How to Build a Miter Saw Table

May 7 07:42 2010 Robert Gillespie Print This Article

A miter saw is a whole lot more useful if it is incorporated into a miter saw table. The problem with a miter saw sitting alone on top of a bench is that you can't cut long boards: Gravity is always tipping them over the edge of the narrow metal table that is part of the saw. Also, it is hard to get accurate cuts on a long board without a fence that extends quite a bit beyond the one that comes with the saw. Here's how to make one for your shop and a portable one for the jobsite, as well.

Miter saws can be utilized in a workshop as a permanently affixed tool or on the jobsite as a portable or semi-portable unit. I will take a look at the construction of miter saw tables careful to both types of installations. The objective of a miter saw table is two-fold: (1) to lift up the saw to a comfortable working height for the operator and (2) to provide a surface to the left and/or right of the saw for the expansion of the fence  and to provide support for long materials while being cut. If you have ever sought to cut a 45-degree miter at one end of a 2 x 6 x 12,Guest Posting you identify why a miter saw table or roller stand is always necessary.

Time and again, miter saws are utilized to make duplicate cuts of the same measurement. Some sort of saw block comes in handy and greatly saves production time for this sort of process. A saw block must mount to something to hold it in place, usually a fence. You can fabricate your own fence out of a very straight piece of wood or metal or you can do as I did and acquire a commercially available moveable stop that slides along an aluminum track that features a stick-on measuring tape.

 

PERMANENT SAW TABLE FOR SHOP USE

Since I buy lumber in lengths up to 14 feet long, I decided to make a very long miter saw table in my workshop. You may not have the physical room for this in your workshop so you may have to modify my dimensions accordingly. The longer you can build it, the more useful but any length of saw table is better than no table at all. My miter saw table measures 8 feet to the left of the saw blade and another 8 feet to the right of the saw blade. This way, I can support the full length of a sheet of plywood on either side.

The saw table is made over 2 x 4 framing and has multiple storage drawers below the table which I use to stock small tools and supplies. If you need, the space below the saw table can be left open for shelves or wood. I suggest that the top surface be 3/4" Melamine or Formica over 3/4" particle board. If you can use the entire 4-foot width of the Melamine or particle board, by all means do so, especially if your miter saw is of the “sliding compound miter” style.  As for overall table height, I would suggest that you make the miter saw table so that the top of the table comes to your belt line when standing. This will give you a comfortable working height and still permit you to bend over the table. There should be a gap cut into the saw table top in the area where the tool is to be mounted. This gap must be exactly as wide as the top of your miter saw and must be open to the front of the table. The gap should close behind the top of the miter saw. The saw must be mounted in this gap so that the top of the miter saw table is flush with the top of the saw table. The miter handle must be free to move its full travel in both directions, left to right.

Foresee the need for this gap as you are framing the underside of your miter saw table because you will want to fabricate a shelf underneath to support the weight of the miter saw. You might want to make this shelf adjustable in micro increments so that you can get the top of the saw platform exactly level with the top of the saw table. You can accomplish this with lag screws with washers in sliding slots through the shelf sub-structure and into the table framing. Slightly loosen the lags and nudge the table up or down with a rubber hammer before tightening the lags fully. Use a long straightedge in all directions to make sure that the miter saw and the miter saw table are flush with each other. Mount the saw securely to the shelf using lag screws.

Once the miter saw is secured, you can begin to fabricate the fence or fences. A simple, inexpensive fence can be made using 1 x 4 or 1 x 6 clear fir boards. These wood should be hand selected for straightness and jointed on one edge. One board will be the actual fence and the other will keep it straight from behind. The fence sits with its jointed edge on the saw table top while the back-up board lies flat on the table, in back of the fence, with its jointed edge joined to the base of the fence.

Before joining the two boards together, slotted holes should be cut into the back-up board for the purpose of mounting and adjusting the fence position on the table top with reference to the fence on the miter saw. These slots should be slightly wider than the shaft diameter of the lag screws you plan on using to screw down the fence to the table. Cut a few equally spaced slots in the back-up board perpendicular (at right angle) to the fence. A 2 x 4 joist should be located under the table top, centered underneath the slots in the back-up board. This will give the lag screws something solid to screw into.

