Introduction To The Mitre Saw

Compound Mitre Saw

If you’re looking at setting up a home workshop or have recently started a carpentry business, there are a lot of tools that you might consider investing in. However, for most people, versatility is one of the most important factors and when it comes to this, the mitre saw is one of the best tools.

Not only are these tools versatile in terms of how they cut, but they are also ideal for working with a selection of materials, are relatively simple to use and don’t take up a huge amount of space. Still, if you’ve never used a mitre saw before, all of this is irrelevant. Before you can start making the most of this type of equipment, it is vital that you fully understand it.

In this guide, we will be discussing everything you need to know about the mitre saw giving you a great basis to use this tool confidently and safely.

What Is A Mitre Saw Used For?

One of the greatest things about the mitre saw is that it can be used for a wide variety of applications but most commonly, it is used for making angled cuts such as:

  • Cross-cutting / Crosscuts
  • Angled mitre cuts
  • Angle cuts for Moulding
  • Making repeated cuts on lengths of timber
  • Trim work

In order to fully understand what a mitre saw is, it is important to understand what a mitre cut is. In woodworking, you will often hear talk of mitre cuts and bevel cuts and there is a significant difference between these. A mitre cut is made at an angle across the width of the material whereas a bevel cut is an angled cut that runs along the length of the material.

That being said, your mitre saw is able to make both mitre and bevel cuts. Depending on the type of saw you have, various adjustments may need to be made to alter the type of cut you are making.

What Is A Sliding Mitre Saw?

Some mitre saws feature a set of rails which are used to allow the blade to move in a forwards or backwards direction. However, while these tools are typically a lot more versatile owing to their ability to cut much greater capacities than their non-sliding counterparts, this normally comes at a cost and a sliding mitre saw is generally more expensive.

In contrast, if you are using your mitre saw for work purposes and will regularly need to transport it then a non-sliding mitre saw will likely be easier. This is because they are more lightweight and compact.

How To Use A Mitre Saw

When you first purchase your mitre saw, it may feel a little alien, particularly if you are not used to this type of equipment. However, once you understand how it works, making angled cuts will become second nature.

As with any piece of cutting equipment, one of your main priorities should always be safety. When using a mitre saw you should always wear the correct personal protective equipment and follow these safety rules:

  • The mitre saw should be bolted to a stable surface or clamped using a proper mitre saw stand.
  • The power should always be turned off when the saw is not in use.
  • Always make sure that the blade is correctly aligned. Your user manual will have details on how to do this but the cuts should be square when the gauge is at 90º.
  • Only one side of the cutting material should be clamped; never both.
  • You should make sure that you keep your hands away from the cutting blade at all times.
  • Avoid wearing loose clothing that could become trapped in the blade
  • Anyone standing in the vicinity of the tool when in operation should also wear safety equipment.

Now that you are safely geared up, you can begin using the saw. One of the first things that you will learn to do is to make a mitre cut. It is important to set the equipment up correctly before beginning, so be sure to go through the following steps:

  • Begin by marking a cutting line across the material.
  • Take the material and place it on the saw lining it up flush with the fence at the back of the saw.
  • Next, you will need to loosen the mitre gauge handle and depress the lock handle, allowing you to move the blade to the desired angle.
  • Now, without the power on, bring the blade down to the material to make sure that the cutting angle is correct.
  • Once you are happy with the blade position, tighten the handle and clamp the material into place. If there is a lot of overhanging material, this will need some sort of support so be sure to put this in place before you start to cut.

The next stage is to make the cut, so turn the power on and get ready to bring the blade down to the material. It is vital that you ensure that your hands are at least six inches or 15cm away from the blade while it is operating.

  • You will use one hand to hold the material in place while using the other to lower the blade.
  • Turn the blade on but make sure that you allow it to reach its full speed before attempting to make the cut.
  • When the blade is spinning, slowly lower it down using the handle towards the material. You shouldn’t try to force the blade through, merely guide it and allow it to cut through.
  • When the blade has made its way through the material, turn it off and allow it to come to a complete stop before raising it back to its default position.

How To Change A Mitre Saw Blade

Now that we are familiar with how to use a compound mitre saw, we can look at some of the maintenance involved with this type of equipment. One of the main things that you will need to know is how to change the mitre saw blade.

There are two reasons that you may need to do this; you might need to use a different blade to cut different materials, or the blade may have dulled and could need replacing. In any case, the process will be the same.

  • Make sure that the power supply is disconnected before attempting to perform any maintenance on your equipment, especially when it is to do with the blade.
  • You will begin by removing the spindle cover and pressing the spindle lock which will allow the blade to be taken out.
  • Removing the blade involves loosening the bolt and washer, at which point it will come free.
  • You can now install the new blade ensuring that you follow the arrows to fit it the right way and that the bolt is fully tightened.
  • Now replace the spindle cover and put the blade guard back into place.

Comparing Tools

A mitre saw is, with a doubt, one of the most versatile pieces of equipment that any woodshop can have. However, it is by no means the only type of saw. Depending on what you are trying to achieve, a mitre saw may or may not be the right piece of equipment. Of course, you could have a range of saws which is important if you are running a business, or you might choose to compare tools.

Mitre Saw Or Chop Saw

There is one key difference between the mitre saw and the chop saw. A mitre saw is designed to make angled cuts whereas a chop saw cuts at right angles. Furthermore, the chop saw is a much larger and more powerful device. However, it is far less versatile than a mitre saw.

If you have tough material that requires a straight cut then the force of the chop saw will likely meet your needs. However, a mitre saw is better for more detailed or intricate work that doesn’t require as much force.

Table Saw vs Mitre Saw

A lot of people compare the mitre saw vs table saw and while these tools both have circular spinning blades, they are used for different reasons. We are already familiar with what a mitre saw can do but a table saw is often used for making rip cuts along the length of the wood.

Another key difference is that while the mitre saw requires the user to bring the blade to the wood, a table saw has a fixed blade that the user will move the material through. They are typically less accurate and much larger. In addition to this, you should also consider that the table saw sees many more injuries and accidents than the mitre saw, so is generally considered to be less safe.


The mitre saw is a cutting tool which is used to make angled cuts. It is great for various applications and can be used to cut several different types of material. These tools are essential for home workshops and businesses alike and are relatively easy to use once you get the hang of it.

Introduction To The Mitre Saw

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