All Replies on Mitre saw vs. stationary sander....

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View Cygnwulf's profile

Mitre saw vs. stationary sander....

by Cygnwulf
posted 01-30-2013 02:01 PM

22 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4243 days

#1 posted 01-30-2013 02:12 PM

I would definitely go with a miter saw. They can be adjusted for trueness, and should give you excellent results. I build a lot of small boxes, and do all my miters on an inexpensive Ridgid miter saw.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View JesseTutt's profile


854 posts in 2135 days

#2 posted 01-30-2013 02:26 PM

Each tool has its place. I have the dewalt 718 miter saw and was suppressed how accurate it is. You still have to have precision tools to check or perform the alignment. You will want to extend the saw to support longer pieces and a measuring system to get repeated cuts of the same length.

When I need to trim a smig off of a piece I will use a stationary belt sander. I use a precision triangle or 45 degree square to set a scrap piece on the sanders table and then I can gently touch the wood to alter it’s angle or remove a smig at at time.

Are your pieces coming up at different lengths causing the miter not to be exact or is it the angle?

-- Jesse, Saint Louis, Missouri

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 2976 days

#3 posted 01-30-2013 02:36 PM

Do you have a table saw? A very good miter gauge, such as the ones made by Incra, can work wonders. That said, there is always a place for a good(!) miter saw in the shop, especially if you plan on doing any trim work at your house. When I first started out, I had a Ryobi sliding compound miter saw (SCMS) that wasn’t worth a dime. I finally upgraded to a Dewalt miter saw with a 12” blade and the difference is night and day.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2273 days

#4 posted 01-30-2013 02:46 PM

A table saw and a sled works best for me. Just make sure you have a way to check your blade angle. Never rely on the gauges on the saw. Just because it was correct once, doesn’t mean it will be forever.

I find a good sled with a good clamping mechanism for your piece is awesome. You don’t have to worry about the piece jumping a bit when it first makes contact with the blade. You can also set stops and repeat your cuts accurately. A miter saw does work well, but I don’t have the space to dedicate a miter saw station incorporated with stops and hold downs


View Mark Davisson's profile

Mark Davisson

597 posts in 3342 days

#5 posted 01-30-2013 02:50 PM

I, too, vote for the mitre saw over the sander.

Having said that, though, I think you’d be better off (and spend less money) going back to the shooting board. A low-angle (bevel up) jack plane would do the job. You can pick up the Stanley right now (Amazon) for around $126. A Veritas will cost around $225, and a Lie-Nielsen around $240.

I’d go for the Stanley. You can invest considerably more in a sliding mitre saw but, to get the quality (accuracy and stability) you would need to cut consistently good mitres, you’ll be spending a minimum of $500. An extremely accurate shooting board can be, basically, free to make. That and a $125 low-angle plane should give you good joints.

-- I'm selfless because it feels so good!

View helluvawreck's profile


31378 posts in 2891 days

#6 posted 01-30-2013 02:51 PM

I agree with Brandon, the table saw does beautiful miters with miter gauges and sleds of various kinds. They are also easily and quickly set up. The table saw will also do many other nice things.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4243 days

#7 posted 01-30-2013 04:35 PM

Jesse brought up an important point. If you are trying to make something four-sided, like a box or a picture frame, having your opposing sides identical in length is just as important as the accuracy of your miters.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3672 days

#8 posted 01-30-2013 04:42 PM

If your boards aren’t flat, miters won’t turn out right.

View rockindavan's profile


299 posts in 2661 days

#9 posted 01-30-2013 06:48 PM

I’d say miter saw if you don’t have one. Next to the tablesaw, it is one of the most versatile tools you can have.

View a1Jim's profile


117115 posts in 3602 days

#10 posted 01-30-2013 06:54 PM

Many miter saws are not very accurate and can be hard to adjust for a true 45 degree cut, but I would select a miter saw over the sander. If It were me I would make a jig and do your cuts on the table saw.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Cygnwulf's profile


30 posts in 2148 days

#11 posted 01-30-2013 07:08 PM

Yeah, the problem is a gappy joint. I’m positive that the boards are the same length, when stacked together I almost couldn’t feel the difference on the ends. That was of course before my botched attempt to shoot them with an inappropriate plane.
I’m trying to avoid going the a table saw route if I can, I have several reasons that I won’t go in to here.
The plane does sound like a good option and I would probably enjoy that solution, but I think I may pick that up for projects I want to spend more time on and go ahead and get the saw for things that I just need to knock out.
Thanks for the advice guys.

-- Stephen H -- If it ain't broke, it probalby still needs fixing....

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 2213 days

#12 posted 01-30-2013 07:18 PM

Miter cuts always need tweaking to close perfectly. No matter how much you fiddle your set up, there will always be some error, albeit very small with a good set up. One trick I use on the miter saw is to use a very thin shim(s) to shift the opposite end of the board to the end being cut. A guy can make super small adjustments to the angle this way, far finer than that by trying to tweak the setting on the saw itself.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile (online now)


15369 posts in 2643 days

#13 posted 01-31-2013 01:10 AM

Good luck!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2867 days

#14 posted 01-31-2013 01:34 AM

I make all my miters on a table saw.
I have an Incra Sled and an Osbourne miter gauge.
I find them both to be extremely accurate.


