P.O. Box 812
Holden, Maine 04429
Perfect Miters ...... Fast
Miters Every Time"
by Jim Chestnut
Article First Published
in "Fine Homebuilding
issue #164, July 2004
Edited by Jim Chestnut
for web site publication.
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
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
2 , 3
, 4 , 5
, 6 , 7
someone goes around labeling all the doors 1,1H,2, 2H, 3,
3H, 1X 2X etc. The "H" stands for the hinge side;
the “X” for exterior door. Next he takes a measurement
from the floor to the bottom of the head jamb of a representative
door ( let's say it is 81 "). He then cuts a piece of
casing a few inches longer than that measurement, (say 84")
perfectly square on each end. Now he measures up from each
end of the casing along its inside edge and carefully marks
on these two marks, he sticks a "Quick Rule TM"
which is nothing more than a 4" tape measure printed
on high gloss, peel and stick type address labels. Most teenagers
can replicate them on Avery Address labels using generic software
- the trick is finding one to do it for you. This entails
far fewer threatening and coercive measures than trying to
use your own teenager.
now has a story pole identical to the casing he is using,
with a tape measure on each end where it is needed, and can
begin measuring. He places the story pole against the edge
of the left jamb leg of door #1X, glances down to make sure
it is not sitting on a cigarette butt or construction debris,
and sees that the bottom edge of the head jamb intersects
the quick rule 3/8ths above the center line. So he writes
on the story pole itself 1X= +6 (meaning + 6/16ths) .
My crew used
Jim and Jerry's "measuring for idiots" technique.
We used only inches, sixteenths, halfs of sixteenths, "strongs"
(plus 1/4 of one sixteenth - or 1/64th) and shys (minus 1/4
of one sixteenth or minus 1/64th). Thus "38 and 12 strong"
is identical to 3 foot 2 and 49/64ths. We could relay that
information quickly, find the spot quickly on our tapes, and
still be measuring to tolerances of less than 4/10ths of a
millimeter. It took very little time to get new crew members
"re-adjusted" to thinking of 10 and 5/8ths as ten
and ten. Or ten and ten strong instead of ten and 5/8ths plus
a c hair. No more of that "OK, what kind
of c hair?" baloney.
part recently has been finding good #4H or #5H wooden artist
pencils. The best ones ever made, by Venus- the green crackle
finish ones with the white plastic caps on the back end -
are no longer available since Venus is, regretably, out of
best ones -Berol Turquoise - with the silver cap on the back
that you had to cut off because it would pull all the hair
out from behind your ear, sold out to Sanford. I am ordering
some to see if they are any good.
But the Venus
definitely had the best leads that were both extremely strong,
and would stay extraordinarily sharp for half a day of solid
use before needing a touch up with a chisel. They also had
the best and most consistent wood for sharpening with a chisel.
not believe the ribbing I got from Jerry when these pictures
(of the dull crummy pencils I've got here) came out in the
that pencil is more embarrassing than walking up the aisle
as a member of a wedding party and punctuating each solemn
step with a resounding fart. At least I could blame that on
obligatory bachleor party activities. But there is no excuse
for a pencil like that one.
He then flips
the story pole end for end, places it against the edge of
the right jamb leg, sees that the bottom edge of the head
jamb intersects the quick rule (3/32) inch below the center
line of the quick rule. On that end of the story pole he writes
1X= - 1 1/2 (minus 3/32). Then he measures the head jamb,inside
to inside, and writes that length on the story pole as well.
If he is lucky, and all like doors have identical width jambs,
this last step is unnecessary. He would then cut all the heads
of 2'6" doors, for instance, at identical lengths from
Page 1, 2
, 3 , 4
, 5 , 6
, 7 , 8