Late last year, I mentioned that I wasn’t happy with the current setup of the mitre saw station I built back in 2008 (almost two-years to the month). The design itself was fine; for me, it’s just too inconvenient for a small workshop. Over the course of several weeks and following the arrival of my new sliding mitre saw, I’ve successfully managed to re-build this unit in to a station that’ll work much better for me.
Again, I should pay homage to the article on the Sawdust & Shavings blog, which provided me with the main inspiration behind this re-design. Sadly, the author appears to have recently deleted his blog.
As you may recall from my previous post on this topic [see Chop Saw Challenge], the original design (following plans from Popular Woodworking.com – article n loner available) was far from ideal in my small space. Both extension table were 1m long and were hinged to the main unit, meaning they demanded a lot of clear space either side (something I simply don’t have!). Each leaf was supported by a solid timber (ash) support arm, which fits in to a notched plywood flap below.
So, to start off, I removed all of this and cut the length of the tables down to a more manageable 600mm in length. Thinking about it, this is fine for making furniture as I rarely work with any finished components longer than 1.2m. With an extra 350mm+ either side of the saw blade, I reckon a unit with support tables this long could just about balance a 6ft (1830mm) length (there’s always the hold-down clamp, just in case). Each end of the MDF then needed a new lipping before I could fix it to another short length (200mm) at right-angles – this gives me the option of having a slightly shorter extension; particularly on the right-hand side, as I rarely work from that side of the saw.
I’m pleased to say I’ve been able to recycle most of the ash I removed earlier and I’ve only had to pinch a small amount of 2in. stock from my college pile for the lippings (those little bits of ply, however, could not be saved). I cut two sheets of 18mm shuttering ply and lipped the edges all round – these were screwed and glued directly to the existing unit. On the back of each plywood panel is a series of M8 T-nuts – this is how I have chosen to attach the new support tables. Instead of being hinged, they’ll simply bolt on or off, using a 13mm socket driver in a cordless drill.
To ensure I got all the holes lined up correctly, before applying any glue, I held both leaves in place by clamping them to two lengths of 4x2in and drilling straight through both parts. Already, I’ve found that while these bolts may not seem any easier than the original setup, they give a much firmer hold than the cheap piano hinges I had on there before.
After bolting the tables in place, I wanted to add some reinforcements to help to hold each leaf level while under load. First, I cut a pair of braces for each leaf. These were clamped in place while the shoulders were scribed directly. As I didn’t have a machine ready set up and ready to cut joints like this, I spent a couple of hours hand-cutting the angled bare-faced tenons, which were then screwed and glued to the wide lippings from inside. In addition to the braces, I replaced the screws holding each leaf at 90° with some Miller Dowels I had left over from a job a few years ago. These things really are excellent for quick joinery work, if you’ve never used them before (be sure to vacuum all the dust out before driving them home, though!). They’re ideal for reinforcing an assembled joint. Screws don’t bite in to MDF very and the glue alone wouldn’t suffice in this situation.
Until I’ve finished building a new extending fence (with a ‘shop-made flip-stop based on Steve Maskery’s design), I’ve cut the old ones down to length so that I can use them for the time being (I have some commissioned work coming in next week! 8)). I don’t think I could bare to throw them away though and I’m sure I’ll keep one for the right-hand side, which rarely gets used, anyway. Blocks of wood and simple and reliable enough but, this does mean that, up until now, I’ve had to square up one end on each of every board, stack them up, set the stop and then cut them to length… With a flip-stop, I should be able to achieve the same goal by flipping each length once, without removing it front the saw. Also, without losing my repeat setting! All that bare ash will receive a few coats of oil, once the weather warms up.
There’s still a bit I need to work-out on the extending fence but, as soon as it’s done, you’ll be able to read all about it, right here! 😉
Thanks for reading.