Best Chop Saws

Best Miter Saw For Homeowner

The first thing you need to do when buying a new tool is to make sure it will fit your home’s needs. You might want to invest in a cheap one if you have small space or limited room.

If you are looking for something with a lot of power, then go for the expensive ones. There are many different types of miter saws available today and they all work well at cutting wood and other materials. They all come in various sizes and prices. Some are better than others for certain tasks.

Miter Saw: What Is It?

A miter saw is a table saw used to cut straight lines on wood, but it can also be used to cut curves and even carve shapes into hardwood surfaces such as doors, cabinets, etc. A miter saw cuts through material at 90 degrees from each other making them ideal for trimming furniture and carving intricate patterns into woodwork.

Types Of Miter Saw

There are two main types of miter saws: the circular saw and the flat blade. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

The circular saw is usually smaller and lighter weight while the flat blade is larger, stronger, and more expensive. However, both types of miter saws can be used to cut through most materials including wood, plastic, aluminum, stone or any other type of material.

Advantages Of A Miter Saw

A miter saw is a perfect tool for cutting small and large pieces of wood because it cuts at a 90-degree angle. This means that they can cut through most materials with ease and without splintering or cracking the material.

If you are cutting a small piece of wood, then you don’t need a large or expensive tool, just a small one will do. However, if you are cutting a large piece of wood, then you will need a more powerful tool. Circular saws are more expensive and require more power than a flat blade. A miter saw can be used for cutting molding, trim and other wooden devices that require an elegant edge.

How To Use A Miter Saw

Before using a miter saw, make sure that the area is well-ventilated. Wear safety glasses and ear protection.


Don’t wear loose clothing or anything that could get caught in the saw blades. Before cutting, set your miter saw to 90-degrees to the wood and line up the blade with your cut marks. Always turn on the saw before you place your material against it and make sure to push the material all the way against the saw’s guide arms. Use a push stick when making a cut if you have to.

Buying A Miter Saw

Before buying a miter saw, you need to know what you will be using it for. If you are only going to be doing small projects such as picture frames and trims then you can get away with a cheaper model.

If you are doing larger projects such as building decks or playground sets, then you will need a more expensive and stronger saw. If you are a professional carpenter for example, you will need a heavy-duty saw that can handle all of the pressure that comes with building or remodeling homes. You also want to make sure that your miter saw has the correct features for your personal preference.

Safety Tips For Using A Miter Saw

Make sure to never place your fingers near the blade while it is spinning.

Don’t wear loose clothing or jewelry.

Don’t stand in front of the saw while it is in operation.

Make sure you are using the right blade for your material.

Slow down or stop the saw if you are having problems cutting through the material.

Don’t force a cut. Take a break and try again later if need be.

Supervise children and pets in the same room while the saw is in operation.

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Don’t panic when cutting tough materials. Slow down and take your time.

Make sure your miter saw is properly aligned to the material you are cutting.

Turn off the saw before removing cut pieces from the guide arms.

Make sure the area around your miter saw is clean of other tools, scraps or anything that isn’t supposed to be in that area.

Never leave the saw unattended when it is still plugged in.

Miter saws are great tools for cutting all kinds of material and can be used to make precise cuts for picture frames, crown molding, doors, windows and other interior and exterior designs. Before using a miter saw, make sure to follow all safety precautions as listed above.

Helpful Miter Saw Videos

How to Use a Miter Saw

How to choose a Miter Saw

Miter Saws vs. Circular Saws

Miter Saw Safety Tips

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Miter Saws: How to Make Straight Cuts

A Quick Look at Miter Saws

Common Miter Saw Problems and How to Avoid Them

How to Use a Miter Saw with Standard Crosscut Saws

The Parts of a Miter Saw

Crosscut Saws vs. Miter Saws

What Makes a Miter Saw Safe?

Here are some questions and answers to help you decide which miter saw is right for you.


What blades do I need for my miter saw?

A. Miter saws can cut in three different ways: left, right and both (also known as “equal”). Standard cross-cut blades are designed to cut when the saw makes a left or right cut, meaning that they will wear out fairly quickly if your saw can also make equal cuts. These blades are great for construction and carpentry jobs where you want to make bevel cuts on framing lumber. For fine woodworking projects such as making picture frames and furniture where you will only be using the miter saw to make bevel cuts, a fine finish blade is the best choice.


