What’s A Miter Saw- Miter Saw Overview

This month we’re learning about the miter saw. So here’s a miter saw overview for you to familiarize yourself with the tool and its capabilities.

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What Is The Miter Saw

The miter saw (also known as the chop saw or drop saw) is a tool used to make quick and accurate cross cuts. (cuts across the grain of the board rather than with it.)

What Can The Miter Saw DO

The miter saw is a pretty straight-forward saw. It can do 3 things.
1. Cut straight across the board to give an accurate 90 degree angle
2. It can bevel an edge (angling the BLADE to the material)
A straight bevel cut can be made when the miter table angle is set at 0 degrees and the blade is set at an angle to the board
3. And it can cut angles across the width of a board (a miter cross cut). This type of cut is made when the blade is set at 0 degrees and the miter table is set at any other angle than 0 degrees.

Options 2 & 3 can be done anywhere from 0-45 degree angles. And they can be done at the same time. This is called a compound miter cut. Say you need a board cut at a 45 degree angle with a 45 degree beveled edge. You can angle the blade at to the material at 45 degrees and you can turn your miter table to 45 degrees.

This method is used when working with molding, making picture frames, and boxes with sloping sides, and with roofing.

The compound miter cut saves time by essentially doing 2 cuts in 1.

Types Of Miter Saws

There are saws that are fixed, and saws that are sliding.

The fixed miter saw

With the fixed saw the blade will go down and directly back up. No forward or backward motion is used here. This type of saw typically cuts smaller boards then the sliding saw.

The sliding miter saw

The sliding saw has rails that allow the saw blade to move forward and down, then back. Allowing it to cut through wider boards.

This type of saw is nice to have. It makes it so you don’t have to make those larger cuts with the table saw or the circular saw.


My saw, the Ryobi miter saw (similar to this one) has a 10 inch blade. It will cut 3 1/2″ thick or 5 1/2″ across.

Different types of materials require different types of blades.

powersawexpert.com has a great post about how to pick the right miter saw blade.

Checking For Square

Checking for square. Your blade should be all of the way down and in lock position. This blade is not.

Before your first cut, you should use a framing square to make sure the saw blade is squared up with the miter fence.

1.With the blade down in lock position
2. rest one arm of the square against the flat side of your blade. Be sure it’s not resting against the teeth.
3. Then rest the other arm against the miter fence.
4. If the edges sit flush against each other, then your blade is squared up.
5. If you need to make adjustments you can check your owner’s manual for steps on how to do this for your brand of tool.

Cutting With The Miter Saw

In order to make cuts with your saw you will need to pull the trigger on the handle. This gets the blade moving and will keep it going until you let go.

  1. When you pull the trigger let the blade run until it’s at full speed
  2. Slowly lower the blade down into the wood.
  3. Release the trigger while the blade is still down and don’t raise it until it’s stopped.

Following these steps will help prevent chipping of the wood.

Beveled Cuts

On my Ryobi saw, in order to bevel the edge, all you need to do is
1. Loosen the bevel lock knob half a turn and move the blade to the desired angle.
2. Then lock the nob into place by tightening it up.

Miter Cross Cuts

To make a miter cross cut, all you need to do is
1. Loosen the miter lock handle and move the miter table to the desired angle.
2. Then lock the nob into place by tightening it up.

If you don’t have a Ryobi you can refer to your owner’s manual for instructions on setting up your saw for angled cuts.

Now Get Creative!!

Now that we got the technical stuff out of the way haha, let’s have some fun with it!

The reason why I love the miter saw is you get to be creative… with precision!!

So you can think up
furniture pieces
food trays
cascading flower boxes
tall flower boxes
wall art
light fixtures
bar stools
step stools
farmhouse signs
dining tables
storage boxes
outdoor furniture
and tons of other projects!!!

Tall planter boxes

best wood for making farmhouse signs
Miter saw projects for beginners

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