Compound Miter Saw Tips and Tricks

How to Get the Most Out of Your Compound Miter Saw

Man using Compound Miter Saw
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A compound miter saw is a precise cutting tool for making square, beveled or mitered cross-cuts on boards. A compound miter saw is essentially a circular saw mounted onto a spring-loaded arm that allows the saw to be positioned at various angles to the board. The saw is then started and the handle at the end of the arm is pulled down, plunging the saw blade into the board. Most compound miter saws can be set up to cut at least 45-degrees to either the left or right, and also beveled up to 45...MORE degrees. The word compound is appropriate, because the saw can be set up to cut bevels and miters at the same time.

Here are some tips and tricks for getting the most out of your compound miter saw.

  • 01 of 07
    Cut Glulam Beam With Miter Saw
    Cut Glulam Beam With Miter Saw. © Lee Wallender

    The compound miter saw is the most accurate power tool available for making cross-cuts on boards. Most compound miter saws have an easy-to-read angle gauge along the base of the saw, and a locking mechanism for locking the bevel angle in place. Most also have preset detents at 15, 22.5, 30 and 45 degree angles to both the left and right, as well as a detent at 0 degrees for square cuts. Some sliding compound miter saws can even cut boards that are wider than the blade. If you want to get started learning about compound miter saws, this article will give you all the basics you need.

  • 02 of 07

    If you're just getting started in learning how to use a compound miter saw, this article will give you the basics. Here, you'll learn all about the fence and table of the saw, how to set the miter and bevel angles, how to make cuts into the board and more. You'll also find how some saws are better equipped to support long boards when making a cut, or how a laser can be used to align the blade with the cut mark.

  • 03 of 07

    Looking for ideas to get the most out of your compound miter saw? Do you know how many teeth your saw blade should have to make any specific type of cut? How about how to make a perfect mitered butt joint, or perhaps more importantly, how to correct an imperfect mitered butt joint? Here are the answers.

  • 04 of 07

    Work Safely with Your Compound Miter Saw

    When working with a compound miter saw, as with any woodworking power tools, safety is of the utmost importance. A compound miter saw is tool with a sharp metal blade with numerous teeth and a powerful motor that doesn't care whether the blade engages with wood or flesh and bone. As such, you need to know some rules for using your saw in a safe manner. Here are the basics you need to know.

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  • 05 of 07

    Once you're up and running, using your compound miter saw for woodworking projects, how do you keep it in peak operating condition? Is there any calibration that needs to be done to make sure that the saw continues to cut as accurately as it did the first time you used it? Are there any ways to make sure that the blade continues to cut cleanly? Learn all of the answers in this woodworking article.

  • 06 of 07

    Now that you know how to use your compound miter saw, how about putting it to good use building a project or two? In this list, you'll find a number of projects that are ideally-suited for using a compound miter saw, from outdoor projects such as making a large picnic table or a set of barn doors, to indoor projects such as making a decorative knick-knack shelf or an attractive tall oak mirror. All of these free woodworking plans come with a set of measure drawings that you can download and print to take to your shop, as well as step-by-step building instructions.

  • 07 of 07

    If you have very long boards to cut with your miter saw, you'll need to support the ends of those boards while making the cuts. In this set of free woodworking plans, learn how to build a portable miter saw stand that gives ample support for cutting very long boards, but can be torn down and quickly re-assembled on a remote job site. Download the free plans and build one today!