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Power miter saws are an excellent woodworking tool. A miter saw is designed to angle cut wood board. Although many people refer them to as a chop saw a miter saw and chop saw are two different tools. And the main difference between them is the size of the blade. A chop saw uses a larger blade and cuts at 90°, whereas, a miter saw is capable of cutting miter, angle, and compound cuts. In short, a power miter saw is a highly versatile tool. And today we’re here to learn about how to use a miter saw.

How to Use a Miter Saw – Step-by-Step Guide

Operating such a big tool for the first time can be quite intimidating. But do not worry as the tool looks big but is extremely easy to use. And this step-by-step guide on how to make a miter cut will surely help you operate the tool better.

How to Use a Miter Saw Guide

Step 1: Mark the Material

In addition to cutting wood, you can also use the power miter saw for cutting non-ferrous metal with the right blade. And no matter whether it is a lumbar or metal sheet, marking of the surface is important for a clean miter cut. Use a dark pencil or marker to mark the surface.

If it is your first time using the power saw or if you’re still learning then it is better to measure twice. Also, take the blade thickness into account, which is roughly 1/8″ thick. This will only help you make a precise cut.

Step 2: Hold the Material with Clamp

Once you’ve marked the material clearly, it is time to secure it to the tool for better cutting. Many models generally provide a clamp to secure the material. Keep the clamp at least 6 inches away from the blade. This ensures the clamp doesn’t get in your way while making a miter cut. You mustn’t overtighten the material nor leave it too loose.

[Note: Never attempt to make miter cut with clamps on both the sides of the board]

Step 3: Pre Preparation

After securing the board onto the work surface, it is now time to double-check the adjustments. For miter cut, first, you need to adjust the turntable to desired degrees. Many leading power miter saws feature an in-built miter gauge for quick and accurate adjustments.

After you set the turntable to the right degrees it is time to check whether the blade falls onto the marked surface properly. Here, you can simply lower the handle to check where the blade will touch. If it is not in the marked line, then adjust the lumbar/material again until the correct cut angle is achieved.

Step 4: Make Miter Cut

Press the trigger and let the blade rotate to its maximum speed. It will only take about 2-3 seconds for the motor to reach its full capacity. Keep one hand on the board and carefully lower the handle and pass it through the material. No need to apply pressure or force the blade through the material. Let it glide through the material at its own pace from front to back.

Miter Saw Cuts at Common Angles

Types of Cut Made with Miter Saw

Although it is a power miter saw, the tool is capable of doing more than just miter cuts. Indeed, it is a versatile woodworking tool that can do angled, bevel, rip and crosscut. Find out in detail below about different types of cuts you can do using a miter saw.


Ripping in simple terms means tearing anything apart. And similar is the case when you say to rip lumber. It means to run the blade with the grain along the length of the board. A rip cut is generally performed using a table saw but you can also do it using a miter saw if the lumbers are not too long or wide.


Opposite to rip cut, crosscut is perpendicular to the grain. In simple words, when you crosscut lumber it simply means to move the blade along the width of the material. In addition to a power miter saw, you can also use a band saw, track saw, or jigsaw for crosscutting material.

Miter Cut

A miter cut is nothing but an angled cut on the face of the wood. Instead of moving the blade straight, like in a rip cut, you glide the blade diagonally. While the cut is angled the blade edge remains straight. And such types of cuts are called miter cuts. These cuts are popular for framing where you need corners that meet at a right angle.

Bevel Cut

A bevel cut is made when you pivot the blade to either left or right. Many electric miter saws offer an in-built bevel adjustment feature. This lets you pivot and lock the blade to left or right for making smooth beveling cuts. Bevel cuts are popular for softening the edge of the wood.

Compound Cut

It is possible to make a miter cut and bevel cut at the same time. And such are known as compound cuts. First, you need to make adjustments for the miter cut and then pivot the blade to the desired degree for making a compound cut. Compound cutting is popular with crown molding.

Miter Saw Safety Tips

Safety Tips For Operating Miter Saw

Safety should be your utmost priority while handling such sharp tools. And thankful, many power miter saws today are fully loaded with safety features. While these features make the tool more user-friendly, below are a few safety tips to keep in mind for a safe and smooth operation.

  • Wait for the blade to stop completely before raising it up. As soon as you finish cutting/ripping material, release the trigger and wait for the blade rotation to stop fully. It takes about 4-5 seconds for the blade to stop completely. However, you can opt for a miter saw with an electric brake that will stop the blade rotation in about 2-3 seconds.
  • Never clamp both sides of the board. This will make the blade pinch during the cut which you want to avoid at all costs.
  • No matter how small a wooden board or metal sheet is, always use a clamp for safe operations. Do not put your finger near to rotating blade.
  • Always wear eye and hearing protection when operating the saw.
  • Unplug the saw while changing the blade.

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Make miter cuts flawlessly with a good power miter saw. Unlike their name, they are capable of doing more than just miter cuts. You can use your power saw for a bevel cut, ripping, compound cut, and crosscutting materials. In short, a good power saw can be your perfect woodworking partner. And now that you know how to use a miter saw safely, take up projects and finish them with perfection.


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