Many challenges accompany our work. Perhaps the most common is creating a sufficiently large and conveniently located work surface so we’re not setting tools all over the ground/floor and not spending time walking back and forth all over the jobsite. The solution is usually to make a large work surface out of some sawhorses and wood. But Portamate has come up with what seems to be a novel solution to such a challenge with the Portamate Portacube STR Miter Saw Work Station. Portamate’s marketing material makes it seem like the Portacube targets the DIYers who lacks space in the garage or small shop, but I can see the utility of bringing it to our jobsites. Let’s dig in and see if there’s a Pro use here.
My eagerness to use the Portamate Portacube STR Miter Saw Work Station was tempered slightly when I saw how much assembly was required. The company did produce an assembly video that I only found out about afterward, so the assembly took over an hour. But I figured that if the Portacube worked well, it would be worth the time.
When the Portacube is completely folded up, it’s basically a large hand truck for your miter saw (or whatever benchtop tool you attach to it). Unfolded (with the saw still tucked underneath), the wings span seven feet giving you roughly a 29-inch by 84-inch workspace. When you rotate the saw up, what you lose in flat surface area you gain in productive capacity. Two tool tables rise up from the wings to align with the saw’s table and create support during the cut for long boards and trim.
The Portacube’s concept is really handy, but I’m a little concerned that its materials aren’t conducive for a professional carpenter. The metal’s gauge is a little light, there are plastic levers and locks that might wear out quickly on a jobsite, and it feels a bit wobbly.
Portacube FM – Your Work Station
We rolled the Portacube onto the site, let it spread its wings, and got to work. Rotating our relatively heavy saw upward, it hit a snag. We determined that as the saw turns, the Portacube twists out of square and fails to fit into place with the weight of our saw. When you’re using it, be sure to rotate the tool up evenly without torquing the stand.
Moving Around the Jobsite
We made the Portacube follow us around the home remodel and one thing became clear – at 31-inches wide, it can’t pass through many interior doors. To alleviate this, the handle needs to be re-oriented from the back to the side, but that would impede one of the wings. Keep in mind that the implied use here is in a shop or garage and not necessarily going through doorways.
Standing on its Own
As far as the application of saw stand, the PM-8000 works just fine. Where we lose confidence for Pro use is in the build. The locks that hold the saw from rotating down are made of plastic as are the levers that release it to do so. If and when Portamate makes a professional grade version of the Portacube, these components need to include more heavy-duty construction.
The tool tables might also benefit from a move toward the front of the Portacube or a wider design. You can see why below – with our saw, the lumber we used wasn’t centered over the tool tables, but rather closer to the edge which made wider pieces unstable. For crown molding, the tables barely support the piece.
There are a couple of areas of pinch danger indicated by warning stickers. One is the wing support bracket that folds in half as the wing collapses. Another area is tool tables where the danger is particularly problematic. Your finger must press a button on either side to collapse the table, but you also need to press down on the table, essentially making it a three-handed job. When you’re trying to figure this out at first, it’s easy to forget your finger is dangerously close (or in!) the pinch zone.
The Bottom Line
The Portamate Portacube STR Miter Saw Work Station is at once a mobile miter saw stand and a 7-foot work surface with adjustable tool tables to support long pieces of lumber and folding wings for storage.
Overall, the Portacube offers utility to the homeowner with limited workspace so long as they are aware of the limitations and the pinch dangers. We hope to see a more Pro-oriented Portacube version since the concept is very appealing on the jobsite. It needs to include heavier gauge metal and joints to keep the unit square while the saw rotates up and down, reduce or eliminate the pinch dangers, replace many of the plastic pieces with metal components, and reorient the wheels to fit through interior doors. Since the unit already weighs 95 pounds, it will take some serious engineering to make that happen in a form that Pros will gravitate toward.
For now, Pros will want to stay with something like the Ridgid MS-UV (Miter Saw Utility Vehicle) as a mobile miter saw stand. It doesn’t offer the work surface of the Portamate Portacube STR Miter Saw Work Station, but until Portamate makes a Pro version with more solid materials and some re-engineering, traditional stands are the way to go.
On the other hand, the Portamate Portacube is a big win for DIYers. The build quality concerns we have aren’t as significant for a unit that’s working in someone’s garage or home shop. Once you get used to the setup and takedown, it can be a major benefit for the user who doesn’t have space for a permanent workbench.
Portamate Portacube STR Miter Saw Work Station Features
- Fits any miter saw up to 26-1/2 inches wide
- Create up to 7 feet of work surface
- Compact 31 x 29-inch footprint when folded for easy storage
- Ideal for Bench Top Planers and other table top tools
- Tool tables adjust to height of your miter saw table
Portamate Portacube STR Miter Saw Work Station Specifications
- Model Number: Portamate PM-8000
- Fully compact dimensions (WxHxD): 31 x 34 x 29-inches
- Weight: 95 pounds
- Workspace: up to 7 feet
- Wheels: 10-inch heavy duty
- Max total saw width: 26-1/2-inch
- Max width between mounting holes: 24 inches
- Depth of table top: 24 inches (Maximum distance between front and back mounting holes is 21-1/2 inches)
- Max height (with saw blade down): 25 inches
- Weight capacity: 400 pounds
- Price: $349