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Build Log!

Fig. 1

This build is loosely based off of a project plan that appeared in Woodsmith No. 111 pg. 32, shown above. Over time, there have been several variations on that theme constructed, some of which are shown on YouTube if you search there for "flip top tool." This design is not original by me (the original article was from an idea by Arthur Muller - thanks, Arthur!) but incoprorates ideas from not only that article, but others' builds as well.

Fig. 2
Fig. 3

First of all, I admit I was in a bit of a rush to use this thing, so I wasn't able to take detailed step-by-step pictures of it coming together. However, the build is simple enough that I think you can get the idea from just the photos that I took right after it was first assembled. My build is shown in its two useful positions above - compound miter saw stand on the left, and planer stand on the right.

The Woodsmith plans originally called for a 3/4 inch plywood frame, but when I saw one built this way, it seemed a bit flimsy to me, especially considering the heavy tools I have in mind, so I made the frame from dimensional lumber - Douglas fir, actually. I remember thinking it was about the same cost to use either plywood or lumber.

Of course, the main advantage of making this project is reducing your shop space by the footprint of one entire tool stand. You also get to use the same materials for the stand to accommodate both tools. Another big thing for me is that before, I stored my planer down and out of the way and had to get it out and put it away after each use - it's heavy and a pain to move. Now, its right there under the saw, ready for use.

You choose which tools you want to mount on either surface, and it is easy to adjust the size of the stand to fit them. In my case, I wanted to mount both my planer and my compound miter saw (CMS) this way. Now, I know many others swear by having their CMS on a wall length stand that supports very long lumber, like the old-school radial arm saw setups you would see at lumber yards. However, I just didn't want to devote that kind of space to this function, because the times I need to cut 10 or 12 foot lumber are rare, and using a circular saw along a clamped square or straight edge does just fine for those few times. Nevertheless, I do use the CMS fairly often and want to have it handy, and having side supports for a CMS is a big safety issue.

Once you've decided on which tools to mount, you need to figure out how big to make the top that will be flipped. In my case, a 24x24 inch top provides space for both tools nicely. I actually made it just slightly under that so I could make the top from single 2x4 foot pieces of sheet goods and allow for the kerf of the sawblade. Also, you need to find out how much height your tallest tool requires, including handles hanging out, etc. In my case, the planer was the tallest, and I figured it would need a space of 26 inches to turn without a problem.

Fig. 4

The stand is made up of 2x6's. This gives it greater strength, a lower center of gravity, and I find the quality of the lumber goes up dramatically from that of a 2x4. I often buy 2x6s or 2x8s and rip them down to size instead of getting 2x4s for just that reason. Even then, I planed the 2x6 lumber a bit before using them. Construction was all glue and screw, so a lot of clamping and checking for square was involved, but once the side frames are made, they just connect at the bottom with four more lengths of 2x6s.

I started by first making the side frames at 24 inches wide and 34 inches tall. This height allowed for a 2x6 base around the bottom for some needed stability. I cut a half lap joint on the bottom of each of the side uprights, shown above, and the rest of the joinery was done by just cutting the other pieces to their correct lengths. Simple, easy to make, and it made for a quite stout frame.

Also, I used some 3 inch casters that lock both the rotation of the wheel as well as the swivel movement so that when locked, they are solid. They cost a wee bit more, but the stand simply does not move while I am using it when all four of the casters are locked.

Fig. 5
Fig. 6

The top is made from six pieces - two 24 x 24 inch pieces of 3/4 inch thick plywood (well, slightly under 24 inches after cutting but they were squared up with the same dimensions on all sides) and 1 piece of 1/8 inch hardboard glued to 1 piece of 1/2 inch plywood to form the 24x24 inch center "core." I cut a 2x2 inch square off each of the four corners of the glued-up core to form a pocket for the eye bolts to live, shown below in Figures 7 and 8.