Do I need a double-bevel blade for my miter saw?

A. Not really. Double-bevel blades can be used to make cross-cuts and miter cuts, but unless you need to make repeated left or right bevel cuts (such as when you’re framing a house), a regular single-bevel blade will work just fine.

Q. I’m doing home renovations.

Which miter saw should I get?

A. A miter saw can make angled cuts to either the left or the right, or it can make what’s known as a bevel cut, which is a combination of the two. Most home renovations require you to make bevel cuts. A special type of blade known as a “fine finish” blade is designed for these types of cuts and will provide the best results.


Can I cut through seasoned wood with my miter saw?

A. Sure, but it’s not recommended. Seasoned wood (wood that has already had time to dry after being cut) is much harder than non-seasoned wood and will quickly dull your blade.


Can I cut laminate countertops with my miter saw?

A. Laminate countertops can be cut with a miter saw, but it is important that you choose the right blade for the job. Laminate contains a fair amount of silicon, which will stick to your blade and quickly dull it. To prevent this from happening, use a laminate cutting blade with your saw. These special blades are designed to prevent silicon buildup and last longer than standard cross-cut blades.

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Can I cut metal with my miter saw?

A. Yes, you can, but it’s not recommended for most applications. Most miter saws aren’t powerful enough to cut metal and will quickly become damaged if you force it to cut through metal. There are specialized metals blades for miter saws that can be used for non-ferrous metal (such as aluminum), but these should only be used by people who are experienced with this type of blade.


Can I make bevel cuts on the left side with my miter saw?

A. Yes, you can, but this is a dangerous practice. Most miter saws are only designed to make bevel cuts to the right because left bevel cuts are rarely, if ever, needed. Making a bevel cut with the left side of the blade can cause kickback and may cause the saw to slip out of your hand. Furthermore, most miter saws are not balanced properly for left bevel cuts and can easily tip over. For these reasons, Craftsman does not recommend left bevel cuts.


What kind of blade should I use to cut wood?

A. A standard (also known as a “cross-cut”) blade with 80 teeth per inch is the best choice for most lumber cutting applications. This type of blade will make quick work out of both hard and soft wood and can even be used to cut particle board and plywood.


What kind of blade should I use to cut metal?

A. A miter saw wasn’t designed to cut metal and will quickly become damaged if you attempt to do so. Most miter saws come with a “metal cutting” blade that has an abrasive edge designed to cut metal. These blades can be used to cut non-ferrous metal (such as aluminum), but should never be used to cut ferrous metal (such as steel) since this can cause the blade to quickly become useless.


What is the proper procedure for changing a miter saw blade?

A. Always unplug your miter saw before installing or removing a blade. A miter saw could have a pivot lock that will need to be disengaged before changing the blade. Refer to your owner’s manual for specific instructions on how to do this. Once the pivot lock has been disengaged, the arbor nut can be removed from the blade. To prevent the saw from falling forward or backward, firmly grip (with one hand) the handle on either side while removing the nut. The blade can now be lifted off of the arbor and thrown away. To install the new blade, simply place it onto the arbor (which is the silver rod that extends into the saw’s body). Once in place, securely fasten the arbor nut with the wrench and then tighten it with your hands.


How do I adjust the blade of my miter saw?

A. Before you begin adjusting the blade, make sure to unplug your saw. The blade can be adjusted at the arbor nut or at the thumbwheels. To adjust the blade at the arbor nut, loosen the arbor nut with a wrench and turn the arbor until the blade is where you want it. Then, retighten the arbor nut and check to make sure that the blade is still square to the table by turning the saw on and placing a piece of paper against the spinning blade. If the paper catches on the blade and gets pulled into it, you will need to loosen the arbor nut and turn the arbor until the paper barely doesn’t get caught up in the blade. If adjusting at the arbor nut, you may also need to readjust the angle of the blade using the thumbwheels on either side of the saw.


What is “blade creep”?

A. Blade creep occurs when the blade shifts slightly off of the arbor while the saw is turned on. To prevent this, always make sure that the arbor nut is securely tightened before using your saw.


Why does my miter saw smell like burning rubber?

