The compound miter saw, occasionally referred to as a chop saw, is the tool of choice when woodworking projects call for compound angles and precise crosscuts. When working with a compound miter saw in a woodshop, there is typically a long table to the left and right of the miter saw to keep the stock in line with and level with the table of the miter saw.
However, when away from the woodshop, the best way to use a compound miter saw is with a portable miter saw stand. Just as there are many models of miter saws, there are numerous versions of compound miter saw stands commercially available. Even so, each model has some drawbacks. Sometimes, they are too difficult to set up or don't have proper supports for long pieces of stock. Many models are quite expensive, as well.
After researching the numerous choices of miter stands available, we decided to build one. We used pressure-treated stock for nearly the entire piece (except the table holding the saw) for longevity. In our case, nearly all of the stock for the stand was left over from previous projects.
When all was said and done, we had a very strong 12-foot-long stand that could be easily disassembled into six easily-transportable pieces and set back up in seconds.
- Woodworking: Moderate to Difficult
- Finishing: None Required
Time to Complete
- 4–5 Hours
- 1 piece 2x6x12-foot treated wood
- 2 pieces of 2x6x8-foot treated wood
- 5 pieces of 2x4x8-foot treated wood
- 2x3-foot piece of 3/4-inch melamine-covered particleboard
- 4 pieces of 3-foot-long, 1/2-inch-diameter bolts each with two washers, a lock washer, and nut
- 2-1/2-inch deck screws
- 1-5/8-inch deck screws
- Combination square
- Hand saw
Build the Table Support Boxes
To begin building our miter saw stand plans, we need to make the support structure beneath the saw table. The saw sits on a piece of melamine-covered particleboard, which in turn, is attached to two box-like structures made from pressure-treated wood.
Using your miter saw (with some temporary stock supports), cut four lengths of pressure-treated 2x6 at 31 inches long for the sides. Cut four more at 10-1/4 inches for the ends and two at 7-1/4 inches for center supports.
As shown earlier, butt one of the end pieces to the end of one of the side pieces and attach using some 2-1/2-inch deck screws. Connect the opposite side piece to the other side of the end piece. Then, attach the other end in the same manner. Finally, place one of the center pieces exactly in the middle between the sides and connect with deck screws.
Repeat with the remaining pieces to create a second box structure.
Attach the Saw Table
With the two under-structures completed, we'll now attach the saw table to the assembly. On a shop table, position the two box assemblies parallel to one another (along the long sides) with a scrap piece of 2x6 in between acting as a spacer. Be sure that the two boxes are aligned evenly.
Position a 24x36-inch piece of 3/4-inch-thick melamine-coated particleboard onto the assembly and center it evenly on all four sides (there should be about a 1-inch reveal on all four sides). Attach to the sub-structure assembly with 1-5/8-inch deck screws. Remove the spacer and set the assembly aside for a while.
Begin the Leg Assemblies
With the saw table complete, we'll turn our attention to building the two leg assemblies to support the stand. This step is a bit tricky, so work carefully and double-check your measurements before beginning any cut. The top cut of each of the four legs needs to be cut.
Using your miter saw, cut four pieces of 2x4 (treated) to 40 inches in length. Then, adjust your compound miter saw for a 20-degree miter (to the left) with about a 7-degree (angled to the left) bevel. Set stock support directly in front of the miter saw.
Using your combination square, align one 2x4 on edge perpendicular to the miter saw's fence. Hold the piece securely with your hands well away from the blade, remove the combination square and cut the compound miter on the leg (as shown above). It would be advisable to secure the piece of stock with a clamp, as the turning of the blade may try to slide the piece as it is being cut. Cut two of the four legs in this manner.
To cut the bottom of the leg, measure 32 inches from the long point and make a mark. Position the stock against the fence, on edge with the longest point on the top-back spot. Adjust the bevel to 15-degrees left and cross-cut the leg at the mark. This should allow the bottom of the leg to sit flat on the ground when the assembly is in place. Repeat with the other leg.
Next, rotate the miter to 20-degrees right and the bevel to 7-degrees right. Cut the tops of the other two legs in the same manner (positioned perpendicular to the fence). Then adjust the bevel to 15-degrees right and cut the bottoms of the two legs at the same length as the first two legs.
Tip: Cutting the legs to 32 inches in length will put the cutting surface of the miter saw at about 34 inches off of the ground. Adjust the leg length accordingly for a higher cutting surface.
Attach a Cross Brace
Take one each out of the two different sets of legs you cut in the last step and align the top cuts together so that the legs are splayed out (twenty degrees in each direction). Position a scrap of stock in between the two top cuts and clamp the pieces together as shown in the picture on this page.
Measure down 2 inches from the top and make a pencil line across the two legs perpendicular to the spacer that separates the two legs. This will mark the top edge of the cross brace for this side of the leg assembly. Measure the length of this line across the two legs.
Set your miter saw to zero-degree bevel but 20-degree miter and cut a piece of 2x4 stock with the measurement from across the two legs as the short-point-to-short-point measurement on this block. You should end up with a trapezoidal-shaped piece of stock.
Attach this piece at the mark shown using some long deck screws.
Flip the assembly over and repeat the entire procedure, adding another short cross-brace at the same height on the opposite side of the leg assembly. Remove the spacer after the second cross-brace is attached.
Repeat the entire procedure with the other two legs.
Attach a Stabilizing Brace
With the cross-braces attached on each side of the tops of the leg assemblies, we'll next add a stabilizing brace to the bottom of the leg assembly. The height of this brace is not as important as merely making certain that it is securely attached and at the same height on each leg.
