Introduction: The Ultimate Miter Saw Station
This is what I'm calling the "Ultimate" Miter Saw Station. It fills all of my needs and is substantial enough to drastically increase organization and efficiency in my shop. The station has the following features:
- Roughly 106" of stop block capacity to the left of the blade.
- More than 4' of material support on the right of the blade so a full 8' board can be placed on the right side without it tipping over to the floor.
- 20 drawers with full extension 24" drawer slides. Two extra large drawers for larger items that can support twice the weight. And one 26" pull out tray to house my planer when not in use.
- Openings below to store a trash can and my air compressor.
- 12" sliding miter saw with integrated dust collection.
- Total length of 14' 9".
- Quick access bins above the drawer storage for commonly used items like my cordless tools and items that don't need protection from dust.
- Shelf on top for storing whatever.
- Custom CNC Detroit Redwings drawer pulls (GO WINGS!!)
I'll walk you through the building process with this instructable to give you the overall process of building it. For those interested in the specifics of every dimension and cut I do have plans available. The following is a rough list for materials:
- 15 sheets of plywood.
- 23 pair of 24" full extension drawer slides.
- One pair of 26" full extension drawer slides.
- Dust collection port.
- 23 drawer pulls.
- 8' of t-track.
- A LOT of 1-1/4" pocket hole screws
- Miscellaneous hardware for the stop block and leveling feet.
A rough list of tools to complete this project:
- Table saw or a circular saw with a guide track.
- Miter Saw.
- Pocket hole jig of any kind. Alternatively you could use butt joints. I prefer to use pocket holes for cabinetry like this.
It's obvious that this is a rather large project. Due to it's size I had to break the build up into four phases. I made a video for each phase so they will be included in this instructable. The four phases are:
- The cabinet carcasses and work surface.
- Building and installing the drawers.
- Drawer fronts and storage bins.
- Stop block system.
You may see the quality of images change a bit in this build. I used a few different cameras and lenses and I didn't care too much about the color balance between cameras.
Using power tools incorrectly can be dangerous. If you are at all uncomfortable doing something don't do it. You can walk with a wooden leg and hold things with a wooden hand but you can't see with a wooden eye. Wear your safety glasses.
Step 1: Phase 1 - Materials and Cutting
My design called for 12 sheets of 3/4” plywood and that's pretty much the limit of my small truck. (pic 1)
With the help of my infeed support arms and an outfeed table I was able to cut all of the pieces with relative ease. This is the first shop setup I've had where I could comfortably break down full sheet goods on a table saw. Previously I would use a homemade guide track for my circular saw and make the first couple cuts with it. (pic 2)
After everything was ripped I crosscut the pieces to length at my miter saw table. I'm so glad this is the last time I will be using this miter saw setup. (pic 3)
Step 2: Phase 1 - Assembly
The vast majority of cabinets these days are constructed with pocket holes. It's a quick and easy way to produce a joint that is plenty strong enough for this application. Any pocket hole jig will work. I had 168 pocket holes just in this phase of the build. There will be a ton more when I tackle the 20 drawers. (pic 1)
Assembly is pretty straight forward. Two same width pieces on the bottom front and back and two same width pieces on the top front and back to join the two panels. (pic 2)
I secured all of the horizontal strips to one side first. Then I laid other side panel on top and secured it. Because these will be sitting in place and secured to the bottom of the work surface no more bracing is really needed. (pic 3)
With the lower cases built I made some leveling feet from strips of 2x4, tee nuts, and galvanized carriage bolts. I went with galvanized carriage bolts because the corner of my garage where the left side of this miter saw station will be floods occasionally when it rains heavily outside. (pic 4)
Step 3: Phase 1 - Installation
I measured and placed the lower cabinets where they will be in relation to the walls and leveled them starting with the middle cabinet. I though this process would really take a while but it was actually not a lot of work at all. Just start with the highest corner of the highest box and make everything match it. (pic 1)
In picture 2 you can see why I didn't make my cabinets go all the way back to the wall. The base cabinets are 24” deep and the front edge is at 36” away from the wall. This gives me future access to my dust collection plumbing as well as all of the electrical on that wall. With the cabinets level I used a straight edge to transfer their height to the wall where I mounted a strip of pine 2x2. (pic 2)
That 2x2 also extended around the corner along the far wall. From there the top surface is mounted. I used screws through the plywood into the 2x2 and through the tops of the cabinets and into the plywood work surface. (pic 3)
The left section of the miter saw station is a full 8' long. The right section is a full 4' long. The miter saw section in between is about 2” wider than the minimum distance to accommodate my miter saw. With the appropriate height measurement marked I used a couple pieces of 3/4” ply to create a ledge for the miter saw shelf to rest on. (pic 4)
With that shelf resting in place I could use it's position to locate the right section of the miter saw station. (pic 5)
And the top is mounted the same way. (pic 6)
Step 4: Phase 1 - Miter Saw Dust Collection Area
