What Exactly is a Miter Saw?
The miter saw is one of those all important tools for craftsmanship. Professionals and DIYers alike know how powerful these tools are, and that they require respect and skill to use. They can make the most accurate cuts on a lot of different materials and can work different angles.
The Different Types of Miter Saws
The first thing you should know that not all miter saws are the same. There are different sorts of miter saws, which are basically the standard, compound and sliding miter saws. Likewise, there are different users for these saws to match to, as different levels of work require different functions (as well as different budgets).
The Standard Miter Saw
The standard miter saw is one that many of those who work at home use. It is by far the least expensive of the bunch, and it only has the basic functions, which are probably enough for those who are not carpenters by profession. A locking device and an angle scale keeps the blade aligned while cutting at 90 through 45 degrees to the left and to the right.
The Sliding Miter Saw
A sliding miter saw is one that is mostly used by professionals. It has extension rods that allow the blade to cut much deeper and further than the stock length, allowing you to cover much wider surface areas in one go, which is why it is used for bigger projects.
The Compound Miter Saw
Right in the middle is the compound miter saw, which is used by both homeowners and home builders. As the name suggests, it can make compound cuts by being able to tilt the blade in specific angles. It’s more versatile than the standard miter saw, yet less encompassing than a sliding miter saw.
What else differentiates miter saws?
All types of saws are powerful and can do as much as damage as it can create beautiful projects. However, different saws also have different ranges of amps and volts that should be taken into consideration, as not all types of work require monstrous strength. Standard miter saws usually run on 120 volts which is enough for some small scale cutting. However, if you will be working on really large projects as professionals are usually apt to do, you may need to go for a bigger machine and more powerful machine.
Just like there are different types of miter saws and a wide range of different features, budgets are also not set in stone. It really depends on what you will be doing with your power tool, because you shouldn’t have to spend thousands of dollars when you will simply be cutting a couple of planks in your garage. Of course, if you are using it professionally you should consider a large investment, as it should pay for itself as you complete more jobs. A miter saw could range from a hundred dollars to a few thousand.
PREPARATION FOR USAGE
Area of Work
Once you have your miter saw, you should take a very close look at your work space. As you can already tell by now, this tool is quite huge, and the range of motion requires a lot of room both for safety and optimum results. This is especially true if you are working on a larger project. Make sure you can move around freely with saw in hard, and you can extend your arms fully without the blade hitting anything on all sides.
Likewise, make sure that the floor is as clear as possible as well. Working in a cramped space without objects lying around will very easily end up with accidents.
Checking the Saw
Take a good look at your saw. A miter saw is generally made up of the blade, the base, the fence, the guard and some moving parts. Of course, there will additional parts, though it differs greatly depending on what type of saw you use and what brand you chose. Take note of the blade guard, the power switch, the lock mechanism, angle indicator and bevel stops. You should familiarize yourself with everything before using it, and should be able to tell which and where is what without looking. This will help you work safely and efficiently.
Getting Yourself Ready
Before starting the saw up, try to practice all the range of motions you will be doing for your project. Get acquainted not only with the actions but also the weight of your miter saw. A lot of people just get straight into the action only to be surprised due to lack of preparation.
A great thing to do before any project is to practice with a few disposable pieces of wood. This is not only for the first time you will be using the saw, because every new day and every new project is a new challenge. A well maintained miter saw should function exactly how you expect it to, though as many great craftsmen say, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
It would be an even better idea if you had a bit more extra wood available, so you can practice different cuts at different angles with different lengths and widths. Get yourself into the routine of cutting before starting on the actual project, and make sure you and your saw are in good shape for the job ahead.
The Most Important and Under-appreciated Step
A final tip, which a lot of people do not like doing, is to read the manual thoroughly. A lot of people want to skip this step thinking that they already know what they are doing and that reading the booklet is unnecessary. Even those who have been using miter saws for a long time will tell you how important the manual is, because every saw model is different. It also contains in depth tips and instructions on how to prepare, use and maintain your particular miter saw.
Miter saws are great power tools that will help you complete all manners of projects, whether large or small. They will help you cut with ease and provide you efficient labor. However, they are also extremely dangerous and can be the cause of many gruesome accidents. Make sure you avoid that by using it properly.