Design Lab: Sawhorse #2

Building sawhorse #2 Sawhorse #2 (of two) is finished.  This is an in-process shot, as the camera died just as I was finishing the crossbars.  But that measuring tape is measuring 22″ down from the top of one leg, for those crossbars to go for stabilizing the horse.

The finished sawhorse, of course, is the same reddish color as the one shown here, and its’ a rough copy of this earlier construction, in white. The druid in me is tickled… ahem… pink at the idea that we have two sawhorses, one reddish and one white-ish, for the new design lab — they’re thus oddly reminiscent of the two streams of energy, the red and the white, commonly known in druidic revival writings.

Now… I’m not very fast.  It took me an hour to make the first one. And the second was maybe 40 minutes.  A professional carpenter, allegedly, can knock out two of these in 40 minutes, and I only got one in that amount of time.

But I’m not a professional. I’m a tinkerer. A carpenter by necessity, not by training or avocation.  And, if I were to make another pair (say, for a basement workshop at home), I would buy four twelve-foot long 2x4s, and two ten-foot long 2x4s, and then I would cut all the parts for both sawhorses in one fell swoop with the circular saw.

Lunch hour sawhorse And it would be easy:

  • six 36″ long bars to make the I-bar at  the top of each sawhorse, three for each sawhorse.
  • eight 34″ long bits for the four legs.
  • four 33″ pieces for the long support bars on the legs
  • four 21″ pieces for the short support bars on the V of the legs.

Add in a box of 3″ screws, and you’re good to go. A circular saw or a hand saw will cut the wood; a power drill with some drill bits and screwdriver attachments (or a pneumatic nail gun) will take care of the assembly. A Remember to pre-drill your screw holes, so the wood doesn’t split.  A tape measure to measure the lengths, and a speed square to keep things trued up and aligned (if you care about the final quality — otherwise just do it).

And remember that it’s a sawhorse.  A little bit of a rocking from leg to leg when you’re done might be easy to take care of with a bit of sanding; but it’s just as likely that you’re going to shim it with a piece of cardboard or two.  You can do it easily with these basic steps:

  1. Assemble the I-beam first
  2. Attach the legs at an angle to the I-beam, one board width in from the end of the I-beam
  3. Attach the long bars to the legs
  4. Attach the short bars to the legs and long bars.

And that’s it

But consider.  This blog post isn’t on a professional or amateur woodworking website (although the original design for the sawhorse came from one). It’s just me, figuring out how to equip a design lab or makerspace with the proper equipment to manage the kinds of projects I want to do, and the kinds of programs that I think would benefit my school, its students, and its parents and community.

And yet, if you’re a Maker, this blog post includes everything that you need to know to build this sawhorse and another one like it: the wood dimensions, the fasteners, the tools, the assembly process.  But it’s not the same thing as making the sawhorse. You learn more from the making — about geometry, about measurement, about carpentry, about tool use — than you do from the reading of the making.  Reading the  instructions for the making of the object is less than a quarter of the effort; it’s knowledge about rather than knowing how.  The knowing how is done rather differently.

Curiously enough, making two sawhorses feels like enough to fix this plan in my bones and muscle.  The same with the tables: making four of them was enough to fix it in my mind as a clear shape in three dimensions, that I can produce over and over again.  How extraordinary that is: that what I made with my hands, I have completely constructed in my mind.

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