From wood butchery to wood workery #4: My first attempt at a tutorial - half lap miter joinery

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Blog entry by Woodbutchery posted 07-14-2018 10:21 PM 1497 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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While working on another project, I needed to re-familiarize myself with working with my half-lap miter sled. While doing that, I realized I need to make something more stable than what I had originally come up with.

The new sled was made out of a piece of mahogany plywood. The board was 26” x 10”. I ripped two strips along the length, each 1 1/2” wide, glued the strips together for the fence, and glued and screwed the fence to the board.

I used my square to get the 45 degree angles as exact as possible (old miter gauge works well for 90, but is not always able to get me to an accurate 45. I’ll be replacing it someday soon, but for now, I have other methods to get me there…. ).

Once I have the angle set, I cut the slots using the outer two blades of my dado stack. This makes it much easier for me to line the cuts correctly; just adjust the miter gauge so that the blades fit into the slot, and off we go!

The careful observer will noticed that I didn’t do so hot a job of centering the fence to the miter gauge. While I’ll try to do better on future versions, the fence is useable as is.

Having remade the fence, it was time to make a frame.

I cut four pieces for my test frame and labeled them appropriately.

Having teased you with my photographic expertise, I’m going to use screen shots from sketchup to show the details.

I made the rails longer than the stiles, but this works for any rectangular dimensions. In this case, the rails and stiles were 1 1/4” wide and 1/2” thick. Stiles were 8” long, rails were 12” long. For the purpose of this tutorial it’s assumed that all pieces are the same width.

That having been said, I draw a diagonal from corner to side to remind me of where I need to be cutting. On SketchUp, the line is exact, but they don’t have to be, as long as they serve as a reminder of where your corner needs to be.

Having set my reminders, I set the fence to one of the 45 degree angles. In this case it was the right hand side.

The rails and stiles are 1/2” thick, so I’m going to want the blade to ride just a little under 1/4” thick. I use my square to draw a line 1/4” from the edge of a piece of scrap, and slowly sneak the blade depth to just where I can see the line

I thought I had a picture to show this step, but don’t. Mea culpa

Next I flipped the top rail over and set the edge of the corner in line with the inside edge of the channel, then start my cut. Once I’m through the first cut, I pull the rail back along the fence so that the next pass will cut closer to the back corner, and repeat until I have reached the end of the rail.

It should look similar to the picture below once completed.

Repeat for all four pieces, using the same relative end for each rail and stile, so that you end up with something similar to the picture below [ note – reverse above and below picture ]

Once that’s completed, set the fence to the opposite 45 degree angle

And repeat the same process for the opposite end of each rail and stile. By the end of this process, your pieces should look like the picture below

Next step involves the stiles only. We need to remove the squared lower end of the wood, so that only the upper angled end remains. Set the fence for 90 degrees, then place the stile face up on the fence, with the inside angled corner flush with the inside channel on the fence.

For purposes of stability, I cut two 90 degree channels on the fence so I can move my miter gauge to each side and have the rail or stile supported by a longer face. For 8 – 12” pieces, this is not so much a thing, but for longer pieces, the support is needed.

Having aligned the inner angled corner, run the fence over the blade, removing the bottom portion. If you have set your blade depth correctly, there should be less than 1/32” of remaining wood, if that. The remaining piece should look like the picture below.

I repeat this process for the other stile, then move the fence and gauge to the other side of the blade and repeat the process. When completed, the pieces should look like the picture below.

And a view from the bottom

I suggest a dry fit to verify that there isn’t much difference in the surfaces where the stiles and rails join. If there is, light sanding on each piece should bring everything in line. Once everything fits like it’s supposed to, time for assembly.

I glue the squared end of each of the rails, and then place the stiles on the squared ends. Clamp the corners for each piece, working your way around the frame until all four corners are clamped. Give the glue time to cure, and remove the clamps. This is what I ended up with after the glue-up.

And a view of the side of the frame

As well as the back.

The overall process probably takes longer to read than actually do, once the rails and stiles are cut to proper dimension. As this was a test frame, I didn’t set the inside dados for using for a picture or other item, but the process will be the same with pieces where the inside dado has been cut. Looking at the picture in back, it might be better to use a router bit to put stop dadoes along the inner edge so that the gap won’t show along the sides. I’ll let you know how it works out when I work on my first frame.

So I’m looking for comments/suggestions as this was an experiment with mixed mediums (photography vs. screen capture). Please let me know where there are confusing bits, or the bits that stand out as extra helpful (or – sadly, if none of it is helpful). Thanks for reading.

-- Making scrap with zen-like precision - Woodbutchery

2 comments so far

View matt garcia's profile

matt garcia

1917 posts in 4442 days

#1 posted 07-15-2018 11:15 PM

Awesome!! Great job!!

-- Matt Garcia Wannabe Period Furniture Maker, Houston TX

View Woodbutchery's profile


432 posts in 4356 days

#2 posted 07-16-2018 03:54 AM

Thanks, Matt. It was a bit of fun and learning putting it all together.

-- Making scrap with zen-like precision - Woodbutchery

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