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Miter Angles and Miter Saws

Miter saw gauges confuse a lot of finish carpenters for one simple reason—they aren’t designed for finish carpentry, they’re designed for framing and stairs. Let me show you what I mean.

When a framer builds a roof, they first establish the PITCH of the roof—4/12 or 6/12. That pitch is the angle the rafters follow. All of the cuts made to that rafter—the ridge cut, the plumb cut, and the birdsmouth are all measured off the BACK of the rafter—off 90 degrees to the angle of the roof.

(Note: Click any image to enlarge.)

That’s why most miter saw gauges are set up off 90 degrees to the back of the fence! In fact, some miter saws even include roof pitch angles on the miter saw gauge.

But those angles just confuse finish carpenters. Finish carpenters are always bisecting corner angles—which is easy to do with a protractor.

A 135 degrees angle looks like this:

A 135 degree angle is an OBTUSE angle. The miter for this corner is 67 1/2 degrees. That’s easy to cut on your miter saw. Just set the saw at 22 1/2!

But the angles on a miter saw gauge are off 90 degrees to the angles on a protractor, which causes a lot of confusion. Some carpenters opt to use a Starrett Protractor. But I prefer to have the guys on my crew use a standard protractor, so they’ll know at a glance the difference between an acute angle and an obtuse angle. That means when they visualize the miter, they’ll be starting off on the right foot!

A 22 1/2 degrees angle is an ACUTE angle. You can’t cut that miter on a miter saw without an acute angle jig.

Miter saws didn’t always come with miter saw gauges that were set 90 degrees off from protractors. Back before framers used miter saws, finish carpenters could use a protractor to read corner angles without any confusion.

Miter saw gauges like this one (see photo, right) were easy for finish carpenters to use, and didn’t cause another problem: Let’s say you’re installing base molding at a corner that measures 86 degrees. You first bisect the angle and determine that the miter should be 43 degrees. But when you set your saw at 43 degrees and cut the piece, the miter is NOWHERE near close! That’s because 43 degrees on a standard power miter saw gauge is really 47 degrees.

The easiest way to solve this whole problem is to use a Sharpie to mark your miter saw gauge with protractor numbers.

In fact, some manufacturers include protractor angles on power miter saws:

I just wish they all did!!!

• • •


Jesper Cook was born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1977. He grew up in family homes in both Sweden and Denmark until the age of 18, when he moved to Los Angeles, CA.  He has worked in the construction trade for over 10 years, gaining experience in everything from movie sets to tile installation.

More recently, he has focused on high-end finish carpentry. He is currently a Project Manager at Millworks By Design, a finish carpentry company located in Agoura Hills, CA.

Jesper enjoys SCUBA diving, mountain biking, and especially photography, which he practices in his free time. Recently married, he and his wife, Julia, spend their vacations traveling Europe and visiting castles, museums, and other historical sites. He often draws inspiration for his finish carpentry work from classical architectural details that he has photographed in cities throughout Europe, such as Paris, Rome, and Seville.


80 Responses to “Miter Angles and Miter Saws”

    • Eric Z.

      This is correct. The article is wrong. I believe the author of the article has made a huge mistake.

      • Gary Katz

        Sorry, but you are wrong. If your miter saw reads ‘0’ degrees when you’re cutting a butt cut at 90˚, then are two methods you can use to find the correct ‘protractor’ angle: you can subtract 180˚ from any angle you read with your protractor, or MUCH SIMPLER, you can correct the angles on your miters saw with a sharpie, so that they work easily with a protractor. The authors is not wrong. I woudln’t have responded to your comment if it didn’t think it was important for other readers.

        • John

          If zero is 90 degrees on the miter saw , wouldn’t couldn’t you just add 10 or subtract 10 depending which way you went. Like 80 would ten, 70 be 20, 60/30, 50/40 on down then the other way 10/100, 20/110, 30/120.
          Jve just recently started to try and learn some wood working. I’ve been learning as I go as best as I can.

  1. Fred stinard

    At this point in my career as a fine trim carpenter or any of the guys work for me can’t figure it out with out the tool telling them what to do it becomes time to hang up the tool belt. This is entry level at best.

    • Marc

      Your implication is that NO ONE that has only entry level skills is/should be reading this article, thus it has no business being published…correct? I read a LOT of stuff that I know is entry level, doesn’t discount the quality of the content though now does it…especially if you are an entry level carpenter.

