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How to Cut Bevels on the Tablesaw

Q:

I’m making a platform bed with 3"-square curly maple legs, each made from four ¾×3" pieces beveled 45° on the edges. I tilted my (new) tablesaw blade and checked the angle twice. But out of four boards, two align only halfway along the bevels, and the other two didn’t line up at all—as if the bevel changed in mid-cut. I reset the saw again from scratch with the same results. What’s wrong?
—Jim Rushing, Vancouver, Wash.

A:

Let’s rule out the most obvious causes first, Jim. Check your saw alignment by first making the blade dead-on parallel with the table’s miter slot. Then check the fence to ensure it’s parallel with the miter slot, and therefore the blade. Use a drafting triangle to check the angle of your blade; then lock the bevel wheel in place. Cut test pieces from scrap to check for joint gaps, and fine-tune the angle. With your tablesaw in order, next make sure you’ve machined all stock flat, straight, and square.

For controlled bevel cuts, attach a hold-down to your fence, as shown above. On both passes, use a feather board to keep the stock snugly against the fence. On the second pass, the hold-down will help prevent the beveled edge from trying to climb up the side of the fence.

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