I'm not going too crazy with the dust collection. My objective is to create a draft that will draw all of the dusty air away from me and into the dust collector. There will be a lot of space in the dust collection area for the larger sawdust to fall down. If it doesn't make it directly into the dust collection port I am totally cool with brushing the larger dust into the port once or twice per year. I've used this exact setup previously with great results. I'm using half of an old harbor freight blast gate as a dust port. (pic 1)
To hook it up to the dust collection pipe I used one of my blast gates and some flexible hose. I'll extend the blast gate arm at a later date. Until I do I'll just leave it open. Space was a little crammed under there so I had to use my head to lift up the panel to attach it all. (pic 2)
Finally that panel can be secured. I thought it was wise to only use two screws per side to hold it in place to allow for easier removal if the need to ever arose. (pic 3)
There was a resulting gap behind the miter saw where the shelf met the back side of the cabinets. I used a couple pieces of ply to cover these areas. I cut a small notch in the left side panel to allow for the cord to pass through. (pic 4)
Step 5: Phase 1 - Dust Box Wings and the Fence
Because my miter saw is so large the area required for proper movement of the back arm is quite large as well. It's actually quite a bit of dead space. To keep the air flow more centralized with the miter saw I added two wings to both sides of the saw area. (pic 1)
The last addition to this phase is the fence board. This ties all of the upper cabinets together and is where I will mount some T-Track for a stop block setup in phase 4. (pic 2)
Step 6: Phase 1 Is Complete
This video covers all of the progress in phase 1.
Step 7: Phase 2 - Installing Drawer Slides on the Cabinet Carcases
Right of the bat let me say that all of these images are taken from the video and I tried to go with a cinematic approach to the video so the color grading and overall feel of the video/images are totally different.
In the first phase of this miter saw station build I constructed all of the cabinet carcases and the saw work surface. The first step in the drawer phase was to mount all 3.75 million drawer slides. Technically, I used 23 pairs of slides but man did it feel like a lot more than that. Luckily installing them isn't too difficult. The easiest thing you can do is cut a few spacer blocks to easily locate all of the slides without measuring. Just use the blocks to locate the slide and secure it with the included screws. (pic 1)
Working my way down from the top the process is incredibly smooth. The drawer slides I am using are from Outwater Plastics. They have the best prices I've found on full extension slides. If you know of cheaper prices let us know in the comments below! (pic 2)
And here they are all installed and extended. I extended every one just for pictures and then immediately put them back. It wouldn't be long with them sticking out until I would somehow accidentally bend one of them. (pic 3)
Step 8: Phase 2 - Cutting the Drawer Parts
This project was a great learning experience for perfecting a technique to cut full size sheet goods on my table saw. I couldn't have done this without my super easy infeed support arms. They really make this process a lot safer and easier on me. (pic 1)
I wanted to rip as much of the plywood along the long direction as possible. It's just much easier to only have to worry about plywood that is 48” to the left of the fence instead of ripping along the short direction. So that meant a lot of long strips made on the table saw. (pic 2)
The miter saw station isn't complete yet but that doesn't mean I can't use it to finish the job. Clamping a speed square to the work surface makes a great stop block for repeatable cuts. Once complete I'll incorporate a t-track and stop block system to the left of the blade. (pic 3)
After cutting all the pocket holes for the drawer pieces I turned my attention to the drawer bottoms. This is one area I simply could not get around ripping along the short direction of the plywood. To make the process a little easier and safer I secured some wood to one of my I-Beam sawhorses at the same level as the table saw. This would carry the weight of the plywood and all I had to do was make sure to feed it correctly through the saw. (pic 4)
I did have a few panels that were about 24” wide and 96” long. Those measurements aren't too safe to crosscut on the table saw so I used the miter saw. With a stop block setup I can cut, flip the board, and cut again to easily crosscut to a repeatable length. I believe I can get a full 26” or 27” crosscut on this miter saw by using this method. (pic 5)
Step 9: Phase 2 - Drawer Assembly
Joinery is a hot topic with woodworkers these days. I'm more of a function over fashion kinda guy and because I've never in my life had a pocket hole joint fail on me that's the route I went. Its really hard to beat the production speed of using them. Especially with my pocket hole machine. Unfortunately I did break the drill bit with about 25% of the pocket holes still to go. I used my smaller pocket hole jig to finish the pocket holes. Any pocket hole cutter can be used for this. (pic 1)
Finally all of the material was ready for assembly. (pic 2)
I use glue on all of my pocket hole joints. (pic 3)
This is just standard pocket hole construction. I use the pocket holes in the front and back pieces of the drawer with the pocket holes facing the outside. That way there are no pocket holes on the inside of the drawers. The pocket holes on the front of the drawer will be covered by the drawer front and the pocket holes on the back of the drawer will only be seen if the drawer is completely removed and turned around. 3/4" plywood is screwed onto the bottom for the drawer bottoms.
