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Thread: opinions on miter trimmers

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Mountain Home, Arkansas
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    11,827

    opinions on miter trimmers

    Seeing some of the great work y'all turn out really impresses me. Since joining FW, I have learned that there are many fine tools out there I didn't even know existed. But, a puzzling question constantly nags at me. Namely, is it possible to build nice items without top-end tools? Actually, it is rhetorical as I know it is, but don't know how. My father was a professional woodworker. (BTW, he taught me nothing) He made some beautiful things that went into homes of very wealthy folks in the Chicago area. I do recall that his shop had no tools that I would compare with today's top end table saws, CMSs, etc. He had a Delta radial arm saw that was probably his #1 'go to' tool. His table saw was simple. No extensions, slides or fancy fence. But his miters and joints fit well. He did use a miter trimmer. Was that the secret? And, are they popular today? I know they are still sold. Is using one of these a panacea for those who don't have (or can't afford) high-end saws?
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails miter trimmer.jpg  

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    ozarks
    Posts
    4,993
    frank, tight joints can be had with only handtools......it`s all in the operator.
    decide what you want to work with then learn how to use it.
    bigger, fancier, and higher tech tools are for speed and production (or the wealthy) but our ancestors built really beautiful-detailed stuff long before `lectricity was piped into houses.
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Cedar Park, TX
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    320
    I think miter trimmers these days are used mostly in framing shops, picture framing, that is.

    Much of the problem folks have with tight miter joints is not the angle cutting itself, but other issues such as lengths of opposing pieces not being exact as well as not being as straight as they need to be.

    A shooting board and well tuned hand plane will work as well as a miter trimmer for cleaning up angles.
    Jerry

    http://www.sawdustersplace.com

    "If politics wasn't built on careful deception it wouldn't need its own word and techniques. It would just be called honesty, education, and leadership."
    Bob "Phydeaux" Stewart one day on Woodnet

  4. #4
    My father is struggling with this very question right now. He recently got forced into retirement and is trying to get into woodworking.The thing is, he is trying to spend his way to good work. That is, he looks at every tool as a way to make him better. The thing is though, if he would just take the time to learn ways of making things with the tooling he has, he would do much better.

    My Grandfather made a decent retirement income with some sloppy sears tools that I now have. I also turnout some good stuff with it.

    Let me pose the question back to you if I may. You are into muzzle loaders and flintlocks. Back when they were made,they had the most ancient lathes and tools, yet they made some decent firearms. Guns that launch a lead projectile at lethal force with an explosion of gun powder. How foolish we are to think that in todays times we need all this fancy gizmos to do woodworking that is far less critical then that whole muzzleloader stuff.

    By the way, have you ever noticed all the gizmos that make a tool a "top choice" on media polls and choices are the features you seldom use? Most of that stuff is hype, to make their tools a bit better then the competition, that is all. A jointer makes lumber flat and square to one side. very seldom do you need to rabbit with it and yet if a machine does not do that, it is picked apart by the media doing the review. The same with planers, skilsaws and tablesaws.

    I am very cheap and have gone through life with this mantra. I have a little pile of cash that everyone is trying to take from me. I will only let someones greedy fingers get into it, when I am firmly convinced what they are offering is worthy of getting my cabbage. Most of the time, I buy the tools others are discarding as they succomb to a salemans pitch.

    As for the miter trimmer...I have one and would NOT be without one. They are incredibly accurate and simple tools.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    RETIRED(!) in Austintown, Ohio
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    5,319
    I like my Lion miter trimmer. I don't use it a lot, and would never have paid retail for it, but used, at an estate sale, it was a pretty good buy.

    It's dead-on accurate for doing frames, mitered door rails & stiles, etc. The one thing you have to be aware of, though, it that what you take off one rail, you also have to take off the other. Some folks don't realize that miters only fit right if both rails, and both stiles, are exactly the same length.

    I've seen many joints that were cut very accurately, but still didn't fit because one rail was 1/32" longer than the other. That'll actually throw all four joints in a frame off.
    Jim D.
    Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Inside the Beltway
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    Frank,

    Get a miter trimmer. I got one from the place you and I usually get stuff. I love it. You can shave off a slice of wood that you can see through, and the angle is *exact*. Very cool...

    Thanks,

    Bill

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Cedar Park, TX
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    320
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Lantry View Post
    Frank,

    Get a miter trimmer. I got one from the place you and I usually get stuff. I love it. You can shave off a slice of wood that you can see through, and the angle is *exact*. Very cool...

    Thanks,

    Bill
    Still being the contrary one, eh Bill?

    I had one just about bought at a really good price, but the shipping from CT was gonna be a bear.
    Jerry

    http://www.sawdustersplace.com

    "If politics wasn't built on careful deception it wouldn't need its own word and techniques. It would just be called honesty, education, and leadership."
    Bob "Phydeaux" Stewart one day on Woodnet

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Fort Washington, PA
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    180
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim DeLaney View Post
    I like my Lion miter trimmer. I don't use it a lot, and would never have paid retail for it, but used, at an estate sale, it was a pretty good buy...
    My situation also, got my Lion trimmer for $35 from somebody that was moving to an apartment and didn't have room for a woodshop. I too use mine only once in a while and it IS dead accurate. I've built a frame sled for my tablesaw that I do most of my picture framing on, as I can do both opposing sides of the frame at once, which assures that they are same length, which as Jim just mentioned is necessary for tight miters.

    As for doing a lot with a few basic hand tools, as Tod says, it's the operator not the tools that make fine furniture, and lots of fancy cast iron only increase speed and allow for faster production. I remember an old timer in my shop once grabbing my Diston hand saw (he actually worked in the Diston saw factory in Philadelphia as a kid) and telling me that when he was working wood as a young man that hand saw was his square, his strait edge as well as what he crosscut and ripped boards with. He said back then you took care of your hand saw ( and chisels and hand planes) as if your life depended on them, because if you relied on woodworking for food on your table, it did.

    I honestly wish I had the time (and the skill) to take rough lumber and turn it into strait S4S boards with just hand planes on a good workbench. I don't have either (skill or time), and thus I run it through the jointer and planer. Maybe I shouldn't be, but I am much more in awe looking at a piece of furniture made from scratch with hand tools only than I am at one made in a production shop.
    Build it Break it Fix it ...repeat

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Floydada, Tx
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    1,941
    It is one of those tools that when needed it is worth it. I use one from the guy down the road and like it. Once my list of tools get small enough, I would like to get one.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Brentwood, TN
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    294
    I too have a miter trimer but, mine is the Griz knock-off. Where it excels is in mitering smaller trim pieces. If framing pictures or making smaller ornate pieces with lots of trim was my gig I could see the miter trimmer as indispensable. Yes, you can do this sort of thing with a plane and shooting board but, when the pieces get small a shooting board gets cumbersome.
    Member; Society of American Period Furniture Makers

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