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Miter Clamps
Perfect Miters ...... Fast

An Article
"Perfect Miters Every Time"
by Jim Chestnut

Article First Published in "Fine Homebuilding Magazine"
issue #164, July 2004

Edited by Jim Chestnut for web site publication.

All pictures are courtesy of "Fine Homebuilding Magazine", though most were not used in the orignial publication. Any inaccuracies, omissions, advertising, or inappropriate verbiage that may appear in THIS article did NOT appear in "Fine Homebuilding" and are solely the result of my own ineptitude and/or megalomania, greed, perversity, or any other of a wide range of diverse character defects.

Page 2


An auxiliary fence of 1/2" plywood (typically baltic birch or apple ply) is attached to the chop saw fence itself, and extends beyond the factory saw fence by 6 inches or so. The bottom of the plywood fence which faces the cut man has an 1/8th inch rabbet which allows space for sawdust to accumulate. That way we can save our huffing and puffing for our pre-dawn run, or our nightly aerobics (if we are lucky).

Note that the extension bed fence is behind the white auxilary fence - once again leaving room for sawdust to accumulate without interfering with the position of the stock against the saw fence.



The auxilary fence is screwed to the fences of our extension wings - after shimming the wings flush to meet the chop saw bed.



New holes have been drilled into the aluminum saw fence to accept drywall screws which hold the auxillary fence on the saw. Four 2 inch x #6 drywall screws are run through the aluminum and out through the face of the baltic birch, then snapped off with a fast whack of a hammer. The extension wings are screwed from the front to back and I usually don't bother snapping them off.


Material Handling

"Now the trim men will do their magic". Ever hear that phrase? That happens only when the stock is top notch. Otherwise, you have to shut off the lights, turn on a candle and put “Mr. Magic” himself -Grover Washington-on the stereo. Then get your check before the lights come back on.

Therefore, I prefer supplying the material myself. I get mine from a small shop which does absolutely nothing but mill trim. They use a computer controlled molder in a humidity controlled building and produce identical moldings from one run to the next, all with the same moisture content. That way, the cut man can cut parts, rather than culling out chatter, knots, cups, twists, warps and crooks. The consistent moisture content insures that he can join miters cut from different pieces of trim knowing that the details will match precisely. Houses simply do not have enough closets for poor quality trim stock. And even if they did, the head scratching, ineffiency and stress involved would eliminate hope for anything but a comfortable room in the ulcer ward.

Now that we have our top quality trim, the trick is to insure it stays that way prior to installation. This means no storing of materials in garages or unheated/airconditioned areas of the house. If the house isn't ready to accept trim, there is no reason for it to be sitting on the job during drywalling or latex priming of walls and ceilings. If so, the ends of the stock will be picking up moisture faster than the middles, consequently swelling more in width than the middles. Then none of the miters, in order to mate, can be cut near the ends of the material.

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