Welcome back to Farbulous Creations! I’m Ron, and today we’re going to build a modified version of Jay Bates’ miter saw station.
Late last fall, I completed the wiring, insulation, wall coverings and lighting, as well as having HVAC installed in my garage to make it an all-season shop. But since then, I have not built any shop furniture, and so my organizational game is… pretty weak. I basically only have this big metal shelf in the back for storing things, and if it’s not there, I don’t know where it is. And even if it is there, I probably don’t know where it is.
My version of purgatory exists at the start of every project where I’m looking for a tool and I have no idea where I put it, and I will just wander around for 20-30 minutes before finding it. And it’s a total waste of time and it just needs to be fixed.
So the reason I’m building Jay Bates’ miter saw station is because it’s just jam-packed with storage – a ton of drawers, a ton of cubbies for quick access stuff. And basically, it will give me the ability to give every tool a home. When I’m done using the tool, it will go back in at home and I’ll always know where it is.
The plywood I’m using for this project is actually leftover from doing the wall coverings in here: I did some bad measurements in my design file and ordered too much three-quarter inch plywood, which actually turned out to be a blessing because I believe plywood prices are still pretty high. I believe Jay’s plans call for 15 sheets of plywood – I’m not doing the full version of his build so I don’t need the full 15 sheets anyway. But in addition, I have a bunch of off-cuts from doing the wall coverings that I’m going to try to use whenever possible to save space and not need to go buy more plywood.
So that’s a rough plan of attack. I’ll jump into it later, but I’d like to thank Kreg Tool for sending me a couple of the tools I’ll be using on this project. It’s going to make it so much easier.
So, without any further ado, I got some plywood to cut!
I thought a good place to start this project would be with all of the off-cuts I mentioned earlier, leftover from putting up the wall and ceiling coverings in the garage. The full version of the miter saw station in Jay’s plans called for fifteen sheets of three-quarter inch plywood, but I only had I think 10 full sheets leftover, so I was curious if I could make up the difference with all my scrap, keeping in mind that I wouldn’t need the full amount called for anyway, what with my smaller version.
On that note, let’s quickly go over the modifications I’m making in my version of the build. Jay designed the station to fit in the back of a standard two garage, across from the main garage door, tucked into the back left corner. I considered putting mine there, but since our side pedestrian door is in the back left corner too, I decided a better place would be the adjacent wall, parallel to where cars might be parked if we used our garage as a garage.
With my miter saw station on this wall, I could have still fit the full version, but I wanted to keep the four feet or so in the front left of the garage for storing yard tools like our lawn mower, leaf blower, and other things. So instead of having the full eight feet of in-feed support for a board, and the space underneath, I decided to lop off the top left set of drawers and shorten the largest cubby to fit with the new, shortened length of the station.
With all of my scrap handy, I got to picking through the various pages of Jay’s plans to figure out what pieces would work with the scrap I had. As an organizational enhancement for my uses, I first went through and labeled each cut on the cutlist with a code corresponding to what sheet of plywood in the plans it was on, as well as which “unique size” on that sheet it was. So, in this case, you’ll notice there were two “3B’s” as there would be two boards cut to that size.
Jay has everything color-coded in his plans that I purchased, but I’m colorblind, and with a lot of the colors pretty similar to each other, they were pretty hard to discern. Besides that, we only have a black and white printer at home and I wanted a physical copy I could write on, rather than only using my laptop.
I definitely think the coding system I employed could be useful even if you’re not colorblind or have a color printer. It was just really nice being able to finish a cut, double check it for length, and then mark it with the code I established on the cut lists. Days later when I would eventually work with the boards that were cut days prior, I didn’t have to re-measure or scour the plans to figure out which board or what part of the project it was for.
To make sure I was making the most out of my scrap, I would take a board that was wide enough for the cut and figure out which cuts could fit on it, to result in the least waste. That sometimes meant combining boards from across the plan document, provided they had a common width, but the end result at the end of all my cutting was two full sheets of the three-quarter inch plywood leftover, so the extra time and planning I took here to optimize that scrap definitely paid off.
