I like improvising, but sometimes improvising with the wrong material can be bad. Like using left-over balsa wood for a scaffold, or MacGyvering twine as a safety harness. Our inner improvisationist almost did a backflip for joy when we discovered The Clydesdale, touted as “The World’s Most Versatile Work Platform.” After several weeks of testing these beefy sawhorses on steroids, we’re impressed.
Scott Stephens of Stephens Construction invented The Clydesdale after decades of frustration hauling sawhorses, work platforms, scaffolding and benches. After a chance email to HomeFixated, he sent his daughter over to hand-deliver a pair of The Clydesdale’s to HomeFixated’s intergalactic headquarters. Our first impression was that the Clydesdales are no toy. Heavy duty cast aluminum makes them light enough to carry, but solid enough to provide a lot of confidence in their strength and stability. The feet on these are metal, so they are definitely not well suited for indoor use unless you’re working on plywood floors or you otherwise protect the flooring. Some optional heavy duty rubber “shoes” might make The Clydesdale more versatile for indoor work on existing construction.
The secret to the Clydesdale’s versatility and functionality is 20 slots and pockets for conventional 2x material (from 2×4 to 2×12). Keep in mind these won’t work well with warped wood (at least the ends need to be true or one end won’t fit in the slot). With most job sites overflowing with 2x material, the possibilities for The Clydesdale are limited only by your imagination (and safety precautions). The Clydesdale offers far more flexibility than traditional sawhorses. Countless setup options include sawhorse, break table/bench, light/heavy duty work tables, offloading platforms, tailgate extenders, shelving, supply trough, staging for sheet goods, ramps, tool hooks, and elevated platforms.
As a homeowner, I often wished I had a low scaffolding or work platform for things like exterior painting, working on windows, etc. The reality is most homeowners are not going to own or rent a scaffold for small-scale projects where a simple elevated work platform will do. And most contractors don’t want to deal with carting around bulky scaffolds and platforms for projects that don’t warrant a full-scale scaffold installation. For smaller work platform needs, The Clydesdale really shines. However, my comfort using The Clydesdale as an elevated work platform is limited to relatively low altitude stuff. I’d be wary of using them at higher elevation just for the fact that if the assembly or platform gets bumped hard enough, there’s a possibility of The Clydesdale sliding down that 2x material. I personally wouldn’t use The Clydesdale above any height I’m not comfortable jumping down from, but I’m cautious that way. The Clydesdale’s warranty also has a section devoted to the risk elevated platform usage. If we could sum it up, it’d be something along the lines of use at your own risk.
While we’re discussing safety, The Clydesdale also includes this Special Note about Safety in their owner’s manual:
Every tool is only as safe as the person using it. Your safety is specifically YOUR RESPONSIBILITY — see Warranty.
We urge you to use good sense when using The Clydesdale and always put safety first.
• Use only #2 Douglas Fir or better lumber with The Clydesdale.
• Avoid lumber that?s twisted, cupped, split, or has knots.
• “Kick out” The Clydesdale?s legs to be sure Pinch Points secure lumber in the Pockets and Slots.
• Use extreme caution when The Clydesdale is set up as an elevated work platform – we strongly recommend the use of safety railings.
I’d emphasize the importance of “kicking out” The Clydesdale to more firmly lock things in position. I’d also emphasize extreme caution around the pinch points. The pinch points don’t discriminate between 2x material and your fingers, so be cautious anytime you’re near those pinch points, and in particular, when feeding 2x material in or out, and when kicking out The Clydesdale. I didn’t have any problems with this, but after testing The Clydesdale it’s not hard to imagine the possibility of pinching yourself. You also want to make sure that you have a good amount of overhang of 2x material past The Clydesdale so that if it shifts a little bit you don’t have the material pop out and potentially collapse.
One particularly cool thing about the Clydesdale is the ability to create a very extended workspace using simple 2x material. I used 12 foot long 2×4’s and was able to use that to set up a simple work space for some windows I’m staining/finishing and painting. Once the legs are kicked out, the structure is very solid. Far more solid than when I had a couple spindly metal fold-out sawhorses with wood spanning across them.
As long as you use common sense and observe the safety precautions, we think The Clydesdale makes for an incredibly useful tool. It takes up relatively little space, especially when compared to traditional scaffolds and sawhorses. The Clydesdale efficiently uses material that’s found in great abundance at most project sites, namely 2x material and possibly some plywood. One thing we didn’t like is also a source of the Clydesdale’s flexibility: a lack of any locking mechanism for the pinch points. Despite the Clydesdale being rock solid when properly kicked out, we still found some potential for wiggle and shifting, especially when the assembly was bumped or had weight shifting around on top of it. Including some shims (or improvising with your own shims) could help keep things ultra-solid. We also contemplated a few drill-outs for optional bolts for extra security, but I’m not sure if their use would really be practical, especially since the fastener-free design is part of what makes the Clydesdale so efficient and useful. Overall, we think The Clydesdale is a cleverly designed piece of gear that many contractors and enthusiastic DIY’ers would love to have in their garage or on the job site.
Check out the Clydesdale in action here:
For you patriotic types, you’ll also be happy to know The Clydesdale is not only made in the USA, but invented here too! That’s right, Scott wasn’t sipping Mai Tai’s in the Caribbean when he came up with the idea, he was right here working away in the US of A. You can purchase straight from Clydesdale’s website for around $300 / pair, complete with a limited lifetime warranty. They’re also currently offering a “Tester” deal for just over $200/pair, but don’t expect that to last too long. See their website for deails and current pricing.
Editor’s Note July 24th, 2020:
A reader pointed out our links are no longer working. Currently, their website appears to be down. This might have been a temporary glitch or it’s possible their site is no longer operational.