A. Burning rubber is a sign that your miter saw belt is about to fail and should be replaced immediately. To replace the belt on your miter saw, refer to your owner’s manual for specific instructions.



Why does my miter saw vibrate excessively?

A. Excessive vibration while your miter saw is in use is usually the result of a loose arbor nut. Before using your saw again, always check that the arbor nut is tight.


What is the Is the purpose of the anti-kickback pawls?

A. The anti-kickback pawls are there to prevent you from accidentally kicking back a piece of wood (or other material) and causing an accident. These pawls should always be in contact with the material that you are cutting. Also, make sure that nothing gets caught between the pawls and fence while they are rotating.


What is the purpose of the adjustable rear fence?

A. The adjustable rear fence can be moved to the left or right, depending on what you are cutting. Make sure that the fence is tight against the table and in line with the blade.


What is the purpose of the locking knob?

A. The locking knob is used to secure the fence into position and prevent it from moving while you are making your cut.


Why are there two wheels on my miter saw?

A. The two wheels are at the back of the bottom of the saw base. These wheels are used to move your miter saw unless it is on a very smooth floor.


What is “pinching” and why is it bad?

A. Pinching occurs when the material that you are cutting gets caught between the blade and the fence. When this happens, the material gets squeezed and could cause an accident. Always make sure that the material that you are cutting cannot get stuck or pinched anywhere on the table or in the blade.


What is “tripping” and why is it bad?

A. Tripping occurs when a piece of wood curls back towards the saw and gets caught in the blade. When this happens, the wood will try to jump off of the table and in front of the blade. To prevent this from happening, take light passes when cutting your material. Always keep your hand on the material while it is being cut so that if it does jump or curl, you can pull it away from the blade.


What kind of blades should I have for my miter saw?

A. For most applications a cross-cut blade is best. This type of blade has the greatest amount of teeth and is used to make straight cuts in both wood and metal. For more specialized applications, there are a variety of different blades available at your local hardware store.


What is the purpose of the anti-kickback devices?

A. The anti-kickback pawls are designed to keep the material from kicking back towards you while it is being cut. The anti-kickback device should always be in contact with the material while it is being cut, especially when making the initial pass.


What type of material can I cut with my miter saw?

A. With the correct blade, you can cut wood, plywood, hardboard, softboard, metal, and tile. Always refer to the owner’s manual for specifics on which blade to use for different materials.


Why are there two scales on my bevel scale?

A. The outer scale is used for making adjustments to the bevel while the inner scale shows the actual degree reading.

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How do I use bevels and miter cuts effectively?

A. Bevel cuts are angled cuts across the width of the material, while miter cuts are angled across the length of the material. To make a bevel cut, you need to first lift the blade guard. Then you place the material on the table with the cut facing down against the table and the edge of the material nearest to you. The bevel scale is then rotated so that the pointer indicates the degree of the cut. To make a miter cut, you need to first lift the blade guard. Then you place the material on the table with either end extending beyond the table and the edge of the material nearest to you. The miter scale is then rotated so that the pointer indicates the degree of the cut.

For both bevel and miter cuts, always keep your hands behind the handle when making cuts.

When cutting, always make sure that the blade is in firm contact with the material. Use a push stick when required.

Align the material that you are going to cut with the blade. Make sure that the material is sitting firmly against the table.


What height does my miter saw’s table need to be at?

A. Your miter saw’s table needs to be at a height that allows you to stand in a comfortable position while cutting and still have the top of the material just below the tip of the blade.


What is back cutting and why would I do it?

A. On some occasions you may need to make a cut with the exit side of the blade toward you. This is called back cutting. Most miter saws are not designed for this and can cause damage to the internal workings of your saw as well as causing a dangerous kickback of the material being cut towards you. Always refer to your owner’s manual for manufacturer’s information regarding back cutting.


Why does my miter saw stall or shake when cutting hard or frozen material?

A. When cutting hard or frozen material your saw may stall or even shake if the blade is not sufficiently sharpened or if it is too cold outside. Blowing snow or other debris can also cause your saw to stall. Make sure that you are using a sharp enough blade for the type and thickness of the material you are cutting.


Why does my blade go dull so quickly?