So that’s how I made the most of my scrap… measuring, finding like sizes, and lots and lots of cutting. For larger boards that were too dangerous to cut on my table saw without the help of a crosscut sled, riving knife and an outfeed table, one of the tools Kreg sent me was immensely handy. The Kreg Rip-Cut is basically a brand-agnostic jig that you attach your circular saw to and it has a handle that references the side of your board to make cuts up to 24 inches wide. Combined with my giant piece of pink foam insulation, this was the primary way I was able to break down the giant full sheets of plywood in a safe way, rather than trying to maneuver them myself and without a way to properly support them on the table˛ saw.
After lots of cutting, I had finished all the boards necessary to assemble the bottom three cabinets, and since I was running out of space for stacking these cut pieces in an organized way behind where I was working at the table saw, I figured it was a good time to start making the miter saw station feel real by expanding into the third dimension. Before I could fasten any of the boards together though, I needed to drill some pocket holes, and this is where Kreg really helped me on this project, with the Kreg Foreman pocket hole machine. Smaller pocket hole jigs are great if you’re only drilling the occasional pocket hole, but this project, at least in the unmodified version of the plans, had nearly 450 of them, and the idea of manually clamping the board for each of those is something I really wasn’t looking forward to. Thankfully the Foreman makes it super easy by doing the clamping, drilling, and dust extraction all in one swift pull of its handle. With the integrated ruler, I was easily able to drill the two-three pocket holes on each end of a board in under 10-15 seconds. It really is quite a nifty tool, and I’ve already thought of a few other larger projects I can put it to use on down the line, such as some built-in shelving for our home bar, so it’s a welcome addition to my shop.
With the boards for the base cabinets cut and their pocket holes drilled, I could fasten them together with glue and pocket hole screws. Kreg makes a clever clamp that uses a metal rod that fits into one of your drilled pocket holes and then clamps on the opposite board to hold them snugly together while you screw the remaining pocket holes together. In most cases I found it best to clamp using the middle hole in a series of three pocket holes to act as a pivot point to make sure the board was level with the face of the board I was securing it to before removing the clamp and going back to install a screw in the hole that previously housed the clamp rod.
It was at this point in the project where I had to repurpose my current “miter saw station” – if you even want to call it that, to get it out of my way. The previous owner of our house had built this work table with just two legs and attached the back directly to the exposed studs of the wall. When I was adding insulation and plywood to the walls of the shop, I gave it two more legs, and added angled cross braces to help stabilize it since I ended up standing on it a lot. Now that it’s in the way of the new miter saw station, I decided to shorten its legs down to the height of my table saw and let it live on for awhile longer as an outfeed table. It’s not a perfect match – it’s about 3 inches wider than the table saw is, but that doesn’t really matter. During this, my future shop assistant came to see how things were going – I keep promising her she can spend more time in the garage with papa, but until things are more tidy and have a place, she’s far too prone to get into things she shouldn’t be, if they’re laying out on the floor.
With the old workbench moved and out of the way, I could start moving the first two lower cabinets into their future homes, which also cleared space behind me to assemble the largest of the lower cabinets, which is a full 4 feet wide and definitely needed the space to work.
After the third of the bottom three cabinets was put together, it was time to figure out the placement I wanted on the floor. I tried placing the largest one right next to the door, but as I suspected, it was far too close for comfort and felt cramped when walking into the shop. So I nudged it in from the door about 12-16 inches to give more clearance and to feel less cramped. This would come in handy later, as I discovered that our large bulky 26 foot collapsible ladder could fit behind the cabinets, thus giving it a permanent home for the first time since we bought it two years ago.
Before permanently placing the cabinets, though, there were a few other tasks I needed to do. One of which was gluing in a two by two on the bottom of each one to receive the t-nuts that would hold the carriage bolt feet. Once this was glued in, I secured it with a half a dozen screws – potentially overkill, but considering this is, in joint effort with the two-by that I later attach to the wall, the primary means of support for all the weight that the station will hold, I want to make sure there’s enough holding power.
After the glue had dried, I could drill a hole in each corner of each base cabinet for the t-nuts to go into. After pounding the t-nuts down and into their holes and starting to screw the carriage bolt feet in, I found that the t-nuts weren’t super grippy into their holes and that they kind of wanted to slip out. To remedy this, I used some spare drawer slide screws to hold the t-nuts in place in the various corners of its profile. This looked a little janky, but seemed to solve the problem at hand. Let me know if you know of a better way to make sure t-nuts stay in place – I’m sure epoxy would work, but seems like a bit of overkill at the same time.
