Want to make safe and accurate cuts with no tear-out with your miter saw?
You can then apply a handful of techniques and jigs to make your particularly challenging woodworking project much easier.
A miter saw is a handy tool for any DIY furniture project. It makes complicated cuts easier to accomplish. But for getting the most of your miter saw, you should know all those little tricks that will help you master the miter saw.
Below, you’ll find a list of some miter saw tips and tricks that you can follow each time you use this machine properly and productively.
16 Handy Miter Saw Tips and Tricks- Perfect for Woodworkers of All Skill Levels
So, you know the basics of how to use a miter saw. But every DIYer should know the following 16 tips for professional cuts! These will improve your cutting precision and accuracy for a cleaner-looking cut and shave some time off your next project.
Tips 1: – Trim The Ends of the Board to Square It Up
To improve your woodworking DIY projects’ quality, it is important to square the end of the board before cutting the pieces to length.
Trim each end of the board to get an excellent clean end. But you don’t need to cut off a lot of it. You may need to cut the board’s end to remove less than a centimeter to square it up.
If there is any split, cut just to the point where the split ends to get an excellent clean end.
Tips 2: Mark “no hands” Zones
Draw red lines on the fence and bed of your miter saw to indicate it as “danger zones” or “no hands” zone. The line should be 8-inches from the 12-inch blade and 7-inch from the 10-inch blade.
Tips 3: Mark the Middle of Your Cut Line (layout mark)
Your miter saw blade first starts to cut the middle of your board. So, your layout mark should be at the middle rather than at the edge of the board.
Mark the board’s waste side with a big X, if you mark a board for length.
To align the blade with the mark, lower the blade until one tooth of the blade is a hair above the workpiece. Don’t forget to keep your finger off the trigger when doing this. Shift the workpiece until the mark lines up with the blade. Raise the blade, and then you can start cutting.
Tips 4: Use Intelligent Stop Block for Repeat Cuts to Save You Time
For projects like making the outdoor beverage table, DIY dog gate, outdoor coffee table, or garden cabinet, you may need to make repetitive cuts. Measure each piece individually is quite time-consuming. However, you can make this work easy by measuring once and set up a stop.
A stop is a piece of scrap solid wood or plywood clamped to the miter saw stand. Using a stop saves you huge time and ensures a proper fit for all of the pieces.
So, how to set a stop?
It is easy to make and adjust.
Screw two scraps or blocks of woods to your miter saw stand. You can also clamp these two blocks to the stands with a Quick-grip spring clamp. While screwing or clamping, keep the lower block back about half an inch. As a result, if wood chips or saw dust trap or pile up between the block and your workpiece, they won’t affect the cutting length.
You can clamp a ¼-inch thick wood scrap to the fence by using a jumbo binder clip. It’ll work as a stop to make multiple cuts all the same length.
This stop will let you slide your workpiece up to the stop, and you can make multiple pieces to the same length.
If you need to cut only one workpiece, you don’t need to set a stop.
Tips 5: Use A Jig to Hold Crown Molding
Build a jig to hold trim pieces like cove, bed, and crown molding that sit at an angle to the ceiling or wall. It’ll also help you to ensure the trim is held at a consistent angle each time.
Keep a scrap or block of your molding upside down in the jig. Then mark the position of the stop and screw it to the jig. Attach the jig by using ¾-inch screws through the holes in the fence of your miter saw.
You should keep all the fasteners or screws away from the path of the blade.
Tips 6: Check Your Throat Plate for Gap & Close It If Any
The throat plates of your saw may sit slightly below its table.
However, any gap between the throat plate and your workpiece will leave the exterior fibers unsupported and leads to splintering on the bottom face.
The throat plate of your chop saw should be aligned with the saw table to reduce tear-out. It is also important to prevent a thin workpiece from bending as it’s cut.
Check the throat plate. If you find any gap, you have to close it. Place a skinny (1/16-inch or less) shim on the ledge underneath the plate. You can also put tape instead of shim. You may need to stick a few layers of the tape over the throat plate to close the gap.
Slide the workpiece tight against the fence and to the shim near the blade. Hold it in this position while you cut.
One word of caution!
Keep your fingers at least 6 inches from the path of the blade. Drop the blade slowly through the wood to shave thin slices.
Tips 7: Add a Wood Fence for Cutting Small Pieces Safely
A miter saw isn’t perfect for cutting pieces of wood that are smaller than 20 centimeters or 8 inches. But there are times when you need to cut small pieces that are shorter than 8-in like some small furniture legs. Cutting off these pieces with a miter saw is challenging and dangerous. There is a possibility of falling back the piece, which may cause injury.
However, the auxiliary fence comes in handy to cut small pieces. It can help to keep the cutoff from falling back.
Simply screw the secondary fence to the miter box fence. Make sure it won’t restrict the depth of the cut or it is not too tall.
