$30 DIY Miter Saw Stand

My miter saw broke,  and so did the Delta Miter Saw Stand that I’ve been using for almost a year.

For most carpenters, the miter saw is an absolute necessity.  It’s a little funny since for the woodworker the table saw would be the most important stationary/bench tool.  Now that I’m in the field, it’s the miter saw that sees the most use.  Probably 3 to 1 compared to the table saw.  (I couldn’t function long without either)

The Delta stand was nice but didn’t hold up to bouncing around in my Rolling Workshop.  Neither did my Craftsman miter saw, but that’s a different post.

I replaced my saw and decided to ditch the Delta stand for my own “Shop Made” miter saw stand.  Most of the really good crown guys I’ve come across have made their own unique stands to fit their workflow and the type of work they do.  Therefore take my design with the idea of using the concept for your own needs rather than making an exact copy.

Ridgid 10 Inch Miter Saw, DIY Miter saw Stand

Getting a different type of miter saw stand like this DeWalt was something I debated for a while.  In the end, it was better to make what I wanted/needed than use a commercially available stand.  The issue with the manufactured miter saw stands is that they are made as a “one-size-fits-all” product and that just doesn’t work.  They’re are too many different miter saws and a huge variance in how they are used.  Therefore making your own is the way I thing most people should go.

The stands for table saws are different in that they just hold the saw in position.  The table saw itself is all the work surface you need, other than a simple out-feed table.  Miter saw stands are asked to do a lot more.

My stand had to do several things.

  • The first was to break down into a compact package that stored easily in my trailer.  The Delta Stand took up A LOT of space.  I wanted the stand to break in to 3 pieces: The base, and two extension wings.  (I mounted a piece of plywood to the saw itself, so four if you want to be picky)
  • Ridgid Miter Saw StandThe second thing was that I wanted at least 4ft on each side of the blade to hold material.  I also wanted a large surface that I could lay a 2×12 on without it falling or tipping.  Each wing is 4ft long and this gives me almost five feet of support on each side of the blade.  That is plenty for my work.
  • The third thing is that I wanted the stand to be made from on sheet of 3/4″ plywood.  Home depot carries some nice Radita Pine 6-ply plywood that I really like for cabinets, jigs, and just about everything.  It’s $30.00 a sheet in my area.

 

I didn’t really have a design in mind when I made the stand, just a concept.  The stand definitely needs some improvements, but as far as the idea goes I think it is solid.  I’m going to keep refining and tweaking it.  One there I may show you how to build this design.  But for now I’m just sharing my “proof-of-concept” for you to use for inspiration for your own.

Also here is another DIY stand that a carpenter made to meet his needs.  It’s what inspired me to make my own.

 

The Dailey Woodworks Rolling Workshop

Portable Workshop Woodshop Carpentry Trailer, Rolling Tool Box

Since going into business for myself in November of 2015 I have been working out of my truck.  I did as much as possible to organize my toolbox, and have efficient space saving tools (such as my Multi-purpose slab).  I did the best I could with just a truck, but it seemed like everyday I would have to make multiple trips to and from my shop.

One of Several Trips I would make every day
One of Several Trips I Would Make Every Day

Sometimes it took two trips to simply get the tools I needed to the jobsite.  The rest of the time were the inevitable trips back home to get the one tool forgotten.  In the trades time is money; the faster and more efficient you can be the more money you can make.  Speed and efficiency also benefit the customer.  Being highly organized means the job is completed faster, and a contractor can charge a lower price because he makes up the difference in time saved for more jobs.  Furthermore, I was limited in that I was “stuck” only bidding jobs within my small town.

I knew I wanted an enclosed cargo trailer.  I’ve known I wanted a trailer since before self-employment was thrust upon me (A true blessing in disguise).  My modular shop cabinets, which I build over a year ago, were built in anticipation that I would eventually go into business for myself and have a cargo trailer workshop.  I’m determined never to go in debt for my business, and I am proud to say I found the exact trailer I wanted and was able to pay cash for it.  Dave Ramsey would be proud.

The trailer I wanted and I bought is a 12ft long by 6ft wide cargo trailer with a V-nose, tandem axles, and a ramp door.  My trailer is a 2014 Cargo Mate. I found it used on Craigslist for a fair price and the previous owner took very good care of it.  I hadn’t heard of Cargo Mate before this, but the build quality seems higher than many of the other trailers I looked at.

