I am a cabinet maker. I own and operate a small shop. I do it all, from making the sale to installing the pulls. Crown molding is standard on all my cabinets, unless the client wants something different. So on 99% of my installs there is crown molding involved. I used to use a small 10-in. single bevel miter saw that worked just fine for most of the crown I needed to install. Occasionally, I would run into something that was too big for my saw to cut, but I was always able to find a way to “make do.” Sound familiar?
A miter saw is probably the key tool for any good carpenter. While other tools may or may not be in a carpenter’s arsenal, one thing you can count on is that everyone has a miter saw. One very important element to the miter saw is the stand on which it rests. If the saw does not have a good stable place to rest, operating the saw will be tedious and frustrating.
On various job sites, I have seen “carpenters” using miter saws which were set up on the ground, on top of saw horses, and precariously perched on all variety of stuff.
I remember seeing some guys with a miter saw set up on a couple saw horses, with no extension wings, cutting crown molding for a coffered ceiling. The guy was using the palm of his hand to hold the crown against the fence while the other fifteen feet of crown was hanging off the saw and drooping on the ground across the driveway. I thought “Man, that has got to be a pain.”
I used to have a saw set up on a small adjustable height scaffold, like the ones you get from the big box stores. I made some extension wings out of plywood. The plywood had dowels set into the end which would slip down into corresponding holes which were drilled into a block of wood that was bolted to the side of the miter saw.
This setup worked fine for a while, until I started doing more work for this one particular builder, who would hire me to do more than just build and install his cabinets. On one particular job, he wanted some small shelves, built on-site, to hang on a wall. These shelves were made from 1 x 8 materials, and had to have an angle cut on them to fit the 45o corner on which they were to be installed. Well, my little 10-in. saw was not able to make the angled cut for these two shelves, so I had to “make do.” The cut was not perfect and I was frustrated.
It was then that I vowed to upgrade my saw at the next opportunity. Especially if I was to continue to work with this contractor.
I came across an individual selling a brand new 12-in. slider for a great price, so I jumped on the deal. I quickly realized that the old setup I used for my 10-in. saw was entirely too small to accommodate this beast. This new saw was back-heavy and would try and tip off of the back of my skinny scaffold. Even if I clamped the front down it would try and tip the whole set up over.
Thus began the search for the perfect miter saw stand.
Reading a lot of articles and forum posts about stands led me to one of the more popular stands among carpenters, made from steel with extruded aluminum wings. Unfortunately, the company I was looking at no longer builds those stands, and they were cost prohibitive. But I liked the design, and, being the self-respecting woodworker that I am, decided that anything built from metal could also be built from wood.
I wanted the stand to be high enough for me. I am not exceedingly tall, but with most of the portable stands I see at the retail stores, I would have to bend over too far to see what I was doing. Then again, it may just be these old eyes don’t see as well as they used to. I also wanted a solid extension wing, not just a roller stuck out two or three feet to the side, because I often use the wings as a work top.
I like to think of myself as the type of person who can learn from other people’s mistakes. So, during my research, I tried to find out what people liked and didn’t like about their stands—the idea being to take a little bit of wisdom from a lot of different people. Thanks to the countless years of experience from other carpenters (who are far more skilled than I am), I came up with this current model of miter saw stand.
I knew that, first and foremost, I needed the saw to be stable. Using 2 x 4s for legs was out of the question, due to bulk. Being a cabinet maker, I have a lot of 3/4-in. thick lumber laying around the shop. I happened to have some Hickory leftover from a recent cabinet job. I knew the Hickory would be strong and heavy enough to provide a good base for my 65-lb. miter saw. I thought about using 3/4-in. plywood for the top, but figured 1/2-in. would work fine, especially after edging it with solid wood.
During the assembly of the legs, I realized that I had to weave them together before I could close each complete set, which is a little troublesome (see below). If I were to build another stand, I would probably build the legs so that one set fit inside the other set.
I used simple door hinges to attach the top to the legs (see below). I rounded the edges of the legs to get rid of any potential splinters, being careful to leave square all areas of intersection. Pre-drilling the screw holes was absolutely necessary, because that Hickory is h-a-r-d hard!!
On my previous setup, the wings were attached to the saw. On my new stand, I attached the wings separately, which I like a lot more. I made a little tab to slip the hinge pin through to make pulling the pin easier. I also filed down the raised/knurled portion of the pin near the head so it would not stick in the barrel as much.
The wing design is pretty much a carry-over from my old setup, as it worked just fine. It’s important that the weight of the wing bear on the leg and not the hinge. I also made sure that when in the “open” position the leg would be angled outward a little and not straight up-and-down.
The legs for the wings also had to be adjustable. I put a threaded bolt with a knob on the lower section, with a dowel inserted above it to guide it up and down through the slot in the upper section.
Overall, I am happy with the setup. I like that it folds up flat and tucks away on one wall of my van. I don’t always work around a lot of different trades—mostly home owners, who are as impressed with my stand as they are with my cabinets. Also, one contractor I do work for has a few guys that ohh and ahh over it. That makes me smile.
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Please don’t try anything you see in THISisCarpentry, or anywhere else for that matter, unless you’re completely certain that you can do it safely.
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