What do you do when a cut is too short to keep your fingers at a safe distance from the miter saw blade? Many of our projects here at Build Basic require short cuts and the mitering of small molding pieces. Following the steps below, you can create this simple jig (often made from scrap lumber) that will keep your fingers safe and your cuts accurate. I personally keep two variations in my shop. One made from a 1×6 and two 2×4’s which helps me cut semi-small pieces like 1×2’s, the other made using a 1×6 and two 1×2’s helps with even smaller pieces, like a ½” x ¾” molding. The result is a simple, makeshift miter box that creates safe and accurate cuts in a pinch.
Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy. Cut several scrap pieces of lumber to size and assemble the pieces with wood screws and hand-clamps.
(1) Wide Board to create the Base. (1×6 shown in tutorial)
(1) Scrap Boards to create the Fence and Holder (2×4’s shown in tutorial, 1×2’s used to create smaller, secondary jig)
(2) 12-inch Hand-clamps
2½ inch Wood Screws to attach the Fence to the Base
1×6 (Base) – 1 @ 18 inches
2×4 or 1×2 Fence – 1 @ 14 inches (Bevel one end at 45-degrees “on edge”)
2×4 or 1×2 Holder – 1 @ 12 inches (Bevel one end at 45-degrees “on edge”)
1. Cut and Mark the Pieces
Cut the 1×6 Base and the 2×4 Fence and Holder boards to size. On the Base, Mark a line at 45-degrees an inch from one end, as shown.
2. Position a Fence
Position a Fence on edge on the Base, ½ inch from its back edge. Align the beveled end with the line marked in Step 1. Trace the outline of the Fence on the Base.
3. Drill Pilot Holes
Remove the Fence. Prop the Base up on scrap blocks. Inside the outline of the Fence, drill three pilot holes through the Base.
4. Prep the Base
Apply wood glue inside the outline of the Fence’s location.
5. Clamp the Fence in Place
Position the Fence on the Base. Slide the assembly over the edge of the work surface, and then clamp the two pieces together.
6. Attach the Fence to the Base
Flip the clamped pieces over, and then drive 2 ½ inch woodscrews through the pilot holes in the Base and into the Fence to secure it in place.
7. Mark the Straight Cut Line
Place the Speed Square on the Base against the square-cut end of the Fence. Using a pencil or marker, draw a line along the edge of the speed square.
8. Add the Holder
Position the Holder against the Fence. Place the clamps over the two pieces. Now the Holder can be aligned with the 45-degree line or square cut line to guide the cut. The clamps will hold the board being cut securely between the Fence and Holder.
9. Make a Square Cut
Slide a 1×2 (to be cut) between the Fence and Holder. Align the end of the Holder with the “Square Cut Line” on the Base. Position the 1×2 so that its cutline rest along the ends of the Fence and Holder. Tighten the clamps to hold the parts in place. Press the side of the saw blade against the ends of the Fence and Holder to keep it plumb. Pull the blade over the 1×2 to create a groove along the cutline. Now continue cutting, holding the saw blade against the ends of the Fence and Holder to create a square cut.
10. Make a Miter Cut
Follow the instructions in Step 9 to set up the cut. Align the angled end of the Holder along the angled line on the Base. Clamp the boards in place and make the cut.
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