A proper saw horse

In the past, I’ve written several posts about saw horses.  My chief complaint about modern saw horses is that they’re usually much too high to be of any use when cutting stock with a handsaw.  Some of you may remember this picture:

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The point of the picture was to demonstrate that the proper height of a saw horse should correspond to the measurement from the ground to the sawyer’s knee (in fact slightly below the knee is not a bad thing.)  This horse, cheap as it is, could be shortened just a tad and it would be as serviceable as any $1000 model.

Like workbenches, saw horses and saw benches have become iconic, thanks to folks like Chris Schwarz from Popular Woodworking.  But saw horses and benches get moved around, a lot, both in and out of the shop.  So, for my purposes, I’m concerned with four things, load bearing, weight, portability and storage.

Traditional French Carpenters (Les Compagnons) utilize their horses for yet another purpose.  They allow the journeyman carpenter to demonstrate his skill and his understanding of geometry (l’art du trait) to Elders that he will be working for.  Many of these horses (treteaux) are absolute works of art and I’ve posted about them in the past.

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Compagnon Pat Moore has put together a wonderful page on treteaux (French trestles) on his website.  It shows many of the differing designs and uses of this utilitarian device.  While always believing that form should follow function, I can see no reason why form can not be made as appealing as possible.  And when function is understood by the master craftsman, the form can be simply incredible.  Visit Pat’s site and see if you don’t agree with me.

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One Comment on “A proper saw horse”


  1. […] there is no perfect formula for a saw bench!  For thoughts about height, look here: “A Proper Saw Horse.” […]


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