      Unless of course you are one of those mystical wood wizards who NEVER had to learn ANYTHING from ANYBODY. Seriously Fred, look back at your comment and tell me WHAT it contributed to the discussion of the article content.

      • Dan

        Marc, i think you may have “hit the nail on the head” with your comments to “Mr.” Fred Stinard. i wish i had the way with words you have shown, i think we would both end up at the same point; but my comments would have been censored…lol

      • Robert Ray

        I was pulling my hair out,if I had any,trying to figure out why I couldn’t mark a 30 degree line on my wood and it wasn’t lining up with the blade set to 30 on the tool. This article has helped me a great deal. We all have to take the first step on the ladder. I wouldn’t expect an oil change worker to be able to put on a timing belt with out training. I understood this at my job and helped the kids learn and that kindness of teaching and sharing the knowledge gets passed on. The other way of thinking is cancerous and is a bad element for any work place. Thank you Marc. You are the type of person I would prefer to work with.

    • David Luyendyk

      This article is categorized as “Building Basics”. It’s supposed to be entry level. ThisIsCarpentry is for anyone who wants to learn, regardless of where they are at. That’s what makes this a great place.

      • Gary Katz

        What David said!!!! This is an INclusive magazine. Not an EXclusive magazine. Some of our readers will be drawn to the OTT articles, like drawing and carving a volute; other readers will be more interested in how to cut miters in casing! We make room for them all. That doesn’t mean we have to dumb-down the articles. If one of our weekly stories doesn’t interest you, wait a week or two.


      • Lesia Wood

        Thank you. Even though this is a 10 yo comment. It was greatly appreciated. As when I want to try something and I have no clue or no expert friends to guide me through it, I prefer articles or forums where I can find and read real life experiences I tend to come away with a greater understanding than I would have if I had tried to comprehend it other ways. Once educated I usually decide at that point if it is something I might enjoy and want to go forth. But if I had to deal with someone like Fred, I would be too afraid of messing up to try and at that point mess up just because I was afraid of messing up. That’s what happens when someone makes you feel inferior to them, then you give up and walk away. Gee thanks Fred

    • David

      Fred, you suggest that you need no reliance on tools to calculate and cut angles in wood, right? Maybe–and more correctly–you are suggesting that you try to use your mathematical aptitude to determine angle measurements. Most trim carpenters I know are extremely detailed and reading blueprints has come easy to them over the years. If you read this article in detail like a carpenter would a blueprint, you should have noticed the target audience, which are those people desiring to learn basic carpentry. The category of audience was the first thing listed. A great trim carpenter rarely overlooks obvious details. If you were on my crew, I would offer you many challenges that I’m quite certain you would not be able to complete without generous assistance. There is always someone more knowledgeable and skillful than ourselves. The people I met of this caliber never gloated and always enjoyed teaching and sharing what they know. What prompted you to read this article anyway? Exactly!

    • elaine fogg

      Well Mr Stinard, I did not know this article was only speaking to you and YOUR career. I am a 61 yr old woman, a DIY, dreaded by guys like you, homeowner… who is learning all the time . Though I have a speed sq and a miter saw, I confess I really had no clue how to do this. I want to thank the author for such a clear concise lesson! I think with some practice I can really do this now. I am very grateful!

    • Shane

      Fred, you missed the main reason this article was published. To help others-perhaps eventually, even one of your employees.

  2. Mike Hawkins

    Hi Jesper,
    Nice article. I have two different protractors, a starrett, and I forgot the name of the other one. Both have two scales, one shows the actual angle, the other shows the miter saw angle. I use it mainly to check corners when running base and crown to see how far off the corner actually is. I never think of rafter angles and miter settings in the same sense. I don’t cut rafters that often, so I usually lay them out with a framing square and then transfer the angle to the miter saw.
    Mike Hawkins

  3. Laurie McDougall

    yup, this is pretty much what I do. I first heard of this several years back, when someone on a crew said to us “1/2 the reciprocal” it took me a while to figure that out, but when I did- wow! It was like what Dan said above, a light went on! This is the basis for my trim carpentry business. I often see trim work in people’s homes that was done by someone who does not know of this technique.
    I actually use a shortcut to get my settings. I measure the corner with my bosch miter finder, “whatever happens to one side of 90 degrees, do the same to the other side” so if my reading is 92 degrees, that’s 2 over 90, so two from 90 is 88- miter setting is 44. It takes longer to say than do,
    I kinda like what Jesper’s done with his saw though, putting the correct angles onto the saw scale, that could save me time.

