How to Maximize Your Miter Saw Usage

Using a miter saw is not necessarily difficult, but if you want to make the best cuts you will have to learn how best to operate the saw. What makes the difference between various models and brands of miter saws is their ability to obtain quality cuts. However, regardless of the quality of a miter saw, it is highly necessary that you do your best to maximize or get the best from your miter saw as well.

Some woodworkers spend money in acquiring quality miter saws, but they are not able to put it into good use. If you have a miter saw, there are certain things that you should do in order to maximize your miter saw usage and end up with the highest quality cuts possible. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Upgrade the Blade of Your Miter Saw


Many saw come standard with a 24 to 40 tooth blade. These do not give clean cuts, but can be used for cutting framing lumber and decking where smoothness does not count so much. However, if you need to make impressive, perfect cuts in wood, you need to upgrade the blade of your miter saw to one which will deliver flawless cuts.

These types of blades generally have a slight negative rake. They are also available with a variety of tooth counts. The tooth count to use depends on the size of your miter saw. If you are using a 10 inch miter saw, then you should go for 80 tooth blades and if you are using 12 inch miter saw model, then 100 tooth blades should be the right option for you.

  • Know Your Blade’s Hook Angle

The performance of your miter saw also depends to a certain extent on the hook angle of your miter saw’s blade. The hook angle refers to which way the teeth are facing. A neutral hook angle of 0 features teeth with edges that stick straight out. A positive hook angle has the sharp edges facing forwards and a negative hook angle has blade edges facing backwards. This is also referred to as the negative or positive rake of a blade.

The higher the positive angle, the rougher the cut will be. The lower the negative angle, the softer the cut will be. Blades with hook angles that range from 10 degrees to -5 degree are more recommendable than any type outside of the two readings. Positive hook angle blades that are above 10 degrees cut aggressively and thus they may not give the best cuts or accuracy for anything other than framing. The negative blades that are below -5 degree on the other hand are very sluggish and soft on the work piece. Thus, they will only give a poor cut if you are working on normal wood.

  • Back Up Your Cuts 

It is advisable that you install a back up table and fence created from hardboard, plywood or MDF. This will help to get instant zero-clearance support in order to guide against tear out if the blade gets out of the cut.

There is no doubt that the support between the zero clearance throat insert plate that the tool comes with and the one you created will dwindle after you have made two different cuts using different settings. This will provide support continually to the other side. So, it will be good that you place the keeper piece in that side. You should replace the supporting table and fence when they have become very week.

  • Lift Only When the Blade is Still 

After cutting with your miter saw, it is advisable that you first lift the saw when the blade has stopped spinning entirely. If you raise it before the blade stops, there is the possibility of the spinning blade to catch the cutoff and propel it dangerously around the room at a high speed. It can also score your workpiece’s end and require you to make a new cut.

  • Sneak Up on Cuts 

There is the possibility of the blades of a miter saw to flex when it is doing a tough cut on hardwoods. The best way to prevent this from happening is to do the cutting in two steps. Start by making the initial cut about 1/16 inches to your cut line waste side. Then cut to the line. This last cut which should be as about half as wide as the normal, but should be a better square and cleaner.

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6 thoughts on “How to Maximize Your Miter Saw Usage

  1. I didn’t quite understand why I’d need a backup fence and a table. How can the saw tear the piece of wood if it’s out of cut?

  2. In my opinion, the real question is how to maximize the usage of a miter saw when you have so MANY CLIENTS that are waiting for their chair or frame or side table… I constantly work under pressure, I’m constantly in need of new blades, constantly troubleshooting, and with each new problem there’s a need for a new solution, that’s what it seems like..

  3. Is the sharpening of blades the same for blades with negative and blades with positive hook angle or are there different tricks for different rakes?

  4. A customer recently asked me to do something quite unique for him. He wants me to make him like a very large picture frame for one of the walls in his living room, the wall being 10 x 10 ft. However, he wants the frame to be made of wooden pieces that are no longer than 2 inches, each of the pieces made at specific angles. I’m honestly not sure whether I can execute this with my miter saw. I’ve been in the woodworking business for about three years now, but have never faced a task like this one.


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