Introduction: Miter Saw Station Build
I have been planning to build a Miter Saw Station for quite a while. About a year ago, I made a rough sketch of what I had in mind. But most of this build was either made up on the fly or changed in some way. I have a small shop and space comes at a premium. I wanted my Miter Saws Station to have plenty of storage including drawers in the otherwise wasted space of the toe kick area. I also wanted to incorporate built in dust collection ports with easy to access blast gates. I thought about housing most of my bench top tools on this unit as well. I realized I would have to come up with some kind of sliding/locking fence system in order to have access to the bench top tools. Although there is always room for improvement, I have been using my Miter Saw Station for several months and I am loving it.
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Dimensions: Counter top 37 inches tall, 29 inches deep, 8 feet 10 inches long
* 25 drawers, including 6 toe kick drawers.
* Houses Miter Saw, 9" band saw, Drill press, Oscillating Spindle sander and 1" belt sander
* Two easily accessed dust collection blast gates
*Sliding Fence and home made stop block on a T-Track
* 51" stop block capacity to the left of the miter saw
Step 1: Cabinet Carcass
Cutting the cabinet carcass panels from 4ft by 8ft by 3/4 sheets of plywood:
I Purchased several sheets of plywood at my local home center. I had the home center make all the rip cut on the full sheets and I sheets and took them back to mu shop. Home centers usually do not charge a fee for this service and it makes the sheets a lot easier to handle.
At my shop, I used a homemade guide and a circular saw to cut the panel to their final size. I used the table saw to cut the smaller pieces that would become the center support pieces of the cabinet carcass. I used my pocket hole jig to drill several pocket holes on the front of the side panels. I also drilled several pocket holes on the underside of the bottom panel. The smaller support pieces received two pocket holes on the ends.
I use corner clamps any time I assemble a cabinet carcass. These clamp can be purchased but can also be easily made out of plywood or any scrap material. I placed two corner clamps per panel and made sure the panels were properly oriented. I applied glue to the ends of the panels and placed the bottom in place. Once i was happy with he alignment, I used a couple of wood shims to lock the corner clamps. After pre-drilling, I drove several 1 1/4 screw from the underside. Now I could carefully flip the assembly and install the back and top supports with kreg screws.
I made a simple platform to allow for the toe kick drawers and attached it from the underside of the carcass. The platform is 4 1/2" tall and 4 1/2" inches short of the cabinet.
Step 2: Further Information
If you are interested in seeing the complete build process, be sure to check out my build video series on youtube. I also have other content available regarding dust collection.
Step 3: Cabinet Face Frame Construction
The face frames are made of 1 by 2 pine boards purchased from my home center.
Frame Material Preparation :
I cut the stiles(vertical pieces) and rails (short horizontal pieces) to length using my miter saw. I drilled two pocket holes on each end of the rails.
I placed two stiles on a flat surface and applied glue to each end of a rail. I clamped the rail to one style and drove a 1 1/4 kreg screw(screw with a built in washer). I removed the clamp and drove in the second screw. I'll repeat this process many more times through out this process. In between rails I'll use scrap pieces of wood as spacers to ensure correct spacing. After securing the second rail, I'll remove the spacers and check for squareness. I repeated this process until one side of the frame was complete. I added the last stile and continued to install the rest of the rails.
Step 4: Installing the Face Frames
The Face Frame installation is pretty straight forward.
I used a couple of clamps to hold the frame in place while I drove in a couple of screws from the cabinet to the face frame.
Step 5: Installing Cabinet Levelers
In the past, I have used wood shims to level a cabinet. On this build those wood shims would be visible when the toe kick drawers are open. I though a better way to level this cabinet was to use levelers. I made my own levelers out of an HDPE cutting board, 5/16 bolts and 5/16 t-nuts. I you are interested In seeing how i made them check out my build video.
Note: At this point I had two identical 36 inch wide cabinets complete with face frames.
At this stage I should have made and installed the toe kick drawers. This would have been a lot easier but I forgot this step and had to lay on the ground to install them later.
Step 6: Installing the Drawer Slides
Making a jig:
I made a quick jig to help me align and hold the drawers slides while I screwed them in place. This jig is only a couple of scrap pieces of plywood. The jig consists of two vertical pieces and one horizontal piece. i temporarily affixed the jig with double sided tape.
I used piece of plywood as a spacer to bump out the drawer slide past the cabinet face frame. I secured the spacer with screws and placed the drawer slide on top of the jig.
After extending the slide I drove in one screw and checked for clearance. Once I was happy with the clearance, i drove in the rest of the screws and removed the jig.
Step 7: Positioning Miter Saw
Surface Preparation :
I cut all my counter top material to size and temporarily set it in place. With the tops in place, I measured the thickness of my Miter Saw. I transferred the measurement to the side of each cabinet and marked a line. I clamped a piece of plywood while getting it as close to the line as possible.
