Lee Valley Tools    Woodworking Newsletter
   Vol. 7, Issue 1
   September 2012
 
   Shop-Made Miter Clamps
 

*Editor's note: In the photos showing the table saw, the blade guard has been removed for clarity.

I try to be as self-sufficient as possible, so I like to manufacture my own tools whenever I can. I designed miter clamps that are simple to fabricate and require only scrap plywood and readily available hardware.

For one clamp, you need a hardwood plywood scrap, a piece of 3/4" aluminum T-track, a 1/4" T-bolt, a star knob, a fender washer and a few screws. High-friction grip pads are optional. I suggest you use good quality 18mm (about 3/4") thick Baltic birch plywood. This material is strong, smooth, and stable. It has very few voids and a nice, plain grain.

Milling the Base
  Bases with milled dadoes
After ensuring that your saw blade is perfectly perpendicular to the table saw top, cut the plywood into rectangular bases (according to the number of clamps you require), about 12" long x 10" wide each. Ensure that all four corners of each base are square. Measure your aluminum T-track (width and depth) precisely and mill dadoes lengthwise through the centers of the bases.

  Fitting the T-track
The T-track should fit snugly in the dado and be just shy of the top face, as shown. Using such a track will prevent any glue from sticking to your clamps and will allow the clamping assembly to ride smoothly.

  Setting the miter gauge
The next step is to set your miter gauge at a precise 45° angle. A quick and effective method to do so is to place a framing square on the table saw, keeping the long side against the miter gauge. Pivot the miter gauge until the two inner 10" (or 12") marks are in line with the same side of the miter gauge slot of the table saw (see arrows). Tighten the miter gauge to lock in a perfect 45° angle.
 
 
               
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