Miter Saw

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Revision as of 20:30, 9 December 2019 by Anorman2 (talk | contribs)
Compound miter saw.

A power miter saw, also known as a drop saw or chop saw, is a power tool used to make a quick, accurate crosscut in a workpiece at a selected angle. A primary distinguishing feature of the miter saw is the miter index that allows the angle of the blade to be changed relative to the fence. While most miter saws enable precise one-degree incremental changes to the miter index, many also provide "stops" that allow the miter index to be quickly set to common angles (such as 15°, 22.5°, 30°, and 45°). Compound-Miter saws add the ability to rotate the blade head at a range of angles from the board allowing a compound angle cut to be made in one step.

Here in the Idea Shop, we have a compound miter saw with extension arm that allows material as wide as 13" to be crosscut at an angle.

Machine Details

Permitted Materials

  • Wood
  • MDF
  • Protoboard
  • Melamine
  • Additional wood products

Materials like ABS, Acrylic, and other plastics should be cut using the bandsaw or panel saw.

Safety Instructions


  • Wear safety glasses at all times
  • Use clamps to secure your workpiece whenever possible.
  • Do not use this saw to cut pieces that are too small to be securely clamped, or that require your hand be placed in the “No Hand” area near the blade. When cutting small or irregularly shaped pieces first attach the workpiece to a jig/fixture, or use a different saw.
  • Inspect your workpiece before cutting. If workpiece is bowed or warped, clamp it with the outside bowed face toward the fence. Always make certain that there is no gap between the workpiece, fence and table along the line of cut. Also, make sure there are no nails or foreign objects in the workpiece.
  • Turn on the dust collection system and close all gates, except that for the miter saw.

Active Use

  • Hold the workpiece securely against the fence, ensuring your hands are clear of the "No Hand" zone on the bed.
  • For warped or cupped boards:
  • Cut with board in a "smiley" orientation so that each side of the board falls away from the blade after being cut to avoid pinching the blade.
  • Cut board with side that fits closest to flush with the fence to avoid pinching the blade after a cut.
  • Depress the safety button and squeeze the trigger, allowing the blade to come up to full speed before advancing into your material. Advance through your material in one smooth consistent motion.
  • Cut only one piece of material at a time.
  • To cut through thicker pieces (over 2"), partial cuts are be necessary to avoid pinching the blade. See a staff manager for assistance.
  • After finishing the cut, release the safety+trigger, and hold the saw arm down at the bottom of the cut and allow the blade to come to a stop before raising the saw arm.

Clean Up

  • Vacuum up all debris after cutting.

Safety Tips and Best Practices

  • Be sure to take warping or cupping into consideration when cutting your material (see previous section).
  • For workpieces longer than can be adequately supported by the extension leaf, use a roller stand or other support
  • Always disconnect the power cord from the power source before making any adjustments or attaching any accessories.
  • If supporting the workpiece by hand, you must always keep hand outside of “No Hand” area that is marked in yellow. Never feed the workpiece into the blade or cut freehand in any way.
  • Never cross your hand over intended line of cutting. Supporting the workpiece “cross-handed” i.e. holding the left side of the workpiece with your right hand is very dangerous.

Instructional Videos

Instructional Video:

Machine Proficiency

In order for an individual to advance in machine proficiency they must demonstrate ability to perform certain actions or tasks. All levels include abilities and concepts from lower levels.

This section is primarily for student workers.

Level 0

Individual has demonstrated they are capable of:

  • Marking a guide line on stock material
  • Adjusting and locking the miter and bevel angles
  • Locking the slide

Individual understands the concepts:

  • Knowing to spin the blade up to speed before cutting and to let it stop before moving it after cutting
  • Know which materials can be cut
  • Understanding the laser is inaccurate

Level 1

Individual has demonstrated they are capable of:

  • Properly clamping stock material
  • Doing a basic cross cut 90 deg
  • Basic miter joint 45 deg cut
  • Cleaning out the dust bag

Individual understands the concepts:

  • Knowledge of the preset detent angles
  • ⅛” blade width kerf (the amount of material lost to the blade)
  • Blade diameter
  • Max material thickness able to be cut

Level 2

Individual has demonstrated they are capable of:

  • Using a digital protractor to attain higher accuracy cuts
  • Making small angle adjustments
  • Making thin cuts while safely securing or clamping the workpiece to prevent kickback
  • Using a stop block for repeat cuts

Individual understands the concepts:

  • Difference between miter and bevel cuts
  • When to use the telescoping slide

Level 3

Individual has demonstrated they are capable of:

  • Replacing the blade
  • Replacing sacrificial throat plate
  • Creating a compound angle cut:
  • Making and attaching an extended backstop out of wood for supporting longer pieces

Individual understands the concepts:

  • Difference between drop saw and chop saw blades
  • Difference between cross cut blade and rip cut blades
  • Anatomy of the miter saw components