Miter Saws For Woodworking?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Power Tools, Hardware and Accessories forum

Forum topic by ShipWreck posted 03-15-2015 11:39 AM 1195 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View ShipWreck's profile


557 posts in 3993 days

03-15-2015 11:39 AM

I have always considered the “miter saw” as more of a construction tool, than as a saw for fine woodworking. I can’t really point a finger as to why, other than the very slight deflection I see when cutting heavier lumber while out on my jobs. With that being said, I’m not babying the saw when I am working either.

I see quite a few LJ’s with miter saws in their shops, and have been wondering how much they actually use them. Are you using them for a rough cutting, and finishing the cuts from the table saw, or actually using the saw for precision cutting?

I know it may seem like a foolish question, but some of you have me thinking that I’ve been a little short sighted about the miter saw for a lot of years. I have always considered it a “beast of burden”.


8 replies so far

View WoodNSawdust's profile


1417 posts in 1416 days

#1 posted 03-15-2015 11:59 AM

I have not had a lot of problems with the accuracy of my 12” DeWalt. I am not cutting heavier lumber. Initially I will use it to rough cross cut materials. After joining, planeing, and ripping to final width I use the cross cut saw on longer pieces to cut to final length and my sliding crosscut sled for smaller pieces.

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

View Sawdust4Blood's profile


408 posts in 3262 days

#2 posted 03-15-2015 12:23 PM

I used to be of the same mindset as you. But that was largely influenced by having a pretty inaccurate miter saw at the time. I changed my mind on that when I got a much better quality miter saw. I really like the convenience of leaving my table saw set up for ripping or cutting dadoes while using the miter saw for cross cuts. With a good saw, a high quality cross cutting blade, and proper technique, I find that I can get a completely suitable finished cross cut on the miter saw for 90 to 95 percent of everything I do.

There are still a few things that I use a precision miter gauge on the table saw to complete such as six or eight sided frames where all the angles have to add up exactly. But like they say, individual mileage may vary and what kind of work you do has a huge impact on whether or not a particular tool will suit your needs.

-- Greg, Severn MD

View bonesbr549's profile


1579 posts in 3307 days

#3 posted 03-15-2015 12:38 PM

I have the Kapex, and use it regularly. Mostly for dimensioning lumber and its very accurate, and I like the lasers both sides of blades. It’s expensive, but I’ve had it since they first released it, and no issues.

if I’m going to make that final 90 or 45 cut that has to be down to the few thou’s I’m cutting with my Incra Miter Sled 5000, or my 1000HD from Incra, depending on the need.

I wold say yes definately use it all the time, that’s where my stock goes first out of the wood pile.

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View rwe2156's profile


3233 posts in 1721 days

#4 posted 03-15-2015 12:38 PM

I agree with the previous poster. A quality miter saw is a definite part of the repertoire of a fine woodworker.

I have both a 10” radial arm saw (Ridgid—piece of junk) and an old DeWalt 12” miter saw.

I generally use my circular saw for cutting rough stock to length. This is not a safe procedure on a miter/RAS.

My ‘go to’ saw is the miter saw. Its often difficult to keep the RAS in adjustment. After owning 2, I’ve found they are woefully underpowered. Not to mention the most dangerous piece of equip in the shop (besides my brain ;-).

For accurate Xcuts I use my TS with a sled. For long length of wood I use the miter saw.

I am going to sell/give away my RAS and mount my miter saw in its place. Eventually I will get a sliding saw.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View devann's profile


2246 posts in 2932 days

#5 posted 03-16-2015 02:11 PM

I have seen some of my colleagues complain about using 12” miters saws and getting unsatisfactory cuts. Turns out they were using thin kerf blades that had excessive pitch buildup. The problems were overcome with standard kerf blades and the use of carbide lubricant. The carbide lubricant keeps pitch buildup to a minimum and allows for a cooler running blade.

I’ve been using 12” sliding miter saws for years with excellent results where joints are concerned. In the past I’ve built timber roof trusses using 4×8 top & bottom cords, 4×6 webbing. The joints were all visible, held together with 3/4”x 14”,3/4”x 10” lag screws. No steel plates were used at the joint connections. All cuts had to be clean, cabinet grade joints.

Besides using the miter saw for it’s intended purposes, ie. crown molding, cabinet trim, & typical trim applications I’ve gotten good results making pieces of furniture. The miter saw is an excellent tool for making repetitive cuts that absolutely have to be the same size. Below are two examples of a table that I build where a high degree of accuracy is required of the center pieces or the bull nose pieces will not fit properly.

-- Darrell, making more sawdust than I know what to do with

View HornedWoodwork's profile


222 posts in 1454 days

#6 posted 03-16-2015 03:30 PM

I used an angle cube and adjusted my detents and stopping gauges to within .001”. I can chuck something on my Dewalt and buck it up, or use it to make perfect 90 and 45s. Periodically when doing shop maintenance I check the deck, blade and fence to ensure nothing has walked. In 5 years I’ve adjusted it twice. Basically if my part fits (about up to 8 inches) I chop it. Any wider than that and I send it to the cross cut sled. A few things to note, I switched out the stock blade for a 100 tooth. I clean the blade about four times a year and I sharpen and balance the blade (or rather my saw blade guy does) once a year. I built my own oversize fence, and I very rarely cut anything that is not 90 and 90. Not having to change the setting very often keeps my alignments pretty tight.

Common problems with the chop saw are caused by not letting the blade reach full speed before dropping in, and also lifting the blade against the part when it is still spinning, both cause deflection which distorts the cut.

-- Talent, brilliance, and humility are my virtues.

View MrRon's profile


5275 posts in 3483 days

#7 posted 03-16-2015 03:40 PM

I use a miter saw for rough cutting. As long as I have all the different types of saws in my shop, there is no reason not to use each saw for what it is best for. I feel with all the moving parts that can be adjusted/set, the miter saw is not the most accurate saw around.

View RogerM's profile


799 posts in 2639 days

#8 posted 03-16-2015 03:41 PM

John – Buy a good Dewalt, Bosch or, if you can afford it, a Festool Kapex and you will definitely change your view on a miter saw. Like many things, you get what you pay for. A cheap miter saw will frustrate you to no end. Also, buy a good premium blade and you will be off on a new tact.

-- Roger M, Aiken, SC

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics