How to Make Miter Cuts in Wood


You have a wonderful piece of mirror and you want to frame it and hang it on the wall, but a trip to the framer has put this project into financial jeopardy. With just a miter box and a back saw you can do it yourself. Learning mitering skills will allow you to create anything from a simple picture frame to a mitered wrap around your windows. This project will teach you how to make the 45 degree cuts and 90 degree angled frames using simple, non-powered tools.

Step 1

You can make the perfect 90 degree angle by clamping two pieces of scrap wood together. Clamp them so that one piece is placed on top of and perpendicular to the other. Measure a 45 degree angle diagonally across the wood and saw through the wood. You have two mitered boards with angles that will equal 90 degrees when fastened together.

Step 2

Make your next cut with a miter box. It is designed to be used with a hand saw that guides the cut through the wood at the precise angle. Before you even set the angle, make a clean cut in the end of the practice wood. Set the 45 degree angle and saw through the wood. Reverse for the perpendicular piece. You have two 45 degree angles that will form the corner of your frame.

Step 3

Fix any gaps by using a wood plane to smooth away splinters that may occur on the back of the work. Use medium and then fine grit sandpaper to smooth the edges and front of the wood. Complete the sanding process by wiping with a tack cloth, a sticky cloth that gets rid of sawdust.

Step 4

If there are still gaps in the fit of the two pieces, use wood putty to fill. Dry, re-sand, and wipe with the tack cloth. Use finishing nails to attach the two pieces. Always practice your mitering techniques on scrap wood before cutting into your project wood.

Things You'll Need

  • Scrap wood for practice
  • Clamp
  • Measuring tape
  • Miter box
  • Back saw
  • Plane
  • Sandpaper in medium and fine grit
  • Tack cloth
  • Putty
  • Finishing nails
  • Hammer


  • The simplest way to miter wood
  • Refrences that include how the miter box will look
  • How to assemble your picture frame
Keywords: Miter, box, saw, clamp, putty, plane, sandpaper

About this Author

Pat Olsen has over 35 years of experience as a professional journalist in California. She attended San Francisco State and Pacific College. Olsen has several published books, is a staff writer for Mill Creek Living Magazine, and currently writes for Demand Studio. She is a retired educator who still teaches twice a week.

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