The compound miter saw is known for its precision and versatility on a square, angled and beveled cross-cuts. As with all woodworking power tools, a miter saw can be very dangerous if used improperly. By knowing and following a number of habits, you can reduce the possibility of injury when using a miter saw.
A miter saw is essentially a large circular saw mounted on a movable arm, which is connected to a saw base. On a standard miter saw, the saw is pushed down into the wood, whereas on a sliding miter saw, the saw can also be slid forward or backward to cut wider pieces of stock. The upper arm may be tilted to the left, right or both depending on the model, for cutting bevels, while the arm’s connection at the saw base may be rotated left or right for miter cuts. Of course, one may use a combination of a miter and a bevel at the same time for a compound cut, hence the name, compound miter saw.
To begin, whenever using any woodworking tools, always wear appropriate clothes, like hand gloves, elbow safety guards and use safety glasses. If the tool is excessively loud, appropriate hearing protection is advisable.
5 Tips to Work Safely with Your Compound Miter Saw
First, check the operation of your miter saw. Make sure that excess sawdust or pitch are not causing any impingements in the saw’s up-and-down or sliding action. Also, check to see that the electrical cord is not constraining the saw’s movement in any way. First, check for impingements with the saw rotated to the maximum left miter position (beveling to the full left and right capabilities) before moving to the opposite, right miter position and checking for any sticking points in the action again.
Second, the miter saw is equipped with a blade guard, which should never be disabled. Check your blade guard occasionally to make certain it is functioning properly and does not bind when raising or lowering the saw. While you’re at it, check to make certain that your saw blade is sharp and is properly fastened to the saw’s arbor. A dull or improperly installed saw blade can be extremely dangerous. (When checking or installing your saw blade, always remember to unplug the saw from its power source.)
Third, most compound miter saws have an adjustable fence. Be certain that your fence is adