Lately, I've started building boxes (humidor, jewelry, music, etc.). I
don't have any trouble cutting dovetails and building them with that
joinery. However, I wanted to try mitering and splining the corners.
I have a PM66 tablesaw and can easily make good, clean cuts. Maybe some
of you can set a blade angle to get an EXACTLY precise 45 deg. angle,
but, I'm not that good unless I resort to a BUNCH of T&E. I built a jig
that does fairly well at cancelling out any error in blade setting. I
guess, though, I never appreciated before JUST HOW PRECISE a cut has to
be set up and made for all eight of them to come out right.
This has probably already been addressed a number of times, so please
bear with me if I pose a previously and properly covered issue. If not,
does any have a good solution?
One method that's used to obtain accurate 90° joins is to align the two
pieces of wood at the exact angle you want and then slice both 45°edges at
the same time with the saw blade. A simple 90° box jig using a sled on your
tablesaw would do exactly what you want.
I'd suggest making a square block with a 45* block either glued to it
(if your stock is always going to be the same size, or close enough to
that for splining) or in a sliding dovetail. That way you've got full
support on the workpiece, and your blade can stay at 90. Couldn't
hurt to use some clamps to keep it in place before cutting, but once
it's set up, it should be pretty consistant, and you only have to go
through the trial and error process once.
Thanks. I might give that a try. That jig would also have the
advantage of making it easy to cut spline grooves.
I built another version of a jig that gets close but I find it difficult
to get EVERYTHING perfect. What I did is tilt the blade and set it as
near 45* as I can using a very precise metal triangle. I make the first
cut flat w/the table on one end of a piece. Then, I set the mating end
vertically on the opposite side of the blade and clamped to the jig.
That way the cuts are complementary and come out REAL close. But,
getting that second piece mounted and clamped vertically and at exactly
90* in two axes is, to say the least, a daunting and somewhat
frustrating task -- makes me love dovetails even more.
Yeah, miters are an exacting joint, but they look nice, and work well
for lots of things.
If you're just looking for a change from the dovetails, though, have
you tried playing with box joints? I just got around to making a
jewelry box with them, and it took about 5 minutes to make the jig,
and they look pretty slick, especially after rounding all the corners.
I haven't tried box joints. I've always liked the way they look,
though, on utility-type boxes but will have to give them a shot with
some good looking wood.
Thanks for your solution of using a belt/disc sander. I hadn't thought
of doing it that way. Since that's a piece of equipment I just haven't
gotten around to, perhaps you've given me the reason why I can't do
without one any longer.
As far as dovetails, I have a Leigh jig. Thru and half-blinds are
pretty easy once you get everything set up and make a couple of practice
Thanks again guys,
I was a little leery of them myself, as I had seen a lot of them with
kind of bulky fingers, and I don't care for that much, but I made my
jig to work with one pass of a diablo blade. 3/32" fingers in
contrasting woods (I used lacewood and maple for the first one) looks
awfully sharp, and fairly classy- kind of like a really high-end cigar
box. (Which is what made me think of it when you mentioned humidors)
They're easy to make with the jig- easier than dovetails, and the jig
is nothing but a scrap of mdf screwed to the miter gauge with a finger
the size of your slot to align it.
Getting "perfect" miters using a disc grinder sounds a bit challenging to
me. I have a hard time believing that something as primative and coarse as a
disc grinder can deliver true precision. Of course there are people with
photographic memories and perfect pitch and 20/10 visiion too I suppose. But
for normal human beings I would be more inclined to believe a lot of lumber
would end up in the scrap pile trying this method......or....... my project
would become gradually smaller, and smaller, and smaller.
Check out this contraption:
View the video clip demonstrations there.
I have had a SmartMiter Sled for 2 1/2 years now and my miters are
"perfect," I'm talking dead nuts absolutely perfect, every time, in seconds.
Once you have the set up done, 20 minute chore, cutting perfect miters takes
about as long as pushing the work piece through the saw blade. Cutting to
long points, short points, setting the length stop ONCE and getting mirror
cut pieces. Check out the link and watch the videos.
Email replies to nospam firstname.lastname@example.org remove the "nospam_"
before you reply.
Although I hadn't considered myself abnormal (others probably even
express that behind my back!), I'm very lucky to have the 20/10 even
after a bunch of years on this good earth. As for the other attributes
- FORGET IT - I didn't get those.
