I’ve been using my 12 inch miter saw clamped to a bench, and using a 2×4 clamped to that same bench as a part support. It worked, but it really sucked. I needed it all squared away.
I also had a second problem in that I don’t have a lot of shop storage. So I decided to hit two birds with one stone, and create a great miter bench with built-in storage.
My first step was to design the thing in Sketchup. Let me take a brief moment to sing the praises of Sketchup. I really love this program. I use ViaCad for other 3-D design, but when it comes to woodworking, I keep returning to Sketchup. It has a short learning curve, it is intuitive, and it is darned easy to use. It does have problems, it is not as precise as other CAD, y
ou are not going to get tolerances in the thousandths. It doesn’t offer physics that let you rotate parts together to see how they work. But for woodworking, or even designing a greenhouse, this program rocks! If you want to learn more, check out the Sketchup website.
So here’s a snapshot of my Sketchup drawings. First there is a basic cabinet carcass. Then, I bolt the carcasses together, and screw on a tabletop frame. Then I add two layers of 3/4 inch MDF to create a flat surface on top. (Click on the images to enlarge them)
I built the cabinets out of 3/4 inch cabinet quality fir plywood, for about $28 per 4×8 sheet. I think I used 3 sheets because I built four of these!
Here is what the finished project looks like. The whole thing is about 14 feet long, with the miter saw installed between the cabinets. If you click on the image, it will take you to an album where you can see my progress in building the whole thing.
As you can see, I don’t have shelves, or doors, or drawers installed in the bench as yet. I really do need these because I have few places to actually store things in my woodshop. Right now I’m experimenting with different ways of making and installing drawers, and figuring out how I want my layout to be.
Also, I’m trying to decide if I want to paint, stain, or otherwise protect these cabinets. I’ll want to do that before I add drawers or doors.
I do not plan to add any facing to the cabinets. I’m fine with the way they are. Cabinet doors will use European hinges, and so will hide the plywood edging. Drawers could also have facing that extends over the plywood edging. I plan to use engineered wood for the doors and drawer fronts to avoid wood movement.
So, when you have a working mitersaw bench, what is the first thing you build using it?
I built a tool pegboard. I’ve been needing one, because I have tools that are too unwieldy, or too unhandy to just drop into a toolbox. My last woodshop had a 2 x 4 foot tool pegboard, and that was just a little too small. This shop needed something bigger – so I chose a 4×4 foot pegboard.
I haven’t filled this pegboard with tools as yet. I’ve put all the tools that I commonly use on it, and I’m waiting to see what else I’ll put on it. As I turn to a tool more often, it is likely to win a place on the board.
Oh! Something else I’ve found out. I’ve had problems in the past with the metal pegs coming out of the pegboard when I pick up a tool. The pegs you get from the big box stores are somewhat loose in the pegboard, and wiggle or come out.
In the past, I’ve tried to fasten these down in various ways. I don’t want a permanent method of fastening down a metal peg, so instead I use hot melt glue. It’s easy to run a glue gun into the holes, and add a peg. Another dab or two of glue, and the peg stays put. If I want to move the peg around, I can heat up the glue and remove it, then pull the glue off the pegboard.
Also in this image is my Porter Cable bandsaw that I picked up used from Craigslist for about $200.
My shop is shaping up. But it is still messy, and I still have a way to go.