Making A Miter Saw Cabinet Workshop Projects
About two years ago, I decided to make a semi-permanent place for my Hitachi mitre saw. Situated along one side of my shop, I built it from OSB and used lumber. Not very well done, it was meant to quickly and cheaply meet a need I had at the time.
It had a gap in the middle for the saw and I made a hood on top to collect the dust. Underneath, I constructed a chute to guide the dust down into a standard recycle bin:
One important lesson learned from this was that the hood/chute dust collection method is very effective. The hood could have been a bit deeper, to capture more of the dust from the sliding mitre saw. Also, having the bin this small left many sloped surfaces inside for the dust to hang up on, only to fall after the bin was pulled out.
I made fences on both sides with an adjustable stop block. At the time, the fences seemed like a good idea but after having to move both back to allow me to cut stock that has a slight bow, I realized that they were more of a hinderance and not really needed.
This picture was taken shortly after the area was cleaned and the real problem with this system is no longer completely apparent: pieces of wood (and other ‘stuff’) piled up behind the fence, especially on the left side. So much, that it was nearly impossible to use the sliding stop. Another problem is the fact that the whole thing is attached to the wall and at some point (soon, hopefully!) I’ll be moving and need to strip it all out anyway.
The solution is to make a unit to house the saw, free standing and portable – I’d like to be able to move it around the shop and this fits in with my new philosophy of no built-ins.
Attached to this would be swing up table extensions on each side, only about 36″ long and very narrow – 7″ or so. Having the extensions narrow will make it impossible to pile up ‘stuff’ on them.
So, I gave it some thought and this is what I came up with.
The bulk of it will be made from 1/4″ thick G1S plywood, with solid wood edging. The plan is to make it very strong but very light, to easily move it when needed:
With the saw removed, the inside of the unit can be examined. The plywood panels will be joined with corner cleats, glued and nailed. This being very thin plywood, there wasn’t much choice and the extra glue surface that the cleats provide add a lot of strength.
A hefty frame made from solid wood to support the saw is attached to the sides. Beveled strips on the back and sides channel the dust into the large drawer.
The drawer will have 1/2″ plywood sides, sold wood corners and a 1/4″ plywood bottom. A larger version of the type of handle I made for the sanding table will be made to pull the drawer out for cleaning:
The drawer rides on a simple frame. The drawer will never be fully taken out, just opened for cleaning, using a dust pan to scoop the saw dust and off cuts out into a garbage can. Having it higher makes this more convenient.
The unit will be on small casters and will have leveling legs to hold it up off the wheels when in use.
As a result of a recent change in methodology, I have come to appreciate that getting an accurate plan together before starting a new project can make a big difference to the final outcome. Making this accurate planning possible is the excellent SketchUp program, which allows me to ‘build’ it in a virtual workshop.
Before I started using SketchUp, I would make some very basic drawings on paper, just to give me a reasonable idea about the dimensions and how different parts would work together. From there, I would do the major ‘planning’ on the fly – letting the project come together through good guesses and a lot of rework. In the end, I would have something that I might be satisfied with. Since I’ve started using SketchUp, I can flesh out a new creation, complete to the last detail, before I start cutting. A real time saver and I end up with better results; the ability to make refinements before the dust flies is invaluable.
Starting with the basic shell:
It is made to plan, each panel cut to exact dimensions. The panels are all 1/4″ plywood and the solid wood is pine. Parts are all fastened with glue and nails, with a few screws where needed. The frame that supports the saw is solid spruce that is well seasoned and trimmed to size.
Casters are mounted on the bottom. These are small but will hold a fair amount of weight, even though the unit itself will be reasonably light. The bottom is reinforced around the perimeter with 3/4″ x 3″ high solid pine, which keeps everything straight and supports the bottom shelf:
For leveling legs, I might have gone overboard. The levers raise and lower each side of the leveling leg and the wing nut locks it in place. Overkill, I know but it looks neat and does work well. There is about an inch of vertical travel to set the cabinet up off the wheels with 4 points of solid contact on the floor.
