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Making A Mitre Cut And Compound Mitre Saw

Dec 26, 2007
Cutting a Mitre

A mitre joint is used to join two lengths of wood together at a right angle. Each piece is cut at 45 degrees so that when they are put together they form a 90-degree angle. You can cut mitres by hand, after marking carefully, but it is much easier to use a mitre box. This has two pairs of 45-degree slots cut into it to guide the saw as it cuts the piece of wood. You are best using a tenon saw with a mitre box, as it is rigid. This makes it easier to keep parallel with the work surface.

Secure the mitre box with a vice or a couple of clamps. Once secure this will give you a free hand to hold the piece of wood being cut. Before using the mitre box, screw a shallow piece of waste wood to the inside so that the base will not be damaged by saw cuts, Measure and mark the wood to the correct length and line up the mark with the appropriate slots for the right or left mitre.

Take great care that you get the mitre sloping the right way and that you mark the wood on the right side. If you mark the outside of the frame, make sure that the mitres slope inwards. Get this wrong and you may end up with a piece of wood that is too short, and hence useless.

Hold the piece of wood tight against the far side of the box and, keeping the saw parallel with the base, make the cut through the saw guides.

Remember to always use a sharp pencil or, even better a marking knife to mark the wood when cutting mitre joints. The thickness of the pencil line can make all the difference between a perfect mitre and one that is lopsided.

The problem with a mitre box is that it only enables you to cut a 45-degree angle. While this is great for putting a picture frame together or edging a doorway, for generally wood work you will need to cut many different grades.

Compound Mitre Saws

In the past few years compound mitre saws have become cheaper and cheaper, with even top brands like Makita offering a saw for less that a hundred quid. Using a powered mitre saw makes the job of cutting angles I would say about four hundred times easier.

More expensive compound mitre saws include a guide laser. This projects a red line onto the piece of timber, showing you exactly where the blade is going to cut.

A compound mitre saw also makes an excellent alternative to a radial arm saw, providing the panels you want to cut are not too wide for the saw to cut.

Summary

If you are a DIY enthusiast, you are best just buying a mitre box. A compound mitre saw is not worth the money, as cheap as one can be, for making two cuts a year. Unless you have, money to burn that is. However if you are into woodworking tools I would recommend buying a compound mitre saw today. It is amazing how easy they make life.
About the Author
Johan Nickson is a Woodworking Tools Expert and a Compound Mitre Saw user at Power tools
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