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Miter Saws

The miter saw is considered such a simple tool that no-one gets any training in how to use it.  Actually there is a lot to learn.

The miter saw has evolved way beyond what we used to call a "cut-off" saw.  In fact it has largely replaced the much more complex Radial Arm Saw.  Actually I like my radial arm saw more than any of my miter saws, but you will have to consult the book on the radial arm saw that you will find here in the Learning Curve to understand why.  But I have to set my preferences aside and deal with the fact that you all want to create miracles with miter saws.  In this series of videos you will find some important techniques for using the tools and even some surprising tips on getting accuracy out of them.  In addition I deal with the fact that this saw is not nearly as "idiot proof" and "safe" as you may believe.  Miter saws can throw wood and explode plastic pipes when not used correctly, or not used with the proper blades.

"Accurate results can only come from precise work.  In this sense the "precision" of the machine and of your working techniques means the ability to work to close tolerances.  Cutting wood to close tolerances at the correct dimensions will result in accurately made, well-fitting joints.  Although craft books dealing with such delicate manual tasks as dovetailing and marquetry frequently deal with the details of precision, the subject is rarely discussed when dealing with power tools.  Yet how can we expect to understand the importance of detailed adjustments and techniques unless we understand their role in obtaining precision from our saws?"  --excerpt from my own book, Fine Tuning Your Radial Arm Saw.

When trying to choose a new miter saw the best starting point is to reflect on what you want to cut.  How big a saw do you need and how much precision do you need.  Then there are questions of size and weight - and of course price.

Check out the video on this page to walk through the range of saws available - and some tips on how to get more cut out of any given saw.  Then refer to the rest of the miter saw videos listed in the column to the left to get the saws working with you.

For a comparison of miter saw stands, follow this link.


The Principles of Precision

When I wrote the line-up book on the Radial Arm Saw I included a chapter that was particularly important for that machine -- a discussion on the principles of precision as they apply to using wood working machines.  You don't have to buy the Radial book to take a look at those principles and apply them to the miter saw as I have copied the whole chapter in the Learning Curve at the bottom of the page which introduces that book.  Just click here.


Related Topics

Learning Curve 137

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Douglas Kiefer on April 30, 2018 00:37

Great Video but could mention more about cutting Metal. When using the miter saw to cut steel studs with an abrasive blade, make sure it has no plastic parts that will melt or remove the plastic parts before cutting steel.

Monty on February 25, 2015 13:49

Nicely done video. I learned a few tips right off the bat. I'm thinking of buying the small sliding saw, now that I have used the 10" Hitachi for 18 months. I would like to be able to cut Hardie board, tile and flooring with longer cuts.

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