Whether you’re building a sawhorse or are looking to buy one, you must have a fair idea of the weight of your project materials. The sawhorse you aim to develop or acquire should not weigh less than the material you plan to cut on it.
A sawhorse can hold between 250 lbs and 1000 lbs depending on whether it is made from wood or metal and its width. Wider sawhorses carry more weight, wooden ones are less sturdy than metal ones, and you cannot place on them anything heavier than the sawhorse itself.
In this article, you will discover the three factors that influence the structure’s weight-carrying capacity. Among other things, you will learn about the two broad categories of sawhorses and their uses and what you can expect each type to carry. Finally, you will learn about a method to increase a sawhorse’s weight-holding ability by at least two times. But first, let’s go over the factors that dictate how much weight a sawhorse can hold.
Factor 1: The Sawhorse Material
The ability of a sawhorse to carry weight is affected by the type of wood used in manufacturing it. In many cases, the sawhorse is made out of metal, which further stretches its ability to hold weight. A typical wood sawhorse can carry over 250 lbs of weight. When sturdy hardwood is used to make the sawhorse, it can carry 450 to 700 lbs if there is even distribution.
Factor 2: The sawhorse height
Two sawhorses featuring the same type of wood or metal can have different weight-carrying capacities based on their height difference. A sawhorse does two things: it holds weight, and it balances the weight it carries. That’s why the structure’s height matters. When a sawhorse is too tall, it can topple over more easily, which reduces its ability to carry weight.
When the same structure is closer to the ground, it has a lower center of gravity, making it easier for the sawhorse to carry weight. Unfortunately, the height is non-negotiable because reducing it can actually impact your own working ability past a certain point, which is where the third factor becomes relevant.
Factor 3: The sawhorse quantity
You can increase the weight carrying capacity of a sawhorse by adding another sawhorse of the same height and build next to it. The number of sawhorses in a weight-holding structure like a workbench impacts the total weight the system can hold.
A sawhorse that can hold 250 lbs can hold more than 500 lbs when another equivalent sawhorse is added next to it. This is because instead of holding a log from the center, it carries the log from its side. The side weighs less, and the pressure on each sawhorse is less than half of what it would have been on a single sawhorse.
Sawhorse weight capacity by type
On the broadest level, there are two types of sawhorses, with one being made from wood and the other featuring metal. Of course, different types of wood and metal are used by different companies. Here, we will cover the average weight you can expect a sawhorse from each category to carry. We’ll err on the lower side, so you don’t buy a sawhorse only to find it unable to carry the expected weight.
Metal sawhorse weight-carrying capacity
On average, a metal sawhorse can carry more than 500 lbs of weight. Its specific weight-carrying capacity can differ based on the narrowness of the sawhorse as well as the quality of the metal used.
Metal sawhorse use
Metal sawhorses are used to support workbenches and carry dense hardwood logs for edge-cutting. One can also use a sawhorse to build a router table or with a circular saw. Whenever a wooden saw is seemed too weak, a metal sawhorse can be a suitable upgrade.
Wood sawhorse weight-carrying capacity
A wood sawhorse can carry more than 250 lbs on the low-end. Some sawhorses made from wood can carry four times as much weight if they’re made from thick enough hardwood. Usually, the sawhorse can carry as much as its own weight.
Wood sawhorse use
Wood sawhorse is usually used to support logs lighter than the sawhorse material. An Oak sawhorse can carry cedar boards, but a Cedar sawhorse cannot carry Oak lumber. It is not uncommon for wood sawhorses to also be used as workbench foundations. They’re typically favored for workstations where power tools aren’t used.
How to strengthen a sawhorse?
In the factor 3 discussion, we briefly covered the importance of the sawhorse quantity in dictating the overall weight holding capacity of the system. That is because the place from which a sawhorse holds a log, matters in deciding how heavy a log the structure can support. The position from which the weight is supported matters. It’s the same principle as 100 lbs of weight being easier to carry in a dumbbell compared to a large box.
When a sawhorse holds a log from the center, it carries the entire log’s weight. That’s why the leg is parallel to the sawhorse. But when you add another sawhorse to the system, the log can be placed perpendicularly to the two sawhorses.
This results in the log putting less than half the previous weight on each sawhorse. In some instances, you can increase the carrying capabilities of a sawhorse by up to four times by adding just one more sawhorse to the system, which brings up workbenches.
Sawhorse vs. Workbench
You can use sawhorses as the foundation for your workbench, which adds to the convenience of woodworking. You can take on more woodworking tasks than simply end-cutting and can even place various tools on the work surface. To learn more about building a workbench, check out my post on the type of wood used for workbenches.
A sawhorse can hold as much weight as it weighs. This can be used as a rule of thumb when buying or building a sawhorse. For expectation-setting purposes, you can set 250 lbs as the average of a softwood sawhorse and 500 lbs for a hardwood one. You can expect a metal sawhorse to hold 500 to 750 lbs. All in all, an average sawhorse can carry an average log. So, you do not have much to worry about unless you’re looking to saw an exceptionally heavy log.