  4. Norm Miller

    Hmmm…no one mentions coped corners, which will forgive several degrees out of square. Where it really gets interesting is those very acute angles at the ceiling where you have to run large, often multiple piece crown and coping is not an option. I’ve tried several different gauges, yet it always seems to come down to several test cuts to find the right compound angles for the right fit. As to outside corners, the drywall bead & mud always puts the cut out of 90. I found years ago to get in the habit of setting the saw a tad over 45 for these and it usually worked out well.

    • Gary Katz

      This article was really about understanding miter angles–which does play a part in cutting cope joints, too, but it wasn’t about coping. And the story wasn’t about cutting acute angles–though this article does play a part in figuring out the miter angles for acute angles–so you DON’T have to hunt-and-peck for the right miter/bevel angle! But Norm, those are great suggestions for future articles! Which one (s) do you want to do? :)

  5. Roger Gendron

    Hmmmn.. I am a little confused. An inside corner of 86 degrees bisected should be 43 by my arithmetic. Since 45 degrees is the one point that is the same on either scale, 43 using the “outside” or “factory” numbers appears to be the same as 47 on the “inside” or “hand written” scale. So why wouldn’t the cut join properly at 43 degrees? (did I miss something?)

    This debate has been going on for years, and why I was interested in a Festool Kapex, as overpriced as it is. The protractor, or angle finder, that comes with the machine, is essentially a tramel that moves the center leg in direct proportion to the outside legs, and will bisect most angles I run into; abtuse or acute. Take the angle off the walls, put the tramel against the fence, line up the laser and cut.

    You don’t need a Kapex to use this method either; a protractor will work against your miter saw fence almost as well, albeit there is the short extra step of bisecting the angle on the protractor (divide by 2, then reset the protractor to that number).

    Do we really need all those numbers on the machines?

  6. Kevin

    As a basic article I think it is more important to teach the proper methods, not add crutches. Some miter gauges run from 0 and some from 90, know the difference and how to deal with it. Any time you can use a bevel gauge to get close that’s good but all of gauges that translate or marking it on your saw is just a way around understanding and knowing your craft and tools.
    Signed “Old School”

    • roger

      “Proper” methods? “knowing my craft?”
      Old School, Old profits.

      • Carson

        Guess that sets the carpenters and craftsmen apart. The better craftsman you are, the better your carpentry work will be. The better carpenter you are, the better your craftsmanship will be. Learning “Why” tends to lead to faster more accurate results. Yes I use a starrett for speed and it’s great but isn’t practical in all situations/scenarios. That’s when you lose your speed and when guys don’t know it that slows anybody else dow

  7. Sternberg

    I bought a machinest’s vernier protractor, and use it often, None of the miter saws or digital protractors are accuarate within 1/10th degree, which isn’t good enough for a wide crown. Incra or someone needs to offer aftermarket vernier protractors for some of these compound miter saws. They would save a lot of trial and error.

  8. Mike

    I am not a contractor, just a semi handy homeowner who enjoys learning new carpentry techniques. I appreciate this sites comprehensive and inclusive wood working information! There are articles here that at this point are far too advanced for me, but I enjoy them and take from them what I can. Everyone learns new tasks in a variety of ways and this explanation was helpful for me. Thanks and keep up the good work.

  9. Roger Gadd

    Boy! this is a real head scratcher for me. I’m good at math (or I thought I was) and don’t have any problem with almost anything to do with math. My mitre saw is on a job site so I can’t play with to see if I can figure out what you are saying. I do use the Starrett and would be lost without it. I’ve gotta spend some time on this one!


  10. Roger Gadd

    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Now I get it!
    I never could understand on my mitre saw how a 90degree cut registered 0.
    Anyways I use my Starrett and it’s settings are based on a mitre saw so I won’t have a problem but I now understand if I use an ordinary protractor.
    On the job site today we all had an awakening when we took the time with the saw and what you described.
    Great article.

    Roger Gadd

  11. Jesper Cook

    I’m glad you figured it out! That is exactly why I wrote this article – I figured there are many carpenters out there who don’t quite understand the scales on their miter saw. But once they understand it the tricky angles become a lot easier to work with.


  12. Ed

    Jesper, thanks for a good article. I am a retired engineer and understand complementary angles and such but an article that puts it into simple perspective is a great help. Often people do things by rote without understanding what is actually happening. I am making jigs for my RAS to cut 45 and 67.5 angles for kitchen countertop edging and “googled” your article just as a sanity check to aid my preparations for the 67.5 jig.

  13. Jackie

    Jesper,I was looking for an easy way to learn how to miter the baseboards for our basement. I’m more of a show me how and I can do it kinda girl. I think I need a class! Thank you for the info tho :)

  14. John

    Thanks for this Jesper. I just bought my first miter saw to do some crown molding. After my first two cuts, I realized what had happened. I’m sorry I didn’t read this article first. Oh well… DIYers have to learn somehow. :/

  15. Rich

    Not a pro, but I’ve installed over $6k of millwork in my house, and used a vintage Stanley No. 30 Angle Divider, a No. 358 Miter Box, and a shooting board with a Veritas (Lee Valley) low angle jack plane. Great combination of old school tools; the only downside is you have to know how to sharpen a handsaw, and keep your plane iron sharp as well. Most of the time I didn’t need the shooting board. Result is tight and accurate miters. The box is incredibly accurate, and by using the angle divider to transfer the measurements you eliminate calculation error. Great tool.

  16. Dan

    This information is great for the weekender….I have the tools to do the honey do list, and get to make plenty of saw dust….but when you go for months or even years between moulding projects…its nice to have a resource to brush up on the old basic logic….

  17. Robert

    Thanks for the information but you left off cutting 22 1/2 mitres. I am getting ready to install crown in a kitchen with a corner cabinet and have always just had to keep back cutting the cope to get it to fit. Is there an easier way?

  18. Gene Henderson

    Wisdom is in the basics. The A-ha moment has come to me by falling back to basics to figure something out. If anybody becomes too sophisticated for the basics their work probably sux.

  19. mike

    Iam still missing something in this article. Half of 86 is 43 but how does 43 become 47 on the miter saw.

  20. Ken Ackerman


    Consider this explanation: The outside most (or lower if you prefer) scale shown on most miter saws starts at 0 degrees in the center. At 0 degrees, the angle you leave on the board cut is 90 degrees, as we all know. 90 degrees is the reciprocal angle of 0. All cuts on a straight board leave 2 angles as measured with a protractor. Those 2 angles always add up to 90 degrees, so the angles are always the reciprocal of one another. That lower or outer scale always describes the angle the saw head swings through, which is NOT the angle left on the board if you were to measure it with a protractor, that scale is the reciprocal of the angle left on the board.

    As Jesper pointed out, the scale on the older miter hand saw box starts at 90 degrees in the center and decreases to either side. That scale always shows the angle left on the board and that’s why trim carpenters were never confused by it.

    Here’s a picture of my Incra miter gage that has both reciprocal scales as Jesper’s mark up showed. I zoomed in so you could see the actual numbers. The upper scale starts at 90 and decreases angle wise from there (both sides) it’s the scale that tells you the angle left on the board. The lower scale starts at 0 and increases angle wise from there (both sides).

    As you can see from the 1 degree marks between 50 & 45 degrees on the lower scale, the yellow line at 47 degrees points directly to 43 degrees on the upper scale. Maybe it’s easier to remember the upper scale as the angle-angle-on-wood scale and the bottom scale as the angle-the saw blade-travels scale. Reciprocal numbers. That’s how 43 degrees becomes 47 degrees.

    My Swedish carpenter grandfather used to tell me that Loki the Norse God of tricks invented the zero centered scale to confuse every one.

    • Roy Monson

      I do floor installation and have done plenty of trim with the installation. However, I have never quite been trained. All the 45’s and bay cuts (22.5) have been very easy for me and I rarely come across strange angles that have me scratching my head, and if I do I always Trial an error with a scrap piece and go from there. (Dog wagging his tail back to the saw..)!

      That being said, I want to be more professional and assertive with all of these procedures and this article has been helpful. Live for these comments as well!
      Honestly I was stuck on the 135 degree angle. That was my google search that lead me here.. I originally assumed it was 22.5 and it almost worked, but wasn’t “cutting it” to our standards. Ended up coping that section of baseboard instead. But it had my mind playing tricks (uffda Loki..) so I decided to try and research on google any helpful tricks. I am a hands on visual learner and all of my research online left me annoyed and upset.. this was the most helpful thread I had found. If anyone here has more educational information/videos online please drop a link! Carpentry 102 here we come!