The other thing that needed to be done before installing the cabinets in their permanent locations comes via the recommendation of Jay himself. Apparently he waited to install the drawer slides for his miter saw station until they were already affixed to the wall and as such, it was a pain in the butt. He thus recommends in his plans to do it first, while you still have the luxury of having them elevated up on a work surface at eye level. I’m sure that’s something that sounds completely obvious to everyone now, but it’s nice to know that even the pros like Jay can overlook things like that.
The largest base cabinet was too big and unruly to try to get on top of a workbench, so for that one I just camped out underneath it and got them installed down on the ground, which was still more convenient since I had access to it from all sides with it pulled out from the wall.
With the drawer slides installed, I could measure and properly space the individual cabinets from each other, starting with the one closest to the garage door, making my way to the right. This is something I was super fiddly and particular about, as once installed, it’s not really easy or feasible to make adjustments and so it really was important to get it right the first time. In addition to making sure each cabinet was level in both directions, standing on its own, I also made sure each cabinet was level to its neighbor, using a 72 inch long framing level.
Once I was confident in each cabinet’s placement, I could install the wall support and top work surface that fixed the cabinet firmly in place. To do this, I turned the lights down low and then used my laser line level to cast a line that just barely overlapped the front of my cabinets onto the wall. This was mostly a sanity check, because to be doubly sure, I ultimately clamped an extra two by two to the top of the cabinet, flush with the top, and extended it out to the wall to serve as a guide for where my wall-attached two-by-two should be. With it properly positioned, I could use some long screws to secure the two-by-two into my wall’s studs – conveniently marked by the black trim head screws I had used to mount my wall plywood to the framing.
With the two-by-two mounted and the surface sheet of plywood cut to proper size, I could secure it to the top of the cabinets and the two-by-two itself, making sure to predrill the holes to avoid splitting anywhere. I also got to put my garbage can in its proper home now, something I’d been looking forward to since the start of this project. It’s the little things.
I then followed the same procedure for the large right base cabinet, again making sure everything was level before securing it in place.
With the base cabinets done and installed, I could turn my focus to the upper cabinets. This was largely the same: cutting all the boards to size, drilling the pocket holes in each of the boards with the help of the Kreg Foreman, and gluing and screwing them all together. I used the lower cabinets as a work surface for a few of these, but made sure to put down some craft paper while I worked to protect the surface from excess glue.
After they were assembled, the next step was to install them in place atop the work surface, and this is where I had to get a bit creative to overcome some errors I had apparently made along the way. In this case, the two left-most cabinets didn’t want to sit perfectly level against my top surface and the wall at the same time – when flat and level in the front, the back had a bit of a gap on the bottom. Additionally, the cabinets touched the walls at one point, but not the entire way down the height of the cabinet. It was close, but obviously not perfect. Please keep in mind this was the first time I’ve ever built anything this big and encompassing before judging me too harshly.
But, I decided for this situation, the most important parts to be level and accurate was the front face of the uppers in relation to the front of the lowers – the distance that would effectively make up the bed that long boards rested on while being cut at the miter saw.
So what that meant in terms of accounting for the errors was to make sure each of the cabinets was flush with one another, and then that that “combined” front was an even 14 inches away from the front of the lower cabinets along its entire length. This created a gap or two where the uppers were supposed to be attached to the wall, so I simply used some carpenter shims to fill the gap before securing it to the wall in a few places. I also needed a few shims along the bottom in the back to make sure the cabinets didn’t rock when an uneven load was placed on top of the upper cabinets.
With that little problem worked out, I could move on to installing the drawer slides for the upper cabinets. To do this, per Jay’s plans, I cut some scrap helper blocks at the appropriate heights for each of the three different drawer heights that would be used in the upper cabinets. These spacer blocks could then be used on all three upper cabinets to make sure all the drawers were installed at the same heights and thus even when all was said and done.
Now that I had all the upper and lower cabinets installed, it was time to fill those up with drawers. With all of my drawer side stock cut to the proper width, I went through and marked each board with the cuts that would be made on each over on the miter saw.