View Grandpa's profile


3259 posts in 2700 days

#15 posted 01-31-2013 04:46 AM

a sled on the tables saw is usually more accurate than the miter saw. if you have a decent table saw take the time to built a sled for it. There are dozens on the site that you can look at.

View mandatory66's profile


202 posts in 2155 days

#16 posted 01-31-2013 05:50 AM

I have a 12 inch De Walt miter saw and a table saw. I also have an old Langdon miter box with a humongus 28 inch
disston saw. The power miter makes a big mess (no Vac) so I don’t use it much. The table saw I don’t use at all for miters because of a poor delta miter gauge. I just used my old langdon to cut a few 15 deg. miters they were right on the money and I did not have to use a shooting board. The key is to have a properly filed and sharp saw.I picked up my Langdon with the saw on E-Bay for $70. When working soft woods I clean up the miter on the shooting board to get rid of the fuzz. I am using a low angle Jack plane. Cheap,clean & accurate.

View DKV's profile


3940 posts in 2529 days

#17 posted 01-31-2013 06:26 AM

You can pay big money for a miter saw that will cut perfect miters each and every time. However, if you don’t bear in mind what Charlie and Loren said…you will never get tight fitting miter joints. You need precision beyond the saw…

-- This is a Troll Free zone.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2715 days

#18 posted 02-01-2013 04:13 AM

Ihad Hell getting perfect miters with a miter saw on a consistent basis. I now use my tablesaw and a Wixey digital angle guage and get very consistent results with no “tweaking” needed. (and I’m using the stock Grizzly miter guage!)

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2995 days

#19 posted 02-01-2013 05:01 AM

I haven’t used a sliding miter saw, mine is an old cast iron 10” Delta.
But, it is as accurate as I need.

I do wish I had more width capacity sometimes, but I am not sure if i would go to a 10” slider, or a simple 12” compound miter saw. I don’t like the depth required by the sliders, but would welcome the cutting capacity.

I do have a 12” disk sander that I tweak the miter cuts with if needed.
Bottom line, I use my miter saw to cut almost all my project lumber to length.

My shop is setup so raw lumber is stored just inside the door.
Next tool along the wall is the jointer and then the table saw and planer.
From this point I now have the miter saw next in line and the disk sander is right next to it.
Milled and cut pieces can go to the bench, drill press, mortising machine, the router or where ever from this point.

View ScottinTexas's profile


108 posts in 1973 days

#20 posted 02-01-2013 05:10 AM

Does anyone just use a handsaw miter box? That’s what I have for now. :-P

View CplSteel's profile


142 posts in 2189 days

#21 posted 02-07-2013 10:14 AM

I use a cheap handsaw miter box, it produces fairly decent results but mostly because it is so poor that I have to pay attention to my line. I will clean it up with a shooting board. I use #5 for my shooting board, with a straight (not scrub) blade. Sure, a skewed plane, or a low angle jack would be nice, but I buy my planes at garage sales when I can and #5 planes are common and therefore, cheap. Still, end-grain can be tough to shoot which is why the first cut needs to be accurate.

If I may be so bold, try and draw out your “45” line and cut it without a miter box. You can draw the line by taking the width of your piece and measuring down the same distance as your width (dividers work well here, don’t try to actually measure a number). Connect that point to the opposite corner and you will have about a 45. Then, pare it down flat (if you need to).

For the matching angle, square the pieces together (I have a right angle jig which is basically just two 6” fences that are at a right angle to each other) and use the angle you just cut to mark the matching piece. This way it doesn’t matter if you cut a 45, a 45.5 or a 44, the next cut will be exactly what you need to make the joint a right angle. If you are off by too much it can look odd (or distinctive) because when you lay the parts on each other the inside joint will be noticeably off (the joint will still be a right angle). But the important part is you can be off and have it work well.

Your first angle can be off, the woods can be of slightly different widths, it doesn’t matter, the method corrects for all of these problems. There is no need to chase a perfect angle in all but the finest detail work. See the quick sketch I just made. If you were doing fine detail work I doubt a miter saw or a sander will be accurate enough, instead I would cut it close and pare down (or shoot it) the rest of the way.

As for your long 45s, that is a tough cut that can usually be designed around. If not, a plane, tablesaw, or router would be the way to go.

That said, I found this thread because I am thinking of buying a (powered) miter saw to speed up my life. I would buy a cheap one and use it for almost all right angle cuts.

Good luck.

View knotscott's profile


8056 posts in 3400 days

#22 posted 02-07-2013 10:31 AM

I use my TS for miters….miter saw for decking, long molding, etc. Sander for other things.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

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