American Woodworker

Important Information >>


Knockdown Trestle Sawhorses


Knockdown Trestle Sawhorses

Simple design. Sturdy construction.

By Tom Caspar

Every shop needs a pair of trusty sawhorses. I like ones that are easy to build and easy to store away. These sawhorses definitely fit that bill, and nest together quite well, too.

This unique design is within reach of any woodworker and doesn’t require many tools to build. The wood is quite common—I used yellow poplar 1x4s from the local home center. You’ll need about 200 linear feet of 1x4s to make one pair of horses.


Building the horse

You’ll need a tablesaw, handsaw, drill and a number of clamps. A miter saw would be handy for cutting parts to length. Begin by cutting all the parts except A3 and B3—you’ll cut these to fit later on. Assemble the parts in the order shown in the drawings on the next page. The basic idea is to glue the pieces in layers (Photo 1), then rip both sides to make the edges perfectly even (Photo 2).

Here are a few notes to guide you along the way. In step 12, you’ll be gluing a foot so that it fits tightly around a leg. The best way to do this is to place a leg between the foot pieces during the glue-up. Clamp these three pieces to draw them close. To prevent the leg from becoming glued to the foot, place some shims under the leg, as shown in the drawing.

When you’re ready to assemble the frame in step 16, place the stretchers in position and measure the distance between them. Cut A3 to this length. You can glue all of these pieces together at once, but it’s easier to do it in two stages. Start with the middle stretcher, but leave the top stretcher in place—without glue—so the legs are spaced correctly. Draw all the pieces tight with clamps. For the second stage, glue on A3 and the top stretcher. After removing the clamps, cut part B3 to exact length.

To install the hanger bolts, first drill a 5/16" hole through each foot. Make sure the hole is plumb—it’s best to use a drill press. Clamp the foot onto the leg and continue drilling the hole with a cordless drill. Remove the foot and enlarge its hole with a 3/8" bit. Install the hanger bolt by jamming two nuts together on its threaded end; turn them with a wrench.

If you finish or paint your sawhorse, leave the feet on. You don’t want a film on the part of the leg that slides into the foot. That additional thickness would make the fit too tight—I know, it happened to me!

Cutting List

Fig. A: Exploded View

Leg Assembly

Top Stretcher Assembly

Mid Stretcher Assembly

Foot Assembly

Frame Assembly

Last piece

Click any image to view a larger version.

Easy to make. All the parts are just home center 1x4s glued together.

Removable feet. Unscrew the knobs to slide off the feet.

Stores flat. Hang the parts on a wall or put them on a shelf.

1. Use plenty of clamps to glue the pieces together. Place two clamps across the pieces to help align them. To prevent these clamps from sticking to the wood, place some small blocks, covered with masking tape, between the wood and the clamp.

2. Saw both sides of the glued-up parts. This is an easy way to make the edges perfectly even.


Note: Product availability and prices are subject to change.

Woodcraft,, 800-225-1153, T-style knob with 3/8"–16 insert, #142227.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker October/November, issue #156.

October/November, issue #156

Purchase this back issue.