The Ultimate Miter Saw Guide

The Miter Saw is a large circular saw blade mounted on a hinged arm. Miter saws are commonly referred to as ‘chop saws’ because of their downward chop-like motion.

There are so many helpful options when it comes to saws for your project. Each tool has a specific purpose and function that separates it from the others. I’ve researched through the internet and put together a quick summary on the miter saw.

What is a miter saw used for? A Miter saw is used to make accurate crosscuts and miter cuts on your work piece.

Keep reading below to learn more about the Miter saw and what it can be used for.

Table of Contents

What Is A Miter Saw?

The Miter Saw is a tool designed for making accurate crosscuts and miters in a workpiece. Typically, a Miter Saw is a large circular saw blade mounted on a hinged arm. Miter saws are commonly referred to as ‘chop saws’ because of their downward chop-like motion.

You’ve got a circular saw. You got the table saw, and you even went out and bought that track saw gizmo that you saw on sale. The problem is, none of these tools can make angular cuts or ‘miters.’ For this, you’ll need a Miter Saw.

First-things-first, what the heck is a ‘miter?’

Merriam-Webster defines a miter as a surface forming the beveled end or edge of a piece where a joint is made by cutting two pieces at an angle and fitting them together or to bevel the ends of for making a miter joint.

In other words, miter cuts are angled cuts on the edge of your piece, typically used for making a miter joint, such as in a picture frame.

While you could freehand a miter cut with a circular saw, the Miter Saw is much safer and more accurate.

The standard miter saws on the market today are referred to as 10 inch and 12 inch. These numbers refer to the diameter of the blades each saw uses.

Obviously, the twelve-inch blade can cut wider boards than the ten-inch blade, but that’s the only substantive difference. And, while you can purchase a saw that allows you cut, miter, bevel, and that has a sliding blade that can be extended to cut even larger materials, most people are perfectly happy with a ten-inch compound saw.

What Is A Miter Saw Used For?

Miter Saws are a type of saw designed and used for cutting accurate crosscuts, miters, and some even cut bevels. The scale indicator is used to position the blade into the desired angle. With a fast-spinning saw blade, the Miter Saw operates on a swinging arm and makes fast chopping cuts through boards.

Parts of the Miter Saw

  • Saw Blade: Circular saw blade that is typically ten or twelve inches in diameter.
  • Motor: The motor powers the blade.
  • Dust Port: Most Miter Saws will have a dust port with its own suction to pull dust and debris away from the cutting area.
  • Lower Guard: The lower guard is a plastic shield over the blade that moves up to expose the blade as you move the blade down to cut and slides back over the blade as it moves back up.
  • Handle: Miter Saws have a handle to move the blade up and down.
  • Table: As the name suggests, this is a built-in surface to place your boards for cutting with a slot for the blade to go through on the downward cut.
  • Fence: The fence is built into the base of the saw stand and works like any normal fence, keeping the board in position while cutting.
  • Scale Indicator: This is the most important part of the saw. While the fence stays in position, keeping your board in place, the scale indicator allows you to swivel the blade to the correct angle for your cuts.

Using A Miter Saw

One of the best uses of a Miter Saw is its ability to ensure that all the angles of your materials are accurate. We all want to trust that what we buy at the store is cut perfectly, but the reality is that often, materials are cut in haste, and cuts are not exact.

With a Miter Saw, it’s as simple as loading your board onto the table, setting it flush against the fence, and checking it against the position of the scale indicator. If the edge is off, you can easily straighten with one chop of your Miter Saw.

If your project does not require a ninety-degree angle, then it’s as simple as positioning your blade to the proper angle with the scale indicator. Keeping the board flush against the fence, power-on the blade and pull it down over the board and back up. The blade should move up and down easily. You should keep lubricant on hand to keep the saw in working order.

As when using any saw, it is important to wear protective eyeglasses or goggles. You may also want to wear ear-coverings as well.

What Is The Difference Between Bevel And Miter Cuts?

What Is The Difference Between A Chop Saw And A Miter Saw?

