Miter Saw Guide: Everything You Need to Know
A miter saw is a versatile and effective tool that would make the job of any handyman, contractor, or DIY-er much easier and faster. But in order to achieve perfect results, you wouldn’t want just any cheap miter saw. That’s why we’ll cover everything there is to know about this handy tool so you can equip yourself with the knowledge needed to get the best miter saw for the money and stop using that miter box.
Let’s get to it.
What is a Miter Saw?
First things first – a miter saw is a saw used to make crosscuts and miter cuts to a workpiece by pulling a big mounted circular saw down onto it in a quick motion. It’s very similar to a table saw or a circular saw, but instead of feeding the workpiece into the saw or moving the saw along the workpiece, you bring the mounted saw down onto the piece that is held against the fence.
A miter saw is also commonly referred to as a chop saw, but there are a few key differences. A chop saw is much larger than a miter saw and can only produce straight 90-degree angle cuts.
Using a miter saw results in precise and crisp angles thanks to the saw’s fence that holds your workpiece still. The main advantage of the miter saw is that you can rotate the blade to different angles, allowing you to make quick angled cuts.
It can also be used to cut down longer pieces into smaller ones for further refining.
To better understand miter saws, you also need to know what are all the major components that make all of this possible, so let’s take a look at them.
Miter Saw Parts
Although there are different types of miter saws, which we’ll talk more about later, there are a few common parts that you can find in all types.
The blade is the most important part of the miter saw and determines the cutting capacity. It’s mounted on a sliding rail that allows you to adjust the cutting angle.
There are various sizes of blades, from 5 to 12 inches, but most of them range from 5-7 inches. Besides the size, there are also different types of blade materials that determine what kind of materials you can cut with the miter saw.
With steel blades, you can easily cut wood, plastics, and similar softer materials, while with the tougher high-speed steel (HSS) blades, you can cut through tougher materials without worrying that the blade will dull too quickly.
And finally, there are carbide-tipped blades that allow you to cut through tougher materials without any dulling. You can find such blades in the best Bosch miter saw on Amazon
The guard is fitted around the blade to protect you from any accidents. The top half of the blade is always covered, while the lower half swings open as you lower the blade towards the workpiece.
This is the large flat portion on which you place the workpiece you need cut. Some miter saws have other components mounted on the table, but all of them have a slot where the blade goes when it cuts the piece. If you need to use the miter saw for longer pieces, you can also purchase a miter saw stand.
It will not only allow you to use longer pieces, but it will also reduce the vibration of the saw. Check out the top Dewalt miter saw stand on Amazon.
The fence is the flat surface you place your workpiece against to keep it stable. It’s mounted directly on the table.
To determine the angle you’re cutting at you can use the scale mounted on the table. The scale rotates with the saw as you turn it, pointing at the degree you are cutting at. Some saws even have stops in them that quickly let you move and lock onto the most common cutting angles, like 45°, 90°, and 22.5°.
Other useful parts that some miter saws have are a laser guiding system and a dust collection system, features the best selling DeWalt Miter saw on Amazon has.
Miter Saw Types
Miter saws come in two main varieties, a standard miter saw and a compound miter saw.
Standard miter saw
With a standard miter saw you can perform straight cuts in at least two angles, 45° and 90°, and use it for basic miter cuts and crosscuts. Ideal for making frames, molding, and other simple jobs. They are lightweight and often inexpensive.
- Easy to use
- No bevel
- No compound angles
Compound miter saw
Compound miter saws can make all the cuts a standard miter saw can, plus bevel cuts. They are heavier and more expensive, but you can use them to do much more complex work.
Compound saws can also be divided into single bevel and double bevel – single bevel miter saws, like the great Makita miter saw, can make bevel cuts in only one direction, while dual bevel saws can make cuts in both directions, which comes in extra handy when you have to make a lot of bevel cuts.
- Can make different cuts
Now that you’re more familiar with how miter saws work, let’s go through some of the most important safety tips:
- Always wear eye and ear protection while operating a miter saw
- Ensure the blade guard is in place before turning the saw on
- Unplug the saw when not in use
- Keep your fingers at least 6 inches away from the blade
Hopefully, this article was enough to convince you that miter saws truly are an indispensable tool for any workshop and can make your projects much more enjoyable by saving you time and effort. They offer a wide range of cuts that can be done quickly and precisely.
If you’re not sure what miter saw to buy, we recommend the Hitachi C10FCG, which is the best Hitachi miter saw you can buy, or if you’re after a cordless version, you can check out the DeWalt cordless miter saw