Wed 5 Aug, 2009
Tags: Design, Shop, SketchUp, Woodworking, Workbench
A few weeks ago I got an email from a woodworker who saw my miter saw workbench (aka chop saw station) on my website. He asked if I could supply the drawings I used to build it. I explained that I didn’t use a drawing, but rather built it from mental drawings, but said I would reconstruct a model in SketchUp for his use. That gave me the idea for this blog article – if one person was interested, maybe others would be.
When I moved into my current home with attached workshop, all I had was a contractor’s table saw, a miter saw, hand tools and routers. No benches, not even an extension on the table saw. My shop is two stories, 30 feet by 30 feet. So my workbench was my shop floor. I had an idea in my mind for my first bench, a miter saw bench. I bought some plywood and set to work. If you have ever built something this large, without a workbench – not even saw horses – then you know what a physical and crafting challenge it is. I made a few mistakes, largely due to the working environment, but I ended up with a very workable miter saw bench pictured at left. The overall dimensions are 97 1/2” long, 25 1/2” deep and 36 1/16” high. If you plan to build this for your shop and have a sliding miter saw, be sure to leave enough room behind it for the slide.
At the end of this post I will supply a link to the SketchUp model (see right) and Cut List (CutList Plus file, CSV File & Excel File)which you can download and modify for your needs. The recessed area of the top was designed to work with a DeWalt Model DW708 12” Sliding Compound Miter Saw. If you have a different brand or model you will want to customize this area, including the depth of the recessed area. In this particular configuration I left the recessed depth just slightly deeper than the height of the saw and used washers to raise the saw to the exact height. The shape of the recess was designed to allow full swing of the miter arm both left and right. This will also be unique to the brand and model.
The drawers on the right and left are graduated and the bottom drawers are designed for file folders. I keep all my power and hand tool manuals in a file drawer for easy and organized access. The tall doors on either side open to expose adjustable shelves. The middle short doors pull out to expose shelves that may be accessed from either side as shown at left. The middle shelf is adjustable. Note that the pull out extends all the way out. The bottom slides are Accuride, model 9301. You can get them from most woodworking supply catalogs.
I added a homemade fence with built-in tape measures and moveable stop for accurate cut settings. However, the fence and tape measure do not support pieces shorter than one foot. For that reason I keep an accurately cut “One Foot Stick” which I stick between the stop and the piece I am cutting, and set the fence for one foot longer than the desired cut. This works really well. If I had it to do over I would buy a commercial metal fence with T-tracks. Mine is made with two pieces of 3/4” plywood and trimmed in oak. I have noticed some warping over the years even though the fences are screwed tightly to the top. The top is finished with Formica and trimmed in oak. This makes for easy cleaning and a hard durable surface.
The pull out shelves are supported by two slides on the bottom and one on the top. The top slide is a normal heavy duty drawer slide laid on its side to keep the push/pull travel stable and centered. The bottom slides are heavy duty pantry pull out slides. See the close-up at left. The adjustable shelf is supported by vertical holes spaced 1” apart, two rows on each of the front and back.
I used birch banding on all exposed edges of the plywood. This is an easy process and dresses up the plywood quite nicely.
I should say a few words about the SketchUp model and the joinery. The model does not show joinery such as pocket hole screws and biscuits. I leave it to the woodworker to decide which type of joinery he/she prefers. I also have not included all the cleats, brackets, braces etc., though some are shown. Again, the woodworker can decide how much reinforcement is necessary. The model is largely dimensioned, though not completely. Most of the dimensions that are missing are obvious ones, e.g. 3/4” thickness of the primary plywood. I assume that anyone using the SketchUp model knows how to use SketchUp and can fill in the details. If you are not a SketchUp user but would like to learn, see my Beginner’s SketchUp Tutorials on my Google SketchUp Page.
Lastly, I offer this model and cut list free. I accept no responsibility for its completeness or correctness. Travel at your own risk and check carefully all documents. My lawyer made me say this. Have fun with this, and if you make significant modifications I would appreciate an Email with the SketchUp file attached and pictures.