Chop Saw

  • Larger in size (14″ or larger)
  • Uses Abrasive Wheel Disc without teeth or sharp edge instead of blade known as a “Cutoff Wheel”
  • Better for cutting metal, concrete and stone.
  • Only makes 90° cuts
  • Only moves up and down in a chopping motion and can’t be tilted
  • More powerful and blade spins at a higher RPM
  • Can come with foot or knee switches
  • Commonly used by professionals and metal workers
  • Has a protective hood around wheel disc to shield user from sparks

Miter Saw

  • Smaller in size (7.5”, 10”, 12”) 
  • Uses circular blade instead of abrasive wheel.
  • Better for cutting wood, Electrical conduit and PVC. Often used for trim work
  • Specialized to make crosscuts at multiple angles such as 15°, 22.5°, 30°, and 45°, 90° for miter cuts and bevels
  • Available in different types such as sliding, fixed, compound, compound sliding and dual compound
  • Commonly used by woodworkers, DIYers, hobbyists, and home workshops
  • Some come with a clamp to hold your workpiece in place
  • Can setup a stop block
  • More versatile

Is A Miter Saw Worth It?

Yes, a miter saw is worth it if you need to make a lot of miter or bevel cuts for your projects. They are most commonly used for quick and efficient crosscuts but those cuts can be done similarly on a table saw.  The miter saw really pays for itself when used to make fast and accurate miter and bevel cuts. Common projects will be frames, baseboards, molding, and trim.

Can A Miter Saw Cut A 4×4?

Yes, a miter saw can cut through a 4X4. If you are using a 10 inch miter saw then you will need to flip the workpiece to complete the cut but if you are using a 12 inch miter saw then you will be able to finish the cut with one stroke.

Should I Buy A 10 or 12 Inch Miter Saw?

Deciding between buying a 10 or 12 inch miter saw will come down to what type of projects you will be working on.  If you will mainly use your miter saw in your shop for projects requiring large posts or wide boards and have the budget for the higher upfront cost and blade cost throughout the life of your saw then a 12 inch miter saw will be the better choice. 

If you will need to be more mobile with your saw and will mainly be working on trim, baseboards, and frames the 10 inch miter saw will perform very well for you.

Will A 10 Inch Miter Saw Cut 4×4?

Yes, a 10 inch miter saw will cut a 4×4. You will need to make your first cut then roll the 4×4 over in order to completely cut through the workpiece.

Does A Miter Saw Need A Stand?

No a miter saw doesn’t need a stand in order for you to use it.  You can use it by placing it on the floor or on a table and still be able to complete every cut possible on a miter saw.  A miter saw stand can be a great option and most people who use them prefer them over using the floor or a table.

If you plan on using your miter saw quite often the money invested in one will be well worth it.

Should I Get A Sliding Miter Saw?

You should get a sliding miter saw if you are going to be working with wider and thicker pieces of wood.

When the blade is sliding through the cut on a wide board the blade is making contact with less wood while sliding compared to plunging downward. This reduces the friction and debris during each cut making it more efficient. Even though it can be more expensive it is also more versatile.

Can A Miter Saw Cut Straight?

Yes, a miter saw can cut straight. Although the name of the saw signifies it’s greatest strength is making miter cuts it is also extremely efficient in making quick and easy straight crosscuts on your workpiece.

Can You Use A Miter Saw To Rip Boards?

No, it is not recommended that you use a miter saw to make rip cuts. 

A table saw or a panel saw are much better options for ripping boards.  Yes, you could you attempt to rip cut a board the length that your blade could travel but it is probably unsafe and definitely not what the miter saw was designed to do.

Will A 12 Inch Miter Saw Cut A 4×4?

Yes, you can cut a 4×4 with a 12 inch miter saw. The 12 inch blade radius is large enough to cut through a 4×4 in one stroke.

Can A 7 1/4 Miter Saw Cut A 2×4?

You cannot cut 2×4 lumber via 7 ¼” miter saw.

You won’t cut a 4×4 in one cut with a 7-1/4″ because the maximum cut size will be less than:

(Blade size – arbor size) / 2 = (7-1/4 – 5/8)/2 = less than 3-5/16″).

You can’t even cut a 2×4 unless the miter saw has rails to pull on. Now, a sliding 7-1/4″ miter saw might be interesting, since blade flexibility in a cut is a factor of blade size.

You still couldn’t cut 3-1/2″ thick lumber, though. So, instead of using 7 ¼” miter saw, we recommend you to buy at least 10” size for your woodworking projects. However, for general woodworking 10” blade might still be limited but far better than 7 ¼” saw.