Before mounting the fence or fences to the miter saw table top, draw a pencil or chalk line where the front of the fence is to be moved. Take a long straightedge, lay it flat on the miter saw’s metal table and push one edge of it along the miter saw’s metal fence. Keeping it in this spot, draw a pencil line along the table top, out as far as possible. Duplicate this on the opposite side of the saw if you have tables on both sides of the saw. Extend this pencil line as far as possible.

Place the fence along the pencil line with the end of the wooden fence almost contacting the end of miter saw’s metal fence. (Leave a 1/16” gap between the wooden fence and the metal fence.) Drill correctly sized holes for the lag screws through the table top and into the 2x4 joist underneath the table top (one for each slot). Screw the fence to the table loosely so that it can be adjusted. Use the long straight edge on the miter saw’s table and on the front of the fence to align the fence perfectly and screw down tightly. Do this again for the other side of the table if there is one.

For the left fence, place a "right to left" reading stick-on measuring tape along the top of the fence. For the right fence, place a "left to right" reading stick-on measuring tape along the top of that fence. Before sticking down, the tapes must be aligned perfectly. The left tape is measuring the distance from the left side of the saw blade teeth and the right tape is measuring the distance from the right side of the saw blade teeth. With a simple wooden fence like this, you can use wooden stop blocks clamped to the fence with C-clamps for duplicate cuts.

A slightly more expensive and far better alternative is to use a metal track or tracks with a flip-up stop and measuring tape built in. Such a device is manufactured by Kreg Tools and is available in 4-foot track lengths that can be pushed together to achieve longer lengths. My miter saw table uses four 4-foot tracks, two for each side of the saw. The track is mounted to the top of the wooden fence you just made. You will have to adjust the height of the wooden fence (2 1/4"+ 1/16" = 2 5/16" above the table top) so that the bottom of the flip-up stop clears the table by about 1/16" in the down position.

The great thing about the flip-up stop is that it can be flipped up out of the way without loosing its position along the measuring tape. If you were making duplicate cuts and you desired to stop to use the saw momentarily for a different kind of cut, you could resume your repetitive cutting right away without losing any accuracy.

 

PORTABLE MITER SAW TABLE FOR JOBSITE USE

A jobsite miter saw table is ordinarily made with the saw attached to the extreme right end of the table. I have found that most miter saw manufacturers construct their metal table surfaces so that they are 3 1/2" above the table on which the saw is resting. A very straight, milled 4 x 4 (3 1/2" x 3 1/2") can be mounted onto the table top, almost abutting the left side of the metal table of the saw. The 4 x 4 should extend out the full length of the supporting table to the left and be mounted to the supporting table.

A fence can be attached to the back side of the 4 x 4. Use a 1 x 6 or 1 x 8 clear fir board for this purpose. As in the permanent table above, the front of the fence must align perfectly with the miter saw’s metal fence. If a wider support surface is needed, a second 4 x 4 can be mounted directly in front of the one with the fence attached to it. A Kreg Trak system with a flip-up stop can also be used on this portable miter saw table. Just make sure the wooden fence is ripped to the proper height to allow the flip-up stop to clear the table by 1/16". (Fence is 2 1/4" + 1/16" = 2 5/16" above the top of the 4 x 4.) As for the support table, I have used a plastic fold-up table from Costco. They come in various sizes to suit your particular need. Or, you can make your own table out of 2 x 4's and 3/4" plywood. Design it so that the legs can fold up for transportation and storage.

 

Bob GillespieWoodworker

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©  2010 Robert M. Gillespie, Jr.

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About Article Author

Robert Gillespie
Robert Gillespie

Bob Gillespie has been a woodworker since 1981. He founded Craftsman Woodworking in Hawaii where he was involved in company administation, furniture design, prototype manufacturing and sales. He is also an experienced advertising copywriter and author.

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