Introduction: Miter Saw Station
Recently my father purchased a radial arm miter saw. He bought the saw to re-build his front porch and also to make picture frames (out of the old decking he hopes). During the process of deck building it became clear that the miter saw was difficult to move and required two saw horses to cut long lengths of wood. I decided to build a stand that could not only hold the miter saw but also support medium length pieces of wood and be fairly mobile.
I scoured the internet for free plans or ideas. After doing some research I finally got a good idea of how to proceed with the stand. During the building process we ran into a lot of problems and ultimately learned a lot about wood working and learned a few tricks that might help me in the future building of my own miter saw stand some day.
We decided to make a stand that had a shelf for clamps and any other tools needed, as well as a scrap wood bin. I had seen this bin in used in a shop notes version of a miter saw stand. I did not want to buy the plans for this miter saw so I went by the pictures i could find. This is my attempt at making a version of this miter saw.
***Because of our lack of wood working experience I will not make this instructable a step by step version. Rather a show and tell of important things we learned and how the stand turned out. I am sorry for our lack of experience, I am 24 years old and hope to some day be skilled enough to make nice looking furniture. It is experiences like this that teach and humble the inexperienced.
*** Please be careful when using power tools and sharp objects. It is good to experiment and learn from doing but please read instruction first.
Step 1: Supplies
two 4' X 8' sheets of 3/4" plywood
-These sheets will be used for the the body of the station, wings, support arm, shelves and fence.
one 4' X 4' sheet of 3/4" plywood.
-We bought another 4' X8' but had a lot left over in the end
**We used some scrap lumber that we had lying around but for the most part almost completely constructed out of 3/4 " ply.
Hinges- 12 total ---- solid piano hinges would have worked but we went with what we had lying around. We had ton off the clearance rack of a big box store.
Caster wheels- Again we had these. None of the four used had brakes which would have been nice, but in the interest of time and using whats on hand we went with what we had.
Screws- we used fine thread 1 1/4" screws that we had lying around, not sure how many we used.
*** Pocket jig-- I purchased this awhile back after seeing a commercial for the more professional version, i had not had a chance to use it so I figured this project would be a perfect trial run. After some learning it was very helpful, I would suggest getting the professional version as it would appear to save some time. This jig is not necessary and and you may use whatever method makes you happy.
Step 2: Lets Begin
Building the case of the stand was at a glance a simple task however we first must make some cuts. We used the smooth as silk miter saw when we could but we had a lot of rips to make and they where to long for the miter.
I had the home improvement store where we purchased the lumber cut it down into sizes I could fit in my vehicle. I should have had them cut out some of the sizes exactly because their panel saw would have made much cleaner cuts compared to our free hand circular saw.
*** Lesson learned #1- Cutting straight lines with a circular saw is difficult if you go free hand. We cut a few this way, making a straight line with measuring tools and then trying to run the saw a long the line as best as possible. It didn't work to well, not terrible, but not great. So we decided to use a straight piece of lumber to guide the circular saw. This seemed to work well.
***Lesson learned #2- Use something you know for a fact is straight when picking a circular saw guide. It turned out our guide was not as straight as we thought. LESSON LEARNED!
We made all the cuts, cutting every piece out that we would need. We moved on to assembly.
Step 3: Assembly
Putting it together
Using the super cool pocket jig we started constructing the case. We found when putting it together that our guide was not as straight as we had thought. In the end it didn't matter to much. So we began screwing the pieces together and ran into some trouble.
***Lesson learned #3- There is a big difference between coarse and fine thread screws. I know to some of you this is obvious but frankly we didn't know which to use. The coarse was to rough for the type of wood we where using and it ended up splitting the pocket hole. By switching to the fine thread the problem was solved. We where using screws we had lying around rather than buying specific wood screws or screw recommended by the jig manufacturer.
So assemble was going smoothly until we sat our project up and realized the case was not sitting level.
***Lesson learned #4- We only measured once when putting the top and the shelf in and this caused the use to not pay attention to the shifting wood while we tightened the screws. The problem could have been avoided by using specific vices and clamps or by simply using a carpenters square which we had available.
After the case was squared up it was time to add wheels.
Step 4: Hot Wheels
These wheels where purchased some years ago when a big box home improvement store in out area went out of business (due to competition, but primarily because of a terrible location). You never know when you will need large caster wheels so we picked them up for about a $1 a piece. Upon investigation at the remaining big box home improvement store we found that a similar set to this one is rated for 300 pounds and goes for about $8 a piece. We saved some money with extreme foresight (Luck).