Speaking of which, it was at this point in the project that I was ready to attach the benchtop for the miter saw itself, and I had to make a decision. The miter saw I had been using this whole time was a ultra basic Harbor Freight sliding compound miter saw I had picked up a few years ago when I just wanted a miter saw without researching them too heavily or spending a lot of money. Well this model had left a lot to be desired, and this step of the miter station’s build required me to set the benchtop height equal to the cut bed height of the miter saw it was for. I didn’t plan on gluing it so that it could change the height later if needed, but I also didn’t want to set it to the height of this saw if I planned to get a better miter saw in the near future. So I thought about it a bit more and decided to go out and buy a new miter saw PRIOR to setting the benchtop height. I’m not a purist on any particular brand of tools – I have a lot of Ryobi battery powered tools, and like their ecosystem, but obviously that doesn’t really matter for an AC powered miter saw. In this case, I opted for a Dewalt model with their “XPS” system because it made a lot of sense to me – rather than a laser system shining a line on the workpiece that potentially needs tuning to make sure its reflective of where the blade will actually cut, this system has a light directly above the blade that causes the blade itself to cast a shadow line onto the workpiece. That means that the line will always accurately reflect the blade that’s installed – a thin-kerf blade, for example, will show a narrower line.
So with my new saw in-hand, I measured the height of its cutting surface using the back end of my digital calipers and used that measurement to secure the miter saw station base frame to the sides of the base cabinets. I made a makeshift jig to reflect the fact that the height I was measuring included the miter saw’s work surface, not just the underlying frame. I thus made my marks on the bottom of said jig, before securing the side pieces of the frame with a half dozen screws on each side.
After the back and front frame pieces were installed with a few pocket screws, I could make sure the height was appropriate for my miter saw. I didn’t have the actual miter saw benchtop cut yet, so I used a yet-to-be allocated scrap piece of plywood as a stand in, and was delighted to find that my careful measurements here had resulted in a saw surface that was perfectly flush on both sides and level.
At that point I found myself at what I like to affectionately call the “Mattias Wendal” phase of the project, where the tool or project itself is able to start helping in it’s own construction, like he often does with his bandsaw builds. In this case, with a stop block clamped to the middle upper cabinet, I was able to make quick work of cutting all of my drawer side stock down into their final lengths. This is also where the project really started feeling like it was picking up momentum, which isn’t maybe the best way to describe it, but when you just have a bunch of wood framed boxes and metal hardware sitting around and not doing anything yet, it doesn’t feel quite the same as it does when you’re actually able to start using it.
After cutting the actual miter saw surface, I could secure it in place from below with the pocket holes drilled upwards on the front and back of the frame pieces. It’s worth noting that Jay cut a hole on the back of this board for dust collection, but I haven’t quite decided how I want to run my dust collection port to the miter saw station yet, and I”ll realistically likely come from above, so I’ll drill that hole when it’s needed.
After a few side boards were added to each side, it was time to seal up the dust box’s seams with some duct tape. This will help there to be no leaks once my dust collection is installed, helping to create a negative pressure draft into the dust box to keep fine particulate out of my face while cutting. I also got some child-proof outlet covers to go in the outlets that aren’t in use by the saw – I didn’t anticipate it when laying out the outlets in my shop, but this series of outlets lands right inside the dust box, around the level where the miter saw is throwing dust back. They are tamper resistant outlets, so they already have an internal mechanism to prevent unwanted insertions into the outlet, but I figured it was best to protect them from excess regardless.
Before moving on to the drawers, though, I thought I would do an homage to Jay’s build video – let’s see how it goes.
[STOP MOTION OF DRAWER SLIDES COMING OUT]
Did I do it right? The behind the scenes for something like that requires undoing it all, which of course isn’t as fun, but worth it.
Now where were we? Oh right. Turning those cut pieces from earlier into drawers. Lots and lots of drawers. Eighteen drawers to be exact. Y’all ever make eighteen drawers? It’s a lot. Lots of repetition in gluing, clamping, predrilling and screwing. I like to think I got better at this as the eighteen drawers went on, but as you’ll see in a bit, a few of the drawers had… issues. Not unsolvable issues. But issues nonetheless.
