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Miter Cuts
Bevel Cuts
Compound Angles
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Doing Jointery on Your Table Saw
Click here for a printer friendly version of Tip-
Pg. 1-3, Pg 4-6, Pg 7-9, Pg 10-12, Pg 13-15,
Pg 16-18,
Pg 19-21, Pg 22-24, Pg 25-27, Pg 28, Table 3-1

Compound Angles

While a miter cut requires a miter gauge setting and a bevel calls for a table tilt, a compound angle cut is done with a combination of both settings.

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Figure 3-15. Examples of assemblies done with compound miter joints.

Any frame or open structure that has sloping sides requires a compound miter (Figure 3-15). Typical examples of projects that have compound-angle miter joints include: a peaked figure with any number of sides such as you might require for a fencepost top or the roof of a birdhouse or doll-house, a plant container with sloping sides, and a picture frame with sides that slope toward or away from the wall.

Of all table saw operations, compound angle cuts are probably the hardest to do, not because of how they relate to sawing, but because the accuracy of the cut is so critical. Work slowly; be sure of each setting before you cut into good stock. Here is a good procedure to follow: Adjust the miter gauge to the angle you need and make a test cut with the table set at "0". Check to see if the cut is correct. Tilt the table to the angle required and make a test bevel cut. Check to see if that cut is correct.

Compound cutting sometimes requires alternating the miter gauge in the table slots, which means the miter gauge setting must be changed each time. Check each setting carefully before making the pass. Some woodworkers have an extra miter gauge on hand for just such times.

Take a stance that keeps you out of the line of cut and make a test pass without the workpiece and with the power off, so you can preview the best way to handle the operation.

Here is a typical procedure, based on a four-sided frame and using the popular 60° work angle, which may be followed when doing compound angle work. Note: The work angle is the angle measured between your line of sight and the flat face of the frame. First decide the overall size of the frame and from this determine the lengths of the four pieces required. Cut and square these pieces to exact length as if it were a simple frame.

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Figure 3-16. Hold the work firmly throughout the pass; cut slowly.

By referring to Table 3-1, you will discover that the 60° work angle requires a table tilt of 20-3/4° and a miter gauge setting of 49°. Set the miter gauge and the table exactly at these settings. If you are off even a fraction of a degree, you won't get a good joint. To gauge the amount of cutoff, you can clamp a stop block to the table or use a miter gauge stop rod so the work can be positioned correctly before making contact with the blade. Hold the workpiece very firmly by using the miter gauge safety grip and make the pass very slowly (Figure 3-16). The four parts should fit together snugly, while forming a perfect right angle at each corner.

This method does involve wasting some wood, but attempting to cut each part of the frame con-secutively from one long board or calculating the exact length is extremely difficult. Cutting the four pieces to exact length beforehand, as suggested, pays off in accuracy and convenience.

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Figure 3-17. Compound bevel cuts are done with the taper guide at one setting and the table tilt at another.

Work with the taper guide when you need to cut a compound angle on a wide piece of stock (Figure 3-17). In effect, the taper guide is a substitute for the miter gauge. The difference between this operation and normal taper cuts is that, here, you work with the table at a tilt angle.

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