Miter bars for Table Saw??

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Casting a vote for metal!
I found some cold-rolled steel stock at a local farm store where they had some miscellaneous welding supplies. I think it was about six dollars for a four foot stick. I also understand quite a few local welding shops would carry similar items.
I've tried aluminum and found it wanting. I had four hard-set miters made, two 45's and two 90s, left and right, made of aluminum runners and aluminum angle metal. They operated fine, no apparent degradation through temperature changes. But I'm not the friendliest user so one of the runners got a little bent out of shape! Most likely wouldn't have that problem on a sled though. But given time, I'm sure I could find a way to bung that up too!

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The 3/4 X 3/8 bar stock is a little difficult to find, but a home center like Home Depot or a good hardware store will usually stock 3/4 X 1/4 which I find works just as well.
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Larry Wasserman Baltimore, Maryland
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Lawrence Wasserman wrote:

miter bar.
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wrote:

I wonder, though, about the tolerances. The Incra miter bars are machined straight to pretty tight tolerance. How close to straight is the bar stock at Home Cheapo?
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
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On Thu, 27 Jan 2005 12:21:32 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote:
snip snip .

============================You do NOT need a perfertly straight piece ...just one that sets firmly in the slot with no slop... I always had to take out a file and file the bar a little here and there to get the fit the way I like it.. not a big problem...
Bob Griffiths...
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Well, not necessarily. What fit snugly may not even be in the groove after the first four inches of travel. So you need a straight edge. That's the downfall of these fore and aft adjusting aluminum jobbies. tight goes to flop pretty quickly.
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edge...BUT I do agree with you on the adjustable "jobbies" since they generally only have a few "adjustable" points on the bar that are in contact with the sides of the miter slot.....
It is not at all hard to fit bar stock to fit the miter slot snug the ENTIRE lenght of the miter slot...
Bob Griffiths
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Seems to define a straight edge, or is your slot curved?
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I've bought a few lengths of cold-rolled 3/4 X 1/4 over the years and I've never had one that wouldn't fit in the table saw slot. That's straight enough for me.
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Larry Wasserman Baltimore, Maryland
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Doug Miller wrote:

it doesn't fit(has a bend) whack it till it does, then it will be straight enough.
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It is in fact "obvious" that this is not correct. Suppose the miter slot is 0.750" wide, and the bar is 0.740" wide with a 0.009" bow in it. The bar will fit in the slot, and fit snugly at that -- as long as both ends of the bar are in the slot. At both the start and end of a cut, though, when only one end of the bar is in the slot, there will be considerable slop in the fit, and hence slop in the cut.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
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wrote:

Not to mention - returning to the requirement only of a straight edge - if the slot is 0.75 and the _straight_ bar(s) 0.25, perfect cuts can be made by riding the straight edge against one side of the miter groove. A firm set can be made by attaching another in the other channel, so both ride either the inside or outside portion of the grooves.
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But only if they're straight (or reasonably close to it). And so we come back to my original question: how tight are the tolerances on the bar stock that comes from Home Cheapo? I'm quite certain that they're not as close to dead straight as the precision-machined miter bars from Incra, but how close are they?
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
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On Fri, 28 Jan 2005 20:33:12 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote: .

has anywhere near the tolerances of a bar made by Incra ...
BUT the simple fact is that I have never had any problems fitting Home Depots' or other hardware store bar stock to any of the slots on my Tablesaws or other machines... Thay may not be perfectly straight but getting a slop free fit is not hard to do... I can not recall a single screwed up cut in close to 40 years of woodworking that I could blame on a sled or jig that used a cheap piece of bar stock to ride on...That is not to say that I did not have to "work" the bar stock to make it fit....
Just my opinion...
Bob Griffiths
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Well, there would be up to .009" variation in the cut. Surely suitable for woodworking. Nothing that a light sanding or a very light pass with a plane couldn't handle. I'm not arguing in favor or slop, I'm just suggesting that we might be too focused on precision that is beyond that which the tools we're using give on a good day, especially in light of the material we're working with.
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-Mike-
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A point well taken... but it still seems to me that it's important to know just what sort of tolerances we're dealing with, before recommending use of off-the-shelf bar stock from Home Cheapo. Incra miter bars are machined to a degree of precision that I'm sure we can all agree is more than sufficient for woodworking. But how close is the home-center bar stock?
To take what is probably a more realistic example than the one I presented previously, suppose that a nominal 3/4" bar measures 0.748" actual width. If your miter slot is 0.750", that bar had better be _no_more_ than 0.002" out from dead straight, across its entire length, or it's going to wedge in the slot before it gets all the way through.
And, of course, if that nominal 3/4" off-the-shelf bar from the home center is actually 0.751", it isn't going to fit at all, even if it's dead straight.
So... are the tolerances that good on the home-center bar stock? Personally, I have my doubts, after having purchased 3/4" aluminum angle from HD that turned out to be almost 0.020" out of straight over 24 inches. It's hard for me to imagine that the bar stock is an order of magnitude better.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
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My guess would be very close to yours. For those times when quality matters (tolerance being only one measure of quality), HD often falls below the mark. But, if it weren't for HD, where would all of those guys who really don't know much, go to work? And those mammas with the serious bubble butts - ya know they have to work somewhere with big isles...
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-Mike-
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Doug Miller wrote:

... er actually it might well be. Al angle is extruded ... the extrusion process often leads to a fair amount of bow. Steel bar stock is usually cold-rolled and the straightness is pretty good.
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WoofWoof wrote:

try first half or third in front of miter slot try full length in slot try rear third or half toward rear of slot If bar fits in all three cases and has minimal slop it is good enough to use Steel bar stock I bought passed this without difficulty. I am now using the bar in a circle jig for the bandsaw. John
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Can't speak for Home Depot bar stock, but I've got an old Ryerson book in front of me that gives their width tolerance for cold finished low carbon steel bars as +0, -.003" for .750" and under. Since that's their tolerance, most of their stock is better than that. No straightness tolerances specified.
How much do you think your miter slot varies from end to end?
John Martin
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