Japanese Sawhorses

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Project by pendledad posted 09-24-2012 01:59 PM 14261 views 17 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My first real woodworking project. I needed a pair of sawhorses that I can use around the shop, but I wanted to build something that would give me some practice in joinery and hand tool skills. I saw NikBrown’s post here ... and decided to give it a shot.

I made tons of mistakes on the first horse, and a lot less on the second. But I did something which Jay van Arsdale suggested in the article ... build one sawhorse first in case of mistakes. The first horse took me about 6 nights in the shop working after the kids and wife went to sleep. The second horse took only about 2 nights. I am amazed at how quickly you can pick up on things.

I tried to do everything by hand. I used the bit brace to hog out as much of the mortises as I could. My ryoba made all the cuts. Where I cheated was on the drawbore tenon holes in the feet/legs. I used my drill press so I can get the accuracy they required.

I finished with some Tung oil … I’m not familiar with finishes at all, but this stuff smells horrific. They look pretty nice and are quite strong.

Thanks for looking.

16 comments so far

View waho6o9's profile


9194 posts in 4034 days

#1 posted 09-24-2012 03:40 PM

Nice benches!

View Von's profile


238 posts in 3671 days

#2 posted 09-24-2012 05:08 PM

it’s amazing what you can get done while everyone else is “sawwing” logs. my best work is done well after the midnight hour as well

View BarbS's profile


2434 posts in 5543 days

#3 posted 09-24-2012 05:16 PM

Sawhorses were my very first project, too. Great learning experience! Looks like you made a lifetime’s worth of Sturdy there. One suggestion: often people put a slim pad on the outer edges of flat base feet like that, as that makes it simpler to find a level standing on a shop floor. If yours sit flat and don’t rock, you’ve done an amazing job!

Oh, and Welcome to JLs!


View StephenSchaad's profile


201 posts in 3636 days

#4 posted 09-24-2012 05:26 PM

Fancy saw horses! If you saw mine you’d laugh for days.. haha Nice work!

View whitebeast88's profile


4128 posts in 3648 days

#5 posted 09-24-2012 10:17 PM

nice saw horses.welcome to lumberjocks.

-- Marty.Athens,AL

View sawsister's profile


11 posts in 3528 days

#6 posted 09-24-2012 10:31 PM

Well crafted saw horses.

View dobiewon's profile


15 posts in 3545 days

#7 posted 09-25-2012 12:15 AM

Congratulations, and welcome to the hobby.

-- dobiewon

View JohnnyB's profile


106 posts in 3847 days

#8 posted 09-25-2012 04:47 AM

Elegant saw horses. I made a similar pair from dimension construction lumber joined with screws. Nowhere near as nice as yours, but they have served me for almost 30 years. And I seldom trip over the saw horse feet any more!

-- JohnnyB - - Sometimes determination can substitute for skill.

View madts's profile


1961 posts in 3797 days

#9 posted 09-25-2012 07:25 AM

Very nice ponies

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

View CharlieBhoy's profile


13 posts in 3534 days

#10 posted 09-25-2012 11:50 AM

Nice result.

I’m with you on the smell of tung oil. I tend to thin it down with white spirit and apply a few extra coats. When the white spirit evaporates it leaves less of a smell.

If you applied it ‘pure’ it might be a few good months before the smell dies down but on the brightside, the more I work with it the less the smell bothers me so you might like it eventually :-)

-- Charlie

View Cygnwulf's profile


30 posts in 3581 days

#11 posted 09-25-2012 01:49 PM

Tung oil is a fantastic finish once it finally gets dry. Be prepared to wait what seems like ‘forever’ if you used pure tung oil, slightly less than forever if you used the polymerized version. but once it is dried it is an amazingly durable finish.

-- Stephen H -- If it ain't broke, it probalby still needs fixing....

View Rob's profile


12 posts in 3534 days

#12 posted 09-26-2012 10:39 PM

very cool – good work!

View hjt's profile


906 posts in 4596 days

#13 posted 10-09-2012 03:31 AM

My wife would love this project. She wants me to practice with hand tools.

-- Harold

View Robb's profile


660 posts in 5391 days

#14 posted 10-26-2012 04:28 PM

I’m surprised that people find the smell of tung oil offensive. The stuff I’ve used has a pleasant nutty smell to it. I’d much rather smell it than the fumes from poly, or even the smell of boiled linseed oil. I finished several cutting boards in our dining room with it, and no one complained about the smell. I agree with Cygnwulf; it’s a great finish. All natural, waterproof, non-toxic. The only downside is for people with nut allergies. I wonder if there are different varieties that smell more/less/better worse?

On topic: Those are some sturdy-looking sawhorses. I like the non “A-frame” approach to them.

-- Robb

View pendledad's profile


190 posts in 3547 days

#15 posted 10-26-2012 04:46 PM

Robb, I think the tung oil that I have is actually the stuff they use for flooring. My wife found it on sale somewhere and just bought some for me. I didn’t even think twice about the “purpose” it was designed for … I just followed the directions and slapped it on.

My guess is it wasn’t pure tung oil .. and it has some other “stuff” with it.

I’ll probably try some other things like linseed oil and wax on my next non-painted project.

With a 4×6 sheet of plywood on top of these horses, I have a strong giant work surface. You can see it in one of my pictures from the radiator covers

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