Harbor Freight sells a tiny little "miniature toy" shop saw for under $50 that is IDEAL for this. You might have to make some improvements to the miter guide, or 3D print some new gadget to make exact miter cuts with it, but the size and desktop space etc. is perfect for this use. The blade is thin enough that you won't waste a lot of splintered wood from traditional wood cutting blades. I believe this is the most cost-effective and time-effective solution by far.
The X-Acto extruded aluminum miter box (of which I have a few) is all well and good, but it can only do 90 and 45 degree cuts. Let me know what airplane that has ribs designed with only 90 and 45 degree miters on the rib sticks
I'll bet dollars to donuts that the little HF mini-cheapie will make rib pieces faster and easier than hand cutting, where a good vertical cut axis is needed.
The plus of manual saws is when it hurts, you didn’t cut all the way through your finger. Power saw, you won’t know until you look. As good as you want the joint, it’s the gussets that are the strength. One degree off won’t matter. I forget the certified plane that none of the cap even touches other capstrip. So many of my model planes prove that every time I land that it’s tough.
Power gets more tear out to deal with. Manual, you can slow down, flip, hold in your hand, or just snap it. That’s also why you can eye it.
Everything CNC, bla bla bla. The reason you build with sticks is it can tolerate lots of not perfect. Every time I think I got it perfect, someone else proves me wrong. Don’t get me wrong, do your best. Capstrip tolerates lots of different bests. That is why its great for homebuilt airplane construction. If you have ever glued two popsicle sticks together, you are in.
If you need a multiple amount of similar pieces like you do when making set of ribs you can cut and trim the edges while it is still 1/4 inc thick wide blank and cut it lenght wise afterwards. But there you need a thin blade table top circle saw.
Have cut 1000's with a band saw, (most will have a fine tooth blade already) And generally the table is up chest high so your not bending over to observe. Very precise cuts can be made. With a touch of ingenuity, you can make kerf cuts for joining. (angled fence to blade)
but if your always making 90 degree cuts, a steel band saw also works if you have a fine tooth blade. Very simple.
I appreciate the insight folks. The Harbor Freight chop saw probably fits this task quite well despite being certainly a low quality tool.
The trained termites are probably more durable and higher quality than the HF saw; but leave more collateral damage.
as a retired career materials engineering adhesives and composites guy, a word of warning is due here. common practice in woodworking is to wax or use silicone on the tools and vblades. This will absolutely compromise the strength of the joints. Avoid even minute traces of transfer of those materials to any surface that you mean to bond.
With all due respect, I think you guys are making this as time consuming and difficult as possible. I've built hundreds of stick-built ribs with only a pencil and a small Delta band saw. I don't pre-measure or make bundles of sticks cut to length. I use a long stick, mark the angle with the pencil and cut, starting with the uprights. It should take a whole 90 seconds to have every stick in place.
As far as whether to cut angles or not, the original Aeronca 65CA (and I'm pretty sure Stearman) ribs were all cut at a 90 degree angle.