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How To Make The Most Of Your Miter Saw

December 15, 2018Olen Murriel

Whether you want to create beveled crosscuts, angled cuts or square cuts, the best tool for the job is the miter saw There are a number of miter saw styles. You can find single-level miter saws, sliding miter saws, and dual-bevel compound miter saws. The most common blade sizes are 8′, 10- and 12′.


The basic concept behind all of these miter saws is simple. The board that you want to be crosscut is placed on the saw table and against a fence that holds it square to the axis of the saw The saw blade is pushed down into the board to make the cut. For the namesake “mitered cut, the saw is angled either 45A to the left or right before the cut is made. Most miter saws have preset locked positions called detents at OA (square to the fence) and at the most commonly used angles. These are typically 15A, 22.5A, 30A and 45A to both the left and right. Some saws can cut up to a 55A angle. If you want a unique angle, you can adjust the miter to the desired angle and lock it into position before cutting. Just remember to measure the angle twice so you only have to cut once.

If you want to make a beveled cut, most but not all miter saws will let you bevel the saw to the right while the floating angle mechanism is set at the desired angle. In some miter saws, the saw can be beveled to the right, as well This is something you’ll appreciate if you want to make a compound cut while making crown molding.

Before you make the first cut with a standard miter saw, always measure the length of the cut. Put a pencil mark on the board on the back edge, the one that will be put against the miter’s saw fence. Now you can put the board flat against the saw table and against the fence. You’ll line up the pencil mark along the edge of the board with the saw blade. When it is in position, double check, secure it in place, and then push the trigger to start the saw. As the saw blade speeds up, slowly lower the blade into the board until the cut has been completed. Keep the trigger down as you raise the blade back to the up position, then release the trigger This process is the same if you’re using a sliding miter saw. The main difference between the two would be that you can pull the saw forward before starting the downward cut with a sliding miter saw Once the blade hits the wood, you can push it forward and through the wide cut.


Some miter saws come with extendable wings to help you cut very long boards. If your miter saw doesn’t have these, you may need to add additional support for the boards like a saw hors. Roller supports and portable miter saws are also options. Don’t try to balance the board on the saw or hold it with your free hand. Never let your fingers get close to the blade, either.

If safety is a concern, you could buy a miter saw with a laser sighting system. The bright red line shows exactly where the blade will go. If your miter saw lacks this feature, you can by an after-market you can install on the existing saw This is especially useful for newbies who don’t know how to properly sight the line of the blade correctly. You may want to cultivate the skill for when the laser is hard to use; that’s especially true when working in bright sunlight. Do not look directly into the laser, either If you’re going to be using the miter saw quite a bit or are new to its use, consider getting a miter saw with advanced safety features like sensors that shut the blade off if your fingers are too close or comes with a mechanical blade protector.

A valuable feature built into some miter saws is a dust collection system. Many miter saws have a dust bag you can remove and empty. Good dust collection systems actively suck up the dust as you work, while many have a vacuum hose you can use to suck up debris after it has pulled in the light dust created by wood cutting. You can always break out a shop vacuum and vacuum the work surface yourself, too.

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