Greetings fellow WoodWorkers.
I am building a bookcase out of maple and is the case with this and
the other bookcase I have built, there are trim boards that go around
the base and trim boards around the top. These are typically 2-6
inches wide and dressed up by routing ogees, coves, etc. The problem I
always have is mitre cutting them to the exact length, especially the
board that goes across the front. I cut the side boards and clamp them
in place, then cut the front board longer than necessary and keep
cutting it shorter and shorter, little by little until it seems to
fit. But then when I glue, screw or nail the boards in place, the
front board never ssems to be perfect.
Any tricks to get this to come out like a professional?
I definitely second the advice to do the front first. I also recommend
experimenting with a lot of different types of fillers and how they
perform with different wood species and different types of finishes. It
is often possible to make a small gap virtually invisible with the right
filler and technique. (This advice is only for amateurs like myself who
have no hope of ever getting it perfect :-))
Just cut the front board the correct length. Ok, here are some hints.
For the front board, clamp a dummy board on the case and mark it on
the back side in a very consistent manner. Use a sharpened pencil or a
marking knife, just some very repeatable manner and mark it from the
case edge to the back of the board.
On your miter saw make a fresh backer fence so when you cut the miter
you have a zero clearance edge on your back fence. Now you know
exactly where the blade will cut. You need to do this for both left
and right cuts if. On the mitersaw have the marked side up and move
the board to the correct side for cutoff. You can do the same with a
cross cut sled or miter bar on the table saw witn a fresh backer for a
zero clearance reference edge. Cut from left of the blade on left tilt
and the right of the blade on right tilt so you can have the marked
Now cut the board aligning it to leave the entire mark you made when
measureing. This should be very repeatable process because you can see
the exact edge where the saw will cut through your zero clearance
backer. Now fit the board on the front of the case and try fitting up
two side pieces. If it is too long, then trim exactly on the mark
line. If it is too short then mark and cut another dummy and cut
farther from the mark.
The whole key is to get a repeatable marking and cutting process.
Having the exact zero clearance backer gives you a repetable reference
and the consistent marking method is essential.
Other options include butt joint sides into a wider front board and
sand flush or add a small molding at the upper edge of front and side
boards to hide any gaps. You have the same problem but the smaller
molding is easier to sand, scrap or trim with a arazor to fit.
Final trick is to use the edge of a screwdriver to burnish the outer
edges of a face miter to close any gap. Once you burnish it from bot
sides and have laid the fibers into each other closing any gaps, you
can sand it bacl to a sharp edge by face sanding each face.
After years of running crown moldings I always work my way around a
piece (or room) in the same direction as I apply molding. I normally
work left to right with a few exceptions. I also will mark my cuts in
place as I hold them on the piece where possible.
Cut the front first, with miters on both ends.
Next, cut the side return miters, leaving them slightly long.
Third, cut the side return back ends to length
Now you can cope the inside corners on the pieces that meet the side
boards, leaving the far ends of same boards slightly long, as they'll be
trimmed to length last.
Here's a nice tutorial on coping that I Googled:
Inside corners should always be coped, not mitered.
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