For many woodworking and construction projects, a miter saw can be the simplest and most convenient choice of tools. Using it for cutting is as simple as turning it on, placing the material to be cut, and lowering the blade. While making regular cuts is simple, what really matters is the quality of the cut you obtain.
The quality of a cut will determine the quality of your end product. So, how do you make sure to get the best from your miter saw? There are a number of factors including proper dust management, regular maintenance, blade quality, alignment, and blade type that work together to produce quality cuts.
Below are a few helpful tips you should apply in order to get the best from your miter saw:
Handheld saws can be good for long crosscuts, but miter saws are generally more accurate and make better cuts for those with varied skill levels.
- Keep Your Miter Saw Maintained
The fact is that if your miter saw is not well maintained or if it is not in a good state of repair, it will not perform very well and you will not get quality cuts from it. On the contrary, if your miter is well maintained, the blades are clean and sharp, and the dust and debris are removed from the blades than you will obtain better cuts.
You should be able to notice most repair problems easily by giving the saw a once-over before you use it. Ideally the blade should be rust-free, well sharpened, and completely straight without any warped or bent teeth. The table and fence areas of the saw shouldn’t have any noticeable dents or cracks. The saw head should be tightly secured to the body with little to no side-to-side play when it is in a locked position.
A saw in disrepair or a poorly maintained saw is not only an issue for making proper cuts, but it can cause safety issues as well, making this a very important thing to check regularly!
- Dust Management
In woodwork, proper dust management is very essential to obtaining better cuts and impressive performance. This is why dust is regarded as an enemy to be eliminated. If you are able to manage dust very well or control the dust generated during usage, you have succeeded in enhancing the performance and longevity of your miter saw.
Most saws in the market today come with dust bag for collection and easy removal of saw dust generated during cutting. Unfortunately, dust bags are fairly useless for catching a majority of the dust generated by your saw, and they are normally small, meaning they will be ineffective if you cut for hours in a day. You should consider replacing the manufacturer’s dust bag with a plastic elbow. This will make the dust to goes downward. It will also guard against the spread of sawdust and you can trap the dust more effectively by placing a bag at the end of the elbow.
The best method of collecting dust and debris is to attach a shop vac to the dust pipe. Most saws are equipped with a dust spout that is suitable for an average shop vac hose pipe. If not, you can easily find an adapter to make the hose fit properly. Shop vacs are great because they will not only collect dust that would normally go through the hose, they will actually suck the dust up, meaning you will get a larger amount of dust off the saw and away from the blade.
- Cut at Full Power
You may think that you can start cutting as needed immediately after you have switched the saw on. This is actually not true. It is advisable that you allow the engine of the tool some seconds to get at its full capacity before you can start cutting. Letting the saw rest for a few seconds or a minute after you turn it on will allow the engine time to reach its full capacity before cutting.
This short waiting period can make a big difference, as the blade will be running at full power instead of partial power. The end result will be better than when you start cutting when the saw is not properly warmed up.
- Utilize a Sacrificial Fence to Cut Small Pieces
Obtaining a perfect cut on small pieces can really be difficult, as they are hard to line up on the table and regular saw fence. You can make this task easier if you make use of a sacrificial fence. A sacrificial fence refers to a small piece of scrap wood that is used to push the cutting material closer to the center of where the blade is landing. This make the cuts nicer on the actual material, while ruining the makeshift fence in the process.
If you can, create two pieces of sacrificial fence. One will be used on either side of the cutting material, as a fence and a back-up. This will prevent the small cuts from becoming projectiles and will also make them smoother.
- Equip Your Saw with the Right Blade
Not all miter saw blades are equal. You cannot expect to get the same cutting quality from every different type of blade. There are some blades meant for cutting metal or plastic, others meant for wood, and a variety of different blades that will give you more or less refined cuts.
Choose your blade based on the project you want to complete. Finer cuts require a blade with more teeth and a slightly negative rake. Rough cuts for bracing and framing can easily be completed with a blade that has a lower tooth count and no negative rake. Any material besides wood requires a special blade, if that type of blade will be available for your saw.
Following these 5 tips will help you to make your miter saw work harder for you! This versatile tool can be one of the best things you bring to the job site, if you know how to get the right results from it.