picture framing--miter saw or TS sled

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Forum topic by floridagramps posted 04-03-2012 06:56 AM 3815 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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23 posts in 3632 days

04-03-2012 06:56 AM

Topic tags/keywords: joining miters picture frame

A friend has asked me to build a wood frame for 3 paintings. One frame for 3 paintings each of which is roughly 10×12.He will paint the frame black so I will probably build it using poplar from Lowes. I have not had great success making tight miters in the past. Will I get satisfactory results making careful miter cuts on chop saw with plywood blade or should I build a miter sled for the tabe saw? I expect to use stop blocks cut with a miter profile to get identical lengths when I make my cuts…...suggestions appreciated.

I will probably make vertical dividers between each painting (stiles?) and my thought is to attach them to the frame with pocket screws

-- florida/maine gramps

12 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16281 posts in 4458 days

#1 posted 04-03-2012 12:48 PM

I make most of my miters with a chop saw. Whichever way you go, the main thing is that your setup is accurate, and that your work piece does not move during the cut.

The good thing for you in this case is that since the frames are going to be painted you can always “cheat” with a little painter’s putty if your joints aren’t sead on.

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

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2930 days

#2 posted 04-04-2012 02:45 AM

Just a thought but I usually use half laps for larger picture frames. They are much stronger and are relatively easy to do. I like that they are also ‘self squaring’. Half lap joints would also work well for the dividers with no hardware needed.

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

View Grandpa's profile


3261 posts in 2915 days

#3 posted 04-04-2012 03:07 AM

If you are really good with the miter saw then you can do it. If you are not very experienced then a sled is easier to use accurately. Of course this method will never allow you to become really good on the miter saw either.

View DKV's profile


3940 posts in 2744 days

#4 posted 04-04-2012 03:19 AM

You’ve heard the term equidistant? Well I’m going to invent a knew one…equilength. If your two opposing sides are not the exact same length (after the miter cutting) then your miters will not match up no matter how “45” they are. You can use a shooting board to fix that though. However, I agree with Charlie, in that if you are going to paint, then you have a lot of wiggle room. Putty and paint fix a lot of mistakes.

-- This is a Troll Free zone.

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3888 days

#5 posted 04-04-2012 04:33 AM

Warpage of moulding stock can throw off joints. You can cut
perfect 45 degree miters in frames all day and have some of
them be tight and some not due to bent stock.

View devann's profile


2246 posts in 2932 days

#6 posted 04-04-2012 04:34 AM

What Charlie said is good advice, ” the main thing is that your setup is accurate, and that your work piece does not move during the cut.”

I might add that a 80/100 carbide tooth blade will last longer than a plywood blade and give better results.

About that accurate saw setup here’s how;

To check that your miter saw is cutting true, take a board that is near the cutting capacity of the saw in width x, say 18”+ long. With the saw set to 0° cutting near the center of the board make a cross cut. Now flip one of the pieces you just cut over, placing the side that was closest to you to the fence. Butt the cut together and check for a gap. If there is no gap your saw is cutting true. If there is a gap, adjust saw until tight joint is achieved. Same technique applies for the bevel settings of a saw.

-- Darrell, making more sawdust than I know what to do with

View Sawdust4Blood's profile


408 posts in 3262 days

#7 posted 04-04-2012 05:36 AM

My miter saw was an older model but it could never produce the accuracy of my incra miter gauge. I just sold off the miter saw last week because ever since I got the incra, it was mostly gathering dust in the corner.

All of the above comments about the importance of consistency in length being equally import to angle accuracy are correct but building your sled with a stop block and using adhesive backed sandpaper to keep the piece from moving while cutting, can greatly reduce those problems.

-- Greg, Severn MD

View wooded's profile


366 posts in 2512 days

#8 posted 04-04-2012 06:03 AM

Let us not forget that since you are painting the frames, very minor gaps can eaisily and legitiamately be filled. with this approach, over time and with experience you will soon get to no filler at all. Before I was into wood working, I did alot of (art) painting and ordered custom guilded frames. Visiting the framer’s facility I could see the degree to which they “filled” high end frames. I’m not permoting this as your long term approach but might help relieve anxiety as one is starting out when the frames are to be painted. ;-J

-- Joe in Pueblo West, Colo.

View moke's profile


1282 posts in 3016 days

#9 posted 04-05-2012 05:38 PM

I own a portrait studio, and we do some custom framing. We use two different tools. The first is a chop cutter….it is a very sharp blade that actually slices through the material. As you can imagine, it is not good for thick mouldings and needs to be sharpened fairly often. So with my woodworking hobby we bought an SS contractor table saw and use a sled, I prefer it to anything we have used. We use an 80 tooth blade. We recently graduated from my home built sled to a Woodhaven. It is big…but works well.
I tried a Miter saw and it seemed to be inconsistant, it was prone to moving the angle when it was bumped. We had to adjust it’s angle constantly and it was a good saw… a 10” sliding Makita… we went to the sled.

-- Mike

View wooded's profile


366 posts in 2512 days

#10 posted 04-09-2012 04:42 AM

I also believe the sled is the way to go.;-J

-- Joe in Pueblo West, Colo.

View jaidee's profile


51 posts in 3019 days

#11 posted 04-13-2012 03:11 PM

Another alternative I have used for larger frames is a mitered bridle joint. Gives the strength of a half-lap or bridle joint due to the large amount of glue surface, but still looks like it’s mitered. And with a little ingenuity it’s pretty easy to do on the table saw.

-- I used to be all thumbs......'til I got a tablesaw!

View jaidee's profile


51 posts in 3019 days

#12 posted 04-13-2012 03:15 PM

As for using pocket screws to join the stiles, be wary of the hanging weight on those stiles. I’d be concerned that over time the joints may gap if there’s too much weight hanging on them. Just like mitered corners can open up with time, weight and vibration on heavy hangings.

-- I used to be all thumbs......'til I got a tablesaw!

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