I don’t know about you, but I’ve been whining about Bosch’s Angle Finder for years. I mean, I even whined during my presentations at JLC Live shows: “How come the ‘Hold’ button doesn’t hold anything when you press it!?”
But the folks at Bosch must have been listening because they’ve improved their Angle Finder—finally! And while they haven’t done everything I would have liked (it would be nice if they’d put a key pad right on the tool, so you could just key in the crown molding spring angle), they have taken the tool to the next level.
The old Angle Finder had one serious flaw: Every time I wanted to measure a corner angle for installing crown molding, I first had to record the spring angle for the crown by opening the protractor to the exact spring-angle degree—a demanding task when the tool is accurate to 1/10°.
Once the protractor was spread just right, I’d press the Bevel/Miter (BV/MT) button as quickly possible because the least little breeze or movement could throw this sensitive instrument off—usually just before I could press the BV/MT button. (See photo, left) And I always had to perform this operation atop a ladder!
The number of carpenters who must have lost their hair and aged ten years while fumbling to set spring angles is beyond my imagination. But like many, I’ve been willing to suffer through the spring-angle problem because once that number was entered in the tool, I’d just spread the Angle Finder open in the corner where I was working, press the BV/MT button to get the corner angle, then press the BV/MT button a couple more times for the miter and bevel angles. (I explain the whole process later).
Armed with those numbers I could set my miter saw to make accurate cuts for even the biggest crown molding profiles. The problem was that each time I measured a new corner, I had to repeat the same frustrating spring angle process. The new Bosch Angle Finder (Model # DAF220, $149.99 on Amazon) works pretty much the same way, except, like I said, it stores the spring angle, saving me a ton of time and frustration. Plus there are other neat improvements that I’ll discuss in a minute.
With the new Angle Finder you still have to set the spring angle, but once you have it, pressing the Hold button saves it in memory for the rest of the job. In fact, the measurement remains in memory even after you turn off the tool (unless the batteries die completely or you remove them).
With the new model, open the protractor to the spring angle and press the Hold button for at least a full second. The angle measurement then flashes in the display, and the word “HOLD” appears in the lower right corner of the display. (See photo, right) Now you’re ready to use the tool.
Step 1: Set the spring angle
|With the spring angle measurement flashing in the display, press the MTR/BVL button once. The word “SPR” then appears in the lower left-hand corner of the display, confirming that you’ve entered and stored the spring angle.|
Step 2: Record the corner angle
|Spread the Angle Finder in the corner that you’re working on to read the corner angle, then press the MTR/BVL button a second time. “CNR” appears in the lower display, to confirm that you’ve entered the corner angle.|
Step 3: Find the miter angle
|Press the MTR/BVL button a third time. “MTR” appears in the lower display, with the angle of the miter cut above.|
Step 4: Find the bevel angle
|Press the MTR/BVL button a fourth time. “BVL” appears in the lower display, with the angle of the bevel cut above.|
One thing that always bothered me with the original Angle Finder was that if I didn’t write down the miter and bevel angles right away, I’d have to go through the whole rigmarole again. But with this new model, all I have to do is press the MTR/BVL button again and it cycles back to the miter angle and then to the bevel angle. It won’t stop cycling until you turn it off! But it still remembers the spring angle.
So what’s the big deal?
Some crown molding profiles are too big to cut in position, standing against the fence on a miter saw. That’s when a compound miter saw comes in very handy. These large moldings must be cut lying flat on the base of the saw. But that means swinging the saw to the correct miter angle and tipping the saw to the correct bevel angle. And for the uninitiated, those angles are not 45°.
For instance, to cut the right-hand end of the crown for the corner I measured in the photos, I first place the molding in the saw with the top of the crown against the fence.
|I swing the miter angle to 31.8°,|
|then I tilt the bevel angle to 34°.|
To cope the inside corner, follow the profile exposed on that miter. To miter the inside corner, use the same miter and bevel angles on the opposing piece.
So why should I spend 150 bucks on a specialized tool when I can just use a paper crown chart or one of those new protractors that comes with a crown chart? Here’s the deal: Most common crown molding profiles are milled with either a 45° spring angle, or a 38° spring angle, and paper charts are available with the miter and bevel angles for those moldings. Less expensive protractors are also available that include charts for every wall angle. Just spread the protractor in the corner and read the corner angle, then pick the miter and bevel angles for that corner from the chart.
But many custom crown moldings aren’t made with those common spring angles. Venture beyond the off-the-shelf profiles from major suppliers, and you’ll find 33° and 40° spring angles are also common. One manufacturer I know makes four different crown profiles, and only one has a common spring angle. For these custom profiles, the charts don’t work, and a carpenter has to hunt-and-peck to find the miter and bevel angles. Run large custom crown molding on a big job and the Bosch Angle Finder will look like a bargain.
But wait there’s more
The new Bosch Angle Finder reads simple miters, too—but gives them to us in miter-saw-friendly terms. As you know, to make a 90° cut on a miter saw, you set the saw at 0°. That’s great if you happen to be framing a roof and all your angles are 90° to the rafters, but the angles don’t work at all for a finish guy.
With Bosch’s new tool, pick up an angle anywhere, and press the orange On/Off button for one second or more (that button is also labeled “SIMPLE MTR”). The actual miter angle on your saw then appears in the display—not the real angle of the miter, but the angle you need to set on your miter saw. The Angle Finder and the miter gauge on your saw read “0°,” when the saw is set to make a 90° cut!
There are other features on the new Angle Finder, too. It comes with a great little case, imperative for protecting a precision tool. The new version also has a nifty sliding extension leg that comes in real handy when you need to read an angle on short return walls!
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