The dust collection drawer built and installed:
Big enough to hold a lot of debris, it will be periodically cleaned by scooping the dust and off-cuts out with a dust pan. The drawer is made from 1/2″ plywood for the sides and 1/4″ for the bottom. The corners are solid and rabbeted to receive the front and side panel. This is a different approach for me, something I’ve been meaning to do and it works well. I used the same type of corner to join the top to the sides on the main cabinet.
The handle is a scaled up version of the ones I made for the sanding table project, and is just glued to the front. The drawer rides on wooden runners and will serve nicely, as this drawer will go a long time between openings.
Some trial cuts show good dust collection performance, with the hood catching nearly everything.
After finishing the dust collection drawer, I did some cutting to test it out. The hood / drawer combination is living up to my expectations and dust collection is very close to 100%. I believe it will not be significantly improved by connection to the vacuum system.
With very few horizontal surfaces for the dust to collect on, almost all of it goes into the large drawer.
Having the drawer directly under the saw leaves space below and I decided the best use for that space was blade storage.
If you have a few machines that use them, before long you will have a lot of circular saw blades sitting around. I have three mitre saws, the Hitachi that takes a 12″ blade, a Craftsman that takes a 10″ blade and a Mastercraft that takes an 8-1/4″ blade. My table saw uses any blade up to 10″ and I have two hand-held circular saws: one cordless that take 6-1/2″ blades and the corded one takes 7-1/4″. I have been storing the bulk of these on the walls of my shop; every time I get a new blade, I added a screw to the wall to hang it on. Sometimes I was lazy and just stacked one on the other, sometimes three or four deep. This way is less than efficient for finding the blade you need and not really a very good way to store them – the risk of fumbling and dropping a blade on the floor while taking it off the wall is pretty high, given that you can’t get a very good grip on it to begin with.
So, I thought that the bottom of the unit would be a good place to store some of the blades I have. I made 2 tilt out ‘bins’ that can each hold seven blades:
A modest load, the idea is to keep the station as light as possible. Construction of these is very simple, they have a 1/4″ plywood face with a frame attached to hold the blades. The frame is made from plywood and has slots cut to hold the blades at a convenient spacing.
One is made from 3/4″ Baltic birch plywood (the first one I made), the other from 5/8″ spruce plywood that I ‘spruced’ up:
I just ran them through my thickness planer to clean up the faces – as good as new.
The frame is assembled with glue and nails, the 3″ deep cuts were made, to hold the blades:
The bins tip out at about 45 degrees and are supported by the wood strip at the back and the small block on the front.
They can be quickly taken out, simply by lifting them out, as they are not attached to the bottom:
The completed bins. There is still some space behind the bins that could be useful for storing things that I rarely use. Chances are good that I’ll leave this space empty though, as accessing it would be a pain.
The design of the extension tables I did on the fly, the only major part of the build that I didn’t draw up in SketchUp first. That proved to be a mistake, of course.
I made the tables first and they worked out well, but while trying to come up with a suitable way to support them, the lack of planning came back to bite me. I tried two other methods before using the idea that I originally had. Time and material wasted equals a lesson learned.
Given that I want the tables to fold down to move the unit, they had to be hinged. I first thought I would use regular metal butt hinges, but thought:”Where’s the DIY fun in that?” so, I made them from wood. I started with 1/2″ Baltic Birch plywood cut to this shape:
The main part of the tables is solid pine, 4-1/2″ wide and I screwed these hinges to each side of it. I then made the other ‘leaf’ of the hinge from pine and used large screws as pins for the assembly to pivot on:
To make the edges of the tables more durable and also to increase the width, I added solid maple to the edges:
To solidly mount the tables, I put wood blocking in the sides of the saw station.
After I wasted most of a day trying and rejecting other methods of supporting the tables, I went with my first idea: a swinging gate leg:
It pivots on the plywood blocks attached to the sides swings out to neatly support the extension table.
And swings back to allow the table to fold down:
The adjustable stop block is made in 2 parts, it can reach onto the saw, as close as 6″ from the saw blade:
One knob locks both sections of the stop in place on the extension table. The stop can be used on either side of the saw.
The finished station: