The facts about miter saws
Miter saws are one of the most popular and widely used power tools in the tool industry today. Due to its portability, convenient capabilities, and overall accuracy, a miter saw can be found in almost every woodshop, garage, or truck. Miter saws are generally designed to produce fast, accurate crosscuts in a workpiece, typically for framing or molding applications. The workpiece is pressed against an angled fence to ensure the most accurate cutting angles as you work. The fence typically sits at a 900 angle, but can be adjusted as needed for a particular cut. While most miter saws have a miter index that allows users to precisely change their angle of cut in one-degree increments, most also have capabilities that allow quick and precise cut stops at common cut angles such as 150, 300, and 450. These precise miter cuts are made with the downward motion of a circular saw blade that rotates under power from the tool’s motor.
There are several types of miter saw available, the standard miter saw, a compound miter saw, and a sliding or sliding compound miter saw. The standard miter saw has a right-to-left blade pivot for miter cutting; However, this saw is becoming less popular as compound miters have more applications and are only slightly more expensive. Compound miters have the ability to bevel cut or tilt the blade to the left or right side (00 – 500). Some can bevel in both directions, allowing operators to miter and bevel within the same cut (-500 to 500). A sliding miter saw is like a compound miter saw but with extension rods that allow the saw blade and motor to move back and forth. This movement increases the cutting capacity of the blade, allowing the length of cut to be longer than the diameter of the blade. Sliding compound miter saws also have a depth cut setting for cutting grooves in materials to a variety of depths. Slide miter saws, due to their larger capacity and more applications, tend to be more expensive than standard and compound miter saws.
As you might think, the price of the saw, and also of the blades, tends to increase with the size of the saw and the blade. Leaf sizes vary between eight, ten, and twelve inches; ten and twelve inches are the most popular sizes. The price of the blade not only increases with the size, but also with the number of teeth. It is important that you use the correct blade for each application. Blade changes are generally fairly simple, so don’t shy away from changing the blade because of inconvenience. Using the wrong blade can cost you much more in the long run than a few minutes to put on a new blade: when cutting, for a cleaner and more precise cut, use a blade with more teeth, for a faster, coarser cut, use a blade with fewer teeth, when crosscutting, be sure to use a crosscut blade, and so on.
To change the blade, you must first remove the guard and rotate the blade mounting cover, or access plate, away from the blade and remove the center nut. Be sure to turn the nut in the direction indicated on the saw, as most are reverse threaded. While this area of your saw is open, you should blow out any remaining dust or debris. Dust will collect around the center of the blade, which can affect the alignment of the blade and consequently the accuracy of its turning. You should also check the security of the washer and mounting plate and any buildup of dust or debris. Just use any standard scouring pad to remove rust or debris.
Miter Table Top: Not only is it important to keep dust off the blade, it’s also crucial to keep dust off the miter saw table. Keeping the saw table surface clean keeps it safe and ensures a cleaner, more accurate cut. It’s also a good practice not to oil or lubricate the table surface, as you don’t want any material to slip or slip during a cut. Essentially, it is important to keep the surface of the saw table clean, but also to keep it slip-free for the safety of your materials and fingers.
Miter Fence: A good fence is crucial for cutting accuracy. All miter saws come with a left and right fence that connect in the middle of the saw. These standard guides are very precise and excellent for perpendicular cuts. However, because they are aluminum, they can bend or break relatively easily, so be careful with your saw, even when just making adjustments. Detached fences are also available for purchase. These are remarkably accurate and tend to produce quite commendable results.
Dust Bags: Because sawdust can be a problem with miter saws, dust bags are essential for shop cleanliness and safety. They make an amazing difference in keeping your tools and parts clean, but also prevent operators from inhaling airborne particles. The dust bag attaches directly to the miter saw and collects excess dust and debris during use. Some saws can also be attached to a shop vac for easier removal and better pickup.
Brushes – Be sure to check your brushes from time to time to see if they are worn. Keeping healthy brushes in your tools is important for performance purposes, but it also helps diagnose a problem. If you already know the condition of your brushes, you know that the brushes are bad or that the problem lies elsewhere.
Power cables: Check that the power cables are not cracked or frayed. Faulty cables will obviously prevent power from reaching your tools, but they also present a safety hazard. Also, if you must use an extension cord, use the shortest length possible to reach your project.
Cleaning: keep the tool turned off and its parts clean and tight. Lubricate the blade pivot joint once a year, depending on frequency of use. Clean saw blades after each use.
Miter saws are a superior power tool to have on hand, and their precision, durability, and portability make them almost indispensable for many woodworkers. For framing, shaping, and other woodworking applications, miter saws are, by most accounts, the queens of the woodshop.