If you work with wood a lot, whether for projects in your workshop or on a jobsite, one of the things that you need to know how to do is to cut a 45-degree angle. Forty-five-degree angles often appear when installing crown molding in a home and when cutting boardsfor things like a square door, window, and picture frames.
The perfect tool for this task is the miter saw. Continue reading to see how you can use it to cut perfect 45-degree angles each time.
Is Miter Saw the Best Tool for Cutting a 45-Degree Angle?
Before we get started with the main topic of the day, you might be wondering if a miter saw is the best tool to use for this job and if there are other tools that may be used to cut a 45-degree angle. The simple answer here is that yes, a miter saw is the best tool that you can use to cut a 45-degree angle.
In fact, this is the intended purpose of a miter saw, to be able to make angled cuts, and not just at 45 degrees, but all sorts of angles. Moreover, the cool part about miter saws is that they can cut more than one type of 45-degree angle. A high-quality miter saw that can also bevel, not just pivot, allowing you to make 45-degree angle cuts on both the vertical and horizontal planes, or in other words, horizontal and vertical angles.
Now, there are other tools you can use for this, particularly to make angled miter cuts (horizontal). You may also use something like a handsaw or circular saw with a miter box (more or less a stand that allows you to pivot the saw). That said, this is not nearly as accurate or as easy as using an actual miter saw.
Another option that you have at your disposal is to use a good old table saw. Table saws work just fine for this, but the problem is that they are usually heavy and cumbersome, so it’s something that you would only use at home. If you have time to spare and you aren’t planning on making too many cuts, you may even use a handheld jigsaw or a table-based bandsaw.
That said, none of the tools will make life easier for you. The bottom line is that for this task, the miter saw is as good of a tool as it gets.
How to Cut a 45-Degree Angle with a Miter Saw
Now that we have figured out that the miter saw is the best type of saw to use to make a 45-degree angle cut, let’s go through a step by step guide on how to do just that.
Now, remember that a compound miter saw can pivot the blade left and right along the horizontal plane, and it can bevel the blade left and right along the vertical plane.
Therefore, we will be instructing you on how to do both of these things.
Making a 45-Degree Miter Cut
First off, let’s talk about how to make a 45-degree miter cut, with a miter cut of course being along the horizontal plane.
Step 1: Prepare
The first step here is to prepare everything, and yes, preparation is very important.
First off, this means making sure that your miter saw is securely bolted to a work surface, such as a work table. Next, make sure that the miter saw is well maintained, in good condition, and has power running to it.
Finally, make sure that you are wearing the proper clothing and safety equipment.
Step 2: Measure
The next step in this process is to get the piece of wood you plan on cutting the 45-degree angle into.
Using the appropriate measuring tools, such as a compass or T-square, measure the line to be cut on the wood and then mark the line using chalk, pen, pencil, or whatever else.
Step 3: Place the Board
The next step is to place the board on the surface of the miter saw.
Make sure that the long end of the board is resting securely against the fence of the miter saw. Doing so will ensure that you are able to achieve an accurate cut, and it will also help prevent kickback, thus keeping you safe.
Step 4: Pivot the Blade
With the wood laid on the saw’s table and against the fence, you can now unlock the pivot joint to pivot the blade to a 45-degree angle, whether left or right.
With the blade pivoted to a 45-degree angle, without turning the saw on, move the blade down to the wood, just to ensure that everything lines up.
You may need to adjust the position of the wood.
Step 5: Make the Cut
Now, all you need to do is activate the miter saw, get the blade up to speed, and then gently move the blade down through the wood.
Don’t use much pressure.
The saw should do the work for you.
Making a 45-Degree Bevel Cut
Now that we know how to make a 45-degree miter cut into wood, let’s talk about how to make a 45-degree bevel cut. The process is much the same, so we will keep this section fairly short.
Step 1: Prepare and Measure
Just like with the previous guide, make sure that your miter saw is bolted firmly to a work surface, make sure that you are using the right kind of blade, and that the saw is well maintained. Be sure to wear the proper clothing and safety gear.
With all of that done, you can now measure and mark your piece of wood. Once again, use the appropriate measuring tools and always measure twice. With your work station set up and the measuring done, you can now move onto the next step.
Step 2: Get Everything into Place
Just like with making a 45-degree miter cut, for a 45-degree bevel cut, you first need to place the board on the table of the miter saw, and for safety reasons, make sure that the wood is resting securely against the fence.
Now you can unlock the bevel to bevel the saw blade left or right to the desired angle on the vertical plane, so 45 degrees in this case. Once again, move the blade down to the wood without turning it on, just to make sure that everything lines up, and adjust the position of the wood as needed.
Remember, if you have a compound miter saw, you can make combination bevel and miter cuts, so if you are looking to cut a 45-degree angle, both horizontally and vertically, this is where you would adjust the blade.
Step 3: Make the Cut
The final step here is of course to make the cut. Simply turn the miter saw on, allow the blade to get up to full speed, and then move the blade down through the wood.
The process is now complete.
Mistakes to Avoid, Tips & Tricks
Just to make life easier and safer for you while cutting 45-degree angles with a miter saw, let’s go over some quick tips, particularly in terms of safety:
- Always keep your miter saw unplugged when it is not in use.
- Make sure to secure the miter saw to a work table before use. It needs to be bolted down.
- Always wear safety goggles when cutting in order to protect your eyes.
- Never wear loose-fitting clothing when using any kind of power tools like this.
- Always measure twice and cut once. You can’t undo a cut if it is wrong.
- Test your skills with some scrap wood before moving onto the real project.
The bottom line here is that a miter saw is indeed the best tool to use for cutting 45-degree angles. Of course, the really cool part is that this tool can be used to cut 45-degree miter and bevel cuts.
It’s one of the most versatile types of wood saws around, and it’s something that you should definitely consider investing in.