Miter Stand Wings

You might think building wings with the intention of standing still is a bit of an oxymoron.  Bad puns aside, sometimes you need support for long cuts on the miter saw.  Having wings on either side that can fold down is a great way to provide support for long workpieces without taking up too much space.

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IMG_3286First thing’s first; we need to clear off the miter saw stand and vacuum up all the accumulated dust.  As you can see, the miter stand itself is another shop creation.

I have a DeWalt DW715 compound miter saw.  Several years ago I extensively researched saws from different manufacturers before finally settling on this model.  In retrospect I think the DeWalt fanbase may be allowing their loyalty to cloud their objectivity, at least in terms of favorable Amazon reviews.  Although it was one of the most anticipated tools I’ve purchased for the shop, over time I’ve grown to dislike it for the following reasons:

  • The blade is almost impossible to change unless you use wireties to hold open the blade guard.
  • The expensive add-on laser guide is difficult to calibrate and often misleading.
  • The hold down clamps have no quick release and were another expensive add-on that should have been included with the basic model.
  • The dust collection is a joke.  You’d collect more dust putting a bucket behind the saw than you would hooking up shop vac to the dust port.
  • The miter angle lock knob is in the back of the saw and inconvenient to access.
  • The saw takes more room than it should front to back and consumes valuable shop space.
  • The factory blade was subpar in both cut quality and acoustics, even factoring in the relatively modest expectations one would have from the default blade.

IMG_3287Technically this saw still satisfies its primary function so it’s difficult to justify spending more money to replace it just yet.  That said it’s worth spending a little effort in the meantime to make it better.  Let’s build some miter stand wings!  And with any luck these wings will outlive the miter saw when it gets replaced by a better model.

As an initial step I attached solid 3/4″ poplar panels on either side of the stand.  These will be used as solid connection points for the wings.  I used a straightedge clamped to the back rail as a reference to get the panel height level with the base of the miter saw.  I realize in retrospect this wasn’t the best technique because the panels only contact the straightedge at one point so there was the potential for the panels to rotate as I was lining them up.  Fortunately this is a shop project so ‘close enough’ rules apply.

Incidentally, these Rockler Bandy Clamps are incredibly helpful.  Here I was able to use one to hold the panel in place long enough to get a proper bar clamp on it.

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Next I drove 3.5″ woodscrews deep into the stand’s legs.  Even having drilled pilot holes it still took a lot of torque to drive the screws.  I couldn’t even do it with my normal driver; had to use an impact driver.  And even then I still stripped the heads off a couple screws.  At least we know this panel is securely mounted.  Note to self: always buy hex head or square drive screws from now on so I don’t have to deal with stripping Phillips head screws.

I had some door hinges lying around, nice ones at that.  But before I mounted them I realized there was a void behind the hinge leaf and it wouldn’t sit flush with the panel.  If you look at the upper-left photo below you’ll see what I’m talking about.  Yes I probably could have screwed it in anyway and it wouldn’t have been a big deal but something about this offended my sense of aesthetic so I decided to cut wooden spacers to fill the void.

IMG_3296Incidentally, I learned a new trick while using the bandsaw to cut these spacers.  The rule I was taught about tensioning a blade was it should deflect less than 1/4″ when you push it with your finger.  On my Rikon model there’s actually a completely different way to do this.  At slightly more tension than the 1/4″ deflection threshold, the blade starts to slide off the bandsaw wheels.  It’s kind of a pain to mount the blade again so you definitely don’t want to over tighten.  But as you get closer to that point you can see the blade starting to wander.  Just back off a little bit from that point and now you have a nicely tensioned blade.

Next I attached a spacer block to the main panel.  The purpose for this will be clear only at the very end of this article.  Stay tuned!

IMG_3330Next I clamped a temporary piece of plywood against the spacer for the next couple steps.  Let me explain.  For the wing to be flush with the miter saw the hinge needs to attach 3/4″ from the top of the panel to leave room for the wing above it.  But to get the alignment correct factoring in the spacers behind the hinge leaves I needed something to simulate a wing just long enough for me to attach the hinge to the spacer block.  I could have used the wing itself but it’s fairly heavy and unless I supported it on the far side it would tend to droop and prevent me getting accurate placement as I screwed the hinges in.

IMG_3332It’s at this point you might be wondering, “r3cgm, have you overengineered this project?”  The answer is ‘yes,’ it’s starting to look that way.

Holding the hinge in place with spacers behind both leaves was a challenge but I’m happy with the result.  Again, Bandy Clamps to the rescue.  Now one of the hinge leafs (leaves?) is screwed into the spacer block while the other is waiting to be attached to the wing above.  It’s time to take away the temporary piece of plywood used earlier and put the actual wing in place.

IMG_3335Now before we attach the wing to the upper hinge leaf we need to make sure front-to-back alignment is correct.  I held a straightedge against the front of the miter stand and extended it out toward the tip of the wing and tried to make sure the edges were coplanar.

There are a number of ways I could have done this.  The method I chose was not the best.  The straightedge isn’t entirely rigid and I’m not certain the two edges are aligned with any more accuracy than 1/2″.  Again, this is a shop project so alignment just needs to be approximately correct.  In retrospect a far better way would have been to take a large rigid square and clamp it against both edges.  Live and learn.

Next I added a support brace that can be swiveled out and hold the weight of the wing.

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I added three finishing touches.  First I notched out the corner of the swivel brace so it wouldn’t scrape against against the corner of the wing as I was revolving it into place (upper right, photo below).  Second I glued in a wedge shim on top of the wing to raise it up a bit and make sure it was level with the miter saw.  Last but not least I added little wooden stoppers so when I swiveled out the brace it would sit in a gap between the them on either side; in addition to letting me know the optimal place to put the brace this also prevents me from accidentally bumping out the brace and causing the wing to fall.

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IMG_3377Incidentally, now the purpose of the spacer block I mentioned earlier becomes clear.  With the wing mounted to the block, it creates a recess behind the wing when it is folded down.  And into this recess the swivel brace can live when it is folded back against the panel.

And finally, we are done!

If you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to mention them in the area below.

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