Aside from the table saw, the miter saw is one of the tools you’ll find yourself using the most when it comes to furniture projects. But did you know that there are plenty of miter saw tips and tricks that you can use that can make a particularly challenging project much easier and can even shave some time off of your next project?
Miter saw tips and tricks are designed to help shave time off your latest project, but they’re also great at helping to improve cutting precision, which ensures accuracy and a cleaner looking cut. Some basic tips will include inspecting your saw routinely, never lifting the blade if the saw is still running, creating a stop for repetitive cuts, and removing sawdust from the stop to ensure each workpiece is cut accurately and to the perfect length. These simple tips and tricks are perfect for woodworkers of all skill levels and will definitely come in handy with your next woodworking project.
Creating a Cleaner Cut
How smooth and accurate your cuts are with any saw will have a lot to do with the types of techniques you use, how sharp the blade is, and how clean you keep it. If you know how to use a thickness planer, and basic woodworking techniques, then you already know how important it is to work with clean, sharp tools and how much of an impact your tools can have on the quality of your project. Below, you’ll find a list of some great tips you can follow, each time you use your miter saw.
Before we dive in and get started on learning some great tricks for your miter saw make sure that you’ve carefully read through the user’s manual before use and have a deep understanding of how to use this tool safely. During use, you’ll need to wear earplugs for protection in addition to safety glasses. I also recommend using a high-quality respirator to protect your lungs.
Inspect Your Saw
Did you know that most saws are set to their factory settings right out of the box? Before you use your new saw make sure the blade is square to the table. It’s also important to determine whether or not the fence is square to the blade. Make sure you check both of these issues considering it’s fairly common for a saw to come out of adjustment when transported.
Keep in mind, a saw can also come out of alignment during regular use, or if moved. This usually occurs when you experience kickback if the saw comes across a knot. When you buy a new saw it’s a good idea to ensure that its cutting square. This will be especially important if you move the saw from surface-to-surface.
.Upgrade the Blade
As you probably already know, a blade that has more teeth will provide a much cleaner cut. Blades that have fewer teeth often produce choppy and rough cuts. For furniture projects, you want to use a blade that has more teeth. You only want to use a blade with fewer teeth if you’re cutting up rough workpieces. Unfortunately, most stock plates come with fewer teeth, which is why it’s important to upgrade the blade before you get started.
For a furniture project, cutting with a sharp blade is crucial. Each time you use the saw to make a cut, wood pitch tends to build up on the blade. It’s common for a woodworker to mistaken a blade as dull when it’s really just dirty. Routine maintenance is essential if you want to continue to regularly cut with a clean blade. Additionally, cleaning out the blade is very easy to do.
As you already know, wood that comes from the factory isn’t cut perfectly. If you take a speed square, placing it across the board’s end, the board will rarely be perfectly square. In order to improve the quality and final results of your project, make sure you always square the end of a board before you begin. To do, begin by making a cut on the end. Only cut off enough to ensure the end is square. Once you square the end of the board you’re ready to begin.
We all use a pencil to draw the proper measurements on our workpieces, for cutting accuracy. When you leave the pencil line when you make a cut with your saw it will allow you to fine-tune the cut should you need to make the board shorter.
If you’re new to woodworking, then you may have made the mistake of raising the blade before it’s stopped spinning. This will cause a saw to cut the board twice. It will cut first when the blade is lowered and again when it is raised. Unfortunately, this can end up changing the measurement of your board. To prevent this, always allow the blade to come to a full stop before you make an additional cut with the saw.
Repetitive cuts are common. For certain projects, such as making a coffee table, or a cabinet, you’ll end up making many repetitive cuts. Instead of cutting and measuring every piece just try measuring once and set up a stop. A stop is simply a piece of scrap wood that you have clamped to your saw stand, which can be done using a spring clamp. Once you’ve installed a stop this will allow you to slide in a workpiece up to the stop and cut up several pieces of wood to the same length without all the measuring involved. Not only is this a huge time-saver, but it will ensure a proper fit for all of the project pieces.
When you use a stop after you make a couple of cuts, sawdust tends to build up in front of it. As you already know, even just a little sawdust can prevent the board from making full contact with the stop which can lead to a shorter cut. To avoid this, you can cut a bevel on the bottom edge of the stop, to prevent sawdust buildup.
For ultimate cutting precision with your miter saw, start by trimming the end of the board, then use your saw to square one end. Measure your workpiece. Measure the length of the board you just squared and apply a pencil mark. Next, set a stop. Position your workpiece so that it leaves the pencil line visible even after you’ve made your cut. If you’re only cutting one workpiece then you don’t need to set a stop. Now you’re ready to make your cut.
If you find that your workpiece is too long you can use the blade to make micro-adjustments, cutting the wood to the exact length needed. Switch the saw off and lower the blade as far as it’ll go into the table. Next, you’ll slide the wood until it touches the side of the plate. With the board kept securely in place, raise the blade again and fire up the saw, then lower it to make another cut. It should only cut a very small amount off. Now you can measure the wood again. If it’s the measurement you need, then you’re good to go. Sometimes you may need to make several adjustments, however using this simple technique will allow you to cut the board to the desired every time.
What’s a Tough Table Saw for Pro Level Woodworking Projects?
If you’re looking for the best portable table saw, I recommend the Dewalt DW744X, which is powerful, solidly built, and has a reputation for its reliable performance.
Can You Use a Miter Saw as a Table Saw?
Most table saws and miter saws will use a ten-inch or twelve-inch blade. The blades are usually interchangeable so you can use a twelve-inch table saw blade on a ten-inch miter saw.
What’s the Easiest Saw to Use for Beginners?
Some woodworkers may argue and claim the miter saw is the easiest, but many have found that the table saw is the best choice for beginners, giving them more control over a cut.
I hope you found these miter saw tips and tricks useful. If you follow them for each project involving this saw, you’ll find that you end up with precise, cleaner cuts, not to mention the fact that it can shave some serious time off of each project. While the micro-adjustment technique can be tricky to learn initially, with a little practice, this specific technique will also save you time and money, and the hassle that comes with cutting your workpiece too short.