      • Erwin

        I been doing a quite number of customized cabinets, installing crown moldings and laminate floorings as a hobby with no one teaching me anything. Cutting miters especially crown molding is much of a challenge, but thanks to the starret miter gauge it makes life a little easier. However, due to the fact that no walls are perfect, using 7” miter gauge wont give you accurate cut because of the very minimal portion of the wall and putting the two pieces together wont close tight because the whole length of the molding has the strength to alter the joints as the whole piece lays on the wall. In this scenario, a long miter gauge works best as it mimics the actual piece nested on the wall. With that concern, I bought a perfect length 16” digital angle finder. I made multiple tries on different angles, only 90deg angle matches the reading if I compare these two. Took me days to search in the internet. So I had figure it out. When you do miter, deduct whatever reading you have on the digital angle finder, deduct it from 180 deg then devide by two. Example 180 – 88 = 92 / 2 = 46 . You set your miter saw at 46 deg. For single cut. Simply deduct the digital angle reading from 90deg. Example 90 – 88 = 2deg. Just set the miter saw at 2 deg left and right. Hopefully this will help.

  21. Eric M.

    Wow. Now I realize why all of my non-45 degree cuts never seemed to work right! Yes, I am a homeowner DIY’er and I try to do my best but for the life of me I could never figure it out. I would just trial-and-error it. Thank you for the article and the great website!

  22. Vern

    Ok. I read this article that explains the protractor scale vs the miter saw scale. I understand it, but must ask….to do an acute cut, i.e. 75 degrees (protractor measure), I would still need to build and use an acute angle jig? Correct?

    • Gary Katz

      Yes, you’re right, on both counts: on most miter saws, you can’t swing the saw much father than 50-65 degrees. BUT….It’s sometimes a mistake to describe a 75 degree angle as ‘acute’. It doesn’t really make any sense. So instead, in order to make sense and help yourself in the future, stop identifying angles by the gauge on your miter saw. That gauge is off by 90 degrees. Subtract 90 degrees from any angle measurement on your saw and you’ll have a true protractor angle.

  23. Leonard

    I would like to offer a technical word about the word reciprocal and a bit more. In math the reciprocal of a number means the number one divided by the number; so the reciprocal of 10 is 1/10 and the reciprocal of 3 is 1/3. The reciprocal of 1/5 is 5 because 1 divided by 1/5 is 5. With degrees of size theta (any amount of rotation of the two rays about a common point) the reciprocal of sine theta is cosecant theta, the reciprocal of cos theta is secant theta and the reciprocal of tangent theta is cotangent theta and so on.

    A complementary angle is one of a pair of angles whose total sum is 90 degrees. So the complementary angle of 47 degrees is 43 degrees. Two angles whose measures add up to 180 degrees are called supplementary angles.

    • Gary Katz

      Lots of carpenters have trouble understanding angles–primarily because of the miter gauges on miter saws. I’m sorry that your first paragraph didn’t help make that task easier. I guess you wrote that paragraph for yourself and not to help other readers? :) Now the second paragraph, which you kept very simple and ‘on point’, is a much better example of effectively teaching to your audience! Nice job!

      • Gwen DeGrey

        I do not agree that Lenoard’s first paragraph was for himself. The term ‘reciprocal’ was being used incorrectly throughout the discussion and article. While his explanation IS highly technical it serves to set up the proper term (complemetary) explanation of the second paragraph. I am no math major but the term reciprocal was confusing to me. The terms complemetary and supplementary cleared it up.
        Thanks Lenoard!

  24. Steve

    Excellent tutorial! Hmm: most thought-provoking, and a good history lesson, too; also, I like your grandfather’s comment about Loki. My Father apprenticed with a Danish cabinet maker: very precise, also.
    I like to bisect angles with a bevel square and compass, and, if the angle is obtuse; then, I subtract from 90 degrees by marking the bisected angle on the back side of a scrap of flat stock, flipping it over, and finding the angle by swinging the saw blade to the line, right? Man, carpentry is fun!
    Thank You for the good article.

  25. Steve

    There’s something magical about finding that angle with a bevel and compass. Obviously, there’s some very talented carpenters here. Carpentry is a long and honorable craft, and we learn from observing, and from doing.

  26. Tom DEAN

    Would you please help to find the right angle to fit this? I want to run wainscot across a wall. Then run vertical pieces down to fit into the top piece. Can you help as to the right angle? Thank you, Tom

  27. Reg Huolt

    Trying to make a square frame out of 2″ x 6″with 45 degree corners. My angles are not working out using 45 degrees on my mitre saw. What am I doing wrong?

