I’m building a sawbuck table similar to this one for some friends. I start with a scaled drawing.

The purpose of the scaled drawing is to rough out the proportions. It is almost like solving an equation: always start with your givens. In this case your givens are 1) the height of the table using the widely used standard of approximately 29″, and 2) the length and width of the table top. The length and width of the top was derived by taking a large piece of cardboard (representing the top) to the space where the table will be used, setting it upon a small table, and progressively trimming it until the dimensions looked right and fit the space requirements.

Next, start with your easiest decision first, in my case the thickness of the top. 3/4″ seemed right for this size table, but 3/4″ is such an overused dimension that I chose 13/16 just to be little different. I used dividers to find the right porportion for the rail supporting the top. First I tried twice the thickness of the top, but it looked too small. Three times the thickness of the top looked just right. Then on to the thickness of the legs. Four times the thickness of the top looked good.

(Use dividers for this. If you have never used dividers before; you are really missing out. They help transfer dimensions, find the midpoint of objects, and figure your proportions.)

Then using pictures of sawbuck tables derived from a Google image search to help guide you, sketch in the curves on the legs. The point of this is to just get the style down in your head; don’t worry about getting the drawing perfect.

Once you are happy with the scaled drawing; proceed to a full size drawing using plywood (I apologize for the poor picture).

Here you do want to get it as close to perfect as possible. Don’t be afraid to deviate from your scaled drawing if it doesn’t translate well full size. I changed the length of the rail.

The full size drawing is when I work out my joinery details; a floating tenon (shown below in dashed lines) will work great for joining the legs to the rail.

Using the full scale drawing as a guide, mill the lumber. Jointing a leg . . .

. . . and trimming it on the tablesaw.

From the full size drawing I cut out a leg template and traced it on the leg stock . . .

. . . and cut it out on the bandsaw. Repeat three more times and temporary clamp a couple together to see how it looks.