If you are planning on doing a lot of building, and you want one of the most versatile tools around, the miter saw is definitely a good option to consider. They are fairly versatile tools for woodworking and carpentry, but they can do more than just work with wood.
In this article, we will take a look at what the main uses of a miter saw are – both in terms of practical situations as well as in terms of the types of cuts they can do. In case you are wondering how to actually use this tool once you have it in your hands, read this guide instead.
10 Practical Miter Saw Uses
There are many practical applications for a miter saw. Now, remember that here we are not talking about the types of cuts or the types of materials that can be cut with a miter saw, as much as the exact situation or practical applications it can come in handy for.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common and practical applications that you could use this tool for.
A practical application for a miter saw, maybe one of the most common, is for making fences. Fence builders require their boards to all be of the same length to make a nice looking fence to surround your yard or home. A miter saw is a great way to accurately make straight or angled cuts for hundreds of fence boards fairly quickly.
If you want to build a simple box, whether a small shoebox, something for storage, or maybe even a square flower planter for your patio, a miter saw is great for this too. As long as your boxes are made out of small or medium-sized boards or pieces of wood, a miter saw will come in very handy for this application.
If you are making some simple picture frames, frames for puzzles, or really for anything else too, a miter saw can come in handy for this.
Miter saws can pivot from side to side, thus allowing the blade to make angled cuts along the horizontal axis. That makes them a great choice for making square frames where each end of each board needs to have a 45-degree angle. That said, it can also work for other types of frames where the ends of the boards are not required to have 45-degree angles.
If you need to make a ledge, such as for your patio or stairs, just a simple board running along the outer perimeter, whether for safety or to make things look much nicer, a miter saw can come in very handy for this as well.
Cutting Crown Molding
If you are building a house, apartment, or anything else of the sort, to make the walls and floors look nice in combination with each other, and in some cases the ceilings as well, you will need to install crown molding along the perimeter.
A dual-bevel compound sliding miter saw is a rather perfect tool for cutting those crown molding boards down to size and at the right angles to fit in the corners where walls meet each other.
Trimming Wall Studs
Yet another practical application for a miter saw is to trim wall studs. Of course, wall studs need to be of the right length with the right angle at each end, something a miter saw can easily achieve.
If you are laying down new floors, to get those floorboards to the right length, a miter saw can also do this quite easily. In fact, flooring is one of the most common applications of all types of miter saws.
Yet another application for a miter saw is roofing. You can use a miter saw to cut the roof boards and for ceiling and roof studs too.
No doubt, a tile saw is the better option for cutting tiles. However, a miter job can – with a diamond-tipped or carbide blade – do the job reasonably well too.
Plumbing and Electrical Work
Miter saws, due to the fact that if you have the right blade, they can cut plastic piping and even metal too, they may be used for various electrical and plumbing applications.
5 Types of Cuts a Miter Saw Can Do
What is also important to know about the miter saw is that it can make many different kinds of cuts, thus making it such a versatile option for so many applications. Below are the five most important ones.
The first and most basic type of cut that a miter saw can make is a cross-cut.
A cross-cut is when you cut a board or piece of wood at a 90-degree angle, with the blade being straight from front to back. This is what many people use a miter saw for. It is, for example, the best way to cut 6×6 posts. A cross-cut is a good way to trim boards down or just to cut boards into separate pieces.
For this task, you can also use the simpler chop saw.
Angled Cross-Cut (Miter Cut)
The next type of cut that a miter saw can make is an angled cross-cut, which in some cases may also be referred to as a miter cut. In fact, miter saws have the specific name they have due to their ability to miter, which is the ability of the blade to pivot left and right on the horizontal plane.
Most miter saws can pivot their blades left or right up to 45 degrees, and sometimes even further, thus making them ideal for cutting boards that will go into corners, and for things like picture frames.
Sliding Cross-Cuts (Straight and Angled)
Ok, so this may not exactly be a type of cut per se, but a modification of the above cuts.
Sliding miter saws allow the blade to slide back and forth on a track, and this, therefore, allow you to cut much wider pieces of wood. Whether you are making a cross-cut or a miter cut, if you have a sliding miter saw, cutting large pieces is relatively easy.
The next type of cut that can be made with a miter saw is the bevel cut. This is a type of cut that only a compound or dual compound miter saw can make. A bevel cut is made when the blade is angled either to the left or right at a specific angle.
Unlike a miter cut, which involves the blade pivoting left and right on the horizontal axis (while staying perfectly vertical), a bevel cut happens when the blade is tilted left or right along the vertical axis. A compound miter saw can bevel to one side only, whereas a dual-bevel compound miter saw can bevel to both sides.
One of the main applications for this is for cutting crown molding.
Small Rip Cuts
Although making rip cuts is not the primary function of a miter saw, if you have a very large miter saw, you may be able to do so. Rip cuts are when you cut parallel to the grain, so in other words, if you want to split a piece of wood in half or cut a part off along the whole length of it.
However, due to size constraints, miter saws can only make rip cuts of a certain size.
What Materials Can Be Cut with a Miter Saw?
As mentioned earlier, cutting wood is one of the primary uses of a miter saw. That said, it can also cut other materials including:
- PVC and other plastics: If you need to cut some PVC pipe, for example, a fine-toothed wood cutting blade fitted into a miter saw can work just fine.
- Tiles: If you have a good carbide blade or a diamond tip blade, you may also use a miter saw to cut tile.
- Metal: If you get a good metal cutting blade for your miter saw, you can use it to cut various metals, particularly thinner ones like aluminum.
As you can see, miter saws can perform a variety of cuts, they can cut different materials, and they can be used for a wide variety of applications.
Together, these factors make the miter saw one of the most versatile machines around.