How to Use a Miter Saw? [A Beginner’s Guide]

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Knowing how to use a miter saw can be very helpful as it has various uses such as cutting wooden things or furniture at straight or angled cuts. It is a special tool for people interested in cutting and reshaping things because unlike any other saw, the miter saw gives you more stability when using it. The piece of board you are cutting remains fixed while the blade works through it.

In addition to giving you great accuracy when cutting, the final product comes out with great quality and in no time. Therefore, we will teach you how to use a miter saw, be it is an electric miter saw or a standard one, in simple and easy steps.

Step 1: Know your Needs

Before preparing yourself to use a miter saw, you need to know which type and size you will be working with. There are three types of miter saws: standard, compound, and sliding miter saw. Each type differs from the other in the angle of its cuts. 

Types of miter saws:

  1. Standard miter saw: the basic type which will make a perpendicular angular cut through a board or will make a 45 degrees angular cut both clockwise and counterclockwise.
  2. Compound miter saw: enables the blade to tilt at an angle away from the vertical angle.
  3. Sliding miter saw: the blade and the saw both slide across a horizontal arm, allowing wider pieces of wood or stock to be sawed.

Sliding compound miter saws combine the three types to have a multi-functional nature of doing all types of cuts.

However, after you have decided on the required type, you have to determine its size; depending on the diameter of the blade. The blade’s diameter will determine the width and thickness through which you can cut

Step 2: Safety Check

Although using a miter saw is less risky than other tools, you have to follow some safety precautions before actually cutting things. 

  • Always use a miter saw with a blade guard.
  • Wear safety glasses and earplugs.  (if the material is dusty, wear a face mask)
  • Use a clamp to hold your workpiece in its position place against the fence.
  • Ensure that the blade is sharp, secured and rotating in the correct direction.
  • Let the blade stop completely before raising the head up.
  • Keep your hand away from the blade by checking the hands-free zone mark on the cutting bench.
  • Put the saw firmly on a rigid surface and use it at the height of your waist.
  • You might want to wrap a finger or two around the bottom of the table for added security.

As safety comes first, it is now time to work the saw.

Step 3: Get Ready

Place your workpiece flat on a miter table, marking it at the point which you want to cut and securely clamping it against the fence outside the hands-free zone.

Step 4: Doing It

Now, you are prepared to make your cut but you must choose among the different types of cuts, depending on what you want to do with your workpiece.

  1. A Crosscut:  

A crosscut is a straight cut used for shortening down a piece while leaving both edges at a perfect perpendicular angle.

To make a crosscut; squeeze the trigger, let the blade reach full speed, then slowly lower the handle to make your cut.

  1. A Bevel Cut:

A bevel cut is a leaning cut used for shaping baseboards and the corners of a wall.

To make a bevel cut; securely clamp your workpiece and loosen the bevel lock knob, it is a star-shaped knob at the back of the saw. The blade will lean to either the left or the right side. Then, it will cut through the workpiece to create an angle cut.

  1. A Miter Cut:

A miter cut is an angled cut where it is used for door shaping and forming any joined corners.

To make a miter cut; adjust the miter knob at 90 degrees angle, then slowly lower the handle of the blade to cut through the face of the workpiece. You will find the miter knob in the front of the saw.

  1. A Sliding Cut:

A sliding cut is used for sliding thicker materials.

To make a sliding cut; securely clamp your workpiece, then, loosen the slide lock knob. Pull the head towards you, squeeze the trigger and fully lower the blade to the workpiece. You must push the arm away from you when making rip cuts.

To make a compound cut:

A compound cut means both a miter and bevel cut to do an angled cut along with the width of the board like those in picture frames.

You may need to rotate the saw table to adjust the miter saw correctly. Then, unlock the miter lock handle and move the handle to select the angle you want to cut.

Once you decide your angle, lock the miter. Along the way, loosen the bevel lock knob and tilt the blade while using the bevel scale to get the angle you want, then lock the bevel knob.

Final Words

Working with a miter saw can be intimidating but once you know the right cut and its adjustments, it is like cutting a piece of cake. As an overall view, when making a cut, whether it is a crosscut, bevel, slide or miter, you squeeze the knob of the desired type of cut, pick the required angle, lock the knob and the saw will cut the workpiece smoothly. 

You can also do imaginary cuts to help ease you into the process but don’t worry if you get confused by the different types of cuts, read the manual of the miter saw first and compare it with those in the article. 

Try to make your cuts as neat as possible by always cleaning the blade and your working area, it will make you more relaxed. Also, remember to always stay safe while using any kind of miter saw.

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