I was only back in April [see Sawhorse Solution] that I last re-built a new style of saw horse for my workshop! Unfortunately, I never really got along with that idea. It has potential but, it was let down by the cheap Tee-hinges and needed to have timber bracing fixed directly underneath, or else the whole thing could lean to one of three-sides while you’re working – I learned this while trying to rip down some 12mm MDF sheets, the other week, for my display plinths at the Furnish exhibition!
So, I’ve left my pile of books on the shelf and, this time, I’ve devised my own solution…
Look around the internet and you’ll find plans for building folding saw horses to someone else’s design. Some are free; some are not. Most seem to be made of plywood, which doesn’t really suit me or my setup. So, on Tuesday morning, I bought a load of spruce from Staddons and began working on my own folding design later that afternoon. Actually, they no longer seem to stock 1½in spruce so, I had to buy 4x2in and had them rip it down. Sure, I could’ve just used the 4x2in but, I wanted to keep the overall profile of these things down as much as possible, for ease of storage and for safety’s sake. I then stuck it through the planer to finish at 32mm thick. It still only cost about £15, in all.
Next, I squared off one end of each leg and bevelled the other at 15°, as I cut them to length.
At the other end, I decided I would join the legs to the rails with bridle joints, which aren’t the easiest of joints to cut, even with an array of machinery. Last time, I used a simple lap or halving joint but, much to my surprise one day, I went to pick the trestle up and one of the legs fell off, even though they were dowelled on for reinforcement! I decided I would rip the cheeks of both halves of each joint on the bandsaw. To remove the waste from the centre of the female portion of each joint, I used a ½in chisel in my mortiser, cutting from both sides – a tip I picked up from one of Steve Maskery’s previous article in British Woodworking. 😉
On the male parts,I first made the shoulder cuts of each tenon on the sliding mitre saw and then ripped the cheeks on the bandsaw.
The end result is a series of tight-fitting joints. Although, I still dowelled them again for added reinforcement, they’re unlikely to ‘fall apart‘, even under stress.
With a limited supply of cramps, I was only able to the frames up in pairs. Still, at least Titebond II allows you to remove the cramps again in less than one hour! 😎
Each frame was then belt-sanded to get all the joints flush and I could then look at fitting the 50mm backflap hinges which, to be perfectly honest, I’d had ‘in stock‘ for about five-years! Just goes to show you how long I’ve had this idea at the back of my mind… 😉
Each hinge is set so that the barrel is 6mm lower than the top edge, which should ensure I don’t cut through them and damage any blades or cutters! For this, I also cut a 12mm recess, 2mm deep for the overhang of the barrel, using my router. These hinges are simply screwed in place and not recessed. Otherwise, I feared the two rails would bind as you try to open each pair of frames… Truth is that, in spite of this approach, they were still binding at least than 10° – a 12mm wide chamfer cut again using the router was the answer, here.
You can’t really see them in this next photo but, I’ve added a pair of 18mm plywood brackets to each frame, which ‘lock‘ each frame with the legs splayed at 15°, so that they cannot move or flap-about while you’re working on them. They’re fixed in place with a 2in-long round-head screw and one washer either side of the ply, so it can pivot. This then locates over a 13mm dowel. What I’m actually doing next, though, is planing flat the top edges, which would otherwise be two peaks, which could potentially damage or mark my work… Also, a flat surface makes it easier to attach a sacrificial strip of 18mm MDF (which, I must admit, I haven’t yet managed to do…).
This is probably the third time that I’ve used my Metabo HO882 planer, in the four-or-five years that I’ve owned it. Like most Metabo tools, it’s built to last and performs very well. I do occasionally think of getting rid of it though, as it is 110v [it was cheaper at the time… :roll:] – I would rather have a 23ov planer so I could plug it directly in to the automatic power tool take-off socket in my extractor. When you’re working away and fitting a door for someone, it doesn’t take long for those cloth bags to fill up! Also, it’s a real hassle having to drag a 110v transformer around with you – then again, I have the same trouble with my Makita router! I do wish mine had come with a systainer though…. 😛
I may not have the space to use both these new assistants in my workshop but, while stood up on end, they provide a good means of keeping clunky old power tools cases nearby. 😀
I wonder whether companies like Metabo and Bosch (who have only introduced their own-brand Systainers since Festool and co. came along) will offer a trade-in scheme to upgrade our old cases? It’s better than selling them on to thieves via. eBay….
They’re practical and then fold-away rather neatly for storage. Even in my small workshop, I can find a space for them without creating another serious hazard. I can quite confidently say that I should be able to live with these for a few years at least – though, I fear I may have said something similar in the past; famous last words, and all that…! 😀
If you do decide to make something similar for yourself, place the braces a little higher up, so that they can pivot easily without hitting the ground. 😳
I was thinking of adding a shelf in place of the braces but, for now, I think this will do fine; they could always be added later.
Thanks for reading.