What is a Miter Saw Used For: Is it a Versatile Tool That’s Worth Buying?

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As a woodworking enthusiast, I strongly advocate the use of various saws when tackling diverse projects. Each type of saw serves a specific purpose, and this principle holds especially true for miter saws.

So, with this guide, let me provide you with a clear understanding of the versatile applications of a miter saw.

How Does a Miter Saw Function?

Most would wonder how a miter saw works, as it works very close to other power tools like a radial saw. Miter saws function in a short controlled motion and are powered by pulling the spinning circular saw blade onto the wood. 

With miters, angles are very important so you have to set up your miter angle, before tightening the blade in place. Miter saws make more accurate repeated cuts, but they can only make cuts that are as long as the actual blade. 

Bosch GCM12SD miter saw

Uses of a Miter Saw

#1: Regular Crosscuts

Crosscuts are simple cuts made across a board. While you can make crosscuts with a regular saw most users prefer power saws such as miter saws to do the work. 

Crosscuts are essential in various furniture constructions and general woodworking projects. They are the most basic type of cut, although considered the weakest form of cut.

#2: Angled/Miter Cuts

Miter saws such a regular miter saw or a compound saw, are best used for angled cuts, especially those cuts for joins. For woodworking projects that need seamless joins, angles are crucial, and the best way to form an angle cut is through miter saws. 

cutting wood with miter saw

To join two pieces of wood at a 180 angle, run the miter cuts in the same direction. If you’re opting for a corner cut, oppose the angle cuts and you’ll end up with 90-degree angled cuts. 

If you are using a specific brand like Ryobi, you can always check Ryobi user’s manual to get a more accurate angled/miter cuts. 

#3: Bevel Cuts

Miter saws are made to cut wood at desired length and angles. When making bevel cuts, using a power tool gives you a lot of advantages. Regular hand saws are difficult to use when making bevel cuts due to the extreme precision and pressure necessary for such cuts. 

Bevel cuts are also most appropriate for making geometric shapes or when installing weatherstrippings. 

#4: Compound Cuts

One of the most intimidating and frustrating cuts to make is the compound cut or the mix of bevel and angled cuts. 

These complex cuts are utilized when making sophisticated pieces such as trays or cradles. Getting both cuts precisely with a hand saw is complicated and accident-prone [1]

Other Benefits of a Miter Saw

Repeated and Consistent Cuts

The biggest advantage of power tools like miter saws made by top brands like Ridgid and Ryobi is consistency. With hand saws, it’s not possible to make consistent pressure because there’s no metric to assess the pressure gauge. 

ryobi miter saw

With compact miter saws, you can make repeated and consistent cuts simply by laying the first wood cut and using it as a pattern to work on the next. 

Another effective option is to use a stop block for miters saws to craft more accurate repeated cuts, and this technique has very little room for error.

Workbench

Locking a miter saw in a workbench makes it easier for a woodworker or a DIY enthusiast to fold and roll their power tools for organization. However, some would keep it intact in a table to make it more accessible. But either way, the miter saw can be as functional as it is. 

Just keep in mind to plan the side features of the workbench, so the piece or blade won’t fall. 

Sliding Saw

If you’re opting for cutting longer woods around 1 x 12 or lumbers, a sliding miter saw rather than a non-sliding miter saw will best suit your needs. It’s also efficient for creating compound angle cuts, with the blade moving along the rails.   

Milwaukee 6955-20 Sliding Dual Bevel Miter Saw

FAQ

What can be used in place of a miter saw?

Hand saws can be used in replacement of miter saws, as long as there’s a miter box in place. There are also other options such as table saws, with a miter fence or a circular saw with a jig. 

How long do miter saws last?

A miter saw, whether it is from DeWalt or Craftsman brand, can last for about 6 months with actual woodworkers on average. However, it entirely depends on the machine’s quality and how often you use it. Hence, for casual woodworkers, it can last for about 6 years with proper maintenance.

Read Next: Metabo HPT-C10FCGS Miter Saw Review

Conclusion

Without a doubt, getting a powerful but handy miter saw is a decision you won’t regret especially if you’re into bevel and angled cuts. Knowing what a miter saw is used for allows you to maximize its efficiency. 

I haven’t come across any other power tool that offers the same level of versatility and precision as this specialized machine. So, it’s an essential addition to your workshop, especially if you’re planning to tackle various wood projects.

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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