No matter how much or how little you invest in a miter saw, the quality and enjoyment of your work will depend more on your saw stand than on the miter saw itself.
A miter saw stand is more than just a place to set your saw—it’s a work station.
Manufactured stands are available that are easy to set up, transport, and store, but if you’re working at your home, in a couple hours, with $50 or $60 in material, you can make your own. In this chapter, I’ll show you how.
Chapter 1: Part 1
A serial publication of excerpts from Trim Made Simple by Gary Katz
Training techniques for apprentice carpenters and serious DIYers
Trim carpentry depends almost entirely on cutting clean tight miters at precise angles and measurements. You can cut miters in most small moldings with a miter box and hand saw, but for large profiles, especially tall baseboard and crown molding, a power miter saw is the only way to go. Because power miter saws are now so affordable, anyone with an interest in carpentry should own one. If you’re changing the moldings in your home, at the very least, consider renting one.
But there’s no need to drain your savings account for the best saw. No matter how much or how little you invest in a miter saw, the quality and enjoyment of your work will depend more on your saw stand than on the miter saw itself.
Why you need a saw stand
A miter saw stand is more than just a place to set your saw—it’s a work station. The stand must have continuous extension wings, so you can support different lengths of material. It must have a clean flat surface, with a lip for clamping material. And the ends of the extension wings should be crisp and square, so they can be used for measuring.
Manufactured stands are available that are easy to set up, transport, and store, but if you’re working at your home, in a couple hours, with $50 or $60 in material, you can make your own. In this chapter, I’ll show you how. Along the way, I’ll demonstrate how to use a variety of finish carpentry tools.
2. 1 x 12 x 8 Top pine or fir or plywood board for the top extensions wings on the miter-saw stand.
3. 1 x 4 x 8 pine or fir supports, ripped to the exact height of your miter saw minus 3/4 in.
Measuring, cutting, and drilling
This miter saw stand (see photo, right; click to enlarge) is made from three main parts. Only one needs to be cut precisely. The base and top can be cut to any length and width, but the supports must be ripped to exactly the right height.
If the material you’re using for the top extension wings is 3/4 in. thick, then make the supports exactly the height of your miter saw table, minus 3/4 in. If you don’t have a table saw, or can’t make these rips yourself, have your local material supplier rip a piece of 1×4 or 1×6 to that width. You’ll be able to cut all the pieces needed from one 8-ft. board.
Be patient with yourself while working on the projects in this book. While building this miter saw stand remember that craftsmanship depends on the process as much as the finished product.
Use a miter saw safely and accurately
Power miter saws are loud, sharp, and frightening. They’re dangerous if they’re not used correctly. Make precise cuts on your saw safely by following the four tips below, plus others that I’ll be including in later chapters.
(In Part 2 we’ll finish up the miter saw stand and share some tips for souping up your saw.)
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