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Miter Saws

The original miter saw was a stiff hand saw for use with a miter box, a three-sided box with pre-cut slots for holding the saw at 45°, 60°, and 90° angles. While the hand miter saw is still available, the term "miter saw" more commonly refers to the power saw version that allows you to make a precision angle crosscut ±45° as well as to slant the blade up to 45° from upright.

When shopping for a miter saw, consider these tips:
  • Pick a "compound" model in order to be able to slant the blade.
  • Since the saw "chops" down from a single hinge and does not slide through the material, the blade size and mounting of the saw determines the maximum dimensions of the board you can cut. Check the specifications on the saw if you want flexibility in material size. 10" models are sufficient for most work, but 12" models are also available.
  • Horsepower is important if you are cutting dense wood, like oak
  • It is helpful if the table has pre-set lock in's at the common angles (e.g., 45°). This speeds up changes.
  • The newest accessory is a laser line to indicate the cut line on the material. In concept it sounds good but is less so in practice. Good safety practice necessitates securing the material before cutting, but the line is only visible while the saw blade is in motion, so any corrections are hit or miss. We think this is a feature you can probably skip without regret.

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