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Miter Clamps
Perfect Miters ...... Fast

An Article
"Perfect Miters Every Time"
by Jim Chestnut

Article First Published in "Fine Homebuilding Magazine"
issue #164, July 2004

Edited by Jim Chestnut for web site publication.

All pictures are courtesy of "Fine Homebuilding Magazine", though most were not used in the orignial publication. Any inaccuracies, omissions, advertising, or inappropriate verbiage that may appear in THIS article did NOT appear in "Fine Homebuilding" and are solely the result of my own ineptitude and/or megalomania, greed, perversity, or any other of a wide range of diverse character defects.

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He then flips the story pole end for end, places it against the edge of the right jamb leg, sees that the bottom edge of the head jamb intersects the quick rule (3/32) inch below the center line of the quick rule. On that end of the story pole he writes 1X= - 1 1/2 (minus 3/32). Then he measures the head jamb,inside to inside, and writes that length on the story pole as well. If he is lucky, and all like doors have identical width jambs, this last step is unnecessary. He would then cut all the heads of 2'6" doors, for instance, at identical lengths from a stop.

Once the requisite measurements have been taken and the story pole has returned to the cut room, a quick rule is stuck to the chop saw fence just far enough away from the blade so that neither blade nor saw interfere with marking the legs to length for cutting square. It is positioned height-wise to be easily readable when either the thin inside edge or the thick outside edge of the casing are in front of it.


Registering the Pole with the Saw

Once the quick rule is attached, the story pole rule is aligned exactly with the one on the saw fence and temporarily clamped to the extension wing to prevent any shifting.

To the right of the story pole from left to right are a 1/4" shim cut from a casing scrap, a casing scrap, and a chunk of window stool with 80 grit sticky back sandpaper stuck to it.

Below is a closer look. As you can see , the one on the saw fence has been used before for a while.


He goes to the other end of the clamped story pole with the short piece of casing, the 1/4" piece of scrap, and the stool for a stop - squared on both ends. He inserts both the casing and 1/4" spacer between the stop and the story pole and clamps the stop home.


Since the pole measured door leg lengths from the floor to the bottom edge of the head jamb, he has added a 1/4" reveal and one casing width to the distance from the stop to the center of the quick rule attached to the saw fence.

In other words, he has converted from the short point length that he measured (from the floor to the bottom of the door jamb) to the long point length he needs in order to measure his already mitered legs from the Quick Rule stuck on the Saw Fence. And he added in the 1/4" reveal to the stop length as well.

The stop in this situation is not used for cutting; it is used for measuring. He simply shoves the already mitered end of the casing to the stop, marks the bottom of the leg to length from the rule stuck on the saw fence, slides the casing a few inches under the saw blade and whacks the bottom square to his mark.

You will notice in the picture above that the Quick Rule shown on the story pole is the one on the end that we used in an earlier picture to measure the left leg of door 1X. This end of the story pole will be touching the floor when we measure the right leg of door 1X. The rule on that end is the one we aligned to the rule on the fence.

I use the actual casing for the story pole for two reasons. It has the identical footprint on the floor, and when I am reading my measurements I can see whether they are for left or right legs by the story pole profile itself. If I am cutting right legs I look at the pole as if it is a right leg, and read them off. The left leg measurements will be upside down on the bottom end of the pole. Anything I can do to prevent me from confusing myself, or losing something, is worth it to me.

It is Absolutely Critical that the Quick Rules (or whatever you are using) on each end of the story pole are set at Exactly the same distance from their respective ends. It is also Absolutely Critical that the stop is Perfectly Square to the fence on the saw. This is because we are using the same stop to measure both left and right legs. The right leg miter will contact the stop near the extension wing fence; the left leg outboard from the extension wing fence. If the stop is 1/8 out of square in the width of the casing, one of the legs will be either an eighth short or an eighth long.

And it is Absolutely Critical that the stop does not move; in fact, I often run a couple screws through it for good measure in addition to welding clamps.

None of the above is hard to do at all, and takes much less time to do than to explain. You old cabinet makers out there will recognize this as nothing more than a variable, re-usable "tic stick" without the "tic" but with the rule.

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