  28. Church lahue

    I still don’t know how to make 3 right angles come together. 1 vertical and 2 horizontal.

  29. Jason

    I’m still really confused. I’m not following why the sharpie marks help. By looking at the written marks he has in his miter saw. 45 degrees is still 45 degrees. I am having major problems getting an obtuse angle of 154 degrees for base trim in my bathroom. I divided 154 = 77. 77-45 is 22. I cut the angle and its way off. I have even used the trick where you use 2 matched pieces of wood and layed them against your angles traced with a pencil, then draw a line to bisect the angle and that doesn’t work. SOMEONE PLEASE HELP

    • Mike

      Set your miter saw to 13 degrees. take 180-154=26 take 26 and divide by 2 that =13

  30. Bob DuPre

    I am not a tradesman. I am however, a serious do it yourselfer with a fair amount of experience. My unique situation is that we live in a geodesic dome. Imagine how hard it is to find a 90 degree angle in here! We just had new laminate flooring installed in the first floor and it’s down to me to run the 3/4 round bead molding. This is an older dome so there has been some settling. The rule in here is that there is no such thing as plumb or square. After MANY little cuts, back and forth to the saw trying to fit each individual corner, I happened upon this article. Now, armed with my chop saw, my trusty T-bevel and your generous advice, this job has gone from tedious to kind of fun. There is a place in this world for those of us who are not experienced finish carpenters but desire to learn the skills needed to do good work. Little gems like this are invaluable. Thank You from all of us. For some, this article may be tedious. For others, it is a revelation! I am very much the latter.

  31. Roger Richardson

    Very helpful article.

    I do better with tools than with geometry. This really helps.

  32. Travis Thompson

    GREAT INFO… thought I was losing my mind 92/2 = 46 but my Starrett said 44 and 180-92\2=44 but the miter markings didn’t show what I thought it should… Why did 46 work on the cut and all the math etc says 44…. Now I’m getting out my sharpie out!


  33. Steve

    THANK YOU for taking the time to post this article. For DIY’s like me this kind of information is very valuable!

  34. Joel Le Gendre

    Sigh of relief. I thought I had to go and throw my engineering degree in the trash, because I couldn’t figure this out readily. Each time I did a new job I had to try and figure out how these mitres work. Thanks man

  35. Scott

    I’m trying to cut 5.25″ baseboard. Too tall for fence so have to lay flat and use bevel. Outside angle is 85 degrees. What angle do I set bevel? Nice tips. Thanks

  36. Stephanie

    I bought my first miter saw yesterday (2018) and took geometry in 1982. I recall buying the little plastic protractor required, and thinking it a very nifty tool for 50 cents. Examining my miter saw it became clear that there was something missing between my recall of the protractor and the set up of the saw. Your article bridged the gap, thank you.

  37. Anthony

    TBH I am a career desk jockey, and a weekend warrior DIYer. I have always enjoyed learning new skills and creating something with my own hands. When it comes to carpentry I am absolute novice. I bought my first miter saw about a year ago and only used it once in a painful attempt to install new baseboard in my son’s room. I spent hours cutting and re-cutting on a job that should have probably taken no more than one hour. After measuring outside angles with a protractor and making my cuts, the baseboard still fit terribly. It was extremely frustrating, and I never understood what I was doing wrong…until I found ThisisCarpentry. I am extremely grateful. You guys do a great job putting together these instructional guides. I am having fun now, and feel motivated to keep learning more about carpentry. Thank you!

  38. DAVID

    Just trying to explain to someone why 135 degrees is a 45 degree angle. The site is helpful.

  39. Paul

    Interesting read on miter angles, and good tips. I’m a finish carpenter, and my understanding of miter angles has never been that great, truth be told. Even though I’m a math guy, dealing with angles and numbers while doing projects is pretty irritating. I actually came from CYC — the owner there recommended I check out your site, and I’m glad I did. You have excellent content here. Thanks for this!

  40. GPom

    Thanks, your above article today saved me some time in figuring how to miter my 135 degree kitchen crown moulding around a corner cabinet. I understood it takes two 22.5 degree angles for the inside corners, but I did not know I needed two 22.5 degree angles for the outside corner too, for the 135 degree outside angle. Thanks, the results look great.

