Correcting Gaps in Miters from Woodworking.com
The woodworker who began this discussion had what he described as a straightforward question about woodworking. - Editor
"I am getting into the shop and I have a remodel of my kitchen going on. This is a pretty basic question, but here goes: I'm looking for a rule-of-thumb to use in taking the gaps out of miters. I am gearing up to do a crown mold run my kitchen. So, I was practicing some miters with scrap and I was noticing that I tend to get gaps in the inside corner of the miter, or the outside corner.
"So, what I am hoping to get is a simple guideline, like 'When the gap is on the inside corner of the joint, take 1 degree off the angle' or 'Add a degree onto the angle.' I realize, of course, that there isn't a specific answer to this question. I am just hoping there exists a fundamental rule of thumb that I can apply so it is not just pure guesswork when I am off." - Sotan
He got some advice. - Editor
"Many trim carpenters cut the miters a degree or two off perpendicular so that only the top edges of the miters actually meet. A common practice is to put a flat carpenters pencil on the miter saw table before laying the board down." - Frank C.
[Editor's Note: In our photo, the woodworker intentionally leaves a small gap between his miter strips as one step in his process of testing his miter fits. You can read more about his process for making perfect miters in the February 2013 issue of Woodworker's Journal.]
"If you have a gap in the back of the miter, that means your angle on the saw is a little too much. Example, if you cut a 45 and the gap is in the back (or top), try a 44 degree. I tend go with half degrees myself; I would put the saw at 44.5. If your gap is toward the front (or bottom), that tells you your angle isn't steep enough, again using a 45 degree for an example, try adjusting your saw to a 45.5 or 46. " - Generation W.W.
"To have a gap on front and back, you either have movement in the procedure of the blade cutting
the wood, like a sloppy miter gage or saw bearings, or a saw blade that is flexing. I've run into that with a cheaper/duller blade. I get a more perfect miter if I kiss the cut miter against a sanding disk set to the proper angle before fit up." - J.C. C.
And a comment about the difference between flat miters and crown molding. - Editor
"Mitering two pieces of actual crown molding is an entirely different animal [than flat miters]. Are you asking about true crown molding or flat miters as shown? The answers will be different." - Ralph
Teak Talk from Woodweb
This discussion between two woodworkers touches on the issues of exotic woods, sourcing and deforestation, in the context, in this case, of teak. - Editor
"I recently broke down and bought a couple of teak boards and paid more than $300.00! (I own a boat so I've already lost my mind.) Of course, the boards were plantation lumber which doesn't look quite like the Burma teak I'm replacing (grumble, grumble).
"I recently visited the WWII battleship Iowa, berthed in Long Beach, California. Her dilapidated teak decks are currently being replaced piecemeal, as funding and materials permit. I was amazed at the immense size of the vessel and the literal mountains of 2" teak required to sheath her steel decks. I can't begin to fathom the required cost today to complete the work.
"A little research into the former widespread use of teak also shocked the [heck] out of me. It seems every navy, commercial ship and yacht in the world used to have teak decks. The British even sandwiched teak planking into the hulls of their warships in a futile effort to reinforce them against torpedoes? Yachts and fishing vessels of all sorts constructed in the Far East were often built entirely of teak. Imagine all the decks of all the combined aircraft carrier forces of the world, overlaid in 2" teak!
"I guess I know now why I paid a fortune for a couple of boards. It is a sad story and only getting sadder. Is there anything positive in all this? Is there anything that anyone can say that might cheer me up? Have we really cut down all the teak forests of the world and sunk the lot into the sea? I feel sick." - Jim B.
Jim's partner in this discussion provided some historical perspective. - Editor
"I used to work with an older draftsman that served on an aircraft carrier in WWII. He was stationed in the woodshop, a fully equipped mill that worked teak into 4" planks for the main and other decks on the ship. If there was a fire or crash, the damaged deck would be replaced, on the go, so to speak. 4" thick teak flight decks -- how many board feet is that?? The amount of teak that went into the shipping industry is amazing -- probably beyond estimation. One wonders what else disappeared as those forests were cut.
"Here in the U.S., before we were the U.S., the English had marked the tall pines of the Northeast and the live oak in the coastal South as crucial for their ship builders. Hence the phrase "kingswood" -- to keep the poachers out. Another reason the English fought so hard to keep the colonies. They also had Burma at the time, as well as other lumber producing areas.
"Going back even further, the various Mediterranean seafaring cultures used their resources to build ships and rule the waves, until their trees were gone. Cyprus, Syria, Greece, Italy.... all had their turn while the trees were available. All are now largely deforested.
"It seems I recall hearing about the Hawaiian Islanders destroying sandalwood trees in an attempt to drive the Jesuit-led Europeans from the islands. Upon seeing the islanders living a fine life, the Europeans pronounced them lazy, and then put them to work harvesting sandalwood for export. The destruction of the trees was a desperate move seen as the only way to rid themselves of the European pestilence." - David S.
The original poster, Jim, then looked to the future of teak -- and he's not so sure he likes what he sees. - Editor
"There is no viable substitute for teak. Perhaps the plantations may someday restore some of the former supply but it's going to be a while. Government or corporations also need to to plant and restore forests which are not intended to be harvested for a lifetime or more. As in all natural resources, everything now requires micromanagement if we are to sustain the ecology and ourselves. The time of harvesting without planting has past.
"All this has come to a head within the last few decades. My boat (built in 1976) has a solid timber, 6X6 teak bowsprit along with substantial amounts of teak trim and hatch-work. The interior is all teak. This boat was only one in a production line and one model in dozens that were mass-produced by the thousands. The bowsprit was painted white by the factory and never even intended as part of the bright work.
"I can get real emotional about this stuff as I consider the destruction of our global ecosystem, more life threatening than all our Geo-political problems combined." - Jim B.
Well, eZine readers, we know you have something to say about deforestation, the use of exotic species, sustainability certifications for lumber, etc. So, let's hear it: send your comments to email@example.com. - Editor