What is a miter square?

Worker

A miter square is one of several types of squares. This instrument is for marking angles to make a miter joint. A miter joint is a corner joint, usually made by abutting at two ends at 45° angles. Generally, woodworkers use miters, but they can be used in any procedure where the worker needs to measure an angle. Some miter squares only measure a 45° angle, while others are adjustable for other angle measurements.

Generally, a miter joint consists of two pieces of material at a 45° angle that come together and create a 90° angle. A common example is a picture frame. Some miter joints need to be at different angles, like a hexagon-shaped frame. An adjustable miter square is useful for accurately measuring trim for projects where angles may not be a perfect 45°. An example of this is older houses, where the walls are not perfectly square.

One person uses a fixed 45° miter square by placing the straight edge against the long side of the board and then marking the board along the angled edge of the square. Many squares have a fence or protruding edge that sets the square firmly against the board. Adjustable miter squares have an arm that rotates at the desired angle. One person holds the straight edge across the board as a fixed miter square and rotates the edge at an angle to the desired angle graduation mark. For example, if a person wants a 65° angle, they align the 65 mark on the edge of the board; the resulting angle will be 65°.

Manufacturers sometimes combine miter squares with framing squares, try regular squares or squares for efficiency. They are made of steel and aluminum alloys, wood and other materials. The best squares are made from the toughest materials because they are less likely to warp and lose precision. Accurate measurement helps ensure a tighter joint.

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Some companies offer a folding miter square that is conveniently portable. When purchasing a folding square, the buyer should check whether it holds the angle tightly or slips. It is important to have accurate measurements, or the quality of the project will suffer.

A Japanese miter square looks like an unbalanced picture frame. This box-shaped square has 45° angles at both ends. Woodworkers use it to set up saws to cut 45° angles. The square has no gradation marks because it only makes a 45° angle.

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