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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Please don’t try anything you see in THISisCarpentry, or anywhere else for that matter, unless you’re completely certain that you can do it safely.
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Hey Gary, I’ve always been an “upside down and backward” crown cutter, cutting the crown as if the deck of my saw is the ceiling and the fence the wall, and have build a work station for my miter saw to allow me to cut crowns up to around 3.5″ tall. I’ve never even seen a crown chart and never new how “flat cut” crown guys ever figured it out. The one guy that I worked with was a hunt-n-peck specialist. Could you review the basic tenants of “flat” aka “compound” crown cutting for inside cope cuts and outside corners?
Sounds like a good subject for another article. Maybe one of our other readers might like to write that one! I’ll be happy to help.
Go to perfectcuts.com. They explain it better than anyone I can think of.
Of course no one is going to be able to explain just what to do when your wall or cieling is bowed, and the best protractor in the world will just give you a starting place before you have to resort to hunts and pecks and shims and guesses.
Hi Gary, I have the same question posed by Dave Gravina above.
Re: “upside down and backward” crown cutter.
Someone posted a link to perfectcuts.com which has a calculator you can download to your computer & input all your angles & it gives you the appropriate miter/bevel.
There is also a chart that I have used for many years before I got the Bosch featured in the article. It was compiled by the late Joe Fusco & is the most comprehensive chart I have seen. The link is http://www.josephfusco.org/Articles/Crown_Moulding/CrownChart.html. It’s two pages but I just printed both sides of one sheet of paper & just stuck it with in my binder. It’s a great reference tool as it covers every conceivable corner angle from 1 to 179 degrees in 1 degree increments. Before the preset function was added, I use to use the angle finder for the corner angle only. I then just used Joe’s chart to find the appropriate miter/bevel. Much easier than resetting the spring every time.
Gary’s right. An article discussing the idiosyncrisis of crown, as well as how to actually make a cut beyond 60 degrees, would be a great addition to this forum. I’m sure if Joe were around, he’d be all over it :). He has written some very in depth articles when it comes to our industry. Hope this was helpful.
(Thanx Joe. You made a mark on this woodworker. )
Good to see some improvement in this frustrating tool. The “simple miter” feature is much more exciting to me than the crown hold feature. It’s not that often that I need to cut tall crown on an outside corner but I almost always screw up that first odd angle miter cut when using this tool.
I think you are right that there is a heck of a lot more Bosch (or any willing competitor that may scoop up the idea) could do to improve this tool – especially in the comparatively expensive $150 price range.
One thing I would like to see is a “tool belt” friendly size. It could be extendable or simply smaller. Another feature I would like to see is a roof pitch/ramp slope feature. Some method of really locking the angle might be good too. Might as well put a laser on it too.
Seriously, for $150 I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
Dreamcatcher is right, at a cost of over a hundred and fifty a pop, in this age of tech, what’s the problem with adding the features that Gary is groaning about? Then adding also the simple features that Dreamcatcher wants should be a snap for a company like Bosch. For that matter if all those features are added then maybe companies like Stanley or B&D or Erwin can make it without an impending legal battle. It’s food for thought….
My old one died after I dropped it for the fiftieth time (surprise). The simple mitre feature is enough of an incentive to buy a new one.
The cheapo crapsman has had those features for years. Although, now that a quality tool like Bosch has those features and a price break of only a buck ‘n a half, I almost need to drop that crapsman from a higher point, in order to justify a purchase of the Bosch.
I work alone, quite frequently, and have cut “on the flat” due to that for years. Once you get on to it … (at least when I “got on to it”), I never wanted to go back to upside down and backwards.
Actually, I rarely cope the inside corners any more, as the fit is exceptionally tight cutting them flat (using the angle finder first). Moreover, I’ve walked into homes years later, mine included, and have not had one corner that wasn’t as tight now, as then. I’m sold on this type of tool and what it allows one to do.
I’m with you on the ‘cut on the flat’. It does take a bit of getting use to, but I find you can be so repetitive & precise that it makes for a better end result & as was mentioned, some crown simply cannot be cut in the nested position.
I also do a lot of inside mitering on crown but it’s because I use a lot of ultralite material which is so fragile when coped. It was frustrating to make a good cope then see it crushed upon installation. I installed probably a mile of 7 1/4″ crown in a local developement ~5 years ago & since have been back in many of the units. I always check & have yet to be disappointed with the results.
I gave the last version of that away.
It was a waste of space for the very same reasons you said.
I would be leery of shelling out more money for it’s update.
tools like this cost money, they save the massive amounts of time and money. guesses and recuts are massivly expensive in time and materials
stop gripeing, groaning and grizzeling about the tool cost, pay the man. and get the job done today.
you guys are lucky, here in england we get to pay the same number of pounds sterling for the same tool, as you do in dollars………
hell guys, its STILL a cheap tool even at the cost i pay
Good article Gary. Does the angle finder work as a digital level and give angles for cutting stair skirts? Can you use it to plumb newel posts?
No, the angle finder doesn’t work like a digital level, not like the Stabila digital level that gives you plumb digital readout and beeps.