From the long point on the bottom of one leg, measure up approximately 10–12 inches on the corner of the leg and make a mark. This mark denotes where the top of the stabilizing brace will be attached. Repeat at the same spot on the opposite leg.
Measure the distance between the two marks. As in the previous step, this will be the short-point-to-short-point on a trapezoidal-cut piece of stock.
With the miter saw set to 20-degrees miter (zero-degree bevel), cut one end of the stabilizing brace. Flip the unit over, measure the short-to-short distance and cut the opposite side. Attach to the leg assembly using deck screws.
Repeat with the opposite assembly.
Tip: The short-to-short distance should be the same on the second stabilizing brace as it was on the first. If they are different, you might experience a bit of wobble when the stand is in use.
Notch the Beam
With the two leg assemblies completed, we'll turn our attention to the beam, the main support on the project. This beam will need to be notched twice for each leg assembly, as the notches and cross braces will connect providing considerable lateral support for the stand.
To begin, measure in 30-inches from each end of the 12-foot-long pressure-treated 2x6. Using your combination square, mark a 75-degree angle leaning toward the center (105-degrees from the opposite side of the angle, as shown in the plans). Make a cross-mark 2-1/2 inches up the line. At this spot, mark a 1-1/2-inch long line perpendicular to the angle. From the end of this line, make a line at a 75-degree angle (parallel to the first line) back down to the bottom of the beam. Repeat on the opposite end of the beam.
Next, position one of the leg assemblies on the floor in the approximate angle that the unit will be used (with the bottoms of the legs flat on the floor). Measure the distance between the high points of the two cross braces on the top of the leg assembly (the distance should be around 5 inches).
Make a mark at this distance from the first mark you made in this step (30 inches from the end) and mark out a second notch on this end of the beam exactly as you made the first on this end. Repeat the procedure on the opposite side (being certain to measure the distance between the cross braces).
Now, use a cross-cut hand saw and cut the parallel lines of the four notches (eight cuts in all). Use a sharp chisel and ease out the ends of the notches. Take your time to make sure you cut the notches cleanly.
Position the Legs on the Beam
With the leg assemblies completed and the beam notched, it's time to put the stand together. Slide each leg assembly onto the beam and into the notches as shown in the picture on this page. The cross-braces of each leg assembly should fit snugly (but not too snugly) into each pair of notches on the beam. It may be useful to wiggle the leg assembly a bit as you're sliding the legs onto (or off of) the beam. With both legs connected to the beam, flip the unit over onto its legs. The leg-and-beam assembly should be sturdy and have no wobble. You should be able to easily lean onto the beam or push it in any direction and it should be stable (provided that the cross-braces on the leg assemblies are properly seated in each of the notches).
Bolt the Saw to the Table
Once the beam and leg assemblies have been connected and are stable, we'll turn our attention back to the saw table and attach the compound miter saw to the saw table.
To begin this step, grab the saw table that you set aside earlier and position it onto the beam. The two box structures under the tabletop should fit snugly (but not too snugly) across the beam, much like a saddle on a horse. The table should be stable on the beam but might have a very slight wobble (which should not affect the accuracy of the saw).
With the saw table on the stand, place your compound miter saw onto the table. Position the saw so that the fence is parallel to the far side of the beam (as you look at it). Positioning it in this location will allow any stock to be cut to be placed directly over the beam when being cut.
Center the saw on the table and mark the bolt hole locations. (Most compound miter saws have 1/2-inch-diameter bolt holes, so if your unit requires larger or smaller diameter bolts, be sure to adjust accordingly.) Remove the saw and drill the four holes using a 1/2-inch paddle bit.
Place the saw back on the table and align the bolt holes with the holes in the table. Place a large flat washer between the saw base and the table. Then slip a bolt through each hole in the saw, through the washer and the saw table. On the underside of the table, slip a large flat washer followed by a lock washer and a nut onto each bolt. Tighten the bolts to lock the saw onto the table. Do not over-tighten the bolts, as you don't want to damage the melamine tabletop.
Tip: Unless you're of above-average size and strength (or are partial to hernias), it is probably a good idea to have someone help you when you remove the saw table from the beam or put it on next time. The saw table with the saw attached can be quite heavy.
Build the Stock Supports
In the final step of these plans, we'll build a pair of stock supports to hold the stock at the proper height when it is being cut.
To begin, cut two lengths of treated 2x4 to 16 inches in length and two more at 12 inches. Set these pieces aside for the moment.
Measure the height from the top of the melamine table to the base of the miter saw's table. On most saws, this height should be somewhere between 3 and 4 inches. Add the thickness of the melamine tabletop to this distance and you'll have the final height needed for each stock support.
Next, subtract this distance from the width of two 2x4s (which should be 7 inches). To verify, place the edge of one of the 16-inch pieces against the edge of one of the 12-inch pieces and measure the combined width.
Subtract the height needed for each stock support from the width of the two 2x4s and divide this result in half. This is the depth that you'll need to make on some half-lap joints to create the stock supports. In the case of our miter saw stand, we needed to make the depth of the half-lap joints at 1-9/32 inch. While we could have used a table saw to make these joints, we chose to use a circular saw instead.
On the edge of the 16-inch piece of stock, make a mark at 7-1/4 inches and another at 8-3/4 inches. This will be the edges of the half-lap joint. Make similar marks at 5-1/4 inches and 6-3/4 inches on the edge of the 12-inch piece. Cut the half-lap joints at the determined depth using one of the methods described in our article on half-lap joints.
Repeat with the other pair and secure the half-lap joints using wood glue.
Next, cut eight 9-inch pieces with a 45-degree angle. Attach these to the 12-inch pieces as shown using deck screws.
Finally, slip the supports onto the beam where desired. The four angled pieces should hold the stock supports in place.