Ultimate Miter Saw Stand

When I worked in professional shops, there was always a chop saw on some kind of cart. The less organized shops put the saw on the nearest work cart. It didn’t take up much space, but it wasn’t as useful as it should be. The better shops mounted the miter saw to a rolling cart and attached permanent wings to support long pieces and to hold a fence with stops for doing repetitive cuts. This setup was useful, but it took up a lot of space.

What I had in mind for Popular Woodworking’s shop would have a dead-on stop system and collapsible wings so the stand would take up less space. The top of this stand adjusts up and down so you can line up the saw’s table with the wings. (In fact, the adjustable table allows you to use a drill press or a mortiser on this stand.) It’s got on-board dust collection that turns itself on and off. And the kicker to the whole thing is that the cart is made from one sheet each of 3/4″ and 1/2″ plywood, with some solid wood trim.

Begin construction by cutting the parts out according to the Schedule of Materials and using the optimization diagram. You’ll notice that the case top is in two pieces on the optimization diagram. That’s because you have to edge glue the plywood together, then cut it to size. There isn’t much scrap on this project.

One Quick Cabinet
Begin by building the cabinet. To join the sides to the top, first cut 1/2″ x 3/4″ rabbets in the top and bottom edges of the sides. To hold the back, cut 1/2″ x 1/2″ rabbets in the back edges of the sides, top and bottom pieces. Now assemble the case. An old trade secret is to assemble the case with it face down on your assembly bench. This way you can ensure the joint at the inside of the rabbet is flush all around. Set each joint with a couple nails, then screw the case together. Check your cabinet for square and make sure the back fits snugly. Attach the back with screws. Flush up the front edges of the cabinet with a plane and apply iron-on birch veneer tape. File the tape flush, sand the cabinet and mount the casters.

An Adjustable Saw Platform
Now is a good time to mount the leveling riser (or platform) to your cabinet and get the miter saw set up. First cut a 1 1/2″ radius on the corners of the riser. Make sure this cut is square so that you can apply veneer tape without too much trouble. Ironing on veneer tape to the riser in one piece is a real challenge, but it looks great. When the riser is ready, center it on top of the case and clamp it in place. Place your miter saw in the center of the riser. With a pencil trace the locations of your saw’s feet onto the riser. Also trace the holes in the machine’s feet that you’ll use to mount the saw to the riser. This is important because the riser floats over the case on four bolts, which allows you to adjust the saw up and down. Now mark locations for the bolts that attach the riser to the case. Be sure to keep the bolts as close as you can to the feet without them interfering with each other. When you’ve marked the locations for the riser bolts, drill your holes completely through the riser and the top of the case. Hold a piece of scrap inside the case where the drill will come out to minimize tearout. Ream out the holes a little to ease the riser adjustment.

Remove the riser from the case and drill the holes for mounting the saw. Now you can mount the riser to the case (see the list of hardware you need in the pdf). Put the bolt through the fender washer, then into the hole in the riser. Put another flat washer on the other side of the riser with a jam nut to set the bolt in place. Run a jam nut up the bolt, leaving a 2″ gap between the riser and the loose jam nut. Place flat washers over the holes in the case and set the riser in place on the case.

On the underside of the case, put a flat washer on the bolt, followed by a lock washer and wing nut. When you want to adjust the riser height, simply loosen the wing nuts and adjust the jam nut against the case top to raise or lower the riser. To complete the case, build and hang the doors. Make the doors from plywood and nail a 1 3/16″ solid maple edge with a bullnose profile to the edges.

Use European hinges on your doors. I’m fond of a $30 jig that easily locates the holes for the hinges and the mounting plates (Jig-It System from Rockler item #31077). Drill the hinges’ cup holes about 4″ in from the top and bottom of the case.

Automatic Vacuum
Now mount the saw and outfit the cabinet with the vacuum and electrical parts. When the saw and vacuum are hooked up properly, the vacuum will come on automatically when you turn the saw on (thanks to Craftsman’s “Automatic Power Switch” #24031, $19.99), and it will turn off a few seconds after you finish your cut.

Start by drilling two 2″ holes in the back near the bottom of the case. One hole is for the vacuum hose (locate it according to your vacuum). The other is for the wiring. I enclosed the vacuum in a partition made from two pieces of plywood and the shelf. The shelf height in the drawing works for the Craftsman vacuum (model# 17711, $29.99). Lay out the height of the bottom edge of the shelf. Mount a pair of cleats to these lines. Screw the shelf in from the top.

Now screw cleats to the inside of the case to make the partition and false front that conceals the vacuum. Notch your plywood pieces to wrap around the shelf cleat and the power cord for the vacuum. Turn the vacuum’s switch to “on,” place it in the new cubby and hook up the hose going through the back. Screw an outlet strip to the bottom of the case and run its cord through a hole in the back. Plug Craftsman’s Automatic Power Switch into the outlet strip. Screw the partition and false front in place.

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