Step 10: Phase 2 - Installing the Drawers
Attaching the drawers to the drawer slides is super easy. I picked up this method from John Heisz. Use spacers to position the drawer exactly where you want it inside the cabinet and insert the drawer. (pic 1)
Then pull out the drawer and drawer slides just enough to get screws in the first holes on the slides. Continue the process until you have the entire slide attached to the drawer and remove the spacer blocks. (pic 2)
Then another spacer can be added to the top of the first drawer and the entire process is repeated. It's quite easily actually. (pic 3)
After a long days work of building and installing I had a very rewarding sight. Lots of drawer storage!! So exciting! (pic 4)
Step 11: Phase 2 - Testing
The bottom right cabinet is the largest in this miter saw station and also has the least amount of drawers. The drawers themselves are just shy of 48” long, 24” front to back, and 10” deep. This is where I'll put larger items like boxes of paper towels and stuff that isn't used often like my benchtop 8” grinder. The original design was to use four shallower drawers here but I changed my mind to two deeper drawers at the last minute which was after I had ordered the drawer slides. This meant I had two extra pair of slides. Rather than let them collect dust until I found a use for them I chose to double up the slides on these drawers. So now each of these drawers can theoretically support 340 pounds. I'm up to 200 pounds these days and it held my weight just fine. (pic 1)
In the bottom left cabinet I made a pull out shelf specifically to store my planer out of the way. This is another feature I'm really glad I incorporated into the build. Every other drawer slide in this build is 24” long. The slides on this shelf are 26” slides to give a little more elbow room when picking up the planer. (pic 2)
Step 12: Phase 2 Is Complete
This video covers all of the progress in phase 2.
Step 13: Phase 3 - Prep Work
The third phase of this build consisted of installing the drawer fronts and adding some box shaped storage above. I knew I wasn't going to do any cutting the day I picked up the last of the material so I went ahead and applied a few coats of water based polyurethane to the sheets that would make up the drawer fronts. It's much easier to finish the drawer fronts before they are cut. (pic 1)
SketchUp was a HUGE time saver in this project. Because I designed the entire miter saw station and created layout diagrams for the plywood in SketchUp first the time spent in the shop was very productive. There was no guess work because all of the dimensions and figuring had already been accomplished. I laid out all of my drawer fronts so that I could cut them with a continuous grain flow from drawer to drawer. (pic 2)
Step 14: Phase 3 - Cutting
I find it much easier to rip full sheets of plywood along the long direction first if possible. Then crosscutting smaller panels on the table saw isn't as difficult. (pic 1)
At the time my table saw could only crosscut to about 36-1/2” wide so for anything longer than that I needed to use the miter saw. But my miter saw only has a 13” cutting capacity so even with flipping the material over I can only get 26” of crosscut width with this saw. Luckily I didn't have any panels that wouldn't work on either of these saws. (pic 2)
Step 15: Phase 3 - Attaching the Drawer Fronts
Perfect spacing with the drawer fronts is very easy to achieve if you use a couple shims. You need one shim that is the exact width of your desired spacing, 1/16” in my case, and one shim that is twice the width of your desired spacing, 1/8” in my case. First, use the twice-the-width shim (1/8”) where your lower spacing will be. Then measure from the top of that shim to the bottom of the drawer above. This measurement will be your exact drawer front height. (pic 1)
