Olly Writes

Woodwork, writing, walks, DIY and more!

Chop Saw Challenge

Over eighteen-months ago, I built what I thought was the ‘ideal’ solution for my sliding compound mitre chop saw; a mobile work station with flip-up work piece supports and storage space below (now consumed by my ‘shop-made router table). Plans for this design were downloaded from Popular Woodworking.com in America. What we tend to forget over here is that, as convenient as these creations often appear to be, they’re rarely tailored to fit a small British workshop. That’s certainly my opinion, having spent considerable time with this setup in my workshop.

Anyone who follows The Wood Whisperer will know that Marc moved in to a “small” ‘shop of his own, not long ago – yet, it’s still large enough for TWO bandsaw, I should point out!! I don’t wish that to sound critical of Marc; I have full appreciation and a lot of respect for what he does (regardless of the Health & Safety issues, “language barrier“…, etc.). It’s just that, sometimes, it seems as though we’re woodworking in the wrong country…

My current design, which requires a lot of room to set up.

In truth, my current design offers plenty of support for long lengths of timber (with a total span of over 3m) but, having to swing the table up each time you need to use it is a great inconvenience when you’re working within a confined space. For example, I was routing some tenons on my router table, recently (my preferred method for this operation). After getting cutter height set correctly, I needed to trim my rails to length on the mitre saw. But, with the router table set up, there was no room for the tables to swing and I had to drag this back in to the far end of my workshop to where my pillar drill and planer/thicknesser were already at rest.

When the tables are up, they don’t cause any interference as the working height is clear of my router table and bandsaw. It’s the process of getting them up and in to position which has been causing me a headache – and, for some time, now. That is why I’m now thinking a table saw would actually be a bad idea, with the reduced working height.

In my search for a solution, I selected a post on the Sawdust and Shavings blog as my main point of inspiration. Harold also works from within a small space [admittedly, it’s nearly twice the size of mine!] and so, knows the importance of organisation and efficiency; maximising your working area and storage space. I find his approach to supporting stock on his mitre saw station quite ingenious. No hinged or fold-up supports; these ones simply bolt in place. When you want to remove them, they store ‘vertically’ in the same place. So, I’ve decided to interoperate this in to my existing design and, as work progresses on that, I will of course keep you updated. The question now is whether to do this soon with my Bosch saw or, wait until after I’ve replaced this model of mitre saw. To be honest, the Bosch GCM 12 SD is too big for me and, as a 110v tool in a small workshop, it frustrates  me having to plug-in the transformer and reach for the yellow extension lead to run this one machine for the first ten-minutes of every project! I do have questions over the accuracy of this model but, I suspect most saws are like this. Particularly the bigger ones, which is why I’m currently looking at the Makita LS1013, which has received some very positive comments in the past. I’m also aware of how highly many seem to regard the DeWalt DW712 for its accuracy. But, the maximum depth of cut of 70mm is a limiting factor for me as I regularly work with 3in. thick material (generally sawn to around 81mm). Plus, I am a bit of a Makita fan… Which begs the question; why didn’t I initially buy a Makita saw instead?!

As it is only generally before a project begins (as I’m down-sizing sawn, waney-edged timber) that I need to cut longer lengths, I think I could save a lot of time and effort by simply  fitting a longer fence – looking in the previous issue of British Woodworking magazine, I notice Steve Maskery does something very similar. Once a project is under way, I rarely seem to work with components any longer than 1200mm when I’m making furniture. These kind of lengths could probably be supported and clamped to the saw’s bed without the need for full extensions.

Now, I’m also proposing to take this one-step further by building an extendible fence, for those ‘rainy days’ where I may need to cut several longer components and also, to save a bit of space in my workshop (I currently have a load of beech and oak stood vertically against a wall to the left-hand side of my saw station, which is difficult to get at and sort through at the best of times!). I hope the enclosed sketches make it clear of what I intend to do and, as with the rest of the re-build, this will be the first place for you to follow the action!

One last question… While trying to sell my Bosch saw, I’ve struggled to sell it locally. In order to obtain more interest from sellers on eBay, I’d like to look at offering a courier service for this item. But, due to it’s size, this could be challenging as I currently don’t have anything larger to package it in.

Does anyone know of a supplier of “very large” cardboard boxes? eBay sellers seem to sell in quantity only and, I just need the one box.

All thoughts would be greatly appreciated!


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