the middle.

Creating a Table or Work Table Space

woodworking using a table for his workspace
Photo by Cleyder Duque from Pexels

One of the most common ways to use a sawhorse is to create a work table space with the sawhorses. You can do this by having a solid piece of wood to set up on the table.

Most woodworkers will just use a thick sheet of plywood for this but there are some different options out there. The best way to do this is to cut your wood to size. You can use an overly large piece but you will have more stability and it will be easier to manage if you use a piece a few inches longer than your distance of the sawhorses. You need a slight overhang on each end.

Follow these steps to create a work table or table space.

  1. Set up the sawhorses on a sturdy foundation that will be stable. Wobbly is not safe!
  2. Place your plywood on the sawhorses, making sure you have at least a couple of inches of overhang on each end.
  3. You can secure this down if you are able to bolt it but it is not required.

From here, you can clamp to that plywood if needed or even bolt into it. Most plywood will not sag so you should have a perfectly stable space to work with.

Using 2x4s to set a base

You can also use a pair of 2x4s on your sawhorses to create a base to work with. You can use the 2×4 boards to clamp on, bolt on, or even just create a raised table ledge.

When you use this, you will need your 2x4s to again be slightly longer than your sawhorse distance so that you have some overhang on each side past the sawhorses.

The 2×4 boards can hold a piece of plywood to create a table and the plywood can even be smaller since you have the other surface there. It just has to safely stabilize on your plywood.

If you create a dovetail groove on the 2×4 boards, you can easily move a dovetail clamp across them to secure anything you want. If you prefer, you can also work with bar clamps but you may not have quite as much versatility overall.

Or you don’t even have to create a table space. If you want to use this to be able to cut wood with your circular saw and hold it steady, you can do that too. In this scenario, you will place your wood cross wise and secure it to the holding place with clamps for safety purposes. Then you can cut.

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We hope this guide to using a sawhorse will be helpful for you and provide some basic insight as to how you can safely put your sawhorses to use. Just remember to always make sure you have a stable setup. If it is not stable, this could lead to potential safety concerns when you start making cuts.

Your sawhorse can do a lot of things and most of them are pretty simple with these basic tips.

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