Classic trestles for my brothers surfboards (saw horses)

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by mafe posted 05-12-2018 03:29 PM 3507 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Classic trestles
for my brothers surfboards

My dear brothers work trestles that he use for his for cleaning and preparing his kite surfboards, were worn out and he asked me at a dinner party, if I could make him some new, four to be precise, he had two before, but his son also started kite surfing.
He loved the old trestles, so he sad ‘I want them exactly like those’, but one of his friends at the table, offered him to deliver hardwood at a really fine price, he suggested Mahogany, so my brother said ok for that.

So this trestle story starts at a dinner table and then takes a few turns down the road, think this must be a trail and error story and that exactly, is a word that need to be bended at times. ;-D

Here it is, the favorite trestle, as you can see it has been used, so it was fair to make him some new.
(In fact the wood was really fine still, except from the part of the legs standing on the ground).

And here after it arrived in my workshop, many months later.
Lesson nr one, to make an appointment with my brother, is close to impossible. ;-D

So first step was to tear them apart, to understand how they were made and to be able to take measures and angles to transfer to the new wood, that his friend had provided.

Even the screws were quite fine, just surface rust.
(They will not be used again).

Next part was then just to cut up the wood his friend provided…
Lesson nr two, tell people to provide a little extra, there were exactly the wood needed, no room for mistakes.
Also the dimensions he had provided were not the same as the originals, so here I had to start the improvisation.
The wood is Sipo, you can learn more here:
It is quite easy to work with and don’t splinter too easy, time will tell how it hold up outside and with ‘wet’ feet.

Lets spend a moment looking at something calming.
Notice the trestle next to the plane, it is a old model from the Danish carpenter school in Copenhagen, I rescued it from the trash many years back, when they cleaned up at the schools storage.

Time to make a routing jig, just transfer angles from the originals and adding the copy ring size.
Yes you heard me right, I am going to use my most hated tool, the router.
(I hate noise and always found the router the most dangerous tool in the shop – finger eater).

Lesson nr three, check your angles… I have no idea what went wrong, but I had to make a new one, with the right angles. ;-D

Time to make a test routing. I use a piece of pine for testing, same dimensions.
Lesson nr four, when the wood provided is not the same size as original wood, check if same joints are possible…
The beam (don’t know the English word) was almost half the thickness, so after routing, there were less than a fourth of the beam left. This would make the construction too weak, so I had to settle without these double sided joints, hoping it will be strong enough…
In other words all my jigs and test routing was waste of time. ;-D

Time to do some real work.
Just cutting the legs on the miter saw, setting up stops. This is easy, since the angels both ends are the same, so all I needed was to remember to rotate and turn 180. Lesson no five, it is actually possible to remember, nothing went wrong, perfect cuts.

So beams and legs cut.

So back to the table saw cutting the first cut on the legs, for the lap joint.
This is simple, just a 3mm deep cut that runs parallel with the end of the leg.
Remember there are left and right legs – I did. :-)

My tenon jig was set up and the table saw blade adjusted to cut the lap.
Took a little fiffeling, but then the cuts took a spilt second.
Again there are left and rights, I turned the saw around for this round, as you can see on the blade.

Time for coffee.

A little finish were done.
Just what we call ‘breaking the edge’ in Denmark. This means you just take a wee pass or two, with the plane. This is to make a strong edge, that will not splinter.

But as you can see still looks sharp.

Also the ends.
Here a low angle block plane is a gem.

Marking up for screw positions on the legs.
I think Jim J will smile here.
Using a double marking gauge, one side for deepness and one for distance from sides.

Then a small hole with the awl.

On the beams I just need the distance from the side, so again I mark it with a marking gauge.

Waterproof wood glue on the laps.

Drilling with a countersink drill bit, just hit the marks.

Screw in the screws.

This time with rustproofed Phillips type.
I tried to screw them in, holding them a little to one side and then to the other side, when turning the beam, this so they would not run into each other and it actually worked.

Tadaaaaaaa a trestle, but we are not done yet…
Lesson nr six, don’t get too exited.

Now I could cut the braces, since I could take the new width measures.

Again mark up carefully for the screws, this will make a big difference visually at the end.
I choose to make the markings visual, so they will add a charm to the trestles later.

As with the legs, drill and screw.
I did it like this, so I did not need any clamping.

Now for the lower stretcher, I just lay it loose, at the center of the braces and mark the sides.
At this point it is possible to measure the gap between the stretcher and the brace on the back side, due to the fact the legs are in an angle.

This I transfer to the front side with a cutting gauge, just cutting a wee into the wood.

Gently sawing a slit, from the front marking to the top in the back.
(Wedge cut shaped if that’s more clear otherwise look three pictures down from here).

Like this.

With my favorite carpentry chisel, I now chisel out the wood.

Wedge shape cut out for the stretcher, to lay flat and secure a stabile joint.

Again marking up for the screws.

Drill and countersink bit.

Do you get it… ;-D

And finally screw in the screws.

My brother wanted ‘like the old once’, to have foam on top of the trestles, this to protect the boards.
I just bought some of these water pipe insulation types, that he had before.
But I was not happy with the look of them ‘opening up’ over the legs.
So I made a foam tube cutting jig… Just two wood pieces to hole the tube in place and then a long piece, in same with as the top beam, to use as a ruler to cut from.
Like this I could get 90 degree cuts down the sides and make the tubes fit the top beam perfectly.