This core was then cut in half and trimmed so that the two pieces would form a centered 5/8 inch gap across the middle of the top. In this gap I placed a 5/8 steel rod, cut to a length of 26 5/8 inches. The top, the two core pieces with their corner notches, and the bottom were all glued together using clamps while the rod was in place. In Figure 5 above you see the layers that were formed - 3/4 inch ply on top, the 1/8 hardboard and 1/2 inch core in the middle, and the 3/4 inch plywood on the bottom. The rod forms the axle upon which the whole top rotates, and you can see it in its hole on the side of the stand in Figure 6. You could use bearings for the axle, but they aren't really necessary.

Once you have the top assembled, you will notice that it flips over on its axle very easily. At this point a bit of attention needs to be paid to positioning each tool on the top so that the center of gravity of the top remains over the axle. In other words, move the tool above and below the axle line until it turns easily in either direction. You can get a feel for where the center of gravity of the tool is located by resting it on a dowel or pipe, and roll the tool until it becomes balanced. At that point, mark where the pipe is on the tool, and then place the tool on the flip top so that the mark is over the axle, and mark on the top where the mounting holes should be. Once this is done for both tools, I found that the top turns quite easily, despite the substantial weight of the tools.

Fig. 7
Fig. 8

Above shows the latching detail. Each of the four corner latches consists of a 3/8 inch eye bolt, captured in the notch that was formed when the top was made. Then, a 3/8 inch slot was cut into the side stand support frames. The eye bolt is held in place by a straight bolt through the top of the stand top, some thick fender washers to take up the play of a 3/8 inch bolt in a 5/8 inch pocket, and a 3D printed knob to tighten the whole thing together. (Of course, you can buy these knobs off the shelf instead of 3D printing them.) To flip the top, you just spin the knobs and pull out the eye bolt as shown in Figure 8 for all four corners, flip the top over, and then replace and retighten the knobs. The stand really becomes quite rigid when all four knobs are tight.

Fig. 9

Getting the cables out of the way when the stand is moved or especially when the top is flipped is a must. What I found that works on the CMS side is a simple plastic arch - it is sold as a conduit clamp I found in the electrical department of a big box store. I thought about 3D printing these, but I wanted to try them as soon as I saw them and they were under a buck. The nominal size I used is 1 1/2 inch, but the distance inside the arch measures 2 inches, probably because the nominal size is the inside diameter of the conduit. Actually, a clamp that is nominally sized 1 1/4 or even 1 inch might work a bit better, but the ones above do a good job to keep the cords in place. Now, I usually don't even undo the cords to use the tool; I just plug in the extension cord as is.

Fig. 10

The first time I flipped the planer, I was reminded that this planer has some hex wrenches and other accessories stored in holes along its top, and of course they all fell out when I flipped it. The CMS also has some clamping accessories, as well as wrenches to change the blade, etc. and I bet I come up with some jigs for it later on that will need a place to live.

In response to that, I added two sheets of hardboard, one on the very bottom of the stand, and one to sit over the top of the lower bracing to form a cover. I also added a small knob to make the top easy to remove. This formed a nice box in which any and all accessories for either tool can be placed, kept handy, yet sheilded from the dust.

Fig. 11

Using this stand as a CMS station really points up the need for some wings that support longer lengths of lumber. Like I said earlier, cutting very long lengths is a rarity, but cutting down from 8 foot lengths is more common. Having a couple of wings just a few feet in length would make all the difference, and since they can be hinged out of the way when not in use, it doesn't impact the footprint by very much. Most of the bad accidents that happen with a CMS result from the wood on either side of the CMS blade rising up during the cut and catching the blade. Side supports directly prevent that from happening.

I started with a couple of melamine shelves that were 11 1/4 inches by 4 foot long. I cut a dado down both lengths using a dadoing jig I made for my router that matched the width of the shelving material. I figured the longest dimension of each wing to be inches such that they would not be in the way while folded down and moving the stand around, and cut them to that length. I then cut the upright part of the wing off the board that will fit into the dado, trimmed the end corners, and glued them in. I then added some triangular supports in the back to help keep the uprights square.

On the top of each upright, I screwed on some t-track to allow a stop block to be used for repeat cuts. The next step was to mount the wings onto the stand such that the result would match a straight edge run along the entire length with the wings out.

Thanks for viewing this build log!

Comments may be sent to gary at liming daught org.