A Miter Saw is a large, table-top saw used to make precise cuts in wood. Miter Saws are typically used to make quick, accurate cuts in materials like crown moulding, framing materials, and narrow pieces of wood.
Welcome to TOOLS 101: Miter Saws! Make sure to explore all of our resources on this page, and don't miss our Miter Saw Introduction video with Shanty2Chic!
Inspect your wood before cutting
Always inspect your material and make sure there are no staples or nails in the cutting path. Also be aware of Knots. Knots in the wood can break apart. Keep them out of your cut line.
Wear eye protection
It is possible for debris to be ejected from the saw as you make cuts. Always be prepared, alert and wearing eye projection.
Cut on the waste side of your material
Bring the saw down on the waste side of your cutting mark, or the part of your material that you won't be using, when you go to make your cut. If you cut on the side you're planning to use, you will make the piece too short. Make sure to account for the thickness of the blade as well.
Keep every part of your material supported
Use supports for sections of your material that extend past the Miter table.
Use caution when making edge cuts
Use caution when making cuts close to the edge of your material, as it is possible for pieces to tear. Use appropriate eye protection at all times.
Example: 24T, 40T, etc… The "T" stands for teeth. Typically, higher "T" = smoother cut, while lower "T"= rougher cut. 80T - cutting hardwoods; 40T - Cutting base boards; 24T - Cutting 2x4s
Instructions: If you're working on building something like a shelf, or something where the edges don't matter as much, you can use a lower teeth rating and get done faster. If you're working on something more delicate however, user a blade with more teeth for a cleaner cut.
Bevel Cut (Miter Saws)
A cross cut, but with the blade angled. Might be used for making a shadow box
Instructions: Angle the saw to whatever bevel angle you want, and bringing the saw down into the wood. The miter table is in its 0 degree position, not angled at all.
A combination of Miter and Bevel Cut; might be used for doing crown molding around a door or a window
Instructions: Set both the miter table and the saw to your desired angle.
Cross Cut (Miter Saws)
A plain old cut. No angle, no bevel. Just a straight cut. Might be used for building a shelf.
Instructions: Bring the saw straight down onto the wood. Both the table and the saw are in their 0 degree positions.
A function that lets the saw angle to the left or to the right. This allows you to make bevel cuts from the left or the right. It's helpful to have because you do not have to flip your work piece to change the angle of the cut.
A feature that vacuums up dust while you work. Helps with precise cuts because your view is never obstructed by dust.
A laser that shows you where the blade will land instead of having to lower the inactive blade down onto your work piece to see where it would land. Helps with faster, repetitive cuts.
An angled cut; might be used for framing a house or working with door trim, base boards, and crown molding
Instructions: Angle the miter table, and bringing the saw down onto the wood. The saw bevel is in 0 degree position (straight up and down).
The part of the saw that slides out, allowing you to cut wider wood. It's great for cutting wider pieces of wood. (Usually no more than 13.5 inches.)
Instructions: When using the slide bar, pull the inactive blade completely forward, then activate the saw. Bring the saw down and move it back away from you. Never pull the active saw toward you.
This is the action you need when you want to cut a wider piece of wood. Might be used for making a small storage chest
Instructions: Raise the saw arm to its full height. Clamp your board in place with one edge secutrely against the fence. Align the cut line with the edge of the blade. Pull the saw handle toward you until the center of the blade is over the end of the workpiece. Squeeze the trigger and allow a few seconds for the saw to reach full speed and slowly lower the blade into and through the front edge of the workpiece. Push the saw handle away from you to the back of the saw. Release the trigger and allow the saw blade to stop rotating before raising the blade and removing workpiece.
When cutting long pieces, support the opposite end with an appropriate stand or with a work surfacve level with the saw table.
Instructions: NEVER hold longer pieces with your free hand. Heavy and long pieces WILL tilt or bow without something holding them up
These are the supports that slide out from the miter table to help support the cutting piece. These help with cutting longer pieces that hang over the base.
Waste Side (Miter Saws)
The part of the wood you're cutting off from the piece you want to use.
Instructions: Always make cuts on the waste side or else the piece you measured to use will be too short.
A clamp that holds the cutting piece in place.
Instructions: When using clamps, never clamp down the waste side of the material. The waste side needs to be free to fall.
Are Miter Saws dangerous?If you follow all safety requirements, and follow all instructions in your operator's manual, you can use your Miter Saw safely.
What are Miter Saws used for?Miter Saws are designed to make precise cuts in a workpiece. Miter Saws allow for exact measurements and angles when cutting 2x4s and other pieces of wood.
How do I know which blade to use?Your blade selection will depend on what type of cut you need. If you need a very clean cut with little sanding required, select a blade with a high tooth count, i.e. 80 teeth (80T). If you're making quick cuts that do not require finishing, like 2x4s, select a blade with a tooth count like 24T.
What kind of materials can I cut with a Miter Saw?You can use a Miter Saw for cross-cutting wood, wood byproduct materials such as MDF, as well as some plastics. Make sure to select the proper blade for the materials you plan to cut. You cannot cut metal with a Miter Saw,