Canadian Woodworking

Mitre saws


With a mitre saw you can make crosscuts, mitre cuts, bevel cuts and compound cuts.

Author: Carl Duguay
Illustration: Len Churchill

Compound mitre saws can make bevel cuts to one side (left or right); dual-com­pound saws cut in both directions. There are also both compound and dual-com­pound sliding mitre saws. These have rails that enable the saw head to slide front to back across the wood, providing a much greater width of cut.
Mitre saws have blades that range from 7-1/4″ to 14″. Larger blades will deliver wider and deeper cuts. Choose a saw that will enable you to cut the maximum size of stock you typically use. A typi­cal 7-1/4″ sliding mitre saw will deliver a 9-1/2″ crosscut, while an equivalent 12″ saw will deliver a 13-1/2″ crosscut. Mitre ranges are generally around 60° while bevel ranges are around 48°.

Cordless mitre saws are smaller and lighter than corded saws and deliver enough power to run a full day in most workshops. Most saws have mounting holes on the base for securing the saw to a work surface, making the saw safer to use and helping to reduce vibration. There are also aftermarket saw stands that provide the benefit of extendable material supports for cutting long stock.

Cut-line indicators make it easier to position stock for cutting. LED lights positioned above the blade cast an exact shadow line where the blade cuts the wood, and they’re more accurate than laser lights. Soft-start motors prevent the saw from jumping about when you pull the trigger. A blade brake quickly stops the blade from rotating. Removable tall fences provide better material support. Some saws have the bevel adjustment knob at the back of the saw, making it awkward to reach. Side- or front-mounted knobs are more convenient.

Types: Compound, dual-compound, sliding
Power source: 120V corded; 18V and higher cordless
Blade diameters: 7-1/4″, 8-1/4″, 8-1/2″, 10″, 12″, 14″
Price: $150 – $1,300

Get the Most Out of Your Mitre Saw

Get a better blade
Most mitre saws come with a 24-tooth blade, but 40-tooth or higher blades deliver cleaner cuts with less tear-out, especially in harder woods.

Ditch the plate
The kerf in most mitre saw throat plates is very wide. To eliminate tear-out install an aftermarket zero-clearance insert.

Suck it up
Mitre saws generate a lot of sawdust. Some come with dust bags that aren’t very effective. It’s best to connect your saw to a dust extractor.

Slow and steady
Allow the blade to get to full speed before starting your cut. Move slowly and steadily, especially if you’re using a blade with a high-tooth count. Let the blade come to a full stop before raising the head.

Go wide
To cut stock that’s wider than the largest cut capacity of your mitre saw cut the piece as far as the blade will reach, then flip it over and repeat the cut from the opposite edge.

Last modified: June 4, 2024

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