Miter saw stands and tables, whether stationary or portable, serve to make your miter saw safer and more accurate by raising the saw to a comfortable operating height, stabilizing both saw and work stock, providing support on both sides of the saw for long stock, allowing easy alignment of stock, and even helping to minimize vibration to some degree.
The design of stationary miter saw mounts, tables, or stands in a workshop depend on the space available, shop configuration, and features desired. They are beyond the scope of this discussion, since many are custom/home made, or built from a variety of available plans which are likely modified to fit the owner’s needs, presenting an almost infinite number of variables.
Commercially available portable miter saw stands, which can handle everything from a chop saw to a dual bevel sliding compound miter saw, include a large (but finite!) number of configurations and features. Of course, even these portable stands can be used in your workshop, providing greater flexibility for your shop layout, the ability to be moved for cleaning purposes, and folded up to save space when not in use.
Get The Right Type Of Stand For The Way You Work
Most commercial miter saw stands can be divided into three basic categories:
- A sawhorse configuration, where some type of central rail system is supported by folding a-frame legs at each end, much like a single sawhorse. Sliding, adjustable extension rails/bars on both ends of the stand support the stock being worked, and can be adjusted to length. The best miter saw itself is mounted to crossbars that clamp quickly and positively to the central rail by a variety of means. The crossbars have feet (some are rubber padded), which means the saw can easily be removed from the stand and used on any flat surface, so the saw does not have to be dedicated to just that stand.
- The tabletop design features a deck to which the saw is bolted. This means that the saw is pretty much dedicated to the stand, requiring you to unbolt it for use elsewhere. These stands have a variety of leg designs, some taking several steps to unfold the legs, others simply popping up into place with a single movement. Extendable/adjustable work supports at each end of the table are standard.
- Several stands, which provide features of both the sawhorse and table designs, form a third category, which I will call the extendable leg/rail design. These have the saw bolted to crossbars (also serving as feet and clamping to a main rail), allowing it to be easily removed from the stand, and feature legs that extend easily (some, again, in one move) as found on tabletop designs.
- There are also several unique miter saw stands, which seem to be better suited to cutting extra long stock. These tend to have fewer of the features, options, and accessories available on the other stand configurations.
Miter Saw Stand Features And Options To Make Your Life Easier
Features – In addition to the design features common to a particular category, here are also a wide variety of other features available on miter saw stands, some unique, some just variations, but those variations can be important. These features can make all the difference in the in the effective use of your saw:
- Wheels – Usually not found on the sawhorse designs, since their light weight and compact size allows you to carry them to the jobsite easily. Wheels are common on tabletop and extendable leg/rail designs, but they vary greatly in size, which makes a big difference, depending on whether you just need to move your saw around the shop, take it on a rough jobsite, or even up a flight of stairs. Pneumatic tires or hard rubber wheels are also a consideration.
- Leg Extension Method – Is speed of setup important, or the amount of effort required to get the stand up on its legs (if, for example, you have a bad back). Quick release saw mounts could mean setting up a lighter stand and then attaching the saw. Some offer pneumatic assisted raising and lowering.
- Weight/Durability/Stability – This could be a case of portability versus durability, but most modern miter saw stands are quite durable, so think stability instead, with the size of your miter saw being a consideration (a 10″ compound vs. a 12″ slider for example), as well as the lateral motion of the slider.
- Extensions And Supports – Do you want support rollers or bars, and do you need a stop? If you plan on cutting long heavy stock, some sort of direct support under the work support extensions may be important.
- Adjustable Leveling – If you set up on uneven surfaces, adjustable legs will provide a level work support.
- Space – For the shop or truck bed, space can be an issue. If you plan on storing your saw on the stand, how much room do you need, will it fit through your bed cap door, and will it be stable when stored?
- Optional Accessories – There are a great number of additional accessories available depending on the stand manufacturer: fences, extensions, stops, clamps, scales, work lights, and more. Keep in mind that many manufacturers design their accessories for their stands, so be sure your must-have accessory is available for your particular stand.
Depending on how particular you may be, how broad or narrow your projected use, or the importance a certain feature, option or accessory, your decision could be as simple as getting a miter saw and stand of the same brand. In any case, getting a comfortable, stable, convenient mounting platform for you miter saw will make your work safer, more accurate, and vastly more enjoyable than bending over a saw standing unsecured on the ground, using makeshift work supports, and hoping nothing shifts during the cut.