Hope this makes it understandable.

Drilling holes for the mounting of the foam tubes, using a backing board, to avoid tear out.
My brother used Gaffa tape, I could not settle with that.
Lesson no seven, don’t do what your brother tells you, if it feels wrong. ;-D

And we got three holes!
I said ‘don’t get too exited MaFe!’...

Ok, we got a trestle with three fine holes.

So foam tube on top.

And I go for zip ties, since these will look more elegant than the Gaffa tape, yet easy to replace.

Now we really got trestles.

Leg details.

The trestle ready to go to my brothers place.
(Now I just need to wait a few weeks before an appointment will be possible…).

Actually now I write the blog, he has picked them up, he was so much more than happy.
When I told him how I had struggled to make them just as the old once, he replied ‘why’... Lesson nr nine, ask if you have doubt.
He oiled them back home and have used them now and can confirm they are just perfect and plenty strong, so I guess this must be a happy ending.
Lesson no ten, happy endings are often more happy when the path was a wee longer than expected. ;-D

Hope it can be to some inspiration, a lesson or at least a smile.

Best thoughts,


-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

11 comments so far

View lew's profile


13386 posts in 4919 days

#1 posted 05-12-2018 04:33 PM

Wonderful voyage of making your brother’s trestles, Mads!

I’m certain he will think of you and your hard work every time he uses them.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10963 posts in 5216 days

#2 posted 05-12-2018 04:47 PM

Very good saw horses… trestles…

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View mafe's profile


13204 posts in 4253 days

#3 posted 05-12-2018 04:52 PM
Perhaps it should have been a Mule, but I think the confusion would be the same.
Smiles, I can see there are some name confusion, I did not choose saw horses, since these are for supporting his surfboards.
I have added saw horses to the title now, so it should be clear and easy to find.

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1363 posts in 2877 days

#4 posted 05-12-2018 05:27 PM

Glad to see you back on the blog with yeat another long, cheerfull writeup full of cosy shoptime and love for tools. Great project and thank you for a joyfull read!

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View Combo Prof's profile

Combo Prof

4670 posts in 2441 days

#5 posted 05-12-2018 09:24 PM

It is true that in the U.S. we would call it a sawhorse, but I once spent several minutes trying to find the word in Spanish. It is caballete which translates to trestle. And if you are an american and look up the definition of trestle:

a framework consisting of a horizontal beam supported by two pairs of sloping legs

you would say Hey thats a sawhorse. Language can be funny.

Nice blog. I enjoyed reading it.

-- Don K, (Holland, Michigan)

View madts's profile


1957 posts in 3503 days

#6 posted 05-12-2018 09:55 PM

Mads my friend, that is some beautiful wood to use on some sawhorses/ donkeys/ mules/ trestles.
I love them.


-- Thor and Odin are still the greatest of Gods.

View icemanhank's profile


547 posts in 3320 days

#7 posted 05-13-2018 02:28 AM

You are a good man Mads.

-- "These are my principles. And if you don't like them, I have others." ... Cheers, David from Sydney Australia

View Rob Drown's profile

Rob Drown

837 posts in 4997 days

#8 posted 05-13-2018 08:03 PM

Beautiful wood and work. You honored your brother.

Trestle/Sawhorse English is a language made by taking words where every we find them and letting them help us communicate.

-- The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools. Confucius, 经过艰苦的努力的梦想可以成真

View mafe's profile


13204 posts in 4253 days

#9 posted 05-14-2018 07:29 PM

Hi there,
Thank you for all the kind words, I smile here in Copenhagen.
Laughed when I saw IKEA USA call them trestles.
Try Google also HERE.
Guess that’s the end of that story.
Just as with color or colour…
Rob, He was really happy and even happy to show them off (Perhaps even proud of his brother). Yes most languages are a mix of words form all over, English is manly taken from French, US English from England mixed with a lot of words and ways from all over the world.
icemanhank, so are you. ;-)
madts, since you are a boat man, I take that as a big compliment, my friend.
Combo, nothing less than wonderful, I’ll call them caballetes from now. Cool!
kaerlighedsbamsen, smiles here, yes I did not get enough shoptime with wood this year, mostly making hammock gear on a sewingmachine and I can hardly call it woodworking and post it here, even I have a wonderful time in the shop doing it. Thank you for opening your doors last time, so nice to see you and your wonderful house and workshop again (I struggle with the Underhill book, don’t really dig into that humor). Will see you soon.
Joe, thanks prrrhhhhhhhhh, yeeeehhhhayyy.
Lew, judging from his face I think you are right. Yes it did became a little travel, often it does in my life. ;-)
Smiles to all.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View Marcial's profile


209 posts in 1709 days

#10 posted 05-26-2018 12:40 AM

Zip ties are one of the handiest items around, I keep a good supply in varying colors and sizes. As for the trestles, whatever one chooses to call them, I’m sure your bro’ is happy. A gift, aesthetically pleasing and useful- doesn’t get any better.

View mafe's profile


13204 posts in 4253 days

#11 posted 06-11-2018 12:53 AM

Marcial, yes zip ties are magic at times, I also keep them in all sizes and colors. ;-)
Thank you for those kind words.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics