Home & Garden

Tool lesson: The mitre saw

Author: Canadian Living

Home & Garden

Tool lesson: The mitre saw

One of the most versatile tools in the workshop is the power mitre saw. It is a circular saw mounted on a metal stand with a rotating table that enables the saw to cut various angles on a variety of materials such as wood, laminates and vinyl.

The mitre saw is essential for cutting mitred comers on baseboards, chair rails and crown mouldings, as well as door and window frames when fitting into and around comers.

"The mitre saw can save you time and money. It's not one of those tools that will just clutter up the workshop," says Andrew Mitchell, owner of Wood Chips - The Project Place, a do-it-yourself woodworking workshop in Mississauga, Ont. Here are some basic instructions from Mitchell on how to use the mitre saw.

Making cuts (see numbered images)

Image 1: Straight cut
To make a straight cut, set and lock sawhead at 0 degrees on the mitre table gauge. Mark the cutting line on material; line up blade with mark. Clamp piece securely in place against the fence. Start the saw, then lower the blade onto the wood. For smoothest cut, let blade come to complete stop before raising it. 

Image 2: Inside and outside mitre cuts
Depending on whether you are cutting moulding to go around a corner or into a corner will determine whether to set and lock the sawhead to the left or right 45-degree position on the gauge. This will also determine which piece of moulding will be usable. 

Image 3: Compound mitre cut
For cutting crown moulding, you will need to make a compound mitre cut. A compound mitre saw is ideal for cutting crown moulding because the mitre table rotates and the sawhead tilts, allowing the moulding to lie flat on the mitre table. To make a compound mitre cut with a regular mitre saw, the crown moulding is propped against the fence on a determined angle to the blade with the mitre table rotated, set and locked at a determined angle to the left or the right.

Page 1 of 2 -- If you plan to use a mitre saw, learn how to choose the right blade for the job with illustrated tips on page 2

The right blade
In general, the more teeth on the blade, the smoother the cut. Click here to learn more about the different blades.

Keep it safe
• Always wear safety glasses and hearing protectors or earplugs when using the saw. Keep your free hand well away from the blade area.
• Ensure that the work piece is held tightly against the back fence; clamp all work securely in place.
• Use the right-size blade for your saw. Never remove or tamper with safety devices such as the blade guard.
• Always unplug the saw when changing blades or when doing any maintenance on the saw.
• Never attempt to cut a very small piece; the blade can cause it to kick back, possibly causing serious harm.
• A sharp blade is best. It minimizes wood burn and provides the smoothest cut.

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Tool lesson: The mitre saw

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