Introduction: Miter Saw Dust Collection - New Custom Fence
This was a fun project filled with creative thinking and problem solving. It started with the question - how would I solve the age-old riddle of miter saw dust collection? It started out simply enough, toss out the original fence and build one of my own design. That’s where things got complicated.
Made out of MDF and painted to match the Bosch saw I have. The low profile makes it a good dust solution while still allowing the saw almost full range of motion. The fact that it is made of MDF allows you to cut into it whenever a new angle is needed, and it won’t cause any harm to the blade.
Read on to see how I built it, and make sure you check out the video for more details and to learn my thought process behind the whole project. I used a CNC machine to cut out all of the pieces. That certainly makes the process easier, and it allowed me to add a few extra touches. If you would like to use your own CNC machine, here is a link to the file I used to carve everything out. If you want to build one yourself but don’t own a CNC machine, I have plans available on my website that include templates for all of the components so you can cut them out using more traditional tools.
Step 1: Configured for Bosch, But the Possibilities Are Endless.
My saw is a Bosch GCM12SD and below you will see the parts and sequence I used to build this fence with a storage compartment on the right and dust collection hookup on the left. It would be very simple to rearrange the pieces to allow DC hookup on the right side if that fits your shop better.
*I also believe that you could use these individual parts (likely with modifications) to assemble a fence for other makes and models of miter saws. However, I have not tested it on any other saws, so I can’t say for sure that it will work.*
Step 2: The Glue Up
With all of the pieces cut out, start slathering glue on and sliding the indexing holes of each piece over 1/4” dowels. I found it easiest to pour out a bunch of glue in a shallow dish and dip each piece in to apply glue.
I also found it easier (and less stressful for time) to glue 3 separate sections together first before doing a final glue-up to bring everything together. *One word of caution, the 2 resulting seams where the dowels are interrupted will become a weak spot in the overall fence - so handle it carefully!*
Step 3: Adding Strength and Squaring
Unless you are some sort of wizard, the pieces you cut out, and therefore your whole fence will have some variation and imperfections in it. Taking LIGHT passes on your jointer will help flush-up the bottom and front faces.
Because MDF is so soft, I coated my fence in a penetrating epoxy in the hope that it would soak in and provide a little more strength and stability. If you use a harder material, like a hardwood, you may not have to worry about it.
Step 4: Mounting Tabs
You will need to add two tabs to your fence in order to bolt it to the fence mounting holes in your miter saw. In the case of my Bosch saw, these are 2-1/4 x 4-1/2” and 2-1/4 x 3-3/4”. If this mounting method works for your case on a different saw, I’m almost certain these tabs will be a different size for you.
Cut them out and screw them in place. Make sure the screws you use are short enough to prevent poking into the cavities inside the fence.
Step 5: Range of Motion
In order to maximize your range of motion, you might find it necessary to cut away a little excess material in the back of the fence for parts of the saw to slide into. Mount the fence and test the various angles of your saw. Mark out any place that needs more clearance and carefully carve it away. Be cautious not to cut into the interior cavities.
Step 6: Finishing Touches
Install two short sections of t-track to use for stop blocks. I decided to paint my fence to match the saw as closely as I could, but this was overkill. It honestly pained me to make the first cut into it after all that work.
Hooked up to a dust collector, my fence does a pretty good job of collecting dust - far better than just using to factory installed dust chute. However, because the fence is short for clearance sake, the spinning nature of the blade does lift some dust up and over my fence. I found that the best results where when I added a Y adapter and added suction to both the fence and the factory dust chute.
Step 8: Final Thoughts
I'm pretty tickled with the results considering this started as a hair-brained idea that I first drew in 2D and eventually managed to make a functional reality that even looks like it belongs on my miter saw. I know there are improvements to be made, like perhaps a replaceable insert for the middle section as it becomes more chewed up over time. It is going to take some testing and tweaking for a while on my part before a version 2.0 will be ready, but I wanted to put it out into the world now so you guys can start playing with, and improving my design as well.