5 Ways You Can Maximize Your Miter Saw
For woodworkers, a miter saw is one of the best tools out there – it is highly convenient as it is portable and can easily be set up. For clean cuts and accuracy, many woodworkers rely on a miter saw. Not only that, a miter saw is easy to handle, too, i.e., it can be used with ease.
However, for the best cuts from your miter saw, it is important to know how to operate it in the best possible way. Many woodworkers actually spend a hefty sum in buying the best miter saws, but those often fall short in lieu of a good handling technique.
This means that while different brands of miter saw, or the different models, can have different abilities to make clean and accurate cuts, it also depends on the techniques you apply while making the cut.
With that in mind, we have compiled a few top tips on how to handle your miter saw and maximize its usage and get the best performance out of it. That way, you can ensure that the cuts are clean and accurate. Let’s take a look at the best practices.
Tip #1. Upgrade Your Miter Saw’s Blade
Standard miter saws usually come with blades containing 24 to 40 teeth. Unfortunately, you cannot make clean cuts with these blades. Rather, these are good to cut framing lumber or can be used for decking where smooth cuts are not a big factor of consideration.
In order to make cleaner cuts that are smooth and look good, you should upgrade to miter saw blades that can deliver a high performance. While such blades’ rake or hook angle may be a little negative, these can be found in a number of tooth counts. Depending on the size of your miter saw, you can choose the blade with the necessary number of teeth.
As a rule of thumb, you should opt for blades with 80 teeth if your miter saw is 10 inches in size. Alternatively, if your saw is 12 inches, blades with 100 teeth would be optimal for you.
Tip #2. Have A Proper Understanding of the Blade’s Hook Angle
Hook angle is important when it comes to your miter saw’s performance, but a lot of woodworkers often forget to take that into consideration. The hook angle, simply put, is which way the blade’s teeth are inclined. In a nutshell, here’s what different hook angles look like:
- A regular hook with no angle has teeth that just point straight out
- The sharp edges of a positive hook face forwards
- Sharp edges of a negative hook face backward
The hook angle of the blade is also sometimes referred to as the positive or negative rake.
So, what do these mean when it comes to the quality of the cuts? In short, positive hook angles provide rougher cuts – the higher the angle, the rougher the cut. In the same way, negative hook angles make cleaner cuts.
Positive rakes above 10 degrees will make for harsh cuts that may not be very accurate; alternately, negative rakes below -5 degrees may give sluggish and poor cuts.
Therefore, if you are aiming for smoother cuts, it is recommended that you get hooks within the range of -5 degrees and 10 degrees.
Tip #3. Backing Up Your Cuts is Helpful
One thing you should do for better performance of your miter saw is to use a back-up table, paired with a fence. These can easily be made from plywood, hardboard, or even MDF. This can assist in obtaining zero-clearance support, which will work as a guide for the blades. That way, if the blade exits the cut, there will be no tear-out.
Now, if you make two or more cuts at different settings, the back support between those two angles will get cut off entirely. However, it can still continue to do the same on the other side. When the support is completely unusable, you can easily replace those for newer ones.
Tip #4. Don’t Lift Before the Blade Has Stopped
When you are using your miter saw, do not lift the saw before the blades have stopped completely. If you do that, your workpiece’s ends can get chipped off, making for a rather unclean cut. Besides, spinning blades always have the risk of causing accidents.
Therefore, you should only lift the saw after the blades have completely stopped spinning. If necessary, hold the blade in position for a few seconds more than needed to ensure it has completely stopped.
Tip #5. The 2-Step Cut
Miter saw’s blades tend to flex a little when cutting through hardwoods. In order to stop this, we suggest you make the cuts in a couple of steps.
First, make the cut 1/16 inches away from your desired line on the waste side. Once that is done, only then move on to cut on the desired line. That way, the finishing cut will be clean-cut and smooth.
As you can see, the tips mentioned here are, in fact, pretty easy to follow and won’t really cause much of a dent in your pocket. However, these will help ensure cleaner and better cuts, maximizing your miter saw’s performance. As a result, you’ll end up with amazing woodwork that everyone will admire.