Thursday, April 15, 2010

Compound miter joints

One of the best books out there is Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking, Book 1 on Joinery. When I graduated with my degree in Furniture Design, I was smart enough to know how much I didn't know!

Oh, I knew the basics, but there were a lot of joints that I'd never cut. That's where Tage's book was so helpful. Not only did he write about each joint, but there were step-by-step photos to go along with each one. I put this book on my saw and cut every single one of those joints - like this finger joint.

It was like having him in my shop, giving me private lessons.

At the time, his information on compound miters didn't particularly seem that interesting. But they've now become one my go-to joint when I want to make something really interesting.

Yes, they're a little difficult to master the first time you cut them, but they're really worth the effort. And since the Wixey Digital Cube has become a permanent part of my woodshop arsenal, these joints come out dead on perfect.

Tage includes a chart for the various blade tilt and miter gauge settings you'll need. You pick the number of sides and the degree of slope you want, and the chart will tell you all you need to know. I have to say that in some cases, I've found that I've needed to tweak his numbers a bit, to get the corners to fit tightly. You don't want inside corners that don't meet, like this sample.

Splines really help out, too.

They make this joint strong, and help keep everything from slipping when clamping it together. I've used both band clamps and spring clamps, but prefer band clamps, as they don't mar the wood. But because of the slope, the band sometimes wants to slip right off the piece.

So... what can you do with this cut?

How about a trash can,

with a cool detail on the front?

Or a simple box

flipped upside down for a nice planter.

I love graceful angles, they're so nice to use when building things for your home.

I'm working on a post on the actual cutting of these angles. So if you don't have Tage's book, or you can't get the hang of cutting these, the upcoming post should be quite helpful. Start thinking of some things you want to build with this joint, because once you see how easy it is, you'll be hooked!

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