A. The blade you are using may not be suited to the type of material you are trying to cut. Inexpensive blades are meant for softer materials while more expensive blades can be used on a wider variety of materials. Also, try using a different type of blade such as a finer finish or ultra fine finish blade. These blades may provide better results and may sharpen more easily.

If you are cutting a large quantity of the same type and thickness of material, it may be beneficial for you to invest in a sheet good tabletop saw. These types of saws are designed for cutting similar materials automatically and effortlessly.

they are also much safer to use.


Why is the material I am cutting coming out crooked or at an angle?

A. There are a number of things that could be causing this problem. Make sure that you have the material clamped or secured in some way so that it cannot move while you are making the cut. If your blade is not aligned correctly, there is a possibility that it may be cutting at an angle. Check your blade for proper alignment.

If your blade is aligned correctly and the material is not secured, the possibility exists that you may be pushing or pulling on the material while making the cut. This causes the saw to move away from you resulting in the material being pushed at an angle.


Take extra care to always keep your hands behind the blade while cutting.




What is the difference between drafting, carpenter’s and measuring pencils?

A. Drafting pencils are 7mm in diameter, have a 1.5mm lead and have hexagonal barrels making them the most comfortable to hold for long periods of time. They are also the softest lead available.

Carpenter’s Pencils are 9mm in diameter, have a 2mm lead and have hexagonal barrels making them easier to grip for people with larger hands. They are also the most durable lead available.

Measuring Pencils are 9mm in diameter, have a 2mm lead and have round barrels like regular pencils providing the best versatility. They can be used for drafting or carpentry but their thin leads break easily.


How do I sharpen all these different types of pencils?

A. All pencils use the same type of sharpeners. You simply sharpen them to different diameters. To get the proper diameter, simply wrap the pencil in a single layer of newspaper and keep testing the diameter until it is big enough that the pencil no longer fits into the hole.


What is the purpose of these pencils?

A. While regular pencils make marks on paper, these particular types of pencils are useful for transferring measurements from one place to another. This comes in handy when you need to make additions or alterations to something you have already drawn or designed.



What is the purpose of a measuring tape?

A. A measuring tape can be used to measure distance, straight or curved, within a certain range. Unlike rulers, measuring tapes do not have numbered edges. Instead, the measurement is displayed on a floating dial connected by a thin metal wire. The tape measure automatically retracts the wire back into the body of the tool when not in use.

A. While this feature is handy, it also slows down the process of making measurements.


In order to get an accurate reading, one must fully retract the tape measure before it is read.


What types of materials are these tools made of?

A. Tools such as these are usually made of stainless steel or brass. Other materials used in their construction include plastic for handles and nylon for retractable reels.


Is there some way I can make measuring distances easier?

A. Yes. Measuring tapes can be calibrated to a certain unit of distance. Mathematics allows you to take measurements in one unit of measurement and convert them to another, so long as both systems use the same base units.


What are the base units for each system?

A. There are six base units in the imperial system and five in the metric system. These are:

Inches – base unit | Centimeters – 1 Foot – 0.3048 Meter – 0.3048 Yard – 0.9144 Meter – 1.0936 Feet – 0.3048


Are there any other tools I can use to make measuring distances easier?

A. Yes. The most important tool you have is your mind. Making a scale drawing of a room or area can allow you to take measurements without ever leaving the ground.


What is another name for scale drawings?

A. Blueprints.


What types of materials are blueprints usually made out of?

A. Blueprints can be made out of many types of paper, but the most common are:

Tissue Paper – The thinnest and most fragile, this type of paper is usually used for overlays and presentation drawings. Tissue paper tears easily and is not intended for use as a master copy.

Tracing Paper – A little thicker than tissue paper, this type of paper is translucent and durable. It can be written on, but the writing can sometimes show through to the other side.


Canvas Paper – Even thicker than tracing paper and water-resistant, this type of paper is very durable.


What types of tools are usually used to transfer measurements from a blueprint to a physical object?

A. There are several tools used for this purpose. These are:

T-Bearings – These adjustable metal wedges can transfer measurements from a physical object to a blueprint with great accuracy.

Callipers – Two hinged, spring loaded legs attached to a pivot on one end and a point which can be locked in place on the other. This tool is usually used for measuring lengths or thicknesses.

Metal Rule – A flat, thin strip of metal marked in units. Rules are usually used for measuring length.


