A Useful Sawhorse

As well as being a boater, I am also a cottager and both 'homes' have the benefit of solid or multi-fuel stoves. It is therefore not surprising that I possesss and regularly use a chain saw (not an undertaking to be taken lightly, I must add). British Waterways are regularly burdened with surplus wood, and the cost of it's disposal, from overgrowth and fallen trees. In certain parts of the country their staff shred the brash and transport away the giant stuff but tend to leave liftable-size limbs, often on the offside, for those among us who can use them for fuel. A BW burden thus becoming a boater's asset.

Although I had a go at building a suitable saw horse out of scraps squirrelled away at the cottage, I came across a much more professionally designed and built example on my travels which I have illustrated here with approximate dimensions. This page may therefore assist interested parties to construct their own version.

The device can be constructed almost entirely from 4" x 2" lumber (about 20' {6m} thereof) bought either 'as sawn' (AS) or, a little more expensively, 'planed all round' (PAR), possibly from a cut-side timber yard like Curtis' which lies just below lock 2 on the northern Stratford on Avon Canal.

When the pieces are cut to length don't forget to treat them with a preservative of some sort like creosote (as used to be available), particularly the end grain and most particularly the end grain of the 4 'legs' which meet the ground. I would probably go for Owatrol oil which I once purchased at the chandlery at Compton, below Wolverhampton, on the Staffs & Worcs.

The only other components needed are screws to attach the crosspieces to the 'legs', a brace on each pair of legs (see also below), and threaded rod with nuts (or coach bolts with nuts) at the hinge point.

Once erected for working, and with the removable leg braces attached, the 'V' formed by the two frames may be filled with two further full-width planks either of the same thickness or a little slimmer than the 4" x 2" employed for most of the construction. Since these will butt up against each other and may well get choked with sawdust it is wise to remove these after work if the saw horse is to be left assembled for any length of time in the open air as otherwise rainwater will be trapped in the 'V' and cause premature rotting.

Possible Improvements

Consider recessing the nuts/bolt heads on the outer frames below the surface of the 4" x 2" using a washer and boring a hole large enough to take a socket for bolt tightening. This could be of particular benefit on the side where the bow saw or chain saw will be used as slight inaccuracy in cutting could result in the blade/chain striking the bolt head and instantly going blunt. You'll see some attrition in the right hand leg in the photo above where I have allowed the chain blade to come into contact with the leg! I have come extremely close to the bolt head without (so far!) striking it

Penny washers over the threaded rod between the two frames may improve matters, particularly if AS timber is used with its resultant higher friction from the rough surfaces.

In the photographed example there are steel braces screwed to the inside of the outer frame and the outside of the inner frame. These are under compression when a log is positioned on the saw horse and steel does not perform well under compression. It is because the article is essentially over-engineered that this arrangement is workable on the example shown. Removable metal braces across the bottoms of the legs would be better as these would be under tension when the saw horse is loaded - a much better situation. Lengths of aluminium strip are available at DIY stores and are therefore easier to source than would be steel bracing.

Once the bracing is removed the saw horse can be folded flat (8" thick). Judicious siting of 4 rubber door stops would enable the folded device to be stored on a boat roof without rainwater being trapped against the wooden parts and avoiding any scratching of the paintwork.

As shown in the photograph, and indicated by a red line in the side view drawing, the top of the leg on the side where sawing takes place may be shortened from 30" to 25" or even a little less if this improves the handling of a chain saw.