Tight-fitting miter joints are a hallmark of great craftsmanship. The trouble is even the most flawless miter isn't a very strong joint to use — especially in a door.
When it comes down to it, a miter joint isn't really much more than a butt joint. The good news is, there's a "hybrid" joint that combines the look of a miter with the strength of a half-lap joint.
HOW IT WORKS. You can see how i-K^ joint fits together in the drawings above. The front face looks like an ordinary miter. On the other side of the frame are the joint lines and square shoulders you'd find in a half lap. What this gives you is extra, long-grain glue surface. This reinforcement makes the joint the perfect candidate for small cabinet doors and frames.
THE RIGHT ORIENTATION. As you'll see, cutting this joint on the table saw isn't difficult. But there is one thing to think about before you use it — the orientation. Two opposite sides of the frame have clear edges that look clean (inset above).
The other edges show the end grain of the crossing piece. So what ! like to do is orient the parts so that these edges are least noticeable. For example, on a door, the sides are usually the most visible. That means f'd make the joint so the lapped edges are on the top and bottom.
GETTING READY. There are just a couple of other tilings to talk about before getting started. The first is that it's a good idea to have a few test pieces on hand. These will come in handy for setting up the saw for each step in the process.
Second, the key to cutting an accurate joint is the simple sled shown in the box on the next page. Tire sled rides along tire rip fence and has a pair of fences to guide the workpieces across the blade.
Hold workpiece against this fence
Edge of blade just cuts to center of workpiece
Trim away ear to create a crisp shoulder note:
Miter Ends. The last step is to miter each end of the workpiece. Once again, sneak up on the cut for a perfect fit.
Trimming the End. With the miter gauge square to the blade, cut away the waste to create a half lap on each end.
Vertical Cut. Using the same sled position as before, rotate the rear stop so that it's vertical to cut a straight kerf.
CUTTING TH£ JOINT
As you cut the joint, what you're really doing is making two sets of parts — a square-end set and a mitered-end set.
SQUARE-END PIECES. I like to start by making die square-end parts. The reason is they're the simplest of the two to make — diey require only two steps, as you can see in the drawings on the opposite page.
ANGLED KERF. There are only two things to keep in mind here. The first is the height of the saw blade. It should match the height of the corner of the workpiece (Fig. la).
The second thing is the rip fence position. The distance from the sled side to the blade should be exactly half the thickness of your stock, as in Fig. lb. Here's where you'll put your test pieces to use.
Once you have everything set, you can cut a kerf in one end of each piece using the rear fence. Making the kerf in the opposite end is simply a matter of repeating this step with the workpiece held against die front fence. (Be sure to keep die same face of the workpiece against the side of sled during each cut.)
Before going on to die second (and last) step in making the square-end parts, I want to point out one thing. While you have everydiing set up, now is a good time to make the sled cuts on the mitered parts, as in Fig. 3. This will save you some hassle trying to get the saw and sled reset later on.
TRIM CUT. Like I said, there's just one step left to finish the squareend pieces. And tiiat's to cut away
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