9 Handy Ways To Use a Miter Saw

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A miter saw is the most essential tool in all workshops. It is a unique tool that can help you finish a wide range of woodwork jobs. The best tools for cutting wood are the table and miter saws. 

The only difference between these saws is that the head saw of a miter saw is movable while that of a table saw is stationary. Therefore, when using a miter saw, you have to clamp your workpiece against the miter saw’s fence before making a cut. 

Man using a miter saw while doing a home construction project

The miter saw family comes with a wide array of saws that can handle different types of job. While they might be different, all these miter saws have one thing in common: all miter saws can make angled cuts. So, here are 9 different things you can do with your miter saw.

9 Ways to Use Your Miter Saw

Make Repetitive Cuts

Whether you are working on a new building project or making furniture, you will inevitably make several repetitive cuts. So, instead of measuring your piece of wood every time you want to cut, you can use a stop block, all you have to do is:

  1. Lower and lock your saw’s blade
  2. Measure the length of the cuts you want to make and mark it
  3. Install a stop block using either a clamp or screw on the place you have marked
  4. Once you lock the block in place, you can raise the blade and make a test cut to confirm if you have the right measurement
  5. Make sure the stop block is locked in the right place before you start cutting your pieces of wood
Several pieces of wood piled on top of a miter saw

Cut a Wider Board

A sliding miter saw has a flexible saw head that you can move back-and-forth along the sliding rail. The ability to move along the sliding rail increases the width of the boards that you can cut with a miter saw. In fact, Woodworknation.com mentioned that there are two ways you can cut wide boards using a standard miter saw and this includes:

  • Cutting one side of the wide lumber first and then flipping it.
  • Place a smaller board under the larger one and start cutting your board. This method will increase your cutting capacity by about an inch, depending on the supporting board’s thickness.

Cut Crown Molding 

A miter saw is the best power tool for cutting crown molding. However, installing a crown molding can be quite challenging, especially for beginners. So, for accurate cuts, you must make a miter jig. The jig can help you hold the molding in place when making angled cuts:

  1. Start by connecting 2 pieces of lumber at 90 degrees and a stopper using glue and nails to make a jig
  2. Clamp the jig on the saw and make preliminary 45 degrees cuts. These cuts can help you measure when cutting your molding.
  3. Place your moldings on the jigsaw and make a 45-degree angled outside cut and then switch to the other side.
  4. Finally, join the two pieces of moldings together using a nail jig

Make Miter Cuts

You can make miter cuts, also known as angled cuts, by moving the head of the saw to one side and then making a cut. Miter cuts don’t affect the angle at the edge of your board with respect to its face. Instead, most people use them to make the 90-degree corners of frames, doors, and windows. 

Regular Crosscuts

The length of the cut that you can make with a miter saw is usually limited by the radius of the blade. Therefore, a miter saw is the best tool for making crosscuts. The main reasons why people use a miter saw to cut pieces of wood into half include: 

  • A miter saw is a powerful and stable tool that can slice through any board.
  • Since the workpiece is usually clamped to the fence, lining up the cutting line can be straightforward.

Make Bevel Angled Cuts

You can make bevel cuts by tilting the blade at an angle with respect to its bench. Bevel angled cuts refer to angled cuts along one end or edge of the board. These cuts can alter the edge of the board with respect to its face. 

Make Compound Angled Cuts 

A compound cut consists of two angled cuts (miter and bevel angled cuts). Compound miter saws can tilt the head and blade of your miter saw with respect to the workpiece. Compound saws are useful when building a box with slanted sides.

Cut Vinyl Siding

Even though miter saws are not as portable or flexible as electric shears, they are the best for cutting vinyl siding. All you have to do is:

  1. Secure the siding on your saw’s base
  2. Pull the blade down and then slide it for a precision cut

For a smoother edge, you can use a blade with more teeth than the usual one. The only drawback to using this method is you cannot cut siding already installed.

Cut Ceramic Tiles

While this is not the ideal tool for cutting tiles, you can only use a miter saw to cut tiles if it has a diamond blade. Start by replacing your normal blade with a diamond one and then:

  1. Mark where you plan to cut
  2. Place the tile against the miter saw’s fence and lock it in place 
  3. Power up the blade at full speed and then cut through your tiles slowly
  4. If the tile is too wide, you can cut one side and then turn it around and saw the other side.

Conclusion 

A miter saw is one of the most useful tools in any workshop, and it can do several things, as mentioned above. Other than the normal crosscuts, a miter saw can make numerous complicated angled cuts that are quite useful when installing molding. With a sturdier blade, a miter saw can also cut ceramic tiles. 

However, just like circular and table saws, miter saws can be very dangerous to use. So you must be very careful when using it. Always clamp your workpieces before cutting it and keep your hands away from the blade.    

An expert at home repair, remodel, and DIY projects for nearly 40 years. His first experience came in completely restoring an antique home. Completely redone from the inside out, and restored to its original form, the home is a featured design by renowned Southern California Architect Cliff May, considered to be the father of the California Ranch Home. Now Dennis spends his time on fine woodworking projects and tool comparisons.