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Mitred Returns

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  • Mitred Returns

    Hey everybody - new gal in town. Just started replacing baseboards and had the most incredible beginner's luck with returns. Since the first three everything has gone off with a hitch. Can't get the glue to hold (Elmer's wood glue). Can't hold the danged things for 25 or more minutes (and shouldn't have to, right?)

    I'm using hemlock I pre-finished in a custom-color stain and 3 coats of polyuerethene, a middling-fancy profile, base measurement of 5/8's. The cuts are even, the end grain is a little rough for my liking. The temps are around 65 and the humidity is about 40%.

    Any help would be appreciated - I'm thorougly fed up with those little things and disgusted with the job already.

    P.S. Oh yeah, any ideas on keeping the CMS from sending little suckers zinging across the shop (usually exploding in the process)? I was thinking 2 pieces of oak lath clamped to both sides of the guide that extends, on one side, into the no-fingers zone. Just enough to catch the leading edge. I'm not sure if that would that be 1) effective, 2) too dangerous, or 3) as dangerous as the missles. Is oak hard enough? Or is it not a good idea at all?

    I know I should get out the mitre box and cut the 90's myself but a bad case of tennis elbow keeps me from doing that. And guess what - no TS!

  • #2
    What floor?


    • #3
      That was just an expression. I load the moulding and tighten it down. I have the thickness of the moulding extending past the outside edge of the blade. There is no vertical support for that 5/8" piece. Even pulling the blade down and letting it stop rotating before pulling it back up doesn't keep the returns from zinging into the circular space behind the blade.

      What's the rpm on the 10# Ridgid CMS? Flings "thin" little pieces pretty hard and they break. Hence "exploding". No sparks. If there were I'd be back at HD with a different kind of return so fast you'd think I was a comet!
      Last edited by lgd; 10-02-2006, 02:15 PM.


      • #4
        Hey lgd...welcome to the forums!!

        I've had that problem with CMS and small pieces. It's kinda tricky to cut them little returns. What might work is to put a wide piece of plastic on the top of the CMS table and cut a saw-blade wide kerf in it. Then use that as a "zero clearance top" when cutting the smaller pieces. Another idea would be to cut those bits by hand using a coping saw.

        To get the pieces to align on the corners and glue together it usually takes at least one small brad to hold them. If you don't have a brad nailer, find the smallest size brads you can and hand-nail them, then set the tops below the surface with a nail-setter. If you're using a nuematic brad nailer, take some test shots first to adjust the depth setting properly.

        The only other real option would be painters tape as a clamp. If there's no way you can set and putty the nailheads, the tape would be the only other way to get the corners to stay while the glue sets. You could always use a different/faster glue...but there's problems with that too.
        I put it all back together better than before. There\'s lots of leftover parts.


        • #5
          Thanks Sandy.

          I'm not sure what you mean by a "zero clearance top". Place the plastic perpendicular to the "table top" to cut to the bottom of the kerf? Or flat to cut the moulding to the surface of the plastic as a stop?

          Yeah, then finish the cut with the coping saw. Cool, my arm should be able to handle that little bit of hand work.

          You wouldn't believe the size of the smallest brads I can find! I have some as thick as a sewing pin about 3/8's inches long! (Building 1" scale miniature picture frames. Hum, now where's my teeny hammer?)

          Great ideas. I'll try 'em out. Thanks again.


          • #6
            A few tips that might help:
            1. Fasten a 1x2 and a 1x4 together to form an "L" (about 16" long)
            2. Cut the 45 cut on your return on a longer piece of material-8" or longer.
            3. Put the "L" in the CMS as a new bed and lay the base material flat on the new bed to cut the square cut.
            4. To solve the glue problem, glue both the 45 and the 90 ends of the return. I usually do NOT nail the base next to the return until I have the return in place. This usually makes the base act as a clamp to hold the return in place. HTH, Jim
            P.S. I usually use Titebond II glue.


            • #7
              Hey Jim,

              I do glue both faces and wait until the glue is slightly tacky before joining the two together. I wish I could just solder 'em together! Alas, the jewelry tools and equipment are long gone.

              Thanks for these great tip, I'm gonna have FUN trying these ideas today.


              • #8
                You could use hot glue or something like ZAP-A-GAP (Cyanoacrylate glue) for instant bonding...