When installing the drawer front use the shim that is the exact width of your desired spacing (1/16”) to elevate your drawer front from the bottom. Clamp it to the drawer with a few spring clamps if possible and secure it from the inside with some screws. You may have to use double sided tape or hot glue to temporarily hold the drawer fronts if you do not have room for the spring clamps. (pic 2)
And repeat the process with every drawer as you go up. (pic 3)
Step 16: Phase 3 - Capping Off the Upper Drawer Boxes
This was my last day of no rain in the forecast for the week so I pushed forward with all of the rip cuts required for the remainder of the build that needed to be made with my garage door open. (pic 1)
Before installing the shelves that will cap off the upper drawer boxes I added two horizontal braces in the miter saw area. These will prevent the top panel from sagging over time. (pic 2)
Both top panels are slid into place and secured with a few screws here and there. Going crazy with screws isn't necessary. You could use brad nails to secure them but I tried to use screws as much as possible in the event that one day I would be tearing this down to move it into a stand alone shop behind my house (maybe when the house is paid off....). (pic 3)
Step 17: Phase 3 - the Top Storage Bins
I was able to use the miter saw station a lot while actually building it which made me feel really glad that I finally decided to get this build behind me. While I'm honestly most excited about the drawer storage and increased organization in the shop it's incredibly convenient to have a dedicated station for crosscutting longer stock. Here I'm cutting the left upper box storage panels to length. (pic 1)
All of the dividers can be cut on the table saw. (pic 2)
I could have used glue and brad nails for the upper boxes but I always prefer the mechanical connection of a screw over a nail so I went with the usual pocket holes for quick and easy construction. (pic 3)
It was much easier to use brad nails and glue to install the back though. This was the 58” left section. (pic 4)
It will just sit in place on the top shelf and line up flush with the front edge. A few screws will hold it in place. (pic 5)
The larger box was a lot heavier than I thought. Luckily the work table I built it on was about 7' away from where the box needed to be. Because the box was 8' long I could set one side up at a time and slide the rest into place. This was much easier than picking up the full weight of the box. Again, a few screws to hold it in place. (pic 6)
Step 18: Phase 3 - Custom Drawer Pulls
I went back and forth on a few different designs for the drawer pulls. I originally wanted to make inset pulls but the bushing kit I bought for my Bosh router didn't work even though it was a universal kit made for Bosch routers. So after some suggestions by viewers on my Facebook and Instagram page I decided to use my CNC machine to cut 23 Detroit Redwings logos and chamfer the back edges. This process took about 6 hours and was honestly pretty boring so I didn't record any of it.
To properly locate the drawer pulls I used a waste piece from the CNC work and made a jig to allow me to place the pulls in the same orientation on every drawer.
Step 19: Phase 3 - Trim and Major Construction Is Complete
To finish it off I added a few strips of red oak to cover the front edge of the plywood on the work surface and the lower edge of the upper storage boxes. These will take abuse much better than the plywood edges.
The completed station has about twice as much storage as I actually need. But that's a good thing in a shop that is continuously changing.
I taped off all the edges inside the dust collection area and relocated my fire extinguisher from the back wall to the immediate left of the miter saw. I also relocated one of my driver holder blocks to the right of the miter saw. This is just a rectangular piece of pine with holes drilled in it to hold all of my common drivers I use. I'll probably add a tape measure and pencil holder right below it.
Step 20: Phase 3 Is Complete
This video covers all of the progress in phase .
