Best Miter Saw Guide
If you are like me, you probably got tired of reading the various promotional articles out there that only try to endorse that a particular miter saw is the one and only, the best on the market or that it will make every single one of your wishes come true. And, guess what? Every single product claims that it is the best.
Why should you trust them? Because they claim to be the best based on reviews someone else made? Or should you rather try to take a different approach at this whole matter?
Since you are reading this, you are someone that plans ahead, and you don’t want just any old miter saw, you want the best miter saw possible. We all have our personal preferences on what makes a good saw but if your like me then you want the absolute best miter saw possible, and so we’re here to help. We provide you with all the information you will need to choose your next saw.
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What is a Miter Saw
Lets start by defining what a Miter saw is, also called as “mitre saw”, it refers to a saw (wood cutting tool), that is used for creating miters and crosscuts with accuracy in a given work piece. They are specified for cross cuts and bevel cuts. However, long cuts are not possible with miter saws. They are largely used in furniture and frame making.
Different types of Miter Saws
Miter saws are classified into two types which are further divided to their sub types:
- Manual miter saw
- Power driven miter saw
- Compound miter saw.
- Double compound miter saw
- Sliding compound miter saw.
Manual Miter Saw
Manual Miter saw: manual miter saw is a straight, fine toothed and short hand driven saw used for making fine cuts on millwork. To avoid buckling of saw blade, it is also provided with an extra support at its top. It is a totally human operated simple hand tool. It is used with a miter box. This miter box works as a tray to hold the workpiece or the job in place and guides saw during the sawing operation. Miter box has slits on its sides that allow the saw to fit inside. Also, it has grooves at its bottom that helps to cut the wood throughout.
A three sided miter box is commonly used, which is open at ends and at its top. Earlier, workers used to make their own miter boxes of wood. Nowadays, readymade miter boxes are available, which are made of either molded plastic or cast aluminum. In some of miter boxes, clamps are also provided to hold small pieces tightly while cutting.
The manual miter saws are used mostly for fine cuts on millwork. It is usually used for 45 degree angled cuts, which allows worker to join two pieces of wood at right angles. Many other angles are also provided on the miter box. 90 and 45 degrees angle cuts are provided by all the boxes. To cut a piece, it is placed in the miter box and the cutting point is aligned with the required angle slot in the box wall. The saw blade is placed in the slot and is moved back and forth. This slot guides the saw throughout the cut and keeps the blade perpendicular to the face of the wooden piece or board.
While cutting smaller pieces, it becomes difficult to hold the piece. To solve this problem, clamping boxes are also provided. The piece to be cut is held firmly by the clamps, and hence the cutting process is made easier and more accurate. In this modern world, although manual miter saw has been largely displaced by power driven saws, it is still used in picture frame making industry. As there is no rotating blade, it is a safe and easy to use wood cutting tool. Also, hand driven saw is a cheap tool that is preferred by workers who have less workload and enough time.
Power Driven Miter Saw
Power driven saw: manual miter saw need human power to operate. It works well for workers with less workload or light jobs. But for workers with heavy workload, manual miter saw does not fulfill their requirements. So, for heavy workloads, power driven miter saws are used. Power driven saw is a power operated tool which is used to make accurate cuts in a given workpiece within a less time. They are used for cutting frames and moldings.
Power driven saw has a circular blade rotating at very high rpm, which is placed on the workpiece in a controlled motion. Miter index given on the saw helps in setting a required angle of the blade with respect to the holding fence. Holding fence is the holding tool that firmly holds the workpiece. Some of power driven saws also provide a laser guide, to give a visual indication throughout the cutting process. This laser tells the positioning of the blade on the workpiece before the worker starts cutting. Some models have single line whereas others have double lines for reference.
In power driven saws, an electric motor rotates a blade that cuts the work piece. The blade has several teeth at its circumference. For soft wood, less costly steel blades are used. High speed blades are used for hard wood. Carbide tipped blade are the high costing blades that work on all kind of wood.
There are mainly 3 types of power driven saws available:
Compound Miter saw
Compound miter saw: compound miter saw is a power driven saw used to make angled and bevel cuts in a given workpiece. Bevel, here means that the blade of the saw can be tilted sideways. It has a rotating vertical pivot that allows tilting the cutter head and blade. Rotating the head allows worker to cut angled cuts in both the planes. Compound miter saw blade and motor is mounted on a pivoted arm, this combination is brought down on the material using a handle. The material is tightly clamped to the heavy base of the saw. The word “compound” means the angle of the blade, which is adjustable in horizontal and vertical plane. Angle adjustments are provided on the compound miter saw.
