After the cordless drill, the miter saw is perhaps the most useful power tool you can own. It’s great for the shop or on-site work, particularly when it’s used on a lightweight, portable stand — a project that any DIYer with intermediate woodworking skills can build to enhance the mobility and versatility of this workhorse tool.
Constructing the stand shown takes about one day; you’ll need to exercise a little patience to accurately make and join the parts. The angled sides of the beam position the legs for a wide, stable footprint. Folding legs and a removable saw base make it easy and convenient to move the stand, which fits neatly into almost any vehicle for transport.
Tools and Materials
The lumber and hardware for the stand cost about $100 and are readily available. I purchased the 1/2-in. birch plywood and 1-1/2 x 1-1/2-in. hardwood for the legs at a home center and ordered some of the specialized hardware from Rockler (see SOURCES in PDF, below). You may be tempted to use cheaper construction-grade plywood, but you’ll get better results with cabinet-grade birch plywood because it is smoother, has fewer voids and is dimensionally more consistent.
To build the stand you’ll need a table saw, a miter saw, a drill and 5/16- and 7/16-in. brad-point bits, and a finish or pin nailer. (You can substitute small finish nails or brads if you don’t have a nailer.) A jigsaw or band saw is also useful for making some of the smaller and angled parts.
If you’d prefer your stand to be shorter or longer than the one shown, simply adjust the dimensions of the top, sides and bottom (see cutting list, in PDF below). Miter saws come in various sizes, so you should adjust the saw-base dimensions to fit your tool. You may want to add stock supports on the ends of the beam. Many miter saws have a 3-1/2-in. table rise, so a 2x4 turned on its edge makes a good stock support.
Make the Beam
The stand’s beam is an angled torsion box with four internal braces (A) that add strength and stiffness. The top, sides and bottom wrap around the braces and must fit precisely.
First, cut the internal-brace angles (see illustration, in PDF below) with a jigsaw or band saw. Next, cut the sides (B) to length and then width on a table saw. Note the 12-degree-angle cuts along both long edges. Leave the saw set to the same angle and cut the bottom (C). Now set the saw blade back to 90 degrees and cut the top (D).
Rip and crosscut stock to make the positioning cleats (E, F) for the internal braces. Note that the top cleats (F) are shorter to fit the tighter space. Lay out the brace and cleat positions on the top, sides and bottom, and check that they all align (see illustration). Fasten just one cleat at each brace position with glue and nails. Then use a cleat or plywood scrap as a spacer to position and fasten the second cleat (photo 1).
Glue and nail the internal-brace cleats to the top, sides and back. Fasten one cleat; then use a plywood spacer to accurately position the second cleat.
Test fit the beam parts to ensure that they connect together properly, and make any necessary adjustments before gluing. Start final assembly by fastening the braces to the bottom with glue and nails; then add the sides and finally the top (photos 2, 3 and 4). The beam is now complete except for the parts that relate to the legs.
After test fitting all of the beam parts, glue and nail the internal braces to the bottom first.
Next, attach the sides with glue and nails. Use a mallet to tap the parts together.
Once the sides are in place, check that the top edges of the sides are flush with the internal braces; then add the top.
Add the Legs
Attach the leg braces (H) to the inside of the beam ends with glue and nails (see illustration in PDF, below). The braces provide extra structure to help support the load placed on the legs. Mark the leg-bolt positions on the outside of the beam; then bore the 5/16-in. holes with a bradpoint bit and a shop-made drilling jig to achieve the correct angle (photo 5).
Drill the leg-bolt hole in the beam with the aid of a drilling jig. To ensure accuracy, the hole in the jig must be perpendicular to its sides.
The bottoms of the legs (G) are cut at a compound angle (see illustration in PDF below) so they rest flat on the floor. If your miter saw can make compound cuts, this is a straightforward operation; if not, you can make an angled platform for the saw base to achieve the second angle. Remember, you need two right-hand and two left-hand legs. (You may want to make some practice pieces out of scrap wood before you cut more expensive hardwood stock.) If this step seems too complicated or time-consuming, you can simply sand the ends of the legs round.
Once you’ve cut the bottoms of the legs, cut them to length. (You can adjust the leg length so the stand is a comfortable height for you.) Next, mark and bore the 5/16-in. bolt holes in the tops of the legs. Use a drill guide (or better yet, a drill press) and be sure to keep the drill as straight as possible.
Cut the leg stops (I) to the dimensions in the cutting list. Install the legs and level the stand on a flat surface such as a workbench. Adjust the leg angles using the leg stops as a guide. Then glue, nail and clamp the stops (photo 6) while checking that the stand remains level and that all of the bottoms of the legs are in contact with the work surface.
Use a leg stop as an angle guide to position the legs so the stand is level and sits squarely; then glue and nail the stop in place.
With the legs extended, place the stand on the ground and tighten the knobs firmly to seat the bolt heads into the leg braces. (Smooth-shank carriage bolts would be ideal for this application, but I couldn’t find any in this size.)
Make the Saw Base
The saw base (J) was designed to accommodate the Craftsman model shown, so you may need to adjust the dimensions to fit larger or smaller saws.
When doing so, it’s more important to understand how the locking mechanism works than to simply copy it from the illustration. The base cleats (K,L) key into the top’s lip, and the lock spacers (M) and locks (N) do the same on the front when the locks are rotated under the top’s lip. Note that there is a 1/2-in. gap between the spacers and the top’s lip when the rear cleat is engaged. This allows the base to be removed when the rear cleat is disengaged.
Fasten the base cleats and the lock spacers with glue and nails. Check that the spacers don’t interfere with removing the base. Bore centered 7/16-in. holes in the spacers for the 5/16-in. threaded inserts (photo 7). Cut or round the leading corners of the locks so they don’t hit the beam sides when rotated. Finally, install the knobs and check the fit of the base (photo 8).
Bore 7/16-in. pilot holes in the lock spacers for the 5/16-in. threaded inserts. Use a screwdriver or threaded insert wrench to install them.
The locks rotate to key the saw base into the beam top. Although this project has three locks, two are enough for small to medium-size saws.
Ease all sharp and exposed edges with sandpaper and then attach your saw to the base. Now you’re ready to tackle your next project, whatever and wherever it might be.