This part when really easy. We had some spare wood, made blocks and screwed them to the bottom. Then we attached the wheels by using long screws and a washer in each hole. This worked surprisingly well and hopefully will stand the test of time. I am sure I will get some comments on how this was probable a bad idea but in the end we are simply beginners.
NEXT up wings!!!
Step 5: Wing-dings
Wings and Things
We attached the miter saw itself to the top with some long hex bolts. We propped it up on two pieces of wood to allow air flow under the saw.
The idea of the miter station was to have wings that flipped up so you could cut longer pieces of wood. Then when you are finished you can flip the wings down and store the unit. The design we went with seemed fairly simple. It was not...
We decided to make two wings that flipped up and would line up with the the existing bed and fence. To accomplish this we would add a 3/4" thick wing and build a bed and fence to place on top.
We put the wings on by adding cleats to which the hinges and wings could attach. We made sure the extension wind was flush with the top and turned smoothly.
To support the wing with the bed extension and fence on it we decided to build another wing attached vertically. All seemed to be going well, except the support wing did not support the extension wing parallel with the miter saw. We had to build some sort of device that would enable us to prop the extension wing up flat with the miter saw.
GREAT IDEA--- I thought I had a great idea, in which we would use a thumb screw to tighten a piece of wood in place that would prop up the extension wing at the correct angle.
***Lesson learned #5*** Do not congratulate your genius until it actually works.
I had this great idea to put a t-nut in a piece of wood and then run a thumb screw threw, allowing us to tighten down on a piece of wood....... It FAILED... The T-nut kept pulling out when we tightened it down. So we decided to drill a hole in the piece we were tightening. The hole would go in the position that made the extension arm lined up perfectly with the miter saw.
**Solution. While the idea was solid it logistically did not work. It was difficult to tighten, t-nut didn't want to stay. My wise old father placed a clamp in the hole we made for the wood and used its screw to adjust the height of the extension wing. Thus the problem was solved.
Step 6: Extras
We added a tape measure to the right wing's fence. We made sure we started at the length which corresponded to the length from the blade. I got this replacement tape at Sears, for $1.47 on clearance. I plan on getting another tape for the other side, probable one from woodcraft or some other website which sells the tape with adhesive on the back.
At the bottom of the miter saw station is a box for scrap wood. It was made from left over wood and I put a mitered drawer pull on the front of it.
Future Plans/ what I have learned...
Step 7: Future Plans/ What I Learned
For this miter saw station I hope to add...
An electrical box- So i can plug in other power tools while working near the miter saw.
A pencil holder- I know this sounds stupid but I am always misplacing my pencil and having a bunch in a hold or having a place to put them when I am finished would be great.
Lifters- Not sure if this is the name for it or not, but some way of lifting the unit off its wheels would be great. Mobility is wonderful but not when you are cutting.
A stop- I want to ad a stop to make cutting similar lengths easier.
What I learned
I have really learned the importance of cutting straight. We had nothing but problems while assembling this project because we did not take the time to cut straight and accurate. By doing some research and asking some advice I have learned different methods for cutting straight.
Don't "cut" corners. We cut corners on some items, like proper length and type of screws. This resulted in me using my Dremel to cut tiny ends of screws off. While our cutting corners did not result in any catastrophes (yet) it still was a pain.
CLAMPS. They are the best and you cant have to many of them. I am a strong guy and so is my dad, but nothing beats a clamp. They are invaluable. GO OUT RIGHT NOW AND BUY SOME IF YOU DON'T HAVE ANY!!
Measure everything. Keep measuring and checking before you screw, nail, cut, or glue. I have already mentioned our difficulties building the base unit, had we simply made sure everything was square we would have saved some time and frustration.
Be safe. This should be higher on my list. Though nobody was hurt during the making of this project I found myself wondering a couple times if I should be doing something safer or wearing safety protection. AS my health teacher always said "Always wear protection."
Have fun!! If you are doing a project for yourself, for sale, or for loved ones just have fun. A couple times i got frustrated while working on this project, but I took a step back and realized it was for fun that I was building this not need.
*** In the end I have a lot of ideas for the future and hopes that through these experiences I can improve my wood working.