Mitre Saw Projects
January 20, 2011 3:47 AM   Subscribe

I just got a steal of a deal on ebay for a precision mitre hand saw. What cool projects can I do with it?
posted by srboisvert to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Presumably it looks a bit like this one?

Personally I've never found them to be very good at cutting anything more than very crude mitres, despite the word 'precision'. The cuts just never seem to be perfectly vertical when I use them. There's quite a bit of side-to-side play in the blade, and that inevitably results in the blade exiting at a point that doesn't quite line up with the entry point. Maybe it's a skill you can pick up with a lot of practice, but I wouldn't use one of these for anything more precise than cutting a bit of low-profile skirting or some plaster coving. For precise work you really need a good-quality electric mitre saw and a suitable blade.

In short, don't get your hopes up about making decent picture frames or delicate mitred boxes unless you're willing to go through a lot of trial and error.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 4:18 AM on January 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Some things I've done with a mitre hand saw include, cutting new baseboard moldings for my bathroom makeover, cut ceiling moldings and made picture frames. We also used it for making little boxes. However I'd have to agree that an electric power mitre saw is the better way to go. Way more precise and less frustrating. But the hand saw is good for quicky cuts if you don't have to be too precise.
posted by WriterGirl at 4:49 AM on January 20, 2011

Best answer: The difference between a lot of power tools and hand tools is that to get really good results with hand tools, you need practice, while to get really good results with power tools you need to be obsessive about your initial setup (and maintaining that setup). Keep a sharp blade in it and don't force it and secure your work in the saw and you'll get a lot more precision out of it than you would otherwise.

Get yourself a square (a draftsman's triangle would do) so you can set your angles accurately or at least check any stops on the saw. The angle gauges on saws, even really pricey cabinet saws, let you know if you're in the neighborhood but are horribly imprecise.

Assuming the tool you got is like the one le morte de bea arthur links to, you have the ability to make angled cuts. That's mitered joints, square ends and the like.

If you get some lengths of wood of varying thicknesses and put one piece of wood in front and behind your workpiece, now you have a way of judging depth of cut. Get yourself a mallet and chisel and a rabbet plane (might be spelled rebate plane on your side of the pond) to chop out the waste piece and smooth the bottom of your cut and you can do lapped and saddle joints.

What you do with that is kind of up to you. Some people can do more with a cardboard box of hand tools and an old drill then some people do with shops full of amazing equipment.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:14 AM on January 20, 2011

I used one to cut 2x4's to size and made a crude be effective garden bench.
posted by ducktape at 6:33 AM on January 20, 2011

My first comment might have been a bit too harsh. Because eventually I did get passably competent at using one of those saws. After messing up a lot of mitre cuts, I made this box, where all the corners are mitred. It's not perfect by any means, and it's a bit bashed-about after 15 years, but I was quite pleased with the way it turned out.

I'd definitely second Kid Charlemagne's points about measuring and marking and securing the work really well. The screw clamps on those saws don't always hold the piece tightly enough, so I'd go with some extra clamps where necessary. And clamp/fix the saw base to a word surface if you can; it's no good if it's sliding about.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 6:36 AM on January 20, 2011

word surface = work surface, of course.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 6:37 AM on January 20, 2011

Hmmm, would be good with a bit more info from the OP, because I actually don't think that l-m-d-b-a's first comment was too harsh at all. I gave mine away because it only made crooked cuts, and not very smooth ones either. Even for floor trim and other relatively rough work I found the mitre assembly thingy not good enough.
For me, there's no better way than to carefully scribe the cut-line and then use a sharp, fine Japanese handsaw, fwiw.
posted by Namlit at 7:04 AM on January 20, 2011

Response by poster: It looks pretty much like the one linked to by La Morte. I just bought it largely on a whim as it was just 99p and came with spare blades and all I have otherwise is a cheap homebase hand saw. It'll probably suffice for what I plan to do with it which is use it to help build the framing for a jury-rigged greenhouse out of scrap windows. I also have a perverse attraction to human powered tools.

Mostly, I was curious if there were other things people do with them other than just mitre joints.
posted by srboisvert at 7:48 AM on January 20, 2011

Combine it with a Lion Trimmer to make perfect (and perfectly clean) miters. First cut to rough length with the saw you bought, second cut to exact length with the Lion Trimmer.

These cuts will be far superior to anything even a good sliding compound miter saw can create. The angle is exact, there is no tear out, and the cut face is an excellent glue surface (the grain is cut clean without the shredding that even a nice carbide blade creates, so the glue is more thoroughly absorbed into each piece). It also doesn't require electricity, is silent, and you can move it easily from room to room with one hand.
posted by nickjadlowe at 9:34 AM on January 20, 2011 [3 favorites]

Combine it with a Lion Trimmer

The UK equivalent of a Lion Trimmer is going to cost at least 150x the amount you paid for the mitre saw. A lovely thing to have, though.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 2:49 PM on January 20, 2011

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