Miter Saw Alignment :
I set the Miter Saw in place and placed a level on top to make sure everything was flush. I loosened the clamps and adjusted as necessary. Once I was happy with the placement, I screwed the pieces of plywood in place.
I made a platform for the center section of the Miter Saw Station and attached it to both cabinets.
Step 8: Dust Collection Bast Gate
I Made a blast gate based on Jay Bates design and modified it slightly. This blast gate is made from plywood, 4" PVC, and a 4" coupler. This blast gate features an extended handle and which will allow me to open and close the suction without reaching around the saw or having to bend over to activate it.
I made a third face frame for the center section and attached it to the Miter Saw Station.
Step 9: Adding Wood Trim to Counter Tops
Counter Top Material:
I received a couple of old desk tops free of charge. The surface was in shape but the plastic edge banding was peeling off. I figured I could use them for this project because I planned on adding wood trim anyways. I simply peeled the plastic and cleaned up the edge with sandpaper.
I used a biscuit Joiner to cut several slots on the trim as well as the edge of the desk tops. After applying glue I affixed the biscuit and clamped the entire assembly down. After the glue dried I removed the clamps and rounded the edges over with a trim router.
Step 10: Adding a Counter Top Dust Collection Port
I made and installed a smaller blast gate to the counter top. This would give me the option to add dust collection to the bench top tools at a later time.
I wanted to protect my progress while I continued to work on the rest of the build. I decided to add finish to the cabinets at this stage.
Step 11: Drawer Construction
Drawer Construction Preparation :
I measured between the drawer slides to obtain the outside width of the drawer. The depth of the drawer was determined by measuring the depth of the cabinet.
I cut all the drawer pieces necessary out of half in plywood. I set up an assembly line and made stacks of front, back and side pieces. I drilled two pocket holes on each end of the Front and back piece.
I set the bottom panel down on a flat surface and held a front panel in place. I used a finish nailer to secure the front and back of the drawer. then I could flip the assembly over on its side and nail the sides. I drove 1"kreg screws on to secure the front and back to the sides. I used glue in all joints.
All drawers were made using the same process
Step 12: Drawer Installation
I began the installation process by placing a couple of spacers( plywood scrap) on the cabinet floor. The spacer should be just thick enough to create clearance around the drawer frame.
I set the bottom drawer in place and flushed up the drawer slides to the front of the drawer. I drove one screw on each side. I pulled the drawer out slowly and drove a couple more screws on each side.
I set another spacer on top the bottom drawer and repeated the process until I installed all the drawers.
Step 13: Drawer Front Construction
I used 1x2 pine boards for the drawer front material. I cut all the necessary pieces to length using my miter saw.
Since the drawers will be inset I make sure to leave add about a 16th of an inch to the overall width and length of the frame. This will allow me some wiggle room to fine tune every single drawer front for a perfect fit later. I drilled one hole on each end of the drawer front rail.
I laid the pieces on a flat surface and applied glue to the ends of the rails. I used a clamp to hold everything in place while I secured the pieces with kreg screws. After the glue dried I fit every drawer to the face opening.
Cutting a rabbet for the insert:
I should have done this step prior to assembly, but I got exited and by the time I realized it all drawer front frames were done. This is the process I took to fix the problem.
Concerns and Options:
I had two options that I could think of Number 1 would be to disassemble the frames and cut the rabbet on each piece.
Number 2 cut the rabbet on the already assembled frames using the router and a mortise bit.
My concern was that the router but would be really close to the screws I used to fasten the frame together. After checking and double checking I realized the router bit had enough clearance from the screws that I felt comfortable with this process.
I took several passes on the router, moving the bit up after every pass. After reaching the desired depth for the insert to fit into, I sanded the frames.
For some color contrast, I devices I would stain the frames only. I used Provincial stain by min wax. I like the color but I thought it was too dark. I mixed the stain with mineral spirits to lighten the color a bit. I used a coat of prestain followed by a coat of the mixed stain.
I'm using 1/2" plywood for the drawer front insert. I measured the and cut all inserts using my tablesaw. Using the router to cut the rabbet on the assembled frames left a radius on the inside corners.
I decided to round the corners of the inserts versus using a chisel to square the frame's inside corners. This was easiest choice and I wasn't concerned with the look, since the inside of the drawer front won't be visible.
After rounding the corners of the inserts on the belt sander, I ran a bead of glue and set the inserts in place. I used two 3/4 inch nails to hold the insert in place while the glue dried.
Step 14: Drawer Front Installation
After I applied several coats of ArmR Seal finish, I began the drawer front installation. I have been storing a box of drawer pulls in my shop for about a year. The person that gave them to me had no use for them at the time and I was willing to try and find a use for them. This was the perfect project for those drawer pulls.