                • #9
                  do you know anybody with a biscuit jointer? that's your best option, if not, did you scuff the joints with some sandpaper? you mentioned the pre-finish, does it look like any of the poly or finish infiltrated the joints?

                  do you have a nail gun? tacking the inside corners with one makes for tight joints, and will give your legs/clamps a rest .

                  also, Elmers wood glue is lackluster IMO. Titebond makes a great product.

                  if you can't get ahold of a biscuit jointer, maybe you should consider sparingly using construction adhesive.

                  as for the deflecting wood on the miter saw. I never have that problem at 90deg, only when i miter off small ends. i just run some of the cheap masking tape across the wood and then overlap it a couple inches on the deck of the saw. the deflection takes place when the blade starts to come back up, so another thing i've been doing is run the blade all the way through the wood (making sure the wood is completely cut), and then hold it beneath the plastic insert and while holding it at the absolute bottom, let the blade come to a natural rest.


                  • #10
                    Good suggestions so far on the cutting, my personal solution is to cut most of the return and finish with a hand saw.
                    Now the part everyone missed so far is that you are using Hemlock which has a natural oil to it much like cedar. Before applying glue you need to wipe the joints with naptha (white gas, camp fuel) or denatured alcohol to remove the oil then apply glue to both surfaces. I use the green masking tape (ivory can leave glue behind) to hold the parts together. I also like to glue my outside miters and use tape to hold until dry. Basically lay a strip or two (depends on baseboard height and tape width) sticky side up on a flat surface, lay the baseboard on the tape finished side down, carefully lay in the second piece to get the mitered tips touching, now fold them to make the 90 and apply a strip of tape diagonally (makes a triangle) to hold the joint tight til it dries then fit it to the corner and nail in place. I always cope inside corners so they are plenty tight enough.
                    On the inside corners if you find you have gaps due to the horrid drywall job I use a wood screw into the 2X4 base plate to act as a stop to hold the molding at 90 to the floor which eliminates any possibility of an inside gap


                    • #11
                      Wow, you guys are great! All this advice has really helped.

                      Newman - hot glue! Not since high school, (naw, I ain't tellin' how long that's been). I thought about an instant glue but didn't want to take a chance with the finish.

                      Same thing with the Titebond II, Pipestone. That idea for the 1x2 and 1x4 really worked. I just used two 1x2's of red oak.

                      I mitered the end of one to make a "V" once the two were joined: to hold the fine edge of the moulding. I attached them together with an offset: 3/4" longer on the straight piece. This left an open space on the interior for ease (for the fine edge).

                      I cut one end of the jig for making an open cut and the other for doing a closed cut. Some might think it's a pain to flip that around for each return but not me, not after all that frustration! I also can't say it works like a dream (some dinks on the top edge) but is a heck of a lot better than what was happening before. It also tends to work better perpendicular rather than horizontal.

                      Allen, great ideas for the future. Who knows how long - it's been almost a year now with this injury!!! (Danged computers) The miter saw sounds cool, I've written them for more info. Interesting clamps too. I have several corner clamps but really like the combination miter box/corner clamp. And yeah, I'm careful. I'm kinda attached to my fingers and wanna keep it that way (pun intended).

                      Cheeky monkey - thanks too. But biscuits for 5/8's inch moulding? I'm good at fine work but not that good! Gotcha on the trick on letting the blade spin to a halt before lifting it. The tape sounds like a good idea. May be easier than switching that jig back and forth!

                      And finally Wayne. I like finishing the cut with the hand saw too. My son doesn't and can cut the returns with the CMS and that jig. Thank you for turning my brain back on: hemlock/oil. Duh. Worked like a charm. I'll give the green tape a try too.

                      Coping all of the inside corners on this job is basically a no-go (my stupid elbow). I've only had two corners that are bad enough to justify it and have done those over a couple of days. When you talk about the screw as a stop, which part of the moulding are you going thru?

                      Thanks again for all your help.


                      • #12
                        Tendonitis in the left wrist from doing everything left-handed! Actually I am left-handed but usually only write (paint) and eat with that hand. I can do rough cuts with the left hand but have to fine tune with the right. Oh yeah, I can chisel and use a Dremel with either hand.

                        How in the heck do you think I got the CMS? I even have the Irwin saw on Mag's webpage!


                        • #13
                          Actually the screw does not go through the baseboard it goes behind the baseboard to hold the bottom out so that it stays 90 to the floor when the coped end of the next board butts into it. I find most drywall is not finished close enough to the floor to support the baseboard so the screw acts as that support in the corner where the joint is


                          • #14
                            Got it. Good tip.

                            Wanna see some results?
                            Attached Files


                            • #15
                              Looks good, lgd! Sorry to hear about the tendonitis and such. Looks like you're able to work around the problems pretty well.
                              I put it all back together better than before. There\'s lots of leftover parts.