Compound miter saws are also provided with a blade guard. As working with blade rotating on high speeds is highly dangerous, a blade guard covers the teeth of the blade. Now days, miter saws also have blade guards that automatically retract. On lowering the blade on the workpiece, the cover retracts, and on raising the blade, it recovers the blade. Compound saws are also provided with dust bags that collect all the sawdust from the wood during the cutting process.
As the workpiece is fixed on the fence, and saw head moves, chances of kickback are negligible. This makes it a safer cutting tool for the working person. Compound miter saws are best suited for cutting narrow or small pieces of wood. They are power tools that are also used for cutting materials like cumber etc. As the pivoted point is strongly fixed to heavy base of the saw tool, the cuts made are very precise and are easily repeatable. They can be used to make cross, miter, bevel, miter + bevel i.e. compound cuts.
They are light in weight, less costly than double compound miter saws. They are easier, accurate and faster than manual miter saw box and handsaw combination. For simple tasks, light weight models are used. Simple compound miter saws are costlier than manual saws, but are much cheaper than double and sliding compound miter saws.
Double Compound Miter saw
Double compound miter saw: In a simple compound miter saw, operator can tilt the saw head + blade only in one direction. Due to this, operator has to flip the workpiece again and again to make several cuts. But dual compound miter saw, advanced version of simple compound miter saw, solves this problem.
In compound miter saw, the saw head + blade arrangement can be tilted in both sides i.e. left and right. Using double compound miter saw, complicated angle cuts can be done with great ease. It gets its name due to this dual tilting property. The workpiece is held by a fence, same as in case of simple compound miter saw.
Using a double bevel compound saw, worker can make compound and bevel cuts in both the directions, without the need to flip the large stock. This makes working convenient and efficient. Double compound miter saws are used widely in crown molding.
Double compound miter saw is same as the compound miter saw, with an added function of dual tilting option.
Sliding compound miter saw
Sliding compound miter saw: Simple compound is a good tool for cutting angled cuts or bevels. But the problem arises when a board of wider area is under operation. Simple and double compound miter saw fails in this case. For such wider boards, sliding type compound miter saw is used. Sliding compound miter saw is a kind of compound miter saw, which has horizontally sliding arms that allows cutter head to move horizontally, so that cuts on wider boards can be obtained.
Sliding compound miter saw works same as compound miter saw, but has an added functionality of sliding horizontally. Sliding compound miter saws are available both in single and double compound types. In sliding compound miter saw, rails are provided, which allows front back sliding motion of the motor blade. But due to this, the range of pivot mechanism is narrowed, which limits the thickness of the material that can be cut.
Sliding compound miter saws are used to make cross, miter, bevel and miter + bevel cuts on the wider boards. This makes the work easy and saw can be slid easily on the wood and cut it. In most sliding compound saws, crosscutting capacity is more than 12 inches.
Sliding compound miter saws are made strong enough, so that the accuracy doesn’t decreases when moved or tilted. Adjustable stops of 45 and 90 degrees are usually provided for tilting of head, so that angle can be adjusted easily and accurately. Sliding compound miter saw requires large space and fits in large workshops. It is the most expensive saw out of the all types. It is a heavier saw as compared to compound saws, and is almost non-portable.
Key Miter Saw Features
Miter saw provides accurate, efficient and versatile results than a table saw or a hand saw. It can be used for cutting decks, window frames, door frames and any furniture where precise angle is important. Since it is very handy, any woodworker would want to add this on their power tool collection. The powerful results and convenience that miter saw gives are extraordinary. However, several kinds of miter saws exist in the market and their features vary from one another. So before you decide to buy one, you better understand the features of it and choose the best miter saw for your needs.
Wide Miter Range
One of the best features of a miter saw is its wide miter range. Manufacturers of the product typically offer a range of 50” to a maximum of 60”. Since there is a variation of miter range, it is very important to choose the type of specification you really need. Some materials might not go well on a narrow miter range while others work perfectly on a wider miter range. In order to obtain the right range, determine your needs and choose a more flexible miter range. If you are having a hard time choosing, ask recommendations from friends who might have been familiar with miter saws.
Easy to Read Indexes
It is very important to work efficiently and accurately. Miter saws have easy-to-read indexes wherein it can transparently be seen while cutting. This is beneficial because it minimizes errors and it also promotes safety on your part. You can read the visible indexes on the miter and bevel so you will not have a hard time working on this tool. Aside from that, the easy-to-read indexes allow you to cut any wood surfaces properly. Errors are minimized and good results are achieved.
The main reason why positive stops are necessary in any miter saws is it allows the user to adjust the angles easily. Cutting wood or any types of material is not just a one-sided direction. Most of the time, it requires certain angles to perfect the craft. To make sure that the right angles are obtained, having easy and adjustable positive stops is beneficial. Always take time to check the miter saw whether it has positive stops or not. This kind of feature also varies from one manufacturer to the other so make sure that you get the right positive stop for your convenience.
