quality of miters from inexpensive power saws

I need to make a large number of small simple boxes, fairly quickly. Dovetails are beautiful, but too time-consuming in this instance, and also I can't afford a jig that can do random spacing. I like box joints, but using the technique of building the box and then cutting off the lid leaves a joint missing part of its width, which doesn't look good to me. Also, making stop dadoes to hold top and bottom panels is a little more time-consuming than through dadoes.
Eventually I decided on mitered corners with two contrasting splines in the base and one in the top, which would be attractive and reasonably strong. I have a shop-built miter sled for my table saw, which makes nice miters, but the saw doesn't raise high enough above the sled to cut miters in 3.5" wide stock, which is what I'm using for the boxes. I've made up a couple nice samples using the router table and a chamfer bit, but this takes too long and requires a lot of fiddly set-up.
Anyway, to get to my question, do inexpensive miter saws, like, say, the Delta 36-075, make an accurate enough miter for this purpose? I'm considering trying this, since I think I can justify the cost of the saw because of upcoming extensive work on the moldings of my beat-up old house in the near future.
I'll be grateful for any opinions, and thanks.
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I think I understand what you're trying to do. Here's how I learned it:
I cut my box miters on my tablesaw, laying the workpiece flat, using a sled, and laying the blade over to 45 degrees, measured very carefully. Unless your stock is thicker than 1.5", it should clear. This method is a lot more accurate than using my CMS, which has a height limitation anyway, and needs to be fiddled with to control tearout.
Build the sled to be stiff, and the runners to be snug, so things are repeatable. A good, sharp, stiff full kerf blade helps a whole lot as well. Blade flex will look like burning and curved miters.
Cut in one direction only, and don't pull the sled back without removing the workpiece. A hold down clamp also helps immensely.
I've successfully built a number of boxes in this size range, using these methods. They are taught in an excellent Adult Ed class....
Patriarch
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On Wed, 28 Jul 2004 15:34:40 +0000, wrote:

This is the way I'm going, for now. Today I built a little flat mitering sled, like a small crosscut sled (I'm making small boxes.) I discovered that if the sides are crosscut to length, I can put a stop block across the kerf from the workpiece, so that the miter cuts just to the edge of the wood (a little trial and error needed here.) My one problem is accurately setting the blade at 45 degrees. I use a plastic drafting triangle, but often as not, when I make a first test cut and reverse one side, I don't get a 90 degree joint and have to crank the saw one way or the other slightly. Any tips for getting a quick repeatable setup to lay the blade over to exactly 45 degrees? One thought has occurred to me-- I might get a 10" length of 2X2 and cut a partial kerf through it when I get the angle locked in correctly. Then I could slip it on the saw blade to reset the angle and when the 2X2 is parallel to the table, the blade would be at 45. seems like minor errors would be more apparent with the length of the setting stick waving around.
Thanks much for the advice.
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I use a large, good quality drafting triangle I got at Staples, to set the 45. To be truthful, I used it to set the stop on my Unisaw at 45, and now the triangle just comes out to check things now and then. Haven't had to reset the stop. The back of my sled has a replaceable slat clamped in, with the 45 shown by the blade kerf. That helps both in making sure the blade angle is correct, and as a setting for where the cut is actually going to take place.
In my not so long experience, miters are as likely to open from wood movement, overclamping, faulty tablesaw procedures and random wierdness in the universe. I cut them as close as possible, and glue using blue tape as an alignment tool. Most of the strength in the joint is going to come from the miter key, in my boxes at least.
Since my work generally ends up with a shellac finish over oil, followed by wax, the procedures seem to be sufficient. Other finishes may be less forgiving. With my skill level, forgiving is good.
Doug Stowe's recent book, "The Complete Illustrated Guide to Boxmaking", from Taunton, is an excellent resource. His 'day job' is teaching young students, and his presentation style is clear and detailed.
Have fun with this. One of the great things about making boxes is that you can practice and succeed with small pieces, that cabinet and furniture makers consider scrap. Even the fanciest of desk boxes seldom uses more than a board foot or two.
Patriarch
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the high dollar slick method involves a setup tool like the tsaligner: http://www.ts-aligner.com/tsaligner.htm
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On Thu, 29 Jul 2004 09:26:19 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@thanks.com wrote:
I've seen only one, and that was some time back, but it was a metal [older solid type] jig that would cut to 45 [even approx is OK], then when turned and reset would do a matching cut to make the two 90 degrees.
Bill.

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snipped-for-privacy@thanks.com wrote in message
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On 6 Aug 2004 20:59:17 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@ts-aligner.com (Ed Bennett) wrote:

Hey, Ed... haven't seen ya much around here lately. did you recover from the big crunch OK?
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snipped-for-privacy@thanks.com wrote in message
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here's an opinion:
a decent miter saw can do it, but the setup will be fiddly. small amounts of tilt in your part standin on edge like that will ruin the joint. but hey, you need the miter saw anyway, so get it and see if it will work for you.
I'd probably end up doing it on the table saw with a sled. if you have a way to quickly and accurately set the bevel to 45 and back run the stock flat on the table. if not build a 45 degree sled.
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On Wed, 28 Jul 2004 08:45:09 -0700, bridger wrote:

Hey, I never thought about a 45 degree sled, but I bet if I put a little thought into it, I could come up with a sled that would have adjustable integral stop blocks so I could make a lot of duplicate cuts. Does anyone know of a source for a good 45 degree sled design? I'm guessing you'd need a ramp on either side of the blade so you could cut miters on the same side of the stock. That would allow you to pre-rout dadoes and roundovers and then cut the miters. Probably be faster and safer than routing little pieces after the miters were cut.
Thanks for the thought!
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On Wed, 28 Jul 2004 16:33:18 +0000, ray wrote:

Okay, that was dumb of me. I guess the sides would have to be crosscut to length before mitering, wouldn't they? Has anyone seen the 45 degree jig described in Ian Kirby's table saw book? I saw a mention of it in a google of the newsgroup, but the local libraries don't seem to have a copy.
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Wed, Jul 28, 2004, 2:36pm (EDT+4) snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net (ray) mutters: <snip> I have a shop-built miter sled for my table saw, which makes nice miters, but the saw doesn't raise high enough above the sled to cut miters in 3.5" wide stock, <snip>
Either you are going to make one hell of a sturdy box, your sled is made out of very thick wood, or you are standing your pieces on edge to cut.
Probably not the first, and if it's the second, make another sled. if it's the third, I'd say make a sled you can lay the pieces flat on, and tilt your blade. OR, make the sled to hold the piece tilted, to be cut with the blade straight.
I don't know why you have such thoughts about the router. Seems pretty basic to me.
JOAT Expensive tennis shoes won't cure a sore toe. - Bazooka Joe JERUSALEM RIDGE http://www.banjer.com/midi/jerridge.mid
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You can shim it so that it will work.

Why dont you put a spline in each corner?
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