Miter Saw Guide

Table of Contents

Miter Saw Guide: Introduction

When it comes to cutting baseboards, architrave, or door frames, a miter saw is an indispensable tool.One should conduct thorough research before parting with cash for one of these devices.

This Miter Saw Guide offers would-be buyers the lowdown on miter saws, including what they do, how to operate them safely, and how to maintain them properly.

Miter saw used in guide

What Is A Miter Saw?

A miter saw is a power tool used for making miter cuts in various materials, including metals, woods, and plastics.

Miter cuts are angled at 45 degrees to enable one to join pieces of material to form a 90-degree angle known as a ‘miter joint.’

Look at the corners of a room in a typical home, and one may see skirting boards or architrave joined at right angles in this way. It is almost certain that these skirting boards were cut with the use of a powered miter saw before installation.

Aside from miter cuts and joints, miter saws can also produce other cuts accurately and efficiently. For instance, cross cuts, which as the name suggests, are basic cuts that cut across the grain of a piece of wood. Also, miter saws can be used to produce scarf joints, coped joints, and butt joints.

The ability to make these different varieties of cuts and joints makes the miter saw a very versatile piece of kit.

Types of Miter Saws

The most primitive way of achieving a miter cut is with the use of a miter box. Miter boxes are typically wooden, metal or plastic, and they feature a U-shaped profile and several grooves to guide a hand saw to cut at various angles. For many, a miter box and handsaw do not deliver sufficient efficiency, and electric miter saws are preferred.

Electrically powered miter saws feature a motor-driven blade mounted within a swing arm and a base table where the operator can place materials for cutting. Powered miter saws provide speed and precision in making cuts, and they can cut materials of considerable thickness.

What Is A Compound Miter Saw?

There are further subcategories of powered miter saws. For instance, compound miter saws feature a swing arm that can be tilted in a single direction to produce cuts that are not perpendicular to the surface of the material. These cuts are known as bevel cuts, and they are advantageous in providing secure joints.

What Is A Dual Bevel Miter Saw?

The aptly named dual bevel miter saw extends the capabilities of a compound miter saw. They offer a swing arm that can be titled in two directions, offering greater convenience to the operator who won’t have to turn over materials to cut bevels at different angles.

How To Use A Compound Miter Saw

An experienced trades person knows that the effective use of a miter saw begins and ends with thorough consideration of safety. Critical safety precautions and measures are listed below.

Miter Saw used in guide

MITER SAW SAFETY

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as goggles, ear defenders, and dust masks should be worn when operating a saw.
  • Ensure adequate lighting in the cutting area.
  • Keep debris away from the cutting area as much as possible.
  • Do not allow the saw’s electrical cord near the blade.
  • Cutting through the power cord could cause electrocution.
  • Conduct regular safety checks on the miter saw.
  • Check the blade is sufficiently sharp to avoid slipping and that the blade is aligned correctly.
  • Always operate the saw on a stable surface.
  • Children and pets must be kept away from the workspace when saws are in operation. 
  • Never operate machinery if under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Doing so can lead to catastrophic consequences.

Cutting Baseboard With A Miter Saw

One of the most common applications of the miter saw is cutting baseboard to form corner joints.

In addition to a miter saw, these tools will also be required for the cutting of baseboard:

  • Measuring tape
  • Marker/pencil/pen
  • PPE (see Miter Saw Safety list above)
  • Stud finder
  1. Carefully measure and mark the materials to be cut using the measuring tape and your marker. Be as accurate as possible to prevent wastage.
  2. Use a stud finder to locate the wall studs to which the baseboard will later be attached. Mark the positions of the studs on the baseboard.
  3. Prepare to make the inside corner cuts by setting the miter saw to 0° miter and 45° bevel.
  4. Add a marking on the reverse of the baseboard to guide the cut.
  5. Place the board on the miter saw’s table. Ensure that it is secure.
  6. Power on the miter saw and pull the trigger to divert power to the blade.
  7. Use one hand to move the blade through the wood at the cut line-markings.
  8. Hold the wood firmly in place with your other hand, but be sure to keep your fingers out of the blade’s path.
  9. Release the trigger once you have completed the cut.
  10. Power-off the saw at the mains and unplug the device.
  11. Return the saw to a safe storage area.
  12. Clean the area by removing dust and debris.

The above steps outline the necessary process for making miter cuts to baseboards. This process may vary slightly depending on the type of cut you wish to make, but generally, the above steps are sufficient for most tasks requiring a miter saw.

Maintaining a Miter Saw

Regular maintenance checks should be undertaken to keep a miter saw in tip-top condition. Necessary checks include thorough cleaning and examining the power cord to check it is intact.

To ensure maximum efficiency as well as safety, the saw’s blade should also be assessed regularly. Worn or dull blades produce less accurate cuts and impair the safe operation of miter saws. If a miter saw’s blade is not cutting at optimal efficiency, one may choose to change the blade.

Miter Saw

How to Change a Miter Saw Blade

Before changing the blade, check that it is not merely in need of cleaning as wood pitch and dust that accumulates on a sharp blade can make it seem as though it is dull.

  1. While wearing PPE, disconnect the miter saw from its power supply.
  2. Locate the spindle cover and remove it.
  3. Move the blade guard to the top position.
  4. Unscrew the spindle cover. Carefully remove the spindle cover and set aside.
  5. Carefully begin to unscrew the nut and bolt from the blade with a suitable wrench.
  6. Once the bolt and nut have been removed, take out the blade.
  7. Set it aside safely.
    Insert a new blade.
  8. Use the wrench to apply the nut and bolt to hold the blade in place.
  9. Ensure the blade is sufficiently secure.
  10. Reattach the spindle cover and screw it into place.
  11. Ensure the spindle cover is secure.
  12. Check that the saw is operating correctly.

How to Make a Dust Bag for a Miter Saw

Premium miter saws are likely to come equipped with a dust bag to minimize the amount of mess created by the use of the saw. However, lesser models may not possess such a facility but don’t worry as it is possible to make and fit a dust bag to a miter saw by following these steps:

You will need:

  • Bag made from synthetic materials or robust canvas
  • Measuring tape
  • Plastic tubing (x2 different diameters)
  • Marker or chalk
  • Strong glue
  • Strong scissors
  • Needle and thread or sewing machine
  1. Find the vent on the miter saw. Measure a piece of plastic tubing to fit this vent.
  2. Secure the tubing to the vent. Ideally, it will fit tightly enough to prevent it from falling it out but not so tightly that removal is difficult.
  3. Compare the larger diameter tube to the smaller (attached) tube. Ensure the larger piece can fit the smaller piece snug.
  4. Take your bag and measure 2-3 inches down from its opening. Mark this position with your marker or chalk.
  5. Measure the end of the bag’s opening to match the interior width of the larger tube.
  6. Attach the larger tubing to the bag by tapering it down a further inch.
  7. Use needle and thread or a sewing machine to sew along the chalk/marker line.
  8. Remove excess materials with scissors.
  9. At this stage, the tube should be secure inside the bag, which should resemble a bottle.
  10. Insert the open part of the bag to the larger tube.
  11. Fit the smaller tube in to secure this in place.
  12. Attach the assembled dust bag to the vent.
  13. Add glue to ensure the assembled bag stays firmly in contact with the vent.

Miter Saw Guide: Summary

Miter saws are handy tools that offer versatility to professional craftsmen and DIY enthusiasts. With a range of applications, including baseboard installation, miter saws come in different varieties, including compound miter saws and dual bevel miter saws.

Buyers of miter saws and miter saw users should bookmark this article for reference purposes and share it with friends and family in need of miter saw basic training and information.

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