I have a question that people who do their own framing with wood might be able to answer. I am not a 2 D artist but I have a couple of projects at home that will need some precise mitering.


I have the usual wood miter box and mitre saw. Recently I built an oak bookcase with mitered trim. The miter saw had a lot of trouble with the oak trim. Even if I started the cut with a file, the too-large teeth kept catching on the wood. It was taking forever to cut the trim, and except for the baseboard, they were not big pieces.


I decided the saw was old and dull and went out to buy a new one, only to find out I was still having the same problem. I had looked for something with more teeth per inch, which I think would take care of it. But all the miter saws in the store had the same number of teeth, 12 per inch. I ended up using a hacksaw to finish the job: which presents its own problems, as it is very hard to maintain the right vertical angle and not tilt.


I bought a beautiful vintage all-metal miter box at an antique store last fall. This has slots to do some unusual angles, which is just what I need to make the cuts for the antique afghan hexagonal tile I want to frame.


This has a guide device to slip your saw into; which is meant to accommodate a regular miter saw: it has a channel to hold the thicker metal top piece of the saw. So any other type of saw won’t fit.


I bought walnut molding for the upcoming projects. That might be even harder to saw than the oak was.


So: what kind of hand miter saw is suitable for hardwoods, and where do I find one?

Thanks for your help 

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  • Okay, I am admittedly not up to speed on power tools and diy for woodworking. So in light of that, let me ask about a term y'all are using.

    What exactly is KERF? I have googled it and still really don't understand what y'all mean. TIA!
    • Hi Cindy,

      The kerf is the space taken up by the sawblade moving through the material it is cutting.  It might be 1/8” thick or more, or less.  When you measure your wood material to cut it, you need to account for the kerf.  Say you want to cut a piece of moulding 12” long.  You mark the wood with a pencil line, but then you need to be sure when cutting it, that the side of your blade falls just outside the line.  If you cut right on the line, the piece you cut will be slightly too short.  Some fence systems account for this so you can line up your material and it will cut exactly how you want it.  Even a little bit can matter a lot, when it comes to picture framing and other fine crafts. Hope this helps...

  • Linnea, reading your post again, I see you have some walnut...since it’s softer than the oak, you might, or might not, want to invest in a better, picture frame quality blade for your miter saw.  You could also contact a local frame shop and see what they will charge to cut the moulding for you, unless that’s not practical, or you just want to do it yourself.  

    I did not have good experience with hand tool mitering.  I tried it and found the result was not what I hoped, but maybe you will do better than I did. 

    Good luck!

  • Hi Linnea,

    I have been a professional custom picture framer since 1986, learned all aspects of framing to frame my own art.  I have a 10” miter saw with a special blade made for cutting picture frame moulding, but I think the company that made mine is no longer in business.  It has over 100 teeth (Lazeredge was the brand).  You can’t get a blade like this at the big box stores, but you can special order it, not cheap, but worth it.

    Ultramitre brand might be a good option for you, though I have no personal experience with the brand.  Here is a link.  https://ultramitre.com/mitre-blades/  They make a similar blade to the one I have.  The quality of the miter is amazing compared with the regular saw blades, and nearly as good as what you would get using a miter chopper.  Any little gaps can be filled with nail hole filler, but they will be minimal with a good, sharp blade.  

    I also have a Phaedra fence system to use with my miter saw.  Not to hijack your thread, but it is for sale.  

    FYI, I switched to a Cassese foot operated manual miter chopper many years ago. I’d had a lot of experience cutting frames with a chopper, and the miter comes out precise and smooth.  No noise, no dust, less mess, and uses two big knives to cut the wood.  I used it to cut hardwood like oak and maple, though those woods are hard to build with hammer and brads...But a chopper may too big of an expense unless you are doing a lot of framing.  

    • Carol, the Ultramitre is a power tool? With the small amount I do, I don't think I want to buy a power saw. I can't really justify the cost for something I do so rarely. 

      If there was something small, though, I might go for it. Thinking....

      • Hi Linnea,

        I was thinking you could just get a better blade to fit your miter saw.  I was so impressed by the Lazeredge blade I got, especially compared with the one that came with the saw (granted, the blade that comes with the saw is not meant for fine work).  But a good blade makes a big difference.  I think the ultramitre blade would be worth consideration.  If you really prefer hand tools over using your electric miter saw, you may not want to go that route.  There is a lot to be said for using hand tools! But since you had asked for feedback from picture framers, I figured I’d chime in, since I spent many years using the miter saw with a good quality blade, and had excellent results cutting hardwood frames, especially maple.  These days I prefer cutting and joining basswood whenever possible...

        • Carol, I don't have an electric saw, I have just been using hand saws. So, no removable blade to replace. 

          • I get it now, Linnea.  Can I blame sleep deprivation?  Oh darn, sorry could not help.

  • Hand Miter Saw

    Here is one with 14 tpi. from Amazon and reasonably priced. Any hand saw you use has to be sharp for a good cut and especially so when you are cutting hardwoods.

    I've been woodworking for nearly 60 years and I started out and learned by using all hand-tools. These days I primarily use power tools...but I still use a good bit of hand tools also.

    • Why would the saw I just bought not be sharp, though? 

      I figured it was the teeth per inch that was the issue. That 12 tpi was just too few for hardwoods. But I don't really know: I just know it didn't work. I should test it with some cheap pine to compare. 

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