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Help with bevel cuts on table saw

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Forum topic by JohnnyBoy1981 posted 04-29-2018 02:06 AM 4299 views 1 time favorited 40 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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JohnnyBoy1981

235 posts in 856 days


04-29-2018 02:06 AM

Topic tags/keywords: bevel cuts box decorative box

I’m trying to build a small decorative box with bevel cuts from a single board. I’d like to have the grain match 3 of the four corners. Afterwards I’d like to cut wooden keys in the corners for strength and decoration.

I’m having trouble cutting the bevels accurately, or at least lining the cuts up with the blade. I’ve been tilting the blade 45 degrees to the left and pushing the wood through. Should I be pushing the wood through a 45 degree-tilted blade or is it easier to tilt the miter gauge 45 degrees and keep the blade at 90 with the board on its edge?

Also, when marking out the lines on the board to cut what will be the four sides of the box, do I need to account for the kerf of the blade? My blade is around 1/8” thick or so. When I draw the layout lines, should I make them 1/8” thick too?

I feel like I’m overthinking this…


40 replies so far

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therealSteveN

3095 posts in 993 days


#1 posted 04-29-2018 03:31 AM

I’d say not overthinking, bevels have a higher degree of difficulty as a safety thing than plain rips and crosscuts. A few things to ponder.

I usually stay away from any fence on cross cut bevels, trapping can cause kickbacks/injuries. I sometimes use a fence on a rip bevel though, but always be aware of the possibility of kickback if any trapping occurs. On these cuts I usually use something to mitigate kickback like an anti kickback pawl, board buddies or the like.

On the cross cuts I use my miter gauge and set my blade to 45, and do a pass through with a good quality cross cut blade, not a combo. I go for more teeth, most of them seem to come as an ATB tooth geometry, that is ok.

Now think about what is happening here. You are making a crosscut, but it it isn’t a basic cross where you meet, and the teeth immediately engage the wood and start cutting. You are meeting the wood on a bias, so as you start to cut the board has a tendency to creep, that is move away from the teeth, so the cut can get wiggly, and not square pretty fast IF, you don’t hold it down FIRMLY. Some miter gauges actually have an overreach hold down clamp, just to make sure you don’t get any creep. AGAIN, make sure the off cut just is there, not trapped against the fence.

Miter gauge with hold down clamp You don’t need to buy one, just make sure you hold the piece very still as you push through the cut.

Steve here has some thoughts about bevel, and angles. I think he’s funny in his delivery. He demonstrates how I do the cut though, check right at the end.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vclmMgKWAco

-- Think safe, be safe

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rizzo

76 posts in 1671 days


#2 posted 04-29-2018 03:59 AM

Miter gauge square to the table and the blade tilted to 45 degrees. Cut “close” to your layout lines, but don’t try and hit them exactly.

Then use a shooting board.

It is one of the few things in my shop I still to this day think, why in God’s name did I wait this long to make one of these.

Seriously, take your time to lay out your cuts, rough it(leaving a 16th or 32nd) then shoot until it’s perfect.

I knock out perfect miters for boxes and frames so quickly now… it feels like cheating.

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JohnnyBoy1981

235 posts in 856 days


#3 posted 04-29-2018 04:30 AM

Thanks! Haven’t made a shooting board yet. Didn’t know if I’d ever need one.

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Rich

4555 posts in 1008 days


#4 posted 04-29-2018 04:41 AM

What are the dimensions of the box? If the sides are much shorter than they are long then using the fence is dangerous. In that case you’re better off using the miter gauge.

It’s foolish to try to make a box by cutting to layout lines. Instead, you need to affix a stop block to your miter gauge to ensure the pieces are exactly the same length. Without that, the box won’t be square at the corners. If the box is rectangular, cut the front and back, then reset the stop block and cut the sides.

