How to use a miter saw

How to Use a Miter Saw

If you’ve managed to stumble onto this article then you probably have an idea of what you want, and that is to learn the proper technique on how to use a miter saw! So strap in because we’re going to delve in step by step, and guide you through the proper mechanics of this machine, while teaching you about its parts as well!

Before we jump into how to use a miter saw, let’s learn the basics about this machine first!

Parts of A Miter Saw

Blade and Guard

Blade and Guard

Now, it’s obvious what the blade will do in this mechanism. However, the blade or miter saw will also come with a guard covering it. The basic function of this guard is to ensure you’re never in contact with the blade itself. Not to mention, the mechanism itself is also sleek, as the blade is encased so that the guard comes off automatically whenever you pull the blade down, and of course, comes back up as the blade is done with its work.

Fence

The purpose of this apparatus is in the name. It provides a boundary for your piece of wood to be placed against, in order to prevent it from flying off during the cutting, and also to disallow a poor cut. In order to make sure this fence does its job, you’ll need to ensure you always have one hand on the piece of wood pushing it against the fence and one hand on the blade. Doing so will ensure you the desired cut!

Miter Gauge

The primary purpose of the Miter Gauge is to ensure that you get your desired cut. Based on your needs, you can angle the Miter saw or blade, to ensure you get to cut the wood at any angle you need.

Switch

Switch

This is basically the part that is accompanied in any electronic device. The  power switch allows you to turn the miter saw on, and will be located in different places, based on the model you’ve acquired. Normally however, you’ll often find that this switch is placed on the handle used to operate the blade. Not only is it easy to find then, it also makes it highly optimized. 

Before we get into the bulk of the article, we want to make sure you understand the parts of a miter saw completely, and for that you can check out this video!

How to Use A Miter Saw

Learning the different cuts

One of the most important parts about knowing how to use a miter saw, is knowing the different types of cuts you can make with this tool. Let’s look through them! Definitely have a look through the video if you want to see them in action, but regardless we’ll be breaking them down for you now.

  1. Miter cut: A miter cut is one that is made across the width of the wood you’re using, and is done at angles other than 90 degrees! Aligning the miter angles is quite easy, and with a little tinkering of the miter gauge, you’ll manage to get the perfect cut at the perfect angle!

  2. Cross cut: A cross cut is the basic cut that you make through any piece of wood; straight through the middle! With the high powered blade possessed by a miter saw, you won’t have any trouble with these cuts!

  3. Bevel cut:  A bevel cut is different from a miter cut. This cut basically goes through the depth of the wood. The angle for a bevel cut can be changed by varying your bevel angle to whatever you need it at.

  4. Compound cut: A compound cut is a cut that can be made while using both of the miter cut and bevel cut at the same time. A compound miter saw would be well equipped for this cut!

One thing you want to always make sure of whenever you use a Miter saw, is that the width of the blade must be protruding from the side of your scrap piece! The blade or saw itself has its own thickness, and you’ll need to be precise when engaging in woodworking.

Making a Miter cut

Making a Miter cut
Making a Miter cut

When you are making a miter cut, you’ll first want to place your wood on the miter saw, and then change the angle on the miter gauge to whatever you want! After this, you take your proper safety precautions and bring the blade down to make the perfect cut for your wood!

Making A Cross Cut

A cross cut is one of the easiest cuts you can make, and doesn’t really take any specific set up. If you haven’t changed the settings of your miter saw, just use it at its default settings with both the miter angle and bevel angle at 0 degrees. This will give you clean 90 degree cuts through the wood!

Making A Bevel Cut

To make bevel cuts, you’ll want to first ensure that the miter gauge angle is at 0 degrees. You’ll use the bevel angle, and set it to your wishes and once you’ve got what you need, just slice through the piece of wood with ease and safety!

Making A Compound Cut

Making A Compound Cut

Compound cuts aren’t that hard to make either. Since they’re a combination of miter and bevel cuts, all you need to do is set both the miter angle and bevel angle to whatever you want, and let the blade do the work! A compound miter saw is the best tool for this, as they are much better equipped for this work. Not to mention, they come with their own perks to make them easier to work with!

Can you use Miter saws on the floor?