To secure the drawer bottoms, I applied a thick bead of glue around the bottom of each drawer frame, then positioned the drawer bottom in place and secured with clamps. I then went around predrilling and screwing the bottom in place about every six inches, which might have been overkill but wouldn’t hurt in case these drawers found themselves carrying a lot of weight at some point.
I built some of the larger drawers down on the ground to reference the flat garage floor as a common edge. I then used this edge as the bottom of my drawers when gluing the bottom panel on so that there were no gaps between the bottom and walls once the drawers were assembled.
One thing I’ll note is that when drilling pocket holes for the drawers, make sure that the nicer face of the board is facing up. The reason for this is that when the drawers are complete and installed, the face of the boards that will get the most visibility will be inside the drawers themselves – the sides will be against the drawer slides and the back will be against the wall, and the front will be covered with the drawer front. I missed this on a few of the drawers, so there are a few drawer bottoms with big voids that were present on the ugly side of the plywood.
Of course I couldn’t wait to install all the drawers all at once – I was running out of space on the floor of my shop, so I began to install them as they were constructed at a certain point, making sure to let the glue dry overnight first to make sure no glue squeeze-out would gunk up the drawer slides, which could happen if it leaked out while installed in the cabinet.
To install the drawers, I cut a one-quarter inch spacer and a half-inch spacer – the quarter inch one was used on the bottom-most drawer in each cabinet, and the half inch spacer was used between all other drawers.
The first set of drawers, the upper right ones, went swimmingly. The drawers worked smoothly without collision, and most importantly… everything was flush. On the middle and left top drawers, however, I ran into a slight hiccup. I don’t know how it happened, but in order to have one side of the drawer flush with the front of the drawer slides, the opposite front corner had to be inset by a decent amount… thankfully it only happened on two or three drawers, but the worst of the worst was out of square by over half an inch. After kicking myself over this for a bit, I realized there really was no “fixing” it at this point in the game, apart from rebuilding the affected drawers, and that would have used up a decent amount of plywood I wasn’t sure I had without buying more. I also realized it wouldn’t be obvious in the finished project once the drawer faces were installed, so I decided to move along. However, to help the drawer face sit level later, I decided to glue on a piece of wood the thickness of the “gap” to give the drawer front something to sit on once closed. This felt pretty hacky, and to be clear, had this been a project built for anyone other than me, I would have redid it, but I decided to make lemonade out of these lemon shaped drawers and live with it. It’ll be a constant reminder to check for square when I work on future projects, so maybe it’s a blessing in disguise?
Before installing the drawer fronts though, I had to build the cubbies that sit atop the upper cabinets. This is pretty straightforward too – it’s just a giant box with dividers spaced evenly throughout to break it up into smaller usable spaces. It’s held together with glue on the outer frame, but just screws for the dividers. The backing board, a sheet of half-inch plywood, is just held in place with brad nails. I didn’t want to overly secure the backing or the cubbies in case I wanted to reposition them later to make more or fewer storage areas – that way it would be easy to modify. To install it, I worked smarter and not harder, and propped it up on one side before sliding it all the way up. I secured it to the top cabinets with a few screws.
The upper left cubby – the largest of them – is the area in Jay’s plans where an extra wide one is. But since I modified his plans to make a trimmed down version, mine ended up a bit shorter. I think Johnny Brooke over at Crafted Workshop did a similar trimmed down version of Jay’s miter saw station, and he left this larger cubby out entirely, which is certainly an option, I just decided I liked the continuous flow of cubbies along the entire top and figured this one would be a good place for me to keep my 18 volt tool batteries and chargers.
With the upper cubbies complete, there were just a few other things to do before installing the drawer fronts. One of which was to route a dado in the front fence piece to hold the T-track that the stop block for the miter saw will sit in. The most common way of doing this is with a dado stack in a table saw, but I don’t have a dado stack, so I did two offset passes on my router table, completing the depth in a few passes as well. After installing it below the top left set of drawers, I secured the T-track in the channel with some screws. I also installed the fence on the right side of the station, but that one didn’t have a dado.
With all of the little things finalized and secured, it was time for the most exciting part of the build – one, because it would make the project look and feel finished, but also because it would cover up my hideous out-of-square drawer mistakes. And that obviously is the drawer fronts themselves!
