One shop helper I’ve been planning to make for a while is a pair of Krenov-style sawhorses, also known as sawbents. These little work supports, based on a Fine Woodworking plan, are one of the best designs I’ve seen. Bearing a more-than-passing resemblance to a coat valet stand, they are lightweight, have a small footprint, and are versatile additions to any shop.
I said they’re “based on” a plan. That’s because these babies are a perfect candidate for customization. In fact, they require it for maximum utility. Most of us already have sawhorses of the usual type – I’ve got 10 or 12. However, their height doesn’t really match up with anything else in the shop. Heck, the different sets don’t even match each other. These sawhorses are a chance to change that. Basically an “H” shape, they have two stretchers – middle and top. The ultimate utility comes from making the top coincide with the top of your workbench, and placing the middle stretcher at the same height as the top of your sawbench (you have made a sawbench, haven’t you?). This way, you can support long items at either of your two most common working heights. Everything else is just a matter of joinery.
Joinery is indeed the centerpiece here. With properly done joints, it is theoretically possible for each and every piece of wood in this project to be of different cross-sectional dimensions and still arrive at a workable sawbent. If you’re really adventurous, you might want to give that a try just for the fun of it.
If you’re interested in more detailed information on making this type of sawhorse with hand tools, along with other great projects, Shannon Rogers, the Renaissance Woodworker, covers the construction of the one pictured above in the first semester of his Hand Tool School. This online subscription video course in hand tool techniques is the only one of its type that I’m aware of, and is a great way to get started with hand tools, or improve your existing techniques.
I decided to use hickory for my version. It has a high strength to weight ratio, and is relatively inexpensive here in the South. It is also fairly hard, which complicated my other decision – to do most of the work with hand tools. I’m fairly proficient in this discipline, but cured hickory will make anyone think hard about this approach. Feel free to use the tablesaw if you choose.
A trip to the lumberyard procured a pair of hickory boards. They were flatsawn stock, and not absolutely ideal for this purpose. However, ask for quartersawn hickory and you’ll get laughed at. They were twelve-footers so, after a quick mental calculation, I had them pre-cut to five and seven-foot lengths so they wouldn’t hang too far out of my truck. Yes, I could have taken my handsaw, but they’ve got this HUGE radial-arm saw, and the cuts were free.
After skip-planing the 4/4 boards to expose fresh surface, I set them aside for a few days to acclimate. Did I use my electric planer for this operation? Absolutely! As I mentioned earlier, this stuff is hard, and I’m a woodworker, not a masochist. I’ll plane to final thickness after rough-dimensioning the stock, which is where we’ll pick up next time. Stay tuned!