Miter Saw Station – design methodology

The replacement of my miter saw station begins not with a hammer and a crowbar, but a computer and a keyboard.

I’ll briefly recap my current situation and why it doesn’t work any longer. The structure itself is good, however mistakes in construction and unforeseen difficulties has caused my drawers to not come together how I wanted. I also have too many drawers for my use, and there will probably be a cavity that will not be needed. This means I need to shrink the size of down a bit lengthwise. However, I could use some more support for boards, so I could use it to grow in depth a couple inches or so.

So, what’s the new one going to look like? First, I have to examine all the different classes of design I’ve seen.

  • Cabinets – very similar or the same to my current design. Affords lots of storage underneath. Standard depth not great for sliders. Stationary. Takes up a good deal of room.
  • Cart – mobile and can be set up in any spot allowing for piece length. For a slider, bulky. Could have self-contained dust collection. Casters take up valuable storage space. Needs wings or other to support pieces.
  • Flip-top – mobile or stationary. Can be combined with another tool to save space. With weight, stability is an issue. While two tools can be stored, very little storage otherwise. Tricky to build correctly. Two tools make it impossible to store behind saw or other clearance-needing tool.
  • Flip-up/down – in conjunction with a cabinet, can put in a blank slate when saw is flipped down to create a bigger work surface. Can’t store much below. Flipping mechanism and avoiding locks tricky.
  • Per diem – place it somewhere and get it out when I need it. No piece support. No length accuracy. Heavy as sin.

That’s just the different designs I can think of that I’ve seen. There is also a placement strategy that also has an impact on design. Some ideas I’ve had:

  • Slightly smaller bench in the same location
  • Slightly smaller bench on another wall
  • Mobile cart in varying locations
  • Hybrid cabinet and left-side table above lathe
  • Hybrid cabinet and right-side floating table above table saw

Wherever it goes and whatever design I choose, there are some certainties. For example, I can’t have a mobile saw placed where it and the workbench are now. I also can’t back myself into a corner (nearly literally) because I won’t have room for stock on one side of the saw. While everything would be great to utilize the doorway, the miter saw doesn’t need to. Why? In a pinch I can use another method like the circular, hand or table saws to make a cross-cut. The MS is really about convenience.

If I move either the miter saw station or the workbench from where they are at, there is a chance that I can incorporate some form of router table storage under the saw itself. This might be a mobile cabinet or simply the table top to use elsewhere. A lot will depend on the final location.

Another factor that plays into design is the main difference between regular and sliding miter saws – location of the saw itself. Standard CMS allow for the saw to sit at the back of a surface, whereas SCMS require the saw to sit at the front, due to the sliding mechanisms they employ. Bosch has an articulating saw that saves a bit of space, and my Hitachi relies on dual-sliding technology, but most saws have the sliding rods extending far out the back. This can present a problem when your saw is up against a wall. There are a few solutions for that – cutting a hole in the wall between the studs, extending the depth of the stand, making a sliding platform for it to operate and more. I am trying to go against a sliding mechanism, because where I really need the depth is the left and right platforms where the stock will rest most of it’s weight. I don’t want a side or both to fall on my toes after I cut it.

This is probably the most crucial change I’ll make to the workshop while I’m still in it, so I’m taking my time exploring my options. I do have a couple of different ideas floating around my head, and the next step is to model them to see the interaction with other tools and equipment. I can have a great design, but it needs to work and it needs to allow other operations. I’ll be sharing my concepts and evaluating them online as I develop them. Because I’m not sure of layout yet, I’m also holding off on buying and installing a face vise for my bench, so don’t look for many updates on that series until I get this plan together.

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