Mitre saw vs. stationary sander....

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Forum topic by Cygnwulf posted 01-30-2013 02:01 PM 1495 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Cygnwulf's profile


30 posts in 2149 days

01-30-2013 02:01 PM

Ok, so recently I have really been struggling with mitred joints. Particularly the long ones that you can cut with a 45 degree bit on a router….
I try cutting them with a mitre box, they don’t fit right, so I try building a shooting board and fail at that miserabley (Probably because I was trying to use a jack plane that doesnt have enough side to stay really square.) I tried cutting through the joint with a hand saw and fail at that too. I need a lot more practice with my hand tools.

That being said, I’ve got a couple of projects I’m trying to get done by a particular date and while I intend to keep practicing, I need to move things forward, and I was considering adding a power tool to the stable to help out. What I can’t decide, though, is which one would be better for the task, a sliding compound mitre saw, or a stationary sander? I don’t mind upgrade side table rsupports for the saw or a better table for the sander, i’m just wondering which one would be better? are compound mitre saws usually true enough, or should I keep making the cuts by hand and use a sander to true them?

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

22 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4244 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 2136 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 2977 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 2274 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 3343 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


31393 posts in 2892 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 4244 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 3674 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 2662 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


117119 posts in 3603 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 2149 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 2214 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


15369 posts in 2644 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 2868 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 2701 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.

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