Miter Saw – An Indispensable Tool for the DIY Woodworking Enthusiast

An Indispensable Tool for the DIY Woodworking Enthusiast

‘Do It Yourself’ are three words people started taking quite seriously. Today we have so many people, conventions, forums, workshops, classes, and more that promote that DIY independence. Using power miter saws has not been forgotten in this regard.

Woodworking enthusiasts, newbie carpenters, hobbyists, and start-up professionals are looking more often to DIY knowledge than anything textbook.

So how can a DIY enthusiast get started with their woodworking projects using miter saws? You have four types of miters to select from: two manual and two electrically powered.

DIY Step 1.1 – Choosing A Manual Miter Saw

  • The common manual miter saw box has a strictly simple design. Made of plastic or wood, it has base holes that can accomodate pins. By turning the pins you can apply clamping pressure that immobilizes the wood being cut.
  • A backsaw is better than a handsaw when it comes to mitering. The former gets its name from the way the blade region is designed, namely with a rigid metal spine on top.
  • Plastic miters pose a small problem for most DIY-ers in that there is widening in the miter-guide slots after a certain number of cuts have been made. This ruins accuracy for that particular cut. Primarily designed for crosscutting purposes, the guide is restricted to a handful of angles left and right of square.

If you happen to choose a manual miter saw that is one step up in accuracy and price, you will find that it too has base holes for clamping cams. However, there are certainly amazing differences...

  • The fine-toothed blade is in a good frame with ideal tension that imparts ample rigidity.
  • The body of the saw is well supported by columns so you do not resort to the blade’s sides to gain and maintain control.
  • The guide on these manual miter saws has less tendency to fall apart than the one discussed earlier.
  • You can set any angle you require with these high-end saws.

We just read about two types of manual miters out there for DIY-ers. Both have one glaring disadvantage: they cannot precisely slice a small amount of material from the board’s end.

The next two saws, namely power miters, can readily accomplish that.

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DIY Step 1.2 – Choosing A Power Miter Saw

Also called chop saws, these machine sub-types get their name from their straight downward cutting motion.

  • You can lock in any angle using an adjusting knob.
  • You will find a wood cutting platform on some of these saws that can be adjusted or replaced.
  • Some power saws have slots that shift as you alter cutting angles.
  • The action of the blade follows a fixed arc and therefore has a limited crosscut range and reduced angled cut capability.


Modern manufacturer policy has done away with straight chop saws and their power miter saws have gained immense popularity and flexibility.

  • The compound miter saw is one modern marvel that most DIY-ers rely on. While the blade still follows a fixed arc, you can use these saws to perform cuts that are both beveled and mitered.
  • Compound cuts therefore make way for crown molding corners while the molding lies flat on the table. This is indeed highly convenient.
  • We next come to the sliding compound miter saw with its increased price and enhanced functionality. It too can handle both beveling and mitering options but the saw head instead takes a sliding route based on the carriage design.
  • The fact that the saw can slide greatly extends cutting capacity and, here is the part DIY-ers love, it does not demand a bigger blade to do so. Saws with 10” blades are preferred over 12” ones, and have proven to be more efficient and cost-saving than the latter.

Miter Saw Safety Tips For DIY-ers

While operating the saw, it is imperative that you have on safety goggles, industry-grade gloves, and hearing protection.

  • Lift the blade only after it has come to a full stop at the end of each session. Some saw models have electric brakes to help stop blade rotation in, say, less than 5 seconds.
  • Anytime you are not using the saw, unplug it from its power outlet and bring the blade guard down over the blade.
  • Keep any part of your body, especially your hands and fingers, a minimum of 6 inches away from the blade’s cutting path. Some saw products have lines that indicate safe zones.


Miter saws are perfect DIY tools but their long-term benefit and overall lifespan depend on they way they are built.

When you choose a budget for your miter saw product, be sure to compare price and capability range to get the one ‘just right’ for your requirements and projects. For instance...

  • A 12-inch sliding compound miter saw is an outstanding choice but it comes designed to handle large-scale lumber cutting while your DIY and at-home projects will almost always focus on something smaller.
  • A 10-inch saw is therefore a better and smarter buy, and it still brings an impressive cutting range, be it small molding work or 2x4 stock miter cutting.

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