The Butterfly Horse
by Don Williams
Whether I’m working in the shop, remodeling or performing routine maintenance around the house, I am in constant need of a sturdy, lightweight worktable. The most popular one for, oh, the past 2,000 years, has been a pair of sawhorses with a board on top. But the older I get, the shorter the fuse on my patience gets, and while I have sawhorses aplenty, my general dissatisfaction with them grows.
Fixed-leg horses are heavy and clumsy to move around. The plastic folding ones are easier to use, but far less stable and sturdy. Some of my small trestle horses are better, but the stinking feet get snagged on anything and everything as I move them about, so I just leave them in the shop.
And for a lot of tasks two sawhorses are too many, and one is too few. But what if we had a sawhorse-and-a-half? A Workmate suffices sometimes, but it still is not exactly what I want.
With those limitations roiling my creative juices, I embarked on a path that eventually found me designing and building the “Butterfly” – a sturdy, lightweight, flexible and folding workholding option that is almost exactly the dreamt-of one-and-a-half sawhorses. I created my first prototype several years ago, and have tinkered with the concept and execution ever since to the point where I have it just where I want it.
Imagine a folding sawhorse, which is fine as far as it goes. But what if that single sawhorse had a pair of outriggers and could be transformed into two sawhorses on the same footprint? The Butterfly does exactly that.
Video: See Don Williams in action documenting the Studley tool chest.
Blog: Read about Don’s former life at the Smithsonian and see slides of his work.
Article: Read about Don’s shop-made tail vise in the April 2014 issue (#210).
Plan: Download a free SketchUp model of this project.
Web site: Visit the author’s web site and blog.
In our Store: “Ultimate Workshop Solutions: 36 Projects to Organize & Improve Your Shop.”