Introduction: Cutting Precision Miters in Ten Minutes or Less

Cutting miter joints can be an involved process that can take hours and practice to perfect.  With a simple set up on a table saw, you can cut all of your joints quickly, efficiently, and accurately without having to worry about measuring cuts with the rip fence.  After making all of your cuts, a quick assembly can be accomplished using a few tools.  For this example we're going to make a simple cube.

Tools and Materials Required:

Six pieces of wood cut to the exterior dimensions of your cube
Scrap M.D.F. cut the length of your rip fence
Brad gun
Bar clamps
Wood glue
Blue painters tape

Step 1: Setting Up the Fence

For a left tilt table saw, the fence needs to be placed to the left of the blade (do the exact opposite for a right tilt table saw).  Attach the M.D.F. to the side of the fence facing the blade using the bar clamps.  It is important that the clamps be positioned far enough apart so that they will not hit the blade, and high enough so that they will not interfere with your material. 

Place one of your pieces of wood against the M.D.F. and draw a line at the top of your material.

Step 2: Setting Up the Saw

For making these miter cuts, you will need to remove any blade guard, splitter, or riving knife from the saw.  Tilt the blade to 45 degrees (or desired angle).  Move the fence close to the blade and adjust the height so that the top of the teeth are in line with the mark on the M.D.F.

Turn the saw on, and push the fence into the blade until the top tooth is fully inside the sacrificial fence.  Adjustment may be required, so feel free to turn the saw off and check for proper alignment.

Setting the saw in this position will allow you to remove the perfect amount of material from your wood to produce a miter cut.  It will also greatly reduce any tear out on plywood or other veneered lumber.

Step 3: Making the Cuts

With the saw on, run the edge of the material along the M.D.F. and through the blade.  It is important that the material stays flat against the table, and square against the fence.  Do not force the material; let the blade do the cutting.  A feather board (not pictured) can be installed on the fence before the blade to keep the material down, accounting for any warping.  When finished with the cut, simply rotate the material, and cut the next side.  Repeat this until all miters are cut.

Important Note:  Do not stand directly behind the blade when cutting miters in this fashion.  The cut off pieces of material will not be pushed fully past the blade, but instead will eject back toward the operator.  Occasionally this can happen at a high velocity, so make sure that you stand off to the side, and that any bystanders are clear of the area around you.

Step 4: Quick Assembly

Assembling items of this nature with screws takes too long, and often requires the use of clamps or a friend to hold the sides in position.  Using a pneumatic brad gun and painters tape will greatly reduce assembly times.

First, take the piece that will be used as the bottom, and attach strips of blue painters tape to the face.  I prefer the painters tape as it doesn't leave adhesive residues that will need to be removed for finishing.  Once the strips are on, flip the piece over. 

Take a side piece, and butt it against one of the edges, making sure that they are aligned properly.  Press the side piece downward, so that the tape adheres to it as well.  Spread glue in an even layer along one of the edges.  Note:  putting glue on both edges can cause the joints to slip, meaning that the edges will not stay aligned.

Once the glue is applied, simply fold the side piece up, and fire a few brads into the joint to hold it in place.  Repeat this process until all the sides are attached.  Then just lay the top in place, and finish the cube with some more brads.