As we’ve already seen, Miter saws are very versatile in how they can provide you with a multitude of cuts, which allows you to engage in various types of work. You can even manage to do crown molding if you wanted. However, the question of whether or not you can use miter saws on the floor is common. After all, it’s a heavy duty machine with a very powerful saw/blade attached to it. You can even manage to work your mitering saw on the floor and work on the floor itself!

Whether it be a compound miter saw or a simpler model, you need not worry about it being a problem if you use it on the floor. However, if you are just learning to use the machine, it is advised you start using it on a sturdy table or miter saw stand.

Miter Saw Stand

Miter Saw Stand

A big part of knowing how to use a miter stand, is understanding how you’re most comfortable with the tool! It might get irksome to go down to the ground and manage the equipment, so a miter saw stand could be the way to go for you!

A miter saw stand, can help you set up your miter saw wherever you feel the most comfortable in your work space, and make sure you get the best quality of work done! With how complex miter saws seem at first, this is definitely the way to go for an amateur. 

If you want to engage in doing some work for yourself, then teach yourself how to build a miter saw stand!

Safety and Tips

No matter what work you’re doing, safety is of paramount importance! And knowing how to be safe is key in learning how to use a miter saw! Let’s look into a few different issues that ensure you safety when trying to cut your wood, and help you avoid cuts on yourself!

Stop Block

Stop Block

When you use a miter saw, sometimes the piece of wood you’re trying to carve through is too small to fit within the fences built into your miter saw. No need to fret in these cases, as you’ll have to take an initiative to create your own stop block. 

A stop block is basically a sacrificial piece of wood that is used to help you cut your desired piece of wood. Just place this extra piece of wood behind your desired one, and use one hand to push down the saw. Make sure to have an extended material in your hand to push your desired piece against the make-shift fence that you have created! And there you have it, a stop block to help you get the cut you need!

Knowing Miter Saws

No matter how proficient you are at using a miter saw, you’ll always need to make sure you have it set up just right! When you’re going through your woodworking plans or your instruction manual, you’ll see the exact cut you need. Not a millimeter more or less, in length or width. To make sure each end of your cut is right, you MUST account for the width of your blade/saw.

Protection

We all know how powerful  a miter saw can be based on all the information within the article. However, this only stresses the idea of having protection for yourself. Never take this lightly, because this is a highly powered blade running via motor power. No matter what project you’re doing (personal or professional), such a beastly machine with a sharp blade/saw demands respect! 

We’ve already mentioned some of the factors that arise when using such a high powered blade/saw (debris, sawdust, etc). Let’s look into some initiatives you can take to ensure proper safety:

  1. Ear Protection: With how loud this machine is, you’ll want to have ear protection to avoid risks of becoming slightly deaf.

     

  2. Dust mask: Not hard to get, or hard to work with. So, why not? Maintain a few masks at a time, and you’ll help your respiratory system remain fine while managing to not cough around friends or family.

     

  3. Safety Glasses: It goes without saying, that when you operate a saw or blade of any capacity, you should always wear safety glasses. When your blade or saw cuts through wood over and over again, you’re likely to have debris falling and sawdust rifling around your face.

     

  4. Use your Guard: NEVER EVER take off your guard from the blade or saw. It comes for a reason, and you should always have it on.

     

  5. Blade: Whenever you’re making a cut, make sure to turn off your saw before raising it back up. Once the cut is made, take your hand off the switch, and let it stop spinning. Only then raise it back up. This has nothing to do with your machine, no matter how you do this, but it’s mainly for your safety. When you make a small error with a sharp saw or blade spinning at such high velocity, one cut could be the end!

The Takeaway

  • Be safe when using a sharp blade/saw.
  • Avoid getting cut.
  • Make sure you take care of your tool.
  • Always wear protection.

That’s pretty much the gist of it. However, it is essential for you to maintain these no matter how obvious they may seem. One cut from a blade can cut straight through a human, and you’ll want to avoid that. Carpentry is a very fun activity and great as a hobby, but the risk of gaining a fatal cut is high if you’re not careful. 

However, we hope you’ve learned how to use a miter saw, and can get on with it fast and safely!

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