Horse (Variant)

Traditional Japanese horses work very well for most of my use cases, but sometimes I'd like to have a larger, heavier version for specific tasks, like sawing down oak planks

When I started getting serious about woodwork, most of my technique was an imitation of traditional Japanese methods. I laid out tatami mats in my dining room and a zabuton and did all my work on a planing bench and did all my cuts with a ryobo noko giri on a pair of horses. While nowadays I do most of my work standing at a joiner’s bench, I still come back to the tatami for sawcuts.

Recently, I’ve come to realize that I need a new pair of horses. When you want to cut a little off the end of a board, two horses are fine. But, it becomes problematic when you’re making a cut in the middle of a board. If the waste is more than a couple feet, especially with hardwoods, then it’s heavy enough to tear a splinter out the corner of the board. Layout out four horses or two and a bench prevents this, but my planing bench is still pretty shoddy and too heavy to easily bring down to the porch, where I often have to go to bring twelve foot boards to a size where they’ll fit in the house.

Plans on this page are a Dyer variation on the traditional Japanese horse. My intention is for these to become my primary horses, with the existing horses left to bear the heavier waste during cuts.


Horse is 5-6” tall, which is right around the same height as the traditional Japanese horse.

The body of the horse is made from three oak 1x4 boards that are 24” in length. The center board features five dogholes bored through the body. The body interlocks with a pair of short 1x8 boards fashioned into legs.

During use, a dog is fitted into the first doghole of the horse nearest the cut while in the second horse the dog is set in the second or third doghole. When a Japanese saw catches in the grain, it wants to slide down on the first horse and up on the second. The dogs combined with the weight of what is essentially a 24” laminated oak 3x4 should make the board easier to manage when this happens.


The horse requires the following boards:

Body1in. x 4in. x 2ft.3
Legs1in. x 8in. x 2ft.2

Horses are useless singly, so these plans call for a pair. Hardware store in my area advertises 1x8 in 4’ lengths and 1x4 in 6’ lengths. I’ll probably adjust the plans on the legs to laminate a pair of 6” 1x8 boards for each leg.

1in. x 4in. x 4ft.1
1in. x 8in. x 6ft.2

Hardware store sells the four foot oak 1x8 for $23.48 and the six foot oak 1x4 at $15.48, which spells $54.44 plus tax in materials cost.