A miter saw is a saw that helps you to make a variety of useful and attractive joints and cuts, therefore allowing you to create a wider variety of woodwork projects. You may find that many patterns for wood call for a miter saw.
Making Angled Cross Cuts
Miter saws allow you to make what are known as angled cross cuts. Picture in your mind an ordinary picture frame. When building a picture frame, you start with a length of wood, which you then cut into four pieces that will join together to form the frame. In some cases, the pieces of wood might be joined straight up and down at ninety degrees, but more typically, they are joined at a slanting angle. This is called a miter joint and it is considered a more attractive joint than the ninety degree type. Not only are miter joints considered more desirable for their appearance, but with some woodworking projects, they are the only possible option.
It is important to note, however, that while miter joints are suitable for woodwork projects such as picture frames, projects that require stronger or deeper joints are best done using dovetail joints or some other type of joint.
Miter saws are available in both manual and powered varieties.
Manual Miter Saw
Many DIY woodworking shops start out with a manual model, a cutting tool suitable for making small projects such as picture frames. A manual miter saw consists of a metal base with a backsaw attached to it. Since the backsaw can rotate freely, it provides more precise cutting movements.
A manual saw operates on much the same concept as a miter box, a tool that preceded it. Miter boxes have open ends and open tops with slots or guides cut in them. The woodworker places the wood inside this box, places the saw in the slotted guides and cuts. In most miter boxes, the guides are set at 45 degrees and at 90 degrees, but models are available that cut at different angles.
If you are using a miter box, it is a good idea to clamp your wood to a bench or other surface before cutting. Otherwise, it is likely to move out of position and your cut will not be as you want it to be.
Powered Miter Saw
For larger woodworking projects, a powered version will be easier to use and more efficient. Although powered miter saws used to be a substantial investment a few years ago, the prices have dropped. Today’s saws are much more economically priced.
Most of the powered variety contain an aluminum base with a circular saw mounted above this base. You can rotate the saw around the base and secure it into position at any angle you want.
When you shop for a powered miter saw, you will discover many models to choose among. Perhaps the most basic of these is the sliding saw. Since this tool can slide along a rail, it can cut pieces that are larger than its own diameter.
A compound saw is another option that may interest you. With a compound saw, you can angle the cut as well as tilting the blade at the same time, a feature that allows you even more cutting precision.