    • Gary Katz

      Thanks for your note!!!! I got such a kick out of reading it because it proves a point I’ve been trying to make for over twenty years: there you are, describing 135˚ corners and simultaneously talking about 22 1/2˚ miters!! That’s wonderful. You’ve made the intellectual leap of understanding even though the terminology is completely senseless! :):) Those miters are really 67 1/2˚, but who in the world but a nut like me would describe them that way! ALL of us have been overwhelmed (screwed) by the FAKE miter angles on our miter saws!!! Why don’t the politicians do something about THAT! At least they’d be able to accomplish SOMETHING for all the money we’re paying them!!!! :)

  41. Buddy Braunlich

    I am adding molding to my kitchen cabinets. I have cabinets on both sides and above the microwave. The cabinets above the micro are set at the same distance (12 in) off the wall, as the side cabinets. Usually the cabs above the micro are set at 15 in off the wall so the molding from the side cabinets can dead in to the side of the micro cabs.

    With the cabs all at the same depth the molding from the side cabinets will interfere with the microwave cabinet doors.

    I have seen this before and the installer used a “dog ear” cut to make the side cabinet molding turn back toward the side of the microwave cabinet.

    Unfortunately I have not been able to figure out the angle to make this dog ear cut.

    The crown molding I am using is 1.75″ x 1.75″ with a spring angle of 45 deg.

    Can you provide any insight on how to make this cut?

  42. Ross

    Wow ,have been working on my roof of late .
    The down angle on my rafter measure 44 Deg and the up angle measures 46 deg, so my question is on my miter saw(Festool Kapex)
    what angle do i select(On the saw) 44 deg or 46 deg to get the correct cut on the common rafters.
    I am a mechanic by trade and quite new to angles. Love woodworking but angles gets me totally confused.
    Now own a rather large off cut bin and growing fast.
    Love this article . Total light bulb moment.

    • Thomas

      With the top edge of the rafter set against the fence, it would be a 44 Deg cut setting, and if you put the bottom edge of the rafter against the fence it would be a 46 Deg setting.

      Probably too late in answering this question but it may help someone else!

  43. John C. Jadoobirsingh

    I’m looking at the face of an octagonal window, and the tile around the tile on the tub area where I’m placing trim on the top of the tile where the trim meets the octagonal at the feet angles of the octagonal which is an acute angle. How do I join the two pieces of trim

  44. Thomas

    Yes! Its all interesting stuff but sometimes the simple practical ways are the easiest. eg with the 2 equal width blocks of wood set across the angle and marking the internal and external intersection marks, this gives the intersection angle required and with the minimum of tools, etc I believe that if James Krenow was doing this it would be also very practical and simple.

  45. Tinashe

    Thank you so much, may you please tell me how I should position my mitre saw when cutting aluminum mitre at 135 degrees?

  46. zack

    So why are saws labeled starting at 0? How is that helpful?

    I assume because they are called “miter” saws, they intend to be used for miter cuts a lot, then they go and label it completely wrong for doing miter cuts!

    I assume the 0 labeling is only for straight cuts then? Or in other words, when are the markings on the saw considered “accurate” angles? What kinds of cuts?

    • Gary Katz

      Zack, Stair builders and framing carpenters find that ‘0’ scale extremely useful–they create angles from in the air, from nothing, so they’re working pitch angles. Read the whole article and you’ll understand. Finish carpenters, on the other hand, are installing material around existing walls, mitering corners.

  47. Bob Walker

    This was a lightbulb moment for me. If you get one of those cheap plastic protractors you used in school (which is how your usual angle finders measure) and center it on the fence of your miter saw, you can draw a line out and see the difference. Thanks.

  48. phil

    late to the party. but appreciate this article and all the comments. metal and wood worker (rough, trim, furniture) for 30+ yrs and just never learned this aspect of angles vs miter saws. made my brain freeze up in confusion each time. just like when i FINALLY learned how to use a conduit bender the right way, i always appreciate learning new stuff.
    so thank you :)
    Jax., FL

  49. nick


  50. Free

    Hey Nick. I had to solve this on the job one day. It hit me pretty quick. All you do is make your cuts the same but for the angles and the mitres ..Just divide by 2.
    22.5×2 is 45. Yes it’s that easy. I’d also recommend the crown chart by. I’d also recommend Joe Fusco’s Crown Chart. It’ll tell you every angle for any angled adjoining walls. It’s great for walls that are out of square. (Aren’t they all) .


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