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Sawhorses

Sawhorses are the four-legged foundations beneath everything you'll ever build. Here's how to choose the right ones for the job.

Surefooted

Photo by Todd Huffman

Shared by all the trades, the sawhorse carries the weight of an entire house. These sturdy trestles shoulder framing lumber, lengths of pipe, or drywall panels, or become a table for mitering trim, tossing tools, or serving lunch.

Pictured is the Stud Horse. Round PVC rails allow this sawhorse to adjust to uneven terrain: Simply loosen the bolts holding the rail to the legs—made of welded, powder-coated steel—and pivot them until they're stable. You can also slide the legs along the rail to fit tightly against the workpiece and hold it in place. 13 lb.; 32 1/2 in. high; 4,000-lb. capacity; $100; theultimatesawhorse.com

Note: Capacity and price are for pairs of sawhorses; weight is for a single horse.

Five Easy Pieces

Photo by Todd Huffman

If you're a diehard do-it-yourselfer, sawhorse brackets save a lot of the cutting and fastening. With Super Hoss's 18-gauge steel brackets, all you need are five pieces of scrap 2x4 and some deck screws. The legs splay outward, which reduces sideways wobble. With the optional steel feet (inset picture), you don't even need to miter them. Up to 4,000-lb. capacity, depending on assembly method; $60 (four brackets); american-ingenuity.com/superhoss

Folds Flat

Photo by Todd Huffman

The plastic Fat Max is loaded with built-in versatility: aluminum legs that telescope independently from 32 to 39 inches, a top rail with a V-cut to cradle pipe and two slots

to fit a transverse pair of 2xs, and the whole thing folds flat so it doesn't take up much room in the garage. When open, a tray between the legs can hold a can of paint or a circular saw. 11 lb.; 27 in. long; 2,500-lb. capacity; $60; stanleytools.com

Instant Assembly

Photo by Todd Huffman

Each Trojan sawhorse has a pair of hinged, painted steel legs that bite into the sides of a scrap lumber rail; no fasteners needed. It gets our nod because it's utterly simple, yet amazingly strong—a pair made with 32-inch-long 2x4s will hold up to 6,000 pounds. Plus, when you're done, the legs fold tight enough to fit easily in a broom closet. 16 lb. plus lumber; 27 in. high (also available in 35 in.); $57; trojantools.com

Adjustable Height

Photo by Todd Huffman

Each leg on the Crawford adjusts independently from 25 to 34 inches, a boon on bad terrain or for a household with users of varying heights. The capacity of this steel horse gets smaller as it gets taller: 2,400 pounds at the lowest setting, 800 at the highest. 32 lb.; 38 in. long; $32-$38 a pair; lehighgroup.com

Long Rail

Photo by Todd Huffman

The no-slip, nylon-tipped legs of the galvanized-steel StableMate pivot and lock into position with a satisfying click for rock-solid support, then fold up into the rail

for compact storage. The 42-inch-long rail easily supports full-size plywood sheets and comes with holes for attaching sacrificial wood strips so your saw blades won't accidentally cut into metal. 20 lb.; 30 in. high (also available in 36 in.); 2,000-lb. capacity, $70 a pair; fultoncorp.com

Soft Saddle

Photo by Todd Huffman

Woodcraft's painted steel rail is covered with a thin cushion of textured rubber that also keeps workpieces from sliding or being scratched, just the thing for anyone assembling or installing cabinetry. When folded, a pair of horses fits together into a compact package and are carried by a single, comfortable handle. 25 lb.; 32 1/2 in. high; 39 in. long; 1,500-lb. capacity; $80 a pair; woodcraft.com