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Best way to cut miters for boxes

DLJeffs

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I've tried to search for previous threads about the most accurate way to make miter cuts for boxes. But didn't find any so I probably wasn't doing something right. I'm sure this topic has been discussed before. I'm interested in finding out how you box makers cut 45 degree miters for box sides? A buddy has a jig he built that he swears is the best way to cut box sides on his table saw without tilting the blade. Much more accurate than using a chop / miter saw. I've seen some YouTube "how to's" for building a sled type jig for cutting 45 degree miters, but it only works for small dimension, not for cross cutting box sides for example. If someone knows this was talked about before and can post a link to the thread, that'd be great. Otherwise, I'm all ears, looking to be educated about making boxes with 45 degree miter corners and splines. Thanks
Doug
 

Mike1950

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My coved boxes use 3/4-7/8 wood in a 8 x12 box. even well jointed and planed wood is not perfect. with no set size I used a crude but effective cut miters on both ends on chop saw-then cut sides- test and shim on chop saw to fit. quite crude but very effective. getting small thick boards to match perfectly any other way was an effort in frustration for me

DSC_0026ss.JPG
 

DLJeffs

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Yes, exactly what Chuck said, please. A jig of some kind is what I'm thinking. Beautiful boxes Mike and Ray.

Mike - if I understand you correctly, you cut miters on both ends of the sides of your boxes. Then do a test fit and figure out where you need to make adjustments, if any. Then you put shims in your chop saw (still set at 45 degree stop) to make those tiny adjustments? Shims are what, pieces of cardboard or something? I assume the adjustments are tiny fractions. If that's an accurate description, are you tilting your chop saw to 45 degrees from vertical, or are you placing the box sides vertically against the fence and simply rotating the chop saw to the 45 degree stop? I suppose a second question is are you using a fine tooth blade to limit chipping?

I'm hoping I can just make one that's square.
 
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Ray D

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Would you please show a picture of your jig. Boxes are drop dead gorgeous. Chuck
I can get a picture when I get home but it’s nothing more then a table saw sled made just for 45’s. I got tired of messing up my every day sled so I made one just for boxes. I tilt the blade to 45 and set up my stops.
 

barry richardson

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I agree with Ray, I use a sled on the table saw. After 15 years of production box making, i.e. flag and shadow boxes, and various other things, I have settled on the sled as the best solution. Build it square, mill the boards square, and you will have perfect corners. A miter saw works OK, but even with the best ones, the blades deflects ever so slightly. Use a stop block on the sled, or the table saw fence, to repeat exact lengths. The only downside is that it is bulky to store...
here is mine, nothing fancy, the slot is getting a little wide since I use it to cut 22.5 degree cuts too, which I require for some of my boxes.... I laid some thin paneling down for a zero clearance area, still works great...
sled.jpg
 

DLJeffs

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Thanks Barry and Ray. That's really helpful. Have you found a max blade extension on your table saw - the point at which the blade starts to deflect too much to be accurate? I have a pretty cheap old Delta table saw and I'm not sure how accurate my 45 tilt is. I suspect I can fiddle with it and make trial cuts until I get it pretty accurate each time I need to make some 45's. I don't do production type numbers, nearly every thing I make is one off but I don't mind having to do some trial and error as long as I can get a decent final product. And once I lock the blade in it usually stays put. In fact, the scale on my fence is useless so I always measure both front edge and trail edge of the blade-to-fence to make sure it's the same. It's slow but it works if I take my time. So I think I can use a 45 degree to get the blade set.

Oh, here's another question: to test it, do you make two 45 cuts and then put them together and check it against a 90degree angle? Trying to verify a true 45 on a 1/4 inch thin board might be tough.
 

barry richardson

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I adjusted my 45 degree stop as you described above. Use a scrap piece 3/4" or so to do it. As long as your blade is sharp, it should not deflect on a table saw no matter how high you raise it. If you don't trust your TS settings, I recommend one of these;
1601596317142.png
 

DLJeffs

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Hey Barry or Ray, @barry richardson ; @Ray D
Looking at the photo of Barry's sled, do you cut boards on both sides of the blade? Or just on one side and if so, which side? I'm just wondering if you always cut on the right side (for example) if there's any advantage to offsetting the sled to that side so I have longer support.
 
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Mike1950

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Yes, exactly what Chuck said, please. A jig of some kind is what I'm thinking. Beautiful boxes Mike and Ray.

Mike - if I understand you correctly, you cut miters on both ends of the sides of your boxes. Then do a test fit and figure out where you need to make adjustments, if any. Then you put shims in your chop saw (still set at 45 degree stop) to make those tiny adjustments? Shims are what, pieces of cardboard or something? I assume the adjustments are tiny fractions. If that's an accurate description, are you tilting your chop saw to 45 degrees from vertical, or are you placing the box sides vertically against the fence and simply rotating the chop saw to the 45 degree stop? I suppose a second question is are you using a fine tooth blade to limit chipping?

I'm hoping I can just make one that's square.
I use veneer pieces and tape. Vertical. My box sides are 4-5" tall. Depends on figure. Fine tooth. I have used TS. Just does not work for me. I have a couple box build threads in classroom. They are old so you probably have to go back. "Build da box" if my memory serves me..
 

Ray D

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I forgot to mention that I use a 60 tooth thin kerf blade. As long as it’s sharp it makes a very fine cut with almost no tear out. Check that....I went out in the shop and i believe it’s actually a Freud 80 tooth blade.
 
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DLJeffs

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Thanks for that quick reply Ray and for pointing me at the classroom. Forgot to look in there. What you said about which side you cut on etc makes sense to me. I started cutting parts for a sled today so when I attach the runners and the fence, that's what I'll do. I currently have a Diablo 60 tooth combo blade so maybe I'll go check out the fine tooth, thin kerf too.
 

DLJeffs

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Definitely check out the box build that @Mike1950 did. Great information.

Ray, Mike, Barry and others,
A couple additional questions for you:

1). I assume you finish or nearly finish your boxes before assembly (at least the interiors would be easier if finished before making it into a box). Ray's in particular with the lid attached as part of the assembly. So are you completely finishing (e.g. final coat of finish, etc) or just getting it ready for the final coat and then assembling the box?

2). What glue are you using for your box miters and splines? I ask because if you're finishing the inside, I assume you have to be very careful not to get squeeze out onto your finished box, right? So does super glue work better for that? And if so, what viscosity works best - thin, medium or gel?

3). When using a "panel" type lid, (e.g a thin walnut inside a frame) are you gluing the panel in? Or just gluing the frame miters?

4). This one is for Ray in particular - I like the little handle design you use. Do you simply glue that to the lid or are you inserting small dowels or something to strengthen that attachment?

@Ray D @Mike1950 @barry richardson
 
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Ray D

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A lot of good questions.
I definitely finish the interior frame my boxes before I glue them up....at least one coat anyway.

I use Titebond II and clean up with a damp cloth.

My “handle” is attached to the box lid using a loose tenon. Long grain to long grain should bond without the need of a tenon but because that area is going to possibly see some abuse I always use a loose tenon. Hope this helps
 
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Ray D

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Forgot about the third question. On my boxes with a panel glue up I never glue the panel in the frame. I like a snug fit bit it still has room to move. The bottom panel is also free to move.
 
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