Tools for "Perfect" Miter Cutting

A solid table saw's your best bet. August 29, 2005

After messing around with too many contractor grade power mitre saws, we have gone to a sliding jig on the table saw for making mitres. Is there a better way or better tool for mitering solid wood stock up to six inches wide? Any help is appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor F:
You really can’t ask for a more rigid setup than a table saw. Many furniture makers use them for all crosscutting of solid wood parts. I use a Dewalt sliding compound miter saw for most of my molding mitering, but when I recently had to end miter 11.5" material, I used my table saw and two miter gauges connected to a single hefty fence. This demonstrated itself to be much more accurate than the Dewalt for stock of that width.

From contributor M:
The choice for me is easy. Short stock is done on the table saw with a crosscut jig and it works great. Long stock or if we are out on an install than miter saw is the only way to go. We have crosscut jigs for each angle that we regularly cut, and this works well with no setup. Take the time to build good jigs and they will pay for themselves.

From contributor J:
We have burned up multiple saws. It seems that we replaced one every 8-12 months. After a long hard look at Omga we jumped and I never looked back. It is pricey and heavy, but you cannot compare. As for large molding over 8", without a doubt the tablesaw is the way to go.

From contributor D:
CTD is advertised on this site. We burned out or threw out several professional grade consumer crap saws before we bought a solid cast iron CTD. It’s rock solid, easy to adjust, holds it’s adjustments, and makes perfect miters. Order two of the saws they recommend, and like the Omga user, you'll never look back.

From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
I would add that perfect miters stay perfect unless the moisture content changes - make sure that the moisture content is correct when you cut.

From contributor F:
Gene, last time I checked it out, moisture meters were pretty expensive. Is there a meter out there at a reasonable cost for small shop owners? I have always just trusted my lumber suppliers and haven't had any trouble (yet).

From the original questioner:
CTD offers a guillotine saw that looks pretty good. Does anyone know of another manufacturer? They mentioned in the add that "We worked for over two years to have our own Guillotine produced for us to our rigid specifications." Are they like Grizzly and Sunhill and the like? Also, moisture content was mentioned.

Certainly moisture content is a concern, but our problem has never been with shrinkage, only that the perfectionist guys in my shop complain about having to re-cut the same miters to get them tight. I just want to take complaints about the tools out of the equation so they can do their jobs right the first time or take the responsibility themselves.

From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
A good moisture meter costs about $200. More bells and whistles can be added and that will drive up the cost. Less expensive meters are not accurate enough or reliable enough for use. Most lumber suppliers do provide properly dried lumber at the correct moisture content (usually 6.5% to 7.0% in much of the USA). But when there is a goof or someone misses the mark, it is an expensive event (for the manufacturer) and the lumber supplier will not usually provide any compensation for his error.

From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
As a rule of thumb, a 3% moisture content loss results in 1% shrinkage which will change the 45 degree angle to 44.7 degrees, leaving a gap on the inside of the joint of 0.6 degrees (0.3 from each piece)) or about 0.06 inches gap for a 6" wide molding piece. One alternative to this is to use a PUR that will bridge the opening (if it occurs) somewhat.

From contributor D:
To the original questioner: The CTD I know is at one end of the spectrum, with Grizzly and the other price sellers at the other end. CTD will likely be at the Vegas show, and if like Atlanta, they will have a good booth set up and operational, with a decent staff to answer questions. They have a huge amount of ancillary products to complete a miter setup - automated stops, manual stops, angled stops, etc. These guys have thought it all out and your needs will likely already be addressed by their solutions. You are smart to “take the machine out of the equation" in order to isolate/solve the problem.