Essential for almost any type of carpentry work, a mitre saw allows you to cut across any board at any angle. Need something cut at 45° or aright-angle cut? Your mitre saw can do that! But what’s the best way to use a mitre saw and what are the basics you need to get clued up on before starting a new project? In this post, we’ll be guiding you on how to use your mitre saw, discussing a few basics cuts, and taking a look at safety precautions that’ll ensure you stay safe while working with your mitre saw!
Different Types of Mitre Saw Cuts
Before you start a new project using a mitre saw, it’s essential to understand the types of cuts your tool can make. You also need to get to grips with when to use which kind of cut and the various joints you can use. In essence, there are really just four basic types of cuts you can make with a mitre saw. These include:
A cross cut is a straight cut at 90 degrees. It’s the simplest and most common mitre saw cut and is almost always used when cutting a piece of wood to the right length.
Mitre cuts are made along the width of the material and can be made at different angles. These cuts have straight edges and are most often used for creating corners of frames.
This cut is made along the thickness of the material you’re working with. It can be made at different angles and have angled edges. In general, you’ll use a bevel cut for projects where you need to eliminate sharp corners, like the edge of a table.
A compound cut combines a mitre and bevel cut. These cuts are most commonly used for roofing work, and whenever two pieces of wood have to meet but have different angles. Compound cuts are also used for making containers that need sloping sides.
Mitre Saw Safety Basics
If you follow the operation instructions carefully, a mitre saw is safe and straightforward to use. It’s always a good idea to check out the tool’s instruction manual before using it for the first time. Here’s a look at some of the most basic safety precautions to keep in mind:
- Before attempting to change the blade, ensure your saw is unplugged.
- Always keep your fingers 15cm away from the path of the blade.
- Don’t forget to wear safety glasses when you’re using the saw.
- Never reach under the blade while it’s spinning.
- Allow to the blade to come to a complete stop at the end of every cut before you lift the blade or remove the material.
- Ensure you’re wearing proper ear protection before operating the mitre saw.
- Raise and lower the head of the saw a few times before you turn on the power. This will help you ensure that the blade guards are in place and working as they should.
- Check and tighten the blade and blade attachment mechanism on a regular basis.
- If you have a sliding mitre saw, start cutting with the blade closest to you, pushing down into the wood as you begin cutting. Push the blade away from you on the sliders as you cut through the piece of wood.
- Never use anything other than the recommended blade.
- Don’t perform free-handed cuts and never cut small pieces of wood with your mitre saw.
How to Adjust a Mitre Saw
Whenever you buy a new mitre saw, you’ll need to check it for accuracy. Even though they are set in the factory, those setting can come out of adjustment during shipping. It’s also essential to check for accuracy after a kickback (unexpectedly hitting a knot in the wood and the saw kicks back).
To check and adjust your saw, you’ll need a speed square. Start by setting your saw on a stable work surface, or mitre saw stand. You’ll check the mitre saw blade and fence to ensure your tool makes the most accurate cuts.
Adjusting the mitre saw blade
Once your mitre saw is on a solid surface, you need to check that the saw blade is square or 90° to the table. Start by unplugging the saw and moving the blade guard out of the way. Place your speed square flat on the saw table and then lower the blade down towards the table. Move the speed square against the side of the blade, avoiding the teeth. If the blade is adjusted correctly, the edge of the speed square should make complete contact with the side of the table when you sight down the table.
If there’s a gap at the top or bottom edge, the blade needs to be adjusted. To do so, start by loosening the bevel handle at the back of the saw. Next, adjust the blade until it makes complete contact with the speed square and then tighten the handle. Now adjust the stop bolt until it meets the stop. If the bevel is changed and returned to zero, the bolt will stop the blade, so it’s square to the table. Lastly, adjust the indicator, so it points to 0 (zero).
Adjusting the mitre saw fence
If your saw features a one-piece fence, loosen the adjusting bolts or screws on each side of the fence and adjust the left or right side to the blade body. Since the left and right sides of the fence are connected by the yoke, you only need to adjust one side of the fence to align both sides.
If your saw has separate fences, aligning them both to the blade might result in fences that don’t align with each other. You’ll need to square one fence (left or right) to the blade and retighten the bolts on that side. Next, align the opposite fence and finally adjust the cursor to 0°.
Some saw fences aren’t adjustable, which means you need to align the blade and saw carriage square to the fence. You can do this by setting the mitre at the 0°detent and loosening the screws on the detent plate. Next, rotate the table and plate to position the blade 90° to the fence. Retighten the adjustment screws once you’re done.
Performing Each of the 4 Basic Cuts
Mitre saws are universally appreciated for their effectiveness and their ability to cut at a variety of angles. Here’s a quick look at how you should do each of the four basic cuts!
Use a cross cut for trimming down a piece of wood to the size you need it.
- Start by marking the board where you want to cut.
- Ensure that both your mitre and bevel angle is at 0°(zero).
- Align the board to make the cut by bringing the saw blade down and aligning it on your cut mark.
- Align the blade on the waist side so that when you cut the board, it will be precisely the right length.
- You’re now ready to make the perfect cross cut.
Use a mitre cut to make pieces for a picture frame or when trimming out a door or window.
- Set your saw for a 45° mitre cut.
- Lock it down before lowering the blade and aligning it on the waist side of your mark.
- After making the cut, you’ll have one half of a perfect corner joint.
Use a bevel cut to join two pieces of wood together with an invisible seam.
- Start by setting the mitre angle to 0°(zero) and the bevel angle to 45°.
- Once you’ve got your wood marked out, lower the blade, and align it on the waist side of the mark and make the cut.
- Once you’ve made the cut, you just need to cut the other piece to match the first piece, and you’ll have an invisible seam.
Use a compound cut to bring two pieces of crown moulding together in a corner.
- To start, set your mitre angle to 31.6° and the bevel angle to 33.9°.
- Mark your piece of wood and slide it over and lower the blade to align it on the waist side of your mark.
- Once you’ve made the cut, you’ll have one half of the joint you need.
After reading through this article, you should have a better understanding of how to use a mitre saw. We’ve touched on the differences between the cross, mitre, bevel, and compound cuts, and we’ve also discussed when and where to use each of the four basic cuts. To help ensure you stay as safe as possible, we highlighted the necessary safety precautions everyone needs to take when working with a mitre saw, and to help you make the most accurate cuts possible, we also covered your options as far as adjusting a mitre saw goes!
- 1 Different Types of Mitre Saw Cuts
- 2 Mitre Saw Safety Basics
- 3 How to Adjust a Mitre Saw
- 4 Performing Each of the 4 Basic Cuts
- 5 Final Thoughts