Can A 12 Inch Miter Saw Cut A 4×6?

Yes! A 12” miter saw can easily cut a 4 x 6 lumber. A 12 inch miter saw clearly has a bigger blade and has the capability to cut 4×6 lumber in a single pass. It’s tough blade material gives you the freedom to cut harder materials easily.

In general, the bigger the blade, the wider the cut would be. You can make a precise cut of 90-degrees through 2×8 lumber and 45-degrees through 2×6 lumber.

How Big Of A Board Can A 10 Sliding Miter Saw Cut?

It’s the most common question roaming around the woodworking industry. The blade and motor of a sliding miter saw equipped with 10 inch blade are fixed on tracks so you can pull the blade across the board.

This ingenious design allows you to cut wider boards than a fixed blade. So, regarding the question, the maximum cutting width depends on the design and length of the sliding track.

Is A Double Bevel Miter Saw Worth It?

Yes, especially when you need to cut a couple of angles on a similar cut. A double bevel will allow you to tilt the blade in both directions, thus eliminating the need for you to turn the corresponding board around.

This feature provides excellent help when you need to create and install crown moldings and saves you time because you don’t need to reposition your work for cutting in the opposite direction.

Are Craftsman Miter Saws Any Good?

Of course, it’s worth the investment in a Craftsman miter saw.

Craftsman is an American Company who has been innovating, designing, and selling a prestigious collection of woodworking tools since 1927. The Craftsman Miter Saw has always been regarded as an important accessory for various woodworking projects. Their products can make or break your career as a woodworker.

By investing in quality accessories and tools, such as the Craftsman Miter Saw, you not only improve the quality of your work but also ensure that you stay safe while doing your job.

Will 10 Miter Saw Cut 2×6?

Yes! Typically, a 10” miter saw will cut a 2 x 4 at 45 degrees and 2 x 6 lumber at 90 degrees.

The given specification is based on normal miter saw with non-sliding features. If it has a sliding arm, this can be extended by a few more inches. The size is comparatively affordable to buy as compared to the 12” blade, and also affordable to maintain because buying a replacement blade or sharpening it is cheaper.

Can I Use A Miter Saw As A Table Saw?

No, you cannot! However both saws use a circular/round blade to make their cuts, they are often used for very different purposes. Table saws can be used for straight cuts while Miter saws are primarily for angular cuts.

The table saw is considered great for a general-purpose cutting tool, whereas the miter saw is specifically designed to make accurate yet precise cuts. In general, table saws are meant for crosscuts and long-rip cuts, whereas the miter saw can only make 6-8 inches crosscuts (It may vary depending on the model you used).

So, if you want to make precise yet fine miter or bevel cuts then the miter saw will be the best choice otherwise you may opt for a table saw where you could make the same type of cuts but with least accuracy.

Is The Hercules Miter Saw Good?

Yes! In terms of price, the Hercules Miter Saw is good because it’s cheaper than Dewalt but doesn’t mean it’s bad.

So, if you need something exceptional for your woodworking projects that helps you make smooth cut, then the Hercules Miter Saw is the a good option you if your on a budget. It’s not only lightweight but gives you the freedom to make cutting through wood, resin, plastic, fiberglass, and any other hard material with precision.

All their products are incredibly easy to use. It has great performance which lasts for long with all the safety features.

What Is The Difference Between A Bevel And Miter Cut?

Usually, people get confused between the miter cut and bevel cut because of how closely related they are. It’s important to understand the basic difference; otherwise this can cause issues with your woodworking projects.

Just from looking at the two dissimilar cuts, you may not be able to tell the difference instantly until you take a closer look. To observe the difference, look where the cut was made on your workpiece because miter cuts will be on the face of the wood, whereas the bevel cut on the edge of the wood.

  • Miter Cut – The professionals, make miter cuts by angling the blade on the surface of the wood either on its length or width, as it’s not meant for cutting wood in depth.
  • Bevel Cut – The professionals, make bevel cuts right at the top of the wood instead of its length and width.

Are Miter Saws Dangerous?

Miter saws are designed to deliver great power for making quick, accurate, and clean cuts. However, these machines can be extremely dangerous if you operate them without care.