Personally, I don’t tilt the blade. Instead, I made a 45º sled that rides in the miter slot. With it, I can cut narrow pieces for a short box, up to about 9”, which is generally about as tall as I go with small boxes. I can take the four pieces that I’ve cut to precise lengths using stop blocks (I cut them on the miter saw, but you can use the table saw just as easily) and place them on the sled, clamp them with spring clamps and cut. The design of the sled puts the end of the board flush on the table, so I get perfect 45º cuts and the box will have the exact outer dimensions that equal the lengths I cut the boards to.

Edit: Here’s a photo to clarify. Simple little sled, but it does the job without worrying about getting the blade tilt exact. I built it to make this tray for my son and have used it countless times since.

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

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JohnnyBoy1981

235 posts in 856 days


#5 posted 04-29-2018 05:59 AM

The box will be 12” long by 8” wide. The overall height may be about 3.5” – 4”.

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GrantA

1603 posts in 1826 days


#6 posted 04-29-2018 10:39 AM

You’ve got good advice already, I’m curious if your box will have a lid? If not, consider going for broke while your at it and cut compound bevels for a box like this! It’ll only make you question your sanity for a little bit ;-) I think the end result is worth it

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rizzo

76 posts in 1671 days


#7 posted 04-29-2018 01:52 PM


What are the dimensions of the box? If the sides are much shorter than they are long then using the fence is dangerous. In that case you re better off using the miter gauge.

It s foolish to try to make a box by cutting to layout lines. Instead, you need to affix a stop block to your miter gauge to ensure the pieces are exactly the same length. Without that, the box won t be square at the corners. If the box is rectangular, cut the front and back, then reset the stop block and cut the sides.

Personally, I don t tilt the blade. Instead, I made a 45º sled that rides in the miter slot. With it, I can cut narrow pieces for a short box, up to about 9”, which is generally about as tall as I go with small boxes. I can take the four pieces that I ve cut to precise lengths using stop blocks (I cut them on the miter saw, but you can use the table saw just as easily) and place them on the sled, clamp them with spring clamps and cut. The design of the sled puts the end of the board flush on the table, so I get perfect 45º cuts and the box will have the exact outer dimensions that equal the lengths I cut the boards to.

Edit: Here s a photo to clarify. Simple little sled, but it does the job without worrying about getting the blade tilt exact. I built it to make this tray for my son and have used it countless times since.

- Rich

Rich, that sled is really cool.

I do have to disagree with you a little bit though, about it being foolish to cut to layout lines. What it seems you are basically saying is that anyone using solely hand tools would never be able to make a square box, because they aren’t cutting things with a stop block. I agree with you on using stop blocks for lots of things, and they can be really helpful in the shop, but I just find a quality marking knife’s layout lines to be what works best for me when cutting these kinds of parts. Using a shooting board also removes any blade set up error/slop. (If the blade is set to 45.1 degrees or 44.9. Etc. or if the miter gauge or sled is not dead on 90 to the blade. Most people think their miter gauges are 90 smdegrees ro the blade until they 5 cut test it, and find its off a few thousandths.

Really do like that sled though. I made something similar that slides over the rip fence, hold the boards vertically and allows you to make cuts beyond 45 degrees (like a pair of 52.5 degrees bevels) giving me a 105 degree angle.

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

11625 posts in 3847 days


#8 posted 04-29-2018 02:18 PM

Hey Rizzo, got any pics of that fence mounted bevel jig?

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

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Rich

4555 posts in 1008 days


#9 posted 04-29-2018 02:24 PM


I do have to disagree with you a little bit though, about it being foolish to cut to layout lines. What it seems you are basically saying is that anyone using solely hand tools would never be able to make a square box, because they aren’t cutting things with a stop block.

- rizzo

Funny you should bring that up. I was just pondering this whole thread a little while ago and wished I’d qualified my remark with respect to hand tools. My comment was specifically referring to doing on a table saw, which is what the original post was about. For sure hand tools require a different approach. So thanks for mentioning it.

