A miter saw is probably one of the most important tools to have in your arsenal. You are a craftsman, and this is your weapon of choice to tackle any project, big or small. Just like any weapon, a miter saw must be treated with respect- it can be both useful and dangerous at the best of times, especially for those who do not completely know their way around it. Here a couple of rules of safety to keep in mind when using it, to make sure that you complete the job efficiently and without losing any limbs.
First and Foremost, Check Your Attire
You are not going out to the pub, you are not going for an interview and you are not going to bunker down and watch the game. You will be using a power tool that was meant to cut hard, wooden material. This is regardless of where you will be doing your project- even if it is just a small job at home, remember that anything can happen. Firstly, like with any manual labor work, make sure that you are comfortable.
Make sure that you can move your head, arms and legs as much as possible and without any restrictions. However, secondly, you should also make sure that none of your clothing is loose fitting. Can you imagine how it would turn out if a loose sleeve or long collar got caught in the blade? I’m pretty sure no one wants to imagine that happening to themselves.
In relation to this, you should make sure that your hair is in order. For ladies, especially, as a lot of women have longer hair, though to be fair, a lot of men seem to be sporting this look as well. While getting clothing stuck in the blade is bad, replacing that with hair is far worse. Make sure long hair is at least tied up in bun and loose strands are clipped down. Make sure there are no bangs threatening to cover your eyes at the worst possible moment.
Additional Safety Gear
Once that is sorted out, another very important thing to take care of is your eyes. Using a miter saw, just like most power tools, will cause all manners of debris to fly everywhere, including your face. Debris do not have any sense of personal boundaries, so expect to have saw dust all over you, unless your miter saw is exceptionally good at collecting them while working. Using special glasses when handling the saw, as any moment you lose your eyesight during the job could really make things go sour.
Also, make sure to use hearing protection, if possible. Using such gear may seem to some as nothing more than trying to look fancy or professional, though some saws could really be loud enough to damage your ears.
Now, enough of you and down to the saw. As a rule, before doing any observation or maintenance, make sure that the machine is unplugged.
Check All Parts and Functions
Make sure that it works completely as advertised, with no less or additional functions than what the model was described to have. Read the manual thoroughly, and tick off every function stated- take as much time as you want while doing this.
Most miter saws have blade guards attached, while are very important for safety as well. Never disable them, which is something that some like to do but regretted later down the line. They are there for a reason.
After a general look at the miter saw, check the blade specifically. Check if the blade is sharp and is properly installed to the body of the tool. A dull blade, while one may think is safer than a sharp one, can really be dangerous. Make sure that the blade won’t suddenly come lose while you are working, because anything that gets in its way as it falls is toast, including your legs.
Use the Fence and Learn to Love it.
As I have already said at the beginning of this, a miter saw is a tool of power, and deserves respect. This includes correct operation. A fence is one of the most integral parts of a miter saw, and one that many craftsmen have grown to appreciate, for a reason. It is the part that holds the piece or surface down as you cut- cutting freehand is actually possible but very dangerous and is never recommended to anyone.
Just imagine how much horse power goes through the saw, and that being transferred through the blade and into an object. If you fail to heed this advice, don’t look surprised if you find that object flying right back at you.
Likewise, take advantage of every additional safety function you are given with that specific miter saw, and don’t try to alter anything right out of the box.
Also, as you know, using power tools often results in a mess. For miter saws specifically, having saw dust flying everywhere is commonplace. Some saws have special functions that vacuum saw dust and collect them into a bag as your work, though no machine will ever be able to collect 100% of them. If you can, take a few breaks in between the job to do a quick cleaning and resume afterwards. For the long term, make sure that you clean off your miter saw thoroughly.
On the same note, maintenance is a huge part of keeping your miter saw both operational and safe to use. Make sure that you polish it, wipe it down and lubricate it as often as possible. A miter saw on the verge of breaking down is very dangerous, as it becomes unpredictable.
Finally, focus on the job. Too many people take this tool for granted and overestimate their skills. Professional Olympic athletes still train to keep their bodies in top shape, as becoming lax can cause injury. The moment your attention to your miter saw lapses, it becomes a huge window of opportunity for accidents. You don’t need me to tell you how horrific power saw accidents can be.
Work hard and work safe!