How To Cut Crown Molding And Wide Boards With Your Saw
How well things turn out in your workshop can depend on how accurate your tools are. Your miter saw may be accurate out of the box (or not), but over time you may have to do a miter saw adjustment yourself. There are 2 adjustments to make when tweaking a miter saw. First, the bevel angle, which is when the blade comes down towards the wood. And second, the miter angle, which is the angle that the wood sits at based on the miter table’s angle setting. For either of these adjustments, there is either a nut and bolt or a locking plate that will allow you perform the adjustment. Check your miter saw’s instruction manual for the locations of these.
Your miter saw simply must be ridiculously accurate to get tight fitting frames and crown molding. Here is a great tip that will reveal very quickly how accurate your miter saw is.
Miter Saw Angle Adjustment Tip
Take a 1”x4” (or something similar) and cut it at a 90 degree miter. Make sure you place the wood flat on the miter table. Now, take one piece and flip it over, and push the cuts of the two pieces up against each other. If there is a gap, you’ll know your miter saw is not aligned and needs to be adjusted. Keep tweaking the adjustment and repeating this method until your miter cut is absolutely perfect.
The Bevel Angle Miter Saw Adjustment
Use the same cut and flip method as the miter angle adjustment but make one small change. Instead of the wood flat on the table, hold the wood up against the miter fence vertically. Again, look for the gap between the two pieces, and adjust and repeat until it’s perfect.
The video below doesn’t use the “flip the wood” method, but it’s a good demonstration of using a square to help you through the process. The techniques used here apply to almost any miter saw.
Check with the Engineer’s square
After you’re satisfied with your adjustments, double check your work using an engineer’s square. Hold the square over the corner of your cut material and see if any light shines through. When you hold it up to a light bulb, even a minute bit of light passing through can mean another adjustment needs to be made. Don’t under estimate the power of holding up your stock to a light. The trick with the light is very effective. Scientists even have special perfectly square tables where they shine light under objects to see that they are square and level.
Having your miter saw perfectly aligned is crucial to having great results in your workshop. Definitely take the time adjust your saw until it’s as perfect as possible. It will pay of a whole heck of a lot in the long run, and you’ll enjoy woodworking when your cuts are just right. Learning how to cut crown molding can make your head spin if your’re not doing it exacty right. It actually causes a a lot of headaches for people. Don’t feel bad, there are countless people like you are having the same frustration.
Today, we’re only going to do the non-Compound method. So, you only have to worry about the miter angle and can ignore bevel angles. That’s means we’re going to learn how to cut crown molding while it’s “nested” in the miter box.
Crown molding’s not the same as casing or base board trim
When cutting casing or base board trim, you would either hold your piece vertically or flat on the miter saw. This isn’t the case with crown molding. Don’t hold it vertical, and don’t hold it flat.Hold the crown molding like it’s installed.
If you’re thinking of cutting your molding flat the non-compound way, you shouldn’t. The best way to hold crown molding is at a 45 degree angle nested in the fence. You’ll want it held against the fence looking just like it’s being installed up against the ceiling….except…you’ll hold it upside down on the saw table. Picture yourself standing on your head when you place your molding on the saw, then you’ll know it’s facing the right way.
Inside and outside corners
When you hold your crown molding up against an inside corner, you’ll notice the longer side of your molding is at the bottom. Think of the reverse for an outside corner…the longer side would be at the top of the piece instead. Now don’t forget, you’ll put the “ceiling” part of the molding on the bottom when cutting, and the “wall side” up against the fence vertical. Well, now you have some basics on how to cut crown molding. In a future article we’ll start diving a bit further with compound cuts and what to do if your room isn’t perfectly square.
If you’ve read my articles on picking a miter saw or wide board sizes, you’ve probably already realised cutting wide boards is not always straight forward. But what if you already purchased your miter saw, and it doesn’t quite cut through the last half inch of your board.
Wide board alternate solution
Pro carpenter’s trick
There’s a little trick that pro carpenters use all the time. When you find you can’t quite cut all the way through a board, put a couple of 2 by 6’s underneath your board on either side of the blade. This will raise the board higher, letting it come into contact with a wider diameter of the saw blade.
Test it first on some scrap
You might want to test the limits of this method with some scrap wood because every miter saw will be different depending if it’s an 8, 10, or 12 inch. Also, some saws will have the motor in a slightly lower position that might get in the way. Once you know how far you can push the cut, you’re good to go.This is a safer way to get more width
You might have seen or been told you can just lift up the edge of the board at the end of the cut. While this is true, you may be asking for trouble. A few things can go wrong here. First of all you’ve already moved your support hand while the saw is still cutting. Move it just right, great, move it a little off to the side or lose your grip…hand steaks for dinner. Not to mention if the board is lifted a little funny, you risk putting side force on the blade, or the blade catching the board.
A big board needs a Big Gut
None of these sound like fun. But go with your gut. If you think you can do it with no problems (and many do) great, but it’s not highly recommended. Perhaps only if you’re trying to cut through the last little 1/16th of an inch. A tiny move of the board cuts down on the margin of risk quite a bit.
Miter Saw Dust Bag
One of the most useful tools that a DIY woodworker can have is a miter saw. Miter saws help you cut angles or bevels on wood, something that making a photo frame or crown molding will require. However, these miter saws spit saw dust everywhere when in use. Although manufacturers provide a miter saw dust bag when you initially purchase the equipment, you will realize after using the machine for the first time that the bag provides little help in collecting saw dust. What you can do is to either replace the dust bag with a new one or improve your existing dust bag.
If you do not want to buy a new one, you can improve your current dust bag by doing the following things:
You need to wash your saw dust bag regularly to remove dust and to improve dust collection. Make sure that you also empty the bag when it is almost full. Do not wait for the bag to be filled with dust before emptying if you want efficiency in dust collecting.
You can also use a vacuum to suck up the dust produced by the saw. You can place it under and behind the blade for better collection of dust.
If your bag has a hole or tear, you can always stitch it up using strong yarn or thread. If it is beyond repair, replace it with a new bag. You can make one using old canvas or you can buy one from a construction shop.
On the other hand, these are the things that you need to keep in mind if you want to buy a brand new miter saw dust bag:
Check how the bag is attached to the miter saw duct where the dust is produced. Some bags are like rubber shoes that use lace or string while other types use clips. Choose which one works better for you. You should also measure the opening of the bag. Make sure that your miter saw’s dust duct will fit right into the opening of the bag. The right opening will ensure efficient collection of dust.
Using a miter saw dust bag is important. Aside from keeping your work area clean, it also prevents you from inhaling dust which can cause allergies or respiratory problems. An effective saw dust bag ensures that you can work in an efficient, comfortable, and safe manner while using your miter saw.
Now let’s get cutting some miters!