PM-8000 Portacube Review

A space saving miter saw stand that doubles as a work table.

PM-8000 Portacube

Portacube Miter Saw Work Station



Portamate has come up with a clever alternative to the conventional miter saw stand: the Portacube STR Miter Saw Work Station (model PM-8000). It's a 'work station' and not simply a saw stand, as the center table pivots on a horizontal axis enabling you to rotate the saw down and out of the way when you’re finished using it, freeing up the top of the stand for use as a work surface. While it's designed for miter saws you can use it with any benchtop machine that is under 24" high and 26-1/2" wide, in order that the machine fit underneath the table top.

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Assembly is straight forward, assuming that you read and follow the assembly instructions. I didn't run into any issues, and had the stand ready to mount my miter saw in just under an hour. 

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Once the main body of the Portacube is assembled you'll mount your miter saw or other power tool. You want to mount the saw so that it's roughly centered side to side, and front to back. Rather than measuring the mounting holes on my saw and transferring the measurements to the Portacube I simply placed the saw on the mounting rails, and then slid the carriage bolts into position, raising up one corner of the saw base slightly as needed so I could position the bolts into the saw's mounting holes. While I mounted a smaller Ridgid 7-1/4" saw, just about any miter saw should fit the Portacube. 

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With the wing extensions in the retracted position the Portacube only takes up 29" x 31" of floor space. When cutting short stock I don't bother extending the wings. The two feet at the front are adjustable so that you can level the stand if your shop floor is uneven.

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To extend the wings you have to stoop down and pull a latch. For the young lads this is a moot point – but I would have liked to be able to release the wings by depressing the latch with a foot.

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A somewhat more important issue is how the two parts of the support arm attach to each other – essentially this is by means of two grooves in the upper part of the arm engaging two rivets in the lower section of the arm. The problem is that they don't always engage – I would estimate at least 20% of the time. While it's not a deal breaker, it is annoying to have to wiggle the wings up and down until the slots engage the rivets.

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The joint at which the support arms attach to the bottom of the side frames looks to be somewhat susceptible to damage, though perhaps more so if the Portacube is used on a jobsite. I would have liked to see a beefier assembly here.

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Lowering the wings is easy enough, as you just pull the wing upwards and then (gently) push the support arm at the junction where the two parts join together. Gravity then takes over. Very convenient.

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There is a large 9" x 22-3/4" material support table on each wing that you raise upwards when you need support for long stock. These tables can be easily adjusted so that they are level with the miter saw table. While the wings are made of a durable PVC plastic, the support tables are made of sheet metal for added durability.

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To raise the support table you simply pull it upwards. However, to lower the table you need to press two release buttons on either side of the table, while simultaneously pushing downward on the table. If you're not careful you can inadvertently pinch a finger or two. I find it easier to do the job after the wings are lowered to the side of the Portacube – that way I can use my knee to push against the support table.

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The real innovation with the Portacube, which you won't find on any other miter stand, is the ability to rotate the top so that the miter saw is stored below, freeing up the top for use as a work surface. The process of rotating the table takes no more than 10 seconds - you pull on two release levers that are located on the top of the side frames, rotate the table 180-degrees, and then push back down on the release levers.

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There are four locking pins (left photo) located on the side frames that serve to hold the top in place. They are activated by the release levers (right photo). The problem I encountered is that the locking pins don't always smoothly retract – you have to wiggle the table or the side of the Portacube for them to engage. When this happens the release levers won't sit flush with the top of the side frame. Even with the locking pins in place, the release levers sometimes don't sit flush with the top.

Both the locking pins and release levers are made of plastic, not an issue where the Portacube is used on an intermittent basis in a home workshop. For use on a jobsite I would want metal pins and levers, or at the least, more robust levers – which I feel could be easily damaged if, inadvertently, not fully retracted. 

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A convenient telescopic handle and a pair of 10" wheels enables you to move the Portacube around the shop or work site. Pulling the handle up is no problem, but pushing it down requires you to depress two spring-loaded locking pins (insert) as you push down on the handle – not the smoothest of operations. 

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After using the Portacube for the better part of a month my feeling is that it is well suited for the small pro shop, home workshop, or jobsite where the workstation doesn't need to be constantly moved about. I like that most of the components are made of sheet steel, and that the extension wings are quick to extend or retract. While it does have a few bugs, it provides all the advantages of a sturdy miter saw station in a space-saving package that converts quickly to a work table.

NOTE: I reviewed the first production run of the Portacube. The manufacturer has informed me that the issues that I outline in this review have been addressed in the new version of the Portacube, which will begin shipping at the end of April, 2017.

KEY FEATURES:

  • Steel construction and ABS plastic
  • Dimension: 34" H x 29" D
  • Width (wings folded): 31"
  • Width (wings open): 81-1/2"
  • Work surface: 26-5/8" x 23-3/4"
  • Max power tool width capacity: 26-1/2"
  • Max weight capacity: 400 pounds
  • 9" x 22-3/4" leveling platforms
  • Telescoping handle
  • 10" wheels
  • Weight: 95 pounds (without miter saw installed)
  • Warranty: 1 year

COMPANY:Portamate
MODEL:PM-8000
PRICE:$429.99
MADE IN:China
SOURCE:EliteTools.ca 

Author: 
Carl Duguay
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