How to Use a Hand Miter Saw


Miter saws are used to make accurate angled cuts in wood, such as framing or molding, for a precise fit. A hand miter saw is used on smaller pieces of wood that would be dangerous to cut with a power miter saw. A hand miter saw consists of the saw and the base. Most hand saws can be used to make miter cuts, but a miter saw is short with small teeth to minimize splintering. There are two types of bases: platform, in which the saw swivels and the molding sits on an L-shaped rig; and box, in which the saw fits into pre-cut slots and the molding sits in a U-shaped box.

Things You'll Need

  • Miter saw
  • Miter saw platform or box
  • Wood
  • Pencil
  • Clamps (optional)
  • Measure the molding and mark it with the pencil.

  • Place the molding on the platform or in the box. If there is any bevelling, place it upward, so the flat side of the molding is against the work surface.

  • Secure the saw to the rig or slide it into the slots of the box.

  • Align the pencil mark with the saw blade.

  • Secure the molding to the setup. Some systems have attached clamps. If not, use other clamps to keep the board from sliding.

  • Hold the molding to the fence (backstop) with one hand and use your other hand to push the saw completely forward.

  • Begin to saw as you pull the saw toward you.

  • Continue with measured strokes until the saw cuts through the bottom of the molding.

Tips & Warnings

  • Secure the platform or box to the work bench for easy use. Most systems are equipped to do so.
  • Even strokes keep the blade from getting stuck and minimize splintering around the cut.
  • Be conscious of whether you are measuring the short or long side of the wood. When in doubt, measure again before you cut.
  • Wear gloves and safety glasses to prevent cuts and other unforeseen incidents.
  • Saws are sharp. Be alert.

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