  • Use Safety Glasses & Ear Protection – In order to protect your eyesight, always use standard safety glasses. You should also use ear plugs to protect yourself from intense noise. 
  • Clamp Miter Saw on a Stable Stand – The risk of accidents is higher when a miter saw is held on surfaces that lack special features for firm holding. 
  • Maintain 6-Inch Distance – Always ensure that your hands and fingers are at a safe distance when operating a miter saw. Experts recommend placing your hand at least six inches from the blade and the cutting area.
  • Stop the Blade before lifting it off – Do not endanger yourself and others around the workplace by lifting a spinning blade from the piece of lumber. 

How Do I Choose A Miter Saw Blade?

Before buying a blade for your miter saw, you must check their attributes. There are four main attributes of a miter saw blade:

  • Number of teeth – In general, blades with more teeth yield a smoother cut, and blades with fewer teeth move material faster.
  • Type of gullet – The gullet is the space cut away from the miter saw blade plate in front of each tooth to allow for chip removal.
  • Tooth configuration – The shape of the miter saw blade tooth and the way the teeth are grouped also affect the way the blade cuts. The configuration of the teeth on a saw blade has a lot to do with whether the blade will work best for ripping, crosscutting, or laminates.
  • Hook angle (angle of the tooth) – On most saw blades, the tooth faces are tipped either toward or away from the direction of rotation of the blade, rather than being perfectly in line with the center of the blade. 

Click here to see Miter Saw Blade options on Amazon.

Can I Use A Miter Saw To Cut Laminate Flooring?

Yes, you can! The Miter saw is one of the finest tools that can help you cut laminate flooring. Make sure, you use a carbide tipped blade for cutting such exotic flooring.

Actually, Laminate floors are made from a composite wood fiber, adhesive blend that is patented to each manufacturer. You can cut laminate flooring with most saws. If you’re planning to cut laminate flooring on the larger side than 12 inch blade would be good; otherwise you may opt with a 10 inch miter saw blade to cut.

Why Does My Miter Saw Kickback?

Miter saw kickbacks are very dangerous and this happens when the saw blade stalls or binds in the wood and gets driven back towards you.

So, to prevent this kickback, you need to make sure your miter saw blade doesn’t bind in the wood.

When you start cutting wood, make sure the saw blade is not resting on the wood before you switch the trigger.

Always, keep the saw blade back from the lumber, switch the trigger on and let the blade come to its maximum speed before starting cut. Afterwards, you may slowly push the saw towards work piece and make a continuous cut across the lumber.

Furthermore, also make sure your body should not stand directly behind the saw. It should be slightly offset from the saw while pushing the board.

Why Is My Miter Saw Burning The Wood?

The simplest and most common reason for this to happen is that your saw blade could be getting dull with usage.

It means that the blade struggles to cut into the wood and it applies a lot more pressure than before. A blunt blade will make it hard to cut pieces, which increases the friction due to slower feed rate of the saw that leads toward burning wood or scorch marks.

How Do I Know If My Miter Saw Blade Is Dull?

Unplug your saw and softly run your fingertips over the edge of the miter saw blade and feel the sharpness of the blade. If it feels a lot less sharp than when it was new it may be time to replace. A dull blade can also burn your wood piece.

Do You Push Or Pull A Sliding Miter Saw?

Sliding miter saws are manufactured to cut on the push stroke.

Pulling a sliding miter saw through the wooden cut could cause the blade to repel out of the workpiece. In this way, a sliding miter saw can quickly yet efficiently create bevels at any angle. It has all the flexibility of a compound miter saw with a sliding feature, similar to a circular arm saw, allowing you to move the blade backwards and forward. The major advantage of the sliding feature is the increased length of cut it provides.

How Often Should You Change A Miter Saw Blade?

Whenever you feel the sharp edges become dull and couldn’t make smooth cut anymore, you should change your blade. In general, a good rule of thumb is after the 2nd or 3rd time cleaning your saw blade, it’s time to sharpen or replace it.

How Do You Sharpen A Miter Saw Blade?

Take a diamond file and start sharpening the teeth one after the other. To sharpen effectively, move the diamond or crayon file forward and upward along the edges. 

What Is The Best Blade For A Miter Saw?

FREUD Metal Blades

Their strong metal blades make them provide you with real value and quality. You know that they will be able to handle all the tough jobs that you put these fantastic blades through.