The drawer fronts are sized to allow 1/16th of an inch space between each drawer front, so Jay brilliantly shared a suggestion of using two spacers – one that’s 1/8th of an inch thick, and one that’s 1/16th of an inch. Using the 1/8th inch spacer, I measured from the top of the spacer to the bottom of the drawer above. Then, swapping out the 1/8th inch spacer for the 1/16th inch one, I placed the drawer front down in front of the drawer and clamped it to the drawer – for the bottom drawer, this obviously requires removing the drawer above it in order to clamp, but for the drawers above the bottom one, you can simply pull the drawer below out to rest the spacer on while doing the same steps. With the drawer front clamped, I secured it in place with two or so screws from behind, using a few extras on the especially large drawers.
This is where that hideous out-of-square glued-on-fix came in, by the way. With that extra bit of support, the drawer front could be attached the same way as the other drawers, but I did have to use some longer screws on the side with the gap in order to “reach” the drawer front. I also inserted a few shims in the middle so that the drawer wasn’t prone to bowing as I tightened the screws.
The only slightly different drawer front installation – more different than the out of square drawers that is, is the bottom-most, left-most “drawer” that’s not a drawer at all – it’s a slide-out tray meant for a large heavy tool. Jay used this to store his lunchbox-style thickness planer, but I will likely be storing that as a permanent-though-out-of-the-way fixture on my future flip-top workbench I plan to build. So I’m actually not sure what I plan to keep here, long term. Something heavy and not-often-used most likely. For now I’ll likely store a myriad of stuff there, but this was different in that it had these two right angle braces to support the large drawer face, being the tray itself was so thin. The tray, btw, is basically a really shallow, upside-down-drawer.
The last step as far as the build goes, at least as far as this video is concerned, is installing the trim pieces of hardwood above the upper drawers and along the cutting work surface to protect them from dings and dents and abuse. I ended up using poplar for the time being, and just secured this with trim head screws and no glue, predrilling my holes of course. I say for the time-being, because I may want to swap this out for walnut or cherry at some point, when I have the appropriate sized scrap, but I didn’t want to go out and buy a board just for this. So poplar will do for now.
I started this build at the very end of August and at this point in the build, in mid-to-late November it’s been three very long months of on-and-off building… which made it all the more satisfying to be able to finally call it complete! As I got closer and closer to this stage, I was itching and scratching to start filling it up, as realistically I could have started using the drawers as soon as they were installed, even without drawer fronts. But I thought it would be more satisfying to do a long time lapse of decluttering the wire shelf and finding everything its own home in the miter saw. This wasn’t as fast as I thought it would be… it actually ended up happening over the course of a few days, too. But with it finally cleared off, I could get it out of the garage and give it a new home storing the hub’s whiskey collection until I’m able to build proper bar shelving in our basement.
There are a few final things I’ll be doing to put a bow on this project – one of which will be adding some finish to the work surface to protect it. I also need to decide how I want to handle the “stop block” system – whether or not I want to build what was outlined in Jay’s plans, or go with an off-the-shelf solution.
The final thing I’ll be doing is installing some custom drawer pulls. I’m still working out what exactly I want them to be and look like, but I figured it would be something like this, which is part of an in-progress wooden trophy award I was commissioned to make out of solid cherry. It’s got a lasered design on the face of it, and me being a laser crafter, I figured drawer-pulls for my shop almost have to be lasered, right? I’m planning to do a separate video on that in the coming month or so, so if you’re interested in that, make sure to subscribe.
So there you have it! I’ve been dreaming about this miter saw station for a few years now, so if it’s not obvious by my grin, I’m completely THRILLED to finally have this built! Every part of my garage-shop conversion has made my dream shop feel a bit more real, but this being the first piece of true shop furniture and the first build to really add some much-needed organization and functionality to my space makes it feel even more momentous! I especially can’t wait to take advantage of the increased productivity it’ll offer me, in the form of no longer wandering around looking for things when I start a project.
Thank you again to Kreg for sending me the tools that helped me bring this project to life. I really couldn’t have done it without them. And if you’re interested in building this project yourself, check out the plans over on Jay’s website, which I’ve linked below. He sells them for $20 on his website which is worth every penny.
Alright, that’s it for now! Thank you so much for watching! Until next time, cheers!