Step 21: Phase 4 - Preparing for the Stop Block
About six months ago when I originally had the notion to build a miter saw station I ordered a 12' section of right to left peel and stick measuring tape. I'm actually quite surprised I hadn't lost it since then. For the adjustment “pointer” my original plan called for a piece of acrylic (plexiglass) but I didn't have any on hand and didn't want to buy any more just for a 3” long piece. So I decided to chop off a small section of aluminum ruler. (pic 1)
The stop block itself was made from laminating two 3” x 6” pieces of hardwood plywood. This will give me a 1-1/2” thick stop block. (pic 2)
When I built the miter saw station I attached both fences with a few 1-1/4” screws. This stop block setup will only be on the left side of the station so I removed just that fence. (pic 3)
Step 22: Phase 4 - Installing the Track
To get my dado stack calibrated to the exact width of the t-track I used a few sacrificial pieces of ply and made adjustments as needed. It's much better to make a mistake on a scrap piece of ply instead of your finished product. (pic 1)
Here's a good example of why test pieces are a good idea. I dialed in the proper width of the dado stack but was getting a horrible amount of tear-out from the thin top layer on the plywood. After some experimenting I found that using painters tape greatly reduced the amount of tear-out and using painters tape as well as making a shallow scoring cut first virtually eliminated the tear-out. (pic 2)
With that figured out I taped the fence and made my shallow scoring cut. After using more scrap to establish the exact depth needed I made my final cut. (pic 3)
After securing the fence to the miter saw station again both sections of track can be installed. These are installed using a bunch of 5/8” screws. I had a bunch of these left over from installing the drawer slides. (pic 4)
Step 23: Phase 4 - the Ruler Pointer
To make cutting the aluminum a little safer I used a couple pieces of scrap plywood to not only back-up the cut but also on top to hold the aluminum in place. This produced a clean, burr free cut and didn't throw the cut-off piece across the room. (pic 1)
The adjustment pointer needs to be recessed as to not interfere with the ruler. I made this long enough to stick out from the stop block by 3/8” and give 3/4” of extension to really dial in the measurement on the ruler. (pic 2)
A mortise is needed for the pointer. I made a mark on the table saw insert plate where the center of the arbor was and marked the side of the stop block where I needed the full depth of the mortise to stop. The extra length of cut matching the radius of the blade does not matter. (pic 3)
To give 3/4” of travel for the pointer a 3/4” slot is needed for that mounting bolt to slide in. This will all be covered so I didn't worry about making a perfect slot. I hogged out as much as I could with the drill press and cleaned it up slightly with a chisel. (pic 4)
The bolt that holds the pointer in place is a countersunk bolt. After drilling the initial hole with the drill press I used my cordless drill and a chamfer bit to create a perfectly matching countersink for the bolt to be recessed slightly below the surface of the aluminum pointer. (pic 5)
Step 24: Phase 4 - Guiding the Stop Block
I wanted the stop block to be 1/8” above the work surface so it wouldn't be obstructed by small amounts of dust. That means the stop block needs to reference off another horizontal surface as it slides left and right. This will keep the front vertical face at the same angle and therefore increasing the repeatability of measurements with the ruler. To do this I cut a bamboo spline to be a perfect fit inside the slot in the t-track. (pic 1)
And a matching dado in the stop block is cut with multiple passes over a regular blade. The bamboo spline is glued into this dado. (pic 2)
The bolt to be used is a 1/4” x 20t bolt so a 1/4” hole is drilled through the exact center of the spline. (pic 3)
The surrounding spline material needs to be removed for the bolt to function properly with the t-track. A flush trim saw and some chisels made quick work of this. (pic 4)
Step 25: Phase 4 - Making It Accurate
At this point the stop block is complete. I ended up using a toilet bolt and a plastic knob for the locking action. To establish the exact position of the ruler I set the pointer to the middle of the slot to allow adjustments in both directions. Then I placed a scrap board against the blade of the saw with the stop block against the other end of the board and made a reference line on the fence. This line represents the measurement of the board used. In my case it was 33-7/8”. (pic 1)
Now the tape can be installed with 33-7/8” lining up with the reference line. (pic 2)
To dial in the stop block the board is slid into the saw slightly, clamped down, and cut. (pic 3)
Without unclamping the board slide the stop block into place against the board. Then measure the exact length of the board and adjust the pointer to read that exact measurement on the ruler. Make a couple shorter cuts and test your accuracy with the stop block ruler. It should be spot on. (pic 4)
Step 26: Phase 4 Is Complete
This video covers all of the progress in phase 4.
My "Ultimate" Miter Saw Station is the best improvement I've made to my shop. The accuracy and repeatability of my cuts are spot on and the increased amount of storage has made locating and storing tools a lot more efficient.
Even if you don't use this exact setup in your miter saw station I hope you were able to pick up on something with this instructable to help you out. For those who are interested in every dimension, cutlist, and layout diagram I used I do have detailed plans available that cover 100% of this build. If you liked this project and want to stay current with all of the new content I publish you can subscribe to my YouTube channel and/or follow me on my website jayscustomcreations.com.
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