Tips 8: Use The Best Miter Saw Blade to Cut a Tight-Fitting Joint
Even the skilled carpenter can’t cut with precision with a dull saw blade. A sharp blade can cut cleanly with little effort. So, it’s important to invest in a good-quality trim blade. Read the labelling on the package and select the blade that is designed for cross-cutting trim. Our team of carpentry experts suggests going for a thin-kerf 60 teeth blade.
Tips 9: Cope Baseboard Trim Faster with a Miter Saw
Making coped joints by using a coping saw is time-consuming. Using a low fence miter saw for cope joints makes the process faster, and it also works great for standard baseboard profiles.
Add a standard 1×4 baseboard as a temporary fence to fully support it. Adjust your saw so that it cuts perfectly square in the vertical direction.
Install the base in the counter-clockwise direction around the room if you’re left-handed and clockwise if you’re right-handed. In this way, you’ll be able to cope the same way joint after joint.
Rest your elbow on the saw miter adjustment armor on the table for stability. Never try to achieve a perfect cope joint with the saw alone. Clean it up with a file.
Tips 10: Add A Laser Cutting Guide to Your Old Miter Saw for More Accurate Cuts
Wonder if you can add laser cutting guides to your old saw?
Remove the outer washer of the blade and fit the laser alongside the blade. When you start your saw, the laser guide will shoot a beam to show precisely where the blade will cut.
Tips 11: Raise Your Work for More Capacity
Sometimes you may need to cut boards that are wider than what your miter saw was designed for.
In this case, the miter saw blade wouldn’t be able to cut all the way across the wide board. By raising the workpiece just a little on the platform using a scrap board, you can effectively increase your saw’s crosscut capacity and get the job done.
How much you have to raise varies from saw to saw. If you have a 10-inch miter saw, you can place ¾-inch plywood under your workpiece to widen the cut by 1/2 –inch. By adding two pieces, you can gain 1-inch, which is enough to make a full-width cut.
Make sure you use a hold-down during cutting so that the steeper cutting angle of the blade doesn’t lift the workpiece.
Tips 12: Push Your Fence Back to Cut Bent Pieces for Molding
You can easily cut straight pieces of molding on the miter saw. But how to cut the bent one. If you have an extended fence, push it back and out of the way. Due to this simple adjustment, a bend of the workpiece won’t prevent you from holding the workpiece tightly against the saw’s fence.
Tips 13: To Cut Thin Stock Back-Up the Workpiece
To slice thin stock into short pieces, make a sacrificial two-sided miter box.
Then, you’ll need to set a toggle clamp on the miter box. It’ll safely hold your workpiece. Fasten the box to the fence of your saw so that it won’t move.
Next, cut a slot part way through and use it to align the layout mark on the workpiece. This box will work as a backstop to prevent flying away from the cut-off. It also prevents tear-out behind and below the cut.
Tips 14: Set the Bevel Angle with a Block
Your saw’s bevel scale tells you how far the saw’s blade is tilted. However, these scales often feature illegible lines to show the measure, which might sometimes hard to read in the dusty working environment.
It’s much easier to use a block to set the bevel angles than to read the bevel scale.
You can make the block easily. First, leave the blade at a 90-degree angle with no tilt. Then, rotate the saw table to the angle you want. Place the block flat on the table and cut it. Again, rotate the table back so that it sits square to the fence. Set the block on edge to adjust the blade’s tilt.
Tips 15: Use The Hold-Down to Increase the Accuracy of Any Cut
A little wiggling of the board can ruin a good cut. You can prevent this by using your saw’s hold-down clamp. Keep in mind that a regular clamp won’t work well for this job. Miter saw’s own hold-down clamps hold the workpiece steadily.
Tips 16: Use V-block to Cut Dowels
A V-shaped cradle or V-block is handy to cut dowel stocks. It prevents the dowel from rotating when the blade hits it. If your saw features a depth stop, set the stop so that the blade won’t cut all the way through the cradle.
It is also easy to make a V-cradle. Tilt your saw’s blade to a 45-degree angle. Cut about 3/16 inches below the top of the V. Turn the board and cut the opposite side.
Hopefully, you’re now well-informed on how to make accurate cuts with a miter saw.
Try to apply these 16 miters saw tips and tricks to start your woodworking journey today!
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I’m Ivan D. Mitchell. I’m the Chief Engineer, Manufacturing Engineering Tool and Launch, specialising in automotive equipment design and build which meets World Class Manufacturing methodology. I have 15 years of work experience as a Tooling Specialist on some of the leading automotive manufacturing companies. When I launched this site, I wanted to create a platform where you’ll get everything about tools in one place. I also wanted to share my experience in the tool industry. I’ll do my best to share the information you need to truly make your tool using experience better. I hope you find our guides, reviews, information HELPFUL. If you have any inquiries, I’m always here to help you.