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10 Techniques for Tighter, Faster, Stronger Miter Joints Capitol Heights MD

Long miters are a nightmare to clamp, but adding temporary triangular blocks makes it a snap. The key is to use paper from a grocery bag. Dab some wood glue on both sides of the paper, stick the blocks wherever you need them and let the glue set overnight.

The Home Depot
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150 Hampton Park Blvd
Capitol Heights, MD
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Hyattsville, MD
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College Park, MD
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Alexandria, VA
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Washington, DC
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10 Techniques for Tighter, Faster, Stronger Miter Joints

10 Techniques for Tighter, Faster, Stronger Miter Joints

by Gary Wentz

Miter joints provide one main advantage over other joints: A miter joint hides end grain and brings face grain neatly together. Everything else about miter joints is a hassle. They’re fussy, time-consuming and easy to screw up. But there are ways to minimize those hassles.

Make Micro Adjustments with a Disc Sander

No tool can tweak a miter’s fit as easily as a disc sander can. You can shorten the workpiece a hair with a quick touch of the disc. You can also adjust the angle by a fraction of a degree. Instead of fussing with the miter gauge, make tiny adjustments by sticking a paper shim between the gauge and the workpiece. 

Knock-Off Blocks for Long Miters

Long miters are a nightmare to clamp, but adding temporary triangular blocks makes it a snap. The key is to use paper from a grocery bag. Dab some wood glue on both sides of the paper, stick the blocks wherever you need them and let the glue set overnight. When you’re done clamping, remove each block with a hammer blow. The paper creates a weak spot in the glue bond, so the blocks break away without damage to the wood. Use hot water to soften any paper or glue left on the wood, then scrape it away and sand as usual. 

Customize a Drafting Square

Drafting squares are inexpensive, accurate and great for tool or jig setup. Because they’re plastic, you can easily customize them to suit the job. We filed notches in this square to keep the saw teeth from interfering with setup. Drafting squares are available in various sizes for $4 to $10 at art and office supply stores. 


Guides for Perfect Edging

Mitered guides clamped in place let you perfect the length and angle of mitered edging. Use the edging stock itself to guide the fit of each piece. Clamp the guides precisely in place and work your way around the tabletop, gluing each perfected piece in place as you go. After you glue and clamp a section of banding, remove the adjoining guides immediately so you don’t accidentally glue them in place.


The Touch Test

When you’re building a box or frame, the opposite sides must be precisely the same length. Otherwise, even the most perfect miters won’t form a tight joint. To compare lengths, hold the parts together on a flat surface and feel the ends. Your finger can detect differences your eyes can’t. 

Stop Cutting Creep

When you’re cutting miters on a miter saw, the spinning blade tends to push or pull the workpiece along the fence. A hold-down clamp will stop the creeping, but molded stock can be hard to clamp. In that case, dampen the back side of the wood. Moistened wood is less slippery and easier to hold in place.


The 60-Second Squeeze

When you’re dealing with small or hard-to-clamp parts, ...

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