How to Use a Miter Saw

A miter saw, or a chop saw, is one of the most commonly used saws when it comes to carrying out efficient and precise woodworking tasks. However, using it can be a little daunting, especially if you have just bought your first miter saw.

So, basically, you start off the job by measuring and marking the location where you want to make the cut. You, then clamp the tool, and prepare the saw, and begin the cutting process. With a miter saw, you can make either a miter or a bevel.

In this guide, we will be getting you up to speed with all the details of the steps mentioned above and more. So, let’s get going!

Types of Miter Saws

How to Use a Miter Saw

There is a total of, three types of miter saws, namely sliding, compound, and sliding compound. Each of them has the ability to make either a miter or a bevel.

A miter is a cut made across the face or width of a wooden board whereas a bevel is an angled cut made through the thickness of the workpiece.

A sliding miter saw adds rails to the saw blade so that you can cut at much greater depth than any normal miter saw without rails whereas a compound miter saw features a blade adjustment mechanism that allows it to complete both miter and bevel with a single cut.

Finally, a sliding compound miter saw offers you the features of both the other types of miter saws, making for a comprehensive tool.

Unless you need to cut deeper material, like a 1×12 or 2×12 wooden board, a compound miter saw should work just fine for you.

Once you have picked a miter saw of your choice, follow the steps below to know how you can use a miter saw.

Step 1: Mark the Cut

Keeping in mind the width of your miter saw blade (which is roughly 1/8 inches), using a meter rule and pencil, measure and mark the lines where you intend to make the cut. Be sure to make the measurement twice.

Having done that, place the wooden workpiece against the fence, located at the saw’s back.

Step 2: Set Up the Clamp

A miter saw clamp is used to protect yourself. Place the clamp at least 6 inches from the saw’s blade and secure it so that your hands are well away from the blade.

There is likely to be a knob on the clamp that will allow you to tighten or loosen it.

Step 3: Set Up the Saw

According to the directions of your miter saw’s manufacturer, adjust the miter and the bevel as per the required angle for your project.

With the angle adjusted, turn on the saw by squeezing the trigger and allow the blade to attain full speed.

Step 4: Commence the Sawing Process

With everything ready, start moving your miter saw from front to back. This is because the blade is designed to move this way and no kickbacks will be produced as a result.

Once the wooden board is fully cut, release the trigger, and allow the blade to come to a halt before you raise it.

Step 5: Making the Desired Cut

How to Use a Miter Saw

With a miter saw, you can make both a miter and an angled cut.

For miter cuts, squeeze the miter lock handle to adjust the turntable until it is at the required angle while keeping in mind that a perpendicular cut requires a 0o angle.

On the other hand, for an angled cut, tilt the blade arm at the desired angle to the table’s bed. As a result, you will be able to cut both an angle and a bevel simultaneously.

It is worth mentioning that while most miter saws can tilt in both directions, some may only be able to tilt in one direction.

Anyhow, once you have adjusted your miter saw as you desire, lower the blade onto the workpiece and begin cutting from front to back.

Some Useful Tips to Keep in Mind

When using a miter saw, there are quite a few tips that, if kept in mind, can go a long way in your woodworking ventures:

  • Before you dig into the full depth of the workpiece, start with a scoring cut. This will prevent tear-out and keep the overall cut clean.
  • After you measure and mark the cut, draw an X on the side of the workpiece that is being cut away. Make sure that the blade is entirely on this side, with the edge of the teeth right on the edge of the line. Resultantly, you will get the workpiece of the desired length.
  • Oftentimes, you need to cut the tiniest part from a workpiece. Accordingly, bring the saw’s blade close to the workpiece and hold it in place. Now, bring the workpiece against the face of the blade and hold it firmly. Finally, raise the saw and make the cut.

Safety Considerations

Now that you have the know-how of using a miter saw, you must be familiar with the important safety consideration that you need to make:

  • Don the appropriate safety gear; safety glasses for the protection of eyes against dust and fly-offs, ear protection for dampening the loud noise, and a face mask to avoid inhaling sawdust.
  • When not in use, keep the miter saw unplugged.
  • Don’t clamp both sides of the wooden board that needs to be cut.
  • Keep loose clothes, and dangling items away from the saw’s blade.
  • Keep your hands away from the miter saw’s blade. As a general rule of thumb, your fingers should be at least 6 inches away from the path of the blade.
  • Avoid reaching under the blade when it is in motion.
  • The miter saw’s blade has a guard covering it; never remove it. When you will lower the tool onto the wooden workpiece, it will automatically be lifted to allow for the cut.
  • Keep even pressure on the workpiece so that it doesn’t get caught in the blade after the cut and gets thrown.
  • Never cross your arms when making a cut. For instance, using your right hand to hold the left side of the workpiece.

Be sure to make any bystanders adhere to the relevant guidelines as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to Use a Miter Saw

Can a Miter Saw Cut Long Boards?

Yes, it can. You just have to place a small board under the longboard for support and make the cut as usual.

Will a 7-1/4’’ Miter Saw Cut a 4×4?

No, you won’t be able to get through a 4×4 in one cut because the required size is less than the blade’s size.

Will a 10’’ Miter Saw Cut a 4×4?

Yes, it can. However, the desired cut won’t be possible in one go with a stationary saw since you will need to flip over the material and cut from the other side.


If you have read up to this point, you have probably understood that using a miter saw is quite easier than it seems.

To reiterate, once you have put on the mandatory safety gear, you can begin by measuring and marking the cut line. After that, you need to prepare your miter saw and begin sawing. Also, by sticking to the tips mentioned in this guide, you will be able to achieve the perfect cut for the job.

Liam Weissman

Hello and welcome to PowerToolGenius! My name is Liam and for the last 9 years, I have worked extensively with various power tools and accessories. I have tested hundreds of different brands and models and understand the industry extensively and have been working with tools my entire life!

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