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The Marilyn Monroe sawhorse
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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

The Sippican Cottage Spiffy Sawhorse Saga

I asked one of my old girlfriends to model a Sippican Cottage Sawhorse. She shoulda shaved her legs, and I’m not sure about that hat.

Alright, here is where I admit embarrassing things. As opposed to the other 2,874 entries on this website, where I only admit awkward and bewildering things. Before we start banging any nails, we’re going to take another detour, and get all logistical on you. We’re going to make two sawhorses. You see, we’re going to be handling lots of long pieces of lumber, eights, twelves, and fourteen-footers, and they’re a bear to work with when they’re on the ground. We’ll save our backs and get them 24″ plus off the ground, and work on them right where they’re being used, instead of manhandling them into my shop and re-enacting a Three Stooges episode when we swing them around in there.

So, you’re wondering, what’s so embarrassing about building sawhorses? If you’re a devotee of Sippican Cottage, you know they’re going to be rudely fashioned and just about usable, just like everything I make. That holds no terrors for me to admit. No, it’s the timing of this little interlude that reddens my cheeks like Ben Nye would. I promised I’d show a reader how to make a real carpenter’s sawhorse a while back, and I’m just getting to it.

I promised on June 3rd, 2005.

No, really, I was blogging back in 2005, back before they called it blogging. I offered a daily dose of intellectual pablum appended to a website I kept to sell furniture I made. I posted a picture of my sawhorses, and someone emailed me and asked me to write down how to make them. I said sure, I’ll get to it.

I promised to post the dimensions again in 2008. Didn’t do it. I think I promised again in 2012. Fell down on the job. We’ve morphed seamlessly from embarrassing to mortifying at this point, but I’m pretty sure I promised again in 2017, and 2018, but I’m not certain of that, or of very much else.

But it’s a long road that has no turning. Here’s how to make Sippican’s Spiffy Sawhorses

I’ve got pitchas to help you out. They’re not really difficult to make, but they’re really sturdy and useful.

OK, cut your 2×6 at 42 inches, because I said so.


Now measure in 6″ for the horns (the part that hangs out over the legs). That’s where most circular saw cutting happens, and if you nick the horns, it’s no big deal because there’s no fasteners.


Now, set the angle on your sliding miter saw to 10 degrees or so.

If you don’t have a sliding miter saw, you can figure this angle with a framing square. Line up the 24″(longer) blade on the outside edge, and then set the perpendicular leg (the tongue) at 4″, like this:

OK, we’re making a compound bevel cut. Set the bevel angle to around 11 or 12 degrees, like so:

Once again, you can use a framing square to get this angle. Set the framing square at 24 inches and 5-1/4. You cut all the same bevels and angles at the top and bottom of all four legs.

Now use a leg to measure the width of the rabbet you’re going to cut in the 2×6 tops. Like this:

Once you’ve got your width, mark out 3/4″ thickness on the top of the 2×6 board. Like so:

Now you’re going to cut a rabbet that’s 3/4″ wide at the top, tapering to nothing at the bottom. That establishes the leg angle without measuring. I hate measuring. Like this:

After a series of cuts, you hog out the wood with a chisel. It should end up like this:

Easy peasy now. Lay those legs in the rabbets, and nail them or screw them in. Like so, nothing fancy:

Now you’re almost done, and you can see why you cut a compound bevel on the legs. The tops are flush with the 2×6 lumber, and the bottoms sit flat on the floor.

Now, find some old scrap plywood, or waste good money on a new sheet, it’s your call. Cut a notch that will fit around a 2×6, which is 1-1/2″ by 5-1/2″ because reasons.

I say unto thee again brethren, do not measure anything if you don’t have to. Lay the plywood scrap against the legs and drag a pencil down it, and cut to the line. Like this:

Drive some screws or nails through the plywood gussets into the edges of the legs, and you’re done. You can flex the legs a little bit before you nail the gussets off if you need to to get all four legs sitting flat on the floor.

For some reason I can’t recall, I own a sliding framing saw. I can’t remember buying it. Look around your house, you might have one too. Anyway, you can make a ladder frame for it, using the 10-foot 2x4s you scrounged at the dump, and sit it on your new sawhorses. The saw horses will look ancient after one job, but they’ll last for a hundred jobs. Enjoy!

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