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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cutting a Wide Angel Bevel on the Miter Saw

This studio project that I've been working on has presented many opportunities for me to learn new skills and use new tools. The basic room was fairly normal, but on top of the finished walls I built acoustical baffles that basically covered every wall throughout the recording space. In addition, many of them were installed at weird angles so that no major surfaces were parallel to each other.

The baffles were 2x4 frames that had sturdy acoustical insulation hung inside (so it can swing freely) and then we covered the frames with acoustical fabric. (Seriously, this stuff is not cheap!) After all the baffles were built and secured to the walls, we covered them with wood slats, alternating soft pine and harder red oak. The goal was not to just absorb all of the sound, but rather to control it better.
Here's a picture:

It's hard to see in the picture, but the corner pieces are slightly angled to cut off the corners of the room, and hopefully eliminate 'bass traps'. It looks great, but when it came time to finish the trim, we realized that the correct angle to make the piece fit perfectly was 60 degrees. My compound miter saw, like most, will only go to around 50 or so unless you hold the board perpendicular to it, which is difficult and dangerous when you're talking about a bevel cut.

After much thought, we came up with a solution that actually worked well. I made a jig that holds the board at a 15 degree angle to the saw. That way, we can bevel at 45 degrees and end up with the 60 degree angle that we needed. Here's the jig that we dubbed the 'sailboat' because it looked like a toy boat or something:

It even worked for cutting boards that were 8 foot long or more, if I had someone hold the other end for me. Of course some cuts weren't as accurate as I would have liked, but in the end, it looked really sharp.

Another wall needed an even wider angle and I was worried that we might be out of luck. However, we were able to add a higher piece to our boat, a.k.a. the 'sail', and it worked fine, although it was really pushing my saw to the max!

TIP: For cutting wide angles across the face of the boards (not a bevel cut) I was able to temporarily screw another piece on the side of the board so that there would be more width at the end to square against the saw's fence. The worked great and I had a lot of these to cut once we got to the higher baffles where the surface angled as well as the ceiling. The main thing to remember is to think things through completely before you cut. Otherwise, you might be doing it again!


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