Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Miter Saw Table

So, it's fall!

And as much as I love fall and am actually making a bigger effort this year to live in the moment of fall and enjoy it for what it is without thinking of it as a precursor to winter, I do have to admit that winter is coming. And that means it would be nice if we could use the garage to, you know, put cars in.

Since the garage is also where I work on projects, it is pretty messy right now with my workbench, tools, and random "in progress" projects all over. I've been staring at different areas of the garage to find ways to make the whole space more usable. I know that if I can get it arranged well, I can make it work for the cars, storage, and a workshop. At least, I hope so!

My staring and thinking helped me figure out that the work table area that was there when we moved in is actually wasted space right now - the table itself is too tall and too deep for me to use, so it basically just holds materials on top and has bigger tools and a bunch of random stuff stashed underneath. Time to pull that out! (this picture is actually deceiving since my miter and table saws are both out right now! It's usually even more cluttered!)

In thinking about a better design, I decided I need to get my miter saw up onto a small table that I can pull out and put away as I need it. (Depending on how it works, I may make one for my table saw and my chop saw as well, though I use those two much less often. We'll see.)

But first things first.

So, GARAGE RENO - PART 1 - Time to build a miter saw table!

I looked around at different plans and designs online and decided I wanted to build one that would allow the saw to sit down in it so that the piece I'm cutting can lay across the table and be level. For space conservation, I decided to design something with drop-leaf wings like this (found on Wilker Do's):

Hers is beautiful, but I wanted to make mine with wood I had on hand, so I needed to design it to using 2x4s instead of plywood.

So, I measured my saw, decided about how tall I wanted the whole thing to be, and drew up a plan. (If you decide to build a table like this, be sure to add a couple of inches to the width to allow for the saw to rotate for angle cuts.) I cut the 2x4s and started screwing them together.  Below, you can see the picture of my basic design. I used 2x4s for the legs and cross pieces. I don't have a picture of this step, but I basically made 2 identical frames - the front and back frames. Then I used my Kreg Jig (love that thing!) to attach scrap 1x8s to the top and 1x2s to the bottom to connect the frames together. Does that make sense? 2x4s probably would have been better on the bottom, but I didn't have the right size pocket screws and was impatient (shocking) - so no trip to the store first. ;)

I'm not sure where I went wrong with my math, but the saw ended up sitting just under an inch too low. As luck would have it, though, the difference was actually the exact same size as a 1x2, so I put 2 1x2s across to support the saw and raise it up to the perfect level. This was a happy mistake, since the saw seems more secure this way anyway!

Then I got mad, because I forgot to figure in casters into my plan of the height of the table. Off to Harbor Freight to find the smallest locking casters possible. The smallest they had were 3" and I really didn't like it when I attached them - too tall, too rickety, hard to lock. Boo. So I took them off.  I was frustrated because I felt like the table really needed to be 3" shorter anyway, so that I could add nicer casters later. In a bit of an angry move, I grabbed my new Ryobi Reciprocating Saw (early happy birthday to me!) and cut off the whole bottom of the table and then used my circular saw to cut 3" off each leg. This was a risky move since it could have ended with me endlessly cutting "just a little more" off each leg to make them even, but fortunately it actually worked! I glued and screwed the bottom back on and needed only one small shim to even out the table. :)

Next I decided to add a shelf under the saw since I'm always needing a place to stash my measuring tape or pencil when I'm working. I cut 2 1x2s to attach as supports and then cut a piece of scrap plywood to fit and just glued it down. Here it is with my drills holding it in place to dry.

Later that night, I ran over the whole thing quickly with a sanding block and then painted it. I could make something up about how I painted it to protect the wood or something, but let's be real here... I painted it because of course I did. I love color. It needed PAINT.

Next it was time to rig up the wings. I attached a 1x2 to the side of the table to give the wing more support and to allow for space for the support wing to be added later. I put a hinge on a scrap shelf from our closet and used 2" screws (to be sure it would go through the 1x2 and into the table) to attach it to the table.

I was about to start on the other side, but then noticed that my workbench looked pretty close to the same height. Grabbed a scrap and my level. Well, how about that?! Suddenly I'm feeling pretty good about hacking off the legs and leaving the casters off. And all of the other little measuring mistakes along the way. This. Is. Awesome. How randomly lucky is that?!

So, yeah. I'm going to go ahead and not bother with the other wing on this table. When I'm cutting a long piece, I can support it with the workbench!! Awesome! And to keep that height perfection, I'm going to try just leaving the casters off - it's light and it's sturdy, I'll just drag it.

So, I still need to add the wing support on the other side of the table, but otherwise, I'm DONE! (I'll add a picture when I get that finished.)

What do you think? Any questions about how I did something? Ask in the comments!

On to the next phase of the Garage Reno - tearing out that huge bench top!


  1. Should there be another persuasive post you can share next time, I’ll be surely waiting for it.
    Pete M. Ebel

  2. Thanks. I see I missed a couple of items on my rehab of my unit.

    My saw is grabbing. Although I resharpened, perhaps my set is too much. Any thoughts on what I can look for? best sliding compound miter saw

  3. In recent weeks I have been busy preparing some of my artwork to be included in a show. There was a relatively short deadline to prepare the work to be ready to hang. I thought it best to frame the work, and decided to make the frames myself. compound miter saw reviews

  4. I thought it was fun cutting things. I have used a miter saw before and several other power tools but I have never used a table saw before. I am excited to start using these tools in projects. More details