Monday, March 30, 2009

Tools I Use to Cut Miters for My Miniatures

There are a number of good ways to cut miters. I use three different tools to cut mine. Each has its advantages.

The first, and simplest way to cut them is to use a miter shear called the Miter Master available from Micro-Mark. This scissors-like shear is extremely sharp and cuts a very precise 45 degree angle in moldings.

Micro-Mark says this tool can cut wood up to 1/2 inch thick by 1-1/2 inches wide. I would never try to cut anything that thick with this shear, but cutting a flat piece of molding? It's awesome!

The next tool I have used extensively in dollhouse miniature making is a miter hand saw. I use the Dobson Miter-Rite from Micro-Mark. With its well-designed, two-screw locking system, you can secure the saw very precisely to the angle you need to cut your wood.

The 45 degree angle marked on the plastic arc on the top is "fairly" accurate, but if you're a perfectionist, don't trust it. You'll want to use a plastic 45 degree angle ruler to set the saw accurately. The stable sleeve that holds the saw blade ensures you will make a virtually straight vertical cut in whatever piece you're mitering.

Finally, my tool of choice for cutting thicker pieces (such as the dentil molding around the ceiling in yesterday's blog), is my modeler's table saw (also purchased from Micro-Mark). It can cut up to an inch thick piece of wood. Again, to get a precise 45 degree angle quickly, use a plastic triangle between the miter gauge and the saw blade to get your angle. (Be sure the saw is turned off before doing this, however!)

Since my workshop is so small, I have my dollhouse on display in my living room, but my workshop is downstairs. So, I frequently get a workout running up and down the stairs to cut wood on my table saw. That's why I've become more comfortable using the Miter Master shear - it's so easy to measure, cut and glue molding - especially window trim. If we had small children in our house, though, I would be very careful in where I left this tool. I shudder to think about how badly a child could get cut on it. (Of course, they could get hurt with my table saw, too, but I can lock my workshop when I'm not in it.)

My thanks to Micro-Mark for permission to use their photographs in today's blog.

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