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10 Tips for your Compound Miter Saw

Updated on April 14, 2012

A compound miter saw is the most versatile tool for making angled, beveled and crosscuts. Some compound miter saws bevel in both directions and use a sliding miter track to allow easy crosscuts similar to a radial arm saw. No matter what type of miter saw you own, use these miter saw tips and tricks and you can be sure you’re going to get the most out of your miter saw.

  1. Miter Gauges - The miter gauge on your miter saw should have the most common stop points marked. 15, 22 ½”, 30 and 45 degree angles should be laid out. Some miter gauges will set to a 52 degree cut. This is used to make cuts for crown and other angled molding pieces.
  2. Miter Saw Stands - When you’re on the move with your miter saw, you’ll need a quality stand to make accurate and safe cuts. Be sure to buy a stand that has adjustable stops and extendable arms to get the most out of your portable miter saw stand.
  3. Miter Saw Setup - Before you first use your new miter saw, it’s a good idea to adjust the angles, bevels and gauges to ensure that the blade is set to the proper angles. Use a speed square to check the blade against the table for square 90 degree cuts. Make a few test cuts to determine angles and beveled are accurately set on your saw as well.
  4. Safely Cutting Materials - Always be sure to wear the proper eye and ear protection when using a miter saw. Set the miter gauge and the bevel to the proper settings, and then clamp the work piece against the fence using a clamp. Start the miter saw and allow the blade to come up to speed before plunging the blade into the stock.
  5. Tall Stock - When large pieces of molding and baseboards are placed into a miter saw, they often must be laid flat to cut all of the way through the material. This can make beveled cuts very difficult. Use a 2x4 extension against the fence to push the stock further out. This will allow the larger part of the blade to come into contact with the stock, making a deeper cut through the materials.
  6. Using a Stop - A miter saw is great for cutting multiple pieces of the same length stock quickly and accurately. By using a stop to cut pieces quickly and efficiently, you increase you production speeds without sacrificing on quality. To really increase you cutting speeds, stack multiple pieces together to allow the miter saw to cut multiple pieces at one time.
  7. Long Stock - When materials are too long to fit on a conventional miter table, you’ll need to add extensions to your miter table to prevent the materials from bending and flexing during the cut.
  8. Preventing Tear Out - Tear out is when the saw blade rips the grains of wood out during the cut. This can be prevented easily on sensitive materials by installing a blade with 60 teeth or more.
  9. Bevels and Miters - When marking the cut for bevels or miters, be sure to pencil in the direction of the cut. It doesn’t need to be accurate, but showing the angle can prevent costly mistakes.
  10. Cutting to the Line - Be sure to make your pencil mark on the outside of the cut. Align the blade so that it cuts just to one side of the pencil line to ensure super accurate cuts every time.


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    • eugbug profile image

      Eugene Brennan 5 years ago from Ireland

      A miter saw is also useful for cutting lap joints if the depth of cut can be easily adjusted. Usually it is necessary to use a wood spacer against the rear fence so that the blade can extend beyond the back of the timber being cut.