Are there any other tools I can use to make measurements?

A. Yes. If you have neither blueprint nor physical object, it is still possible to take a measurement. All you need is a person of an approximately similar height and a piece of string (or similar piece of flexible material).


How is this done?

A. The method used is known as the ‘Height of Eye’ method. This involves you standing next to the person whose height you want to calculate and holding the string at eye level. The other end of the string should be tied to a point on the floor, such as a bolt or nail. The point on the string which reaches exactly to your eye level is the height of the person you are measuring.

Q. I have heard several different units used to measure distance.

What are they?

A. There are several units used to measure distance. These are:

Pace – The number of steps taken to cover a distance. There are several different types of human step, the most common being the pace.

There are typically two types of pace, the quick and the running. A running pace is equal to half of a quick pace (although some argue that it is equal to a quarter of a quick pace). A quick pace can be anywhere from 2 to 2.5 feet.


Are there other units of distance?

Q. Yes. There are quite a few other units of distance used in different countries and at different times.

Yard – The distance from the tip of the middle finger of an outstretched arm to the tip of the middle finger of the other outstretched arm.


Feet – The distance from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the little finger on an outstretched palm.

Ell – The distance from the tip of the outstretched little finger to the shoulder.

Can I use any of these units in my design?

Q. No. Although many of these units are rarely used nowadays, all of them belong to the imperial measurement system which is not consistent with the metric system used by the modern world (as mentioned earlier).


What is the difference between the different types of angle?

A. There are three types of angle: acute, obtuse and straight.

Acute – An angle less than 90 degrees.

Obtuse – An angle greater than 90 degrees and less than 180 degrees.

Straight – A angle equal to exactly 90 degrees.


Is there a unit of measurement for angles?

A. Yes. There are a number of different units of measurement for angles, the most common being:

Degree (°) – Most people are familiar with this unit, although most people don’t realize that it is only one unit of measurement used for angles. A straight angle measures exactly 90 degrees and can also be referred to as a ‘right angle’.

A one degree angle is quite small and hardly noticeable by the human eye.

RAD – The radius (distance from the center of a circle to the edge) divided by 2 times pi (the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter).

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Some Examples:

Of course, RAD is not used in everyday conversation and the unit of measurement for angles which you are most likely to come across is the degree (°), although if you were a carpenter or in the construction industry (building houses, etc.) you may also come across the ‘eave’ which is the horizontal length of a roof.


Why should I bother learning about angle?

A. Many different things in our world are measured in degrees, such as temperature, engine vases and even music.


Why is there a difference between the amount of time in a day and the amount of time in a year?

A. There are a lot of factors which can make the exact time of day and the exact length of a day vary, but the most important one to be concerned about is ‘time zones’. Each country is divided into sections called time zones (for example, in New Zealand there is a time zone for the west coast and one for the east coast). Every zone has a ‘time zone number’ (for example, in New Zealand the west coast is time zone 8 and the east coast is time zone 9). Every day, all of the zones ‘adjust’ their times so that they are all equal, even though the sun is not. For example, time zone 8 switches from being 1 hour behind time zone 9 to being 2 hours behind it (in this case). Also, the start of a new day in each zone is at midnight.


What does ’24 hours = 1 day’ mean?

A. It means that when you see the time ‘7:00 am’ on a page or something similar, it really means ‘7:00 hours before the next midnight’.


How does the sun ‘move’ across the sky?

A. The sun is not actually moving, but the earth is spinning (turning) at a great speed and this is making it look like the sun is moving. This supports the fact that 1 day = 24 hours.


What about leap years?

A. A leap year occurs every 4 years (e.g. 2008, 2012, 2016 etc. will all be leap years). The extra day is added to the month of February (which is the shortest month in the year).


How long does it take for the sun to return to the same position in the sky?

A. This is called a ‘solar day’ and it usually takes place over a period of 24 hours. However, it can be longer or shorter than 24 hours depending on various factors.


Sources & references used in this article:

Why automate your crosscut saw? by J Davidson – FDM, 2001 –

Choosing and Using a Miter Saw by C Dekorne – FINE HOMEBUILDING, 2002 –

Simulation of lumber processing for improved raw material utilization by T Stiess – Proceedings of the 29th conference on Winter …, 1997 –