I’ll also take the opportunity to suggest to JB that before any cutting he measure out the sequential pieces on the board (in this case, 12, 8, 12, 8 inches) and just write 1 through 4 in those zones. Make the “1” with a flag at the top, or just put an up arrow next to it. It doesn’t have to be anywhere near exact, just so the numbers wind up on each piece. It beats the hell out of going back and trying to figure which piece goes with which based on grain patterns, and also which way is up for each board.

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

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rizzo

76 posts in 1671 days


#10 posted 04-29-2018 02:33 PM



Hey Rizzo, got any pics of that fence mounted bevel jig?

- Gene Howe

I don’t have any pics at hand, I could take a few later.

Here is a video though that does an amazing job of explaining the whole thing, by Chris salamone

https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=a9DqdPI0c5s

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rizzo

76 posts in 1671 days


#11 posted 04-29-2018 02:36 PM


I ll also take the opportunity to suggest to JB that before any cutting he measure out the sequential pieces on the board (in this case, 12, 8, 12, 8 inches) and just write 1 through 4 in those zones. Make the “1” with a flag at the top, or just put an up arrow next to it. It doesn t have to be anywhere near exact, just so the numbers wind up on each piece. It beats the hell out of going back and trying to figure which piece goes with which based on grain patterns, and also which way is up for each board.

- Rich

Awesome tip, and something that is often overlooked. People commonly number their pieces but often loose track of the orientation. Great tip.

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JohnnyBoy1981

235 posts in 856 days


#12 posted 04-29-2018 08:38 PM

Well, I took advantage of the nice weather and gave one method a try: my table saw blade at 90 degrees and Incra miter gauge at 45 degrees using a stop block. I used a much smaller piece of poplar than my original dimensions called for and basically maxed out the height of my table saw. So a bigger box will require a different approach.

My bevels are generally pretty flush and even for a first attempt, but not perfect. A few bevel edges stick it by a miniscule amount. Others leave tiny little gaps where they meet on the inside corners. I’m not sure what’s happening there.

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Rich

4555 posts in 1008 days


#13 posted 04-29-2018 08:58 PM

Don’t sweat hairline imperfections. You can deal with situations like that in any number of ways later on. I’m not sure if you’ve seen this technique for gluing small mitered boxes, but it works great and ensures your joints all are flush. If they’re not flush, they won’t fit right and it’ll look like your angles are off even though they aren’t.

Here’s a good short video to give you the idea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWAnLaHw09g

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

View hairy's profile

hairy

2876 posts in 3951 days


#14 posted 04-29-2018 09:30 PM

My t/s is right tilt, so I made a sled for bevel cuts.

http://lumberjocks.com/projects/308986

-- My reality check bounced...

View Charlie H.'s profile

Charlie H.

377 posts in 1069 days


#15 posted 04-29-2018 11:26 PM

Hi JohnnyBoy,
I am pretty much an all power tool woodworker and of late I have been experimenting with using mitered corners on my boxes.
Spend however much time is required to get the blade adjusted parallel to the miter gauge slots.
Then get the tilt stops adjusted dead on at 90 / 45 degrees to the top.
Then make sure the blade is still parallel to the slots when tilted to 45 deg (if you are a praying man say a quick one before you initially check this alignment).
Once this is accomplished it is very helpful (but not absolutely necessary) to have a zero clearance insert for the 45 degree tilt.
It would be even more helpful to have a 45 degree tilt dedicated crosscut sled (I don’t have one yet).
If you use the miter gauge put a sacrificial face on it so you can push both sides of the cut past the blade.
If you put the miter gauge on the side of the blade so the short side of the bevel is down it makes using stop blocks to set length and prevent movement much easier and more effective.
Finally the wood needs to be straight and square, if it’s warped, cupped, twisted, or otherwise not flat you’re in trouble before you start.
If the saw is aligned, the miter gauge is adjusted square, the wood is straight & flat, you use a stop block and hold the wood firmly against the fence and the block…..you can cut accurate repeatable bevels.

If you have a bandsaw look up continuous wood grain wrap and you can have grain match at all four corners.
Good luck.

-- Regards, Charlie in Rowlett, TX --------I talk to myself, because sometimes I need expert advice.---------

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