I took a look at the web site. I haven't been thru all their stuff but
it does, indeed, looks interesting. I want to be able to cut 8", or so,
miters so I can build boxes (VERY ACCURATE corners -- as you say dead-
nuts ON). Can this device do that or is it restricted to smaller (i.e.,
shorter) cuts (e.g., molding, picture frames, etc.)?
You could do what you want with this thing and a 24" (blade size) table saw.
Otherwise, tilt the blade and do it. If you have trouble tilting the blade
accurately, take a look at Ed Bennett's Tablesaw Aligner. It does angles
Thanks, guys. This and info from other posts are exactly the kind of
info I was looking for when I started this thread. Ain't it a shame we
don't live 'down the street' from each other so we could just drop by
and chat rather than having to do it via computers? OTOH, you just
gotta appreciate the Internet that lets us find guys that are doing
Y'all have a great weekend!
Here's a couple of tips I've recently come across for helping with
1) If the joints have opened up only a little bit, but enough to
notice, you can bring them back together by rubbing/rolling a screw
driver's shaft over the joint. This will round the edges a bit, but
depending on what you're doing, that might be okay. I've used this
trick a couple of times and it works pretty well.
2) Another thing to do to help with the joining is how it's
clamped. Instead of using right angle clamps and the like, you could
instead clamp them using the method mentioned at this page. I've
not tried this one myself, but intend to give it a try.
The SmartMiter sled looks good for small stock but I'm not sure I see
how it would be used to do a 45 miter on the long side of a panel 8" X
5" X 1/4"
I can vouch for the belt/disc method and offer these to demonstrate the
point: (Some are box jointed and some are mitered.)
But as I said before, you really need the kind that has two tables: one
for the belt and one for the disc. As long as you can sand to a pencil
or scribe line you shouldn't have any problems.
Another thing I did was to beuild a box corner jig. This is a 2' X 2'
sheet of 1/2" ply with at least one perfect 90 deg. corner. Then I
affixed a 2' X 4" strip of 1/2" ply along each axis of the 90 deg
corner. What I ended up with was a perfect 3-axis corner which is both
square and plumb. Now when I do glue-ups I can clamp box sides against
the sides of the jig and it will work on mitered, box joints or
One other thought I had: given the strength of modern glues and the
relative lack of stress on jewelry/trinket box joints, I'm wondering if
the splines are really accomplishing anything?
In a word- yes. At least in my shop. I use miters more for picture
frames than boxes, but in both cases, I've managed to crack the
corners apart with a bump and needed to re-glue. With the splines in
there, they're tough as nails.
Might depend on the species of wood, and how porous the endgrain is,
but I've found that when they do crack open, most of the glue is gone
(presumably soaked into the endgrain)
I've found the same thing - endgrain just soaks up the glue and it
doesn't bond the pieces together like I'd prefer. Bonds/joints just
crack apart much more easily than those with non-end grain. Even though
a spline and its glue contacts end grain, it seems to bind the two
pieces better more securely, perhaps because of more surface area. I
even use a pin nailer on one side of the splines -- just hoping for a
bit of insurance -- I don't want joints coming apart.
O.K. - so I wear suspenders AND a belt - call me paranoid. Even
paranoids have joints that come apart sometimes.
The other way to do it (and the one I like the best, myself) is to use
a band clamp or two. I never got around to getting one specifically
that purpose, so mine are just standard trailer tie-downs with a
ratchet. I get it sort of snug, tweak the miters to get all the faces
on the same plane, then tighten it up. The band gets tightest on the
corners, and pulls them into alignment really quickly and easily.
There is an added bonus if you're in a hurry- the clamp holds the
thing well enough to allow you to start tuning it up right away. Most
of my millwork is custom, and sometimes they don't always match
precisely if I use parts from a couple different runs, so being able
to start shaping the corners to make them look good while the glue
sets is really nice.
They make them just for this job as well- the main difference is that
the ones intended for clamping have little plastic corners on them (I
guess to protect the strap from the sharp corner)
I've seen the technique you posted above, but I don't like the idea of
gluing a block to a surface that is going to be finished later-
especially since I've taken to presanding everything prior to glue-up.
Admittedly, I too am surprised at the accuracy you're claiming using the
disk sander for your mitres. However, since I've never tried it that way, I
don't have any choice except to take you at your word. It's certainly
something I'm going to investigate the next time I have the use of a disk
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