I detail the reasons why I wanted a trailer spec’d this way in the YouTube video below.  6ft by 12ft seemed to me to be big enough to actually be able to work out of, yet small enough to pull with my F-150.  I have the smaller 4.6 V8 in my truck so it cant pull as much as my Expedition with the larger 5.4 V8.  The 5.4 doesn’t care that there is a trailer behind it, but the 4.6 definitely notices.  The V-Nose is primarily for aerodynamics but gives additional storage options.  My Father, Father-in-law, and an uncle all recommended that I only consider getting a trailer with tandem axles.  Their reasons were as follows:  Safer (four wheels vs two in a blow out), Pulls better (tracks better, rides over bumps smoother), Easier to load (It’s not a teeter-totter), and carries twice the weight.  The weight of the loaded trailer is going to be whatever it needs to be.  Having tandem axles means I can load out the trailer how I need/want to and still be far under the maximum payload.  Based on my estimates I am going to be slightly over the limit of a single axle, leaving plenty of payload for materials.  The ramp door is a convenience and a back saver.  I can easily roll my tools up the ramp instead of lifting 70+ pound tools several times a day.  I’m glad I listened to the advice of others and got this option.

Turning this trailer into my rolling workshop is a lot of work, planning, and thinking through how I want to work in the future.  It’s also a lot of fun! I’m enjoying the design, trail and error of making this trailer uniquely mine.  I am certainly taking inspiration from other contractors, most notably Ron Paulk’s Awesome Rolling Tool Box.

My rolling workshop is continuously evolving.  Since I’ve never worked out of a cargo trailer before, I couldn’t simply build it out from the beginning.  Here’s a Mark Twain quote “Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.”  My trailer build happens in spurts.  I work out of the trailer and fix what doesn’t work for me.  Below are Trailer Builds 1.2 and 1.3

Trailer build 1.4 should be along shortly.  I’m doing my best to document every improvement as I go.

A New Take on the Sawhorse and Plywood Jobsite Workbench – The Multi-function Slab

Now that I’m a full-time carpenter/small business owner I work primarily out of my truck.  How you work, how organize your tools, and how you plan projects drastically changes when you go from a nice well thought out and organized shop to an F150.  The biggest loss in this transition is a sturdy workbench.  This is where the Multi-Purpose Slab comes in.

A Multi-Function Slab is a poor man’s version of the Festool MFT (or Festool Multi-Function Table).  I made mine from a 3/4 Sheet of MDF and paired it with Dewalt/Stanley Metal Adjustable Height Saw Horses (these are great sawhorses).  This combination takes up minimal real estate in the 5.5ft bed of my truck.  I would love to take my Paulk Total Station to the jobsites, but it doesn’t fit in the bed of my truck.  That’s the advantage of the Multi-function slab: it’s compact and lightweight enough to maneuver into small working locations.  The Paulk workbenches don’t share that advantage.

With adjustable height saw horses I'm able to use the MFSlab as an outfeed table
With adjustable height saw horses I’m able to use the MFSlab as an out-feed table

Isn’t this “Multi-Function Slab” just a glorified plywood and sawhorse combo?  Yes, yes it is.  The advantage is that the Plywood/MDF is planned out and layed out to make work go smoother.  That’s why you keep this instead of the typical use of scrap on sawhorses for a make shift work bench.  What makes it better is that you think out how you’re going to use a work bench and put in clamp locations and dog holes so that it becomes a valuable tool.

I modified Steve Olson’s original design to work with inexpensive Bessey F clamp rather than the expensive Festool clamps.  To do so I drilled a grid of 1 1/4 inch holes on 6 inch centers.  I then had to create a rabbit on the underside for the clamps to pop into place.  My Paulk Workbench is made from 1/2″ ply and I didn’t have a problem with the clamps on it, the thicker slab left more material to bind on.  The various handles and clamp slots I made with a can of wipe on poly.  The rectangular shape makes nice looking cutouts.

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[A note about Festool:  Just because I’m making a knock-off doesn’t mean that I think Festool tools are overpriced and not as good as the “fan-boys” claim nor do I think a professional needs the “top-of-the-line” tools to do quality work.  If/when I can justify the cost of such premium tools then I may or may not invest in top-shelf equipment such as Festool.]

Cost wise the Festool MFT 3 is $665 from Amazon.  Would I buy one?  Maybe if I ever decide to invest in the Festool ecosystem.  Now let’s add up the cost of making your own MFSlab.

  • $30 – 4ft x 8ft x 3/4in MDF sheet.  Cut to 3ft x 5ft and a second 4ft rip is left to act as a shelf
  • $80 for a pair of good adjustable height saw horses.  I can say enough good things about these Stanley/Dewalt Horses.  They are very good.
  • $24 for a four pack of the Bessey 4″ bar clamps I use.
  • $20 for painting or sealing with clear coat

That comes out to be $158 which is $507 less than the Festool MFT.  Even if you factor in what your time is worth it’s still drastically cheaper.  I painted mine to protect it.  I try to bring it into the shop overnight so it doesn’t get rained on but if and when I need to replace it, it’s inexpensive to do and only took about an hour to make.

If you’re a carpenter of have extremely limited space this is a great tool to consider adding to your arsenal.  If I was woodworking back in my college days this makes a great workbench store in an apartment or even under a bed.

 

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