Working on complex furniture can be challenging. With the sliding fence feature of miter saws, the cutting process would be a lot easier. It provides a full-height support in order to cut the boards with wider dimensions. You just have to choose a durable miter saw that has this feature so that it is not difficult to work on the material and faster result is experienced. The sliding fence is actually beneficial considering that it minimizes hassles in working to users who are working on cutting and making home furniture at any sorts.
If you want to experience maximum comfort, the best way to achieve it is to select a miter saw that has an adjustable handle. There are some models that have multiple handle positions so whenever you use it, you can take control on what you are doing and adjust the grip accordingly. This is very helpful because you can cut materials flawlessly and not harm yourself. So before buying a miter saw, better choose a product that has a handle for adjusting your movements freely and without hassles. Select the right handle that you can comfortably work out.
Make sure that when you buy a miter saw, the electric brake is fully functional. This feature is very useful because it enhances your safety whenever you start using the miter saw. It also helps you cut faster because the blade stops seconds after releasing the trigger. You do not want to cut yourself whenever you cut wooden materials so; do a little research and check the electric brake for you to have a great experience in using a miter saw. Miter saw works well if it comes from a reliable manufacturer and made of durable materials.
Easy Change Blade System
Easy change blade system is a unique feature of miter saws. The good thing about this is you do not have to change the blades one step at a time once you decide to choose which one works best for you. Making furniture and cutting wooden materials require different blades, making it time consuming. With the easy change blade system of miter saw, it is not hard to change one blade to the other. Time is more preserved that is why you can deliver the work a lot faster than using other kind of saw.
Sawdust is always scattered anywhere whenever you cut a wood. This can mess up your space or even cause respiratory problems. To minimize complications, using a miter saw with a dust port is highly recommended. A dust bag or a wet/dry vac can be connected to the miter saw through a dust port. This allows you to collect any sawdust and leave a clear and clean workspace. Errors are also minimized if sawdust is collected from time to time. Hence, having a dust port is important in order to deliver the best results.
Cutting the wrong direction would be a waste of time and wood. If you want to avoid making mistakes, buy a miter saw that has a laser guide. Laser guides can do a lot of help in ensuring the blade aligned properly on the planned cut. Miter saws can have a single or dual laser. The advantage of having dual lasers is it allows you to see the entire width of the material to be cut. However, if you happen to have a single laser, it will allow you to see the beginning of the cut. Whichever type of lasers you choose; this feature makes you have a good experience with miter saws.
Miter Saw Stand
Miter saws have different types of stands for your portability. You can choose to have a folding stand or a stand with wheels. This feature is unique because you can adjust and use the miter saw according to your needs. If you often work on long and wide materials, a stand having extensions would be very helpful. However, it is still your choice to choose a stand for your added convenience.
Things to Consider in Choosing A Miter Saw
It is definitely hard to choose the right miter saw for your needs. However, if you are faced with this dilemma, the best way to do is to consider the woodworking projects you will be working with. If you are working on simple and small woodwork, an ordinary miter saw is recommended. This is not difficult to find because an ordinary miter saw does not have complex features. Usually, this only has pivots that can be operated from left to right.
Do not also forget that you will be working on different beveled cuts, a type of cut that is angled on two separate axes. In order for you not to have much difficulty in dealing these cuts, the best way is to have a compound miter saw that pivots on left to right, up and down. Although ordinary miter saws can do different beveled cuts, it requires a lot of skills to perfect it. Hence, having a compound miter saw would be beneficial in the long run.
Lastly, take note on the size of board you will be cutting. If you are handling a board that is 1 foot long or even greater, it is very convenient to use a sliding miter saw. This kind of saw is quite similar to compound miter saws, but its blade is installed in a sliding track in order to maintain a specific angle while cutting a wider board. Whatever kind of miter saw you chose, it is always recommended to assess your needs first and foremost. This will let you understand why having such kind of miter saw is beneficial.
There are different kinds of miter saws available in the market nowadays. This woodwork material is actually portable and best suited for people who deal with cutting boards of different sizes. If you have chosen the best miter saw for your needs, always take a look on the instruction manual and follow the safety guidelines.
Miter saws vary on its brand and manufacturer so to use it for a longer period, the best way would be to read and follow what is instructed. This will also keep you from harm because you will have an overview on how to safely use the miter saw. Most importantly, wear a safety eye wear whenever you use a miter saw. This will let you to stay protected while sawdust are scattered at any place. Miter saw is an important tool to any woodworker so investing on the best type would be very beneficial.