DEWALT Carbide Blade

The tungsten carbide is tougher and thus allows the blade to stay sharper for longer periods of time. With shaper blades, you can get the precise cuts that you are looking for your different DIY projects that you are working on.

Click here to see Miter Saw Blade options on Amazon.

Can You Use A Miter Saw To Cut Metal?

Yes, but you need the proper blade like a diamond tipped blade to cut metal. Your miter saw operates at a higher RPM and has been specifically engineered to cut wood. However, you can cut metals too if you’ve upgraded your saw with a metal cutting blade.

We don’t recommend using abrasive blades to cut steel on the miter saw. So, if you really want to cut a metal than go for diamond tipped blade.

Are Miter Saw Blades Universal?

No! Miter saw blades come in different sizes. These blades are not interchangeable and universal. It would be best if you got the perfect matching blade for your miter saw size.

Can I Put A 10 Inch Blade On A 12 Inch Miter Saw?

Yes, you can! Make sure, the arbor holes are the same size. In general, 10” blades can easily fit in 12” miter saw, but you cannot put 12” blade on your 10” miter saw.

We recommend you to use 12” blade in your 12” miter saw instead of 10” because it gives you greater versatility.

Can A Miter Saw Cut Aluminum?

Yes, a miter saw can cut aluminum. You will want to use a Non-ferrous metal miter saw blade to safely and efficiently cut through aluminum with your miter saw.

Can I Use A Miter Saw To Cut Steel?

Yes you can use a miter saw to cut steel. You will need a steel cutting blade in order to safely and efficiently cut through steel with your miter saw.  You will want to slowly move your blade through the steel and should require much force to push the blade through the metal.

Can A Miter Saw Cut Tile?

In general, professional’s use a tile wet saw along with water for tile cutting but if you don’t have one; you can use a miter saw equipped with a diamond or carbide blade for tile cutting project.

Can A Miter Saw Cut Stone?

Yes! You can cut stones with a miter saw but not with ordinary blades. It would be best if you had a special diamond or carbide-tipped blade to cut efficiently.

Can I Use A Miter Saw To Cut PVC?

Yes! A basic miter saw is perfect when you need to cut bulk quantities of PVC pipe. However, it’s an expensive way of doing that activity. So, if you already own a miter saw, and know how to use it safely then you can use it for cutting PVC pipe even with a wood cutting blade. You don’t need to buy a special blade like you do when cutting metal, tile, or stone.

Can I Use Miter Saw To Cut Brick?

Yes! If you have a miter saw with a large carbide or diamond tipped blade to penetrate through the brick, you can easily use it to cut any type of brick or paver cutting. You can also use angle grinders to cut bricks and pavers. Don’t forget to change your wooden blade to a diamond tipped blade before starting your brick cutting project.

Can A Miter Saw Cut Concrete?

Yes! As mentioned above, you can use a miter saw for cutting concrete until you have changed your wooden blade with carbide or diamond-tipped blade. So, with a special blade and proper safety precautions, you can cut through concrete for your DIY projects. For concrete, you should opt to get a saw blade with around 90 to 100 teeth.

Can A Miter Saw Cut Plywood?

Yes! You can cut plywood with miter saw but not with an ordinary wood cutting blade. Most of the manufacture designed a separate blade for plywood since the regular wood cutting blade may cause damage to the plywood edge. When buying a blade for cutting plywood, we recommend you to go for a 100 teeth blade.

Do You Need A Miter Saw?

If you plan on cutting posts, trim, baseboards, molding, and picture frames then a miter saw will come in very handy.  If your looking to mainly do woodworking projects like boxes, tables, and furniture then a table saw would be better as it also makes the same type of cuts as a miter saw.

If you want a miter saw you could save some money by starting with a 10 inch blade because you will typically not cut anything wider, also the blades are cheaper and you won’t need to spend the extra money on a compound style because you will rarely use the blade tilting feature.

Kevin Nelson

I will always have a special place in my heart for woodworking. I have such fond memories working on projects with my parents on the weekends in the garage growing up. We built tables, shelves, a backyard shed, 10' base for a water slide into the pool, 2 story fort playhouse with a fire pole, and so much more. This woodworking blog allows me to write helpful articles so others can enjoy woodworking as much as we have.

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