Drilling holes for drawers pulls:
I began by making a paper template to lay out the position of the drawer pulls. After finding the center of the template, I measured between both holes of the drawer pull. I cut that measurement in half. I marked that measurement from the center of the template to both sides of the horizontal line.
I drilled two small holes on the marks and now had a template I can reuse.
I set the drawer front in place and used old playing cards to create an even spacing (about a 16th on an inch) around the drawer front. I temporarily screwed through the drawer front holes and into the drawer itself. Now that the drawer front was in position, I could pull the drawer out and secure it from the inside.
I removed the 2 front screws and drilled completely through the drawer. Now I could finally install the drawer pulls.
False Drawer Front :
I wanted to add a false drawer front to the area where the dust collection blast gate resides. I used a couple of hinges and a piece of pine to create a false drawer front. I used couple of magnets to lock the drawer front in position when it is not being used.
Step 15: Sliding Fence and Dust Hood
I wanted to make the dust Miter Saw dust collection as efficient as possible. After trying to use a direct hose from the miter saw port to the miter saw station I found it to be inefficient. I thought the dust collection would better If I directed the suction. I cut a piece of triple wall pvc pipe and applied heat to it with a heat gun. Once the pvc pipe was hot enough I wrapped it around a 5 gallon bucket to create a curve in the pipe. With a utility knife I cut a section of the pipe out and installed it.
I added a really simple dust hood by screwing three panels and attaching them to the sides of the Miter Saw Station. I used 1x2 material and attached trim to the front of the dust hood.
Sliding Fence System :
I thought about placing my desktop tools behind a fence system. The only downfall of doing this is I had to lean into the tool. I thought this would be an uncomfortable and unsafe way to use a tool. I also thought about making a fixed fence platform and placing my tools on a sliding system. I didn't like this option because the tool would be hanging over the fence and the tool would most likely be too unstable to use efficiently.
I came up with this sliding fence system. This system allows the fence to be used when needed but I can also pull an independent tool towards me and use it efficiently. Since the actual drawer front doubles as the fence it also provides support and keeps the tool steady.
The assembly consists of a carcass drawer slides and shallow drawers. These were made to fit each tool i wanted to house.
I temporarily placed the drawer fronts (plywood) on the carcass and moved the entire assembly inline with the miter saw fence. At this point I secured the assembly to the counter top with a couple of screws. I installed the drawers and secured the the drawer front to the drawer.
Note : the assembly is about a half inch short of the back wall, this made the alignment process a lot easier. I later added trim in the half inch gap.
Step 16: Adding Doors to Dust Hood and a Stop Block System
Dust Hood doors :
I made a couple of doors an attached hinges to the inside of the dust hood. I also added a couple of magnets on one corner to keep the door in the closed position. Having the door installed directs the suction and help to keep saw dust in the dust hood area. When I use the saw to make 90 degree cut, the doors will stay in the closed position. I will open the doors to pivot the saw and make any other angled cuts.
Adding A Stop Block System:
I wanted to add a stop block system to make repeatable cuts easier. There are numerous companies selling a complete system but they come with a hefty price. I did not want this step in my build process to break the bank and decided on making my own. I ordered two pieces of 48" t-track from Orange Aluminum (an online company). I found the price to be very reasonable (About 10 dollars a piece). The aluminum t-track is soft enough that it can be cut with a miter saw and regular wood blade. It also accepts a standard 1/4 by 20 bolt.
Using a router, I cut a dado on the sliding fence drawers to receive the t-track. After cutting the t-track to final size, I installed it using one inch screws. I used a 1/4 by 20 t-nut and a piece of walnut to make a knob. I slid the bolt onto the t-track, a piece of wood with a through hole, and the homemade knob.
I ordered a self adhesive measuring strip from Amazon.com and installed it on the top of the sliding fence. For micro adjusting the stop block, I cut a piece of acrylic and marked a line. I cut a slot on the acrylic and by sliding it back and forth gives me the ability to micro adjust.
Step 17: Adding a Locking System for Sliding Fence and Bolting Tools Down
The sliding fence system worked fine at this point but I wanted a way of securing it while a tool was in use. I thought about drilling holes through the drawer and into the counter top. By lining up the holes and using a bolt as a pin, i would be able to secure the position of the tool. After trying this method, I realized it took too long to try to line up the holes perfectly and slide the pin into position. I recalled using a hinge a a lock on previous projects and it could be a great option for this application.
I had a couple of old cabinet door hinges in my shop and figured they could possibly work. I cut some pieces of HDPE and placed them in position along with the hinges. I secured the blocks of HDPE to the of the carcass and the hinge to the top of the sliding fence drawer. After some fine tuning, I found this method to work extremely well.
I bolted all my tools to the shallow drawers and the station was complete. I had a lot of fun building this Miter Saw Station. I had some challenges trying to figure out what works and what doesn't but I wouldn't want to give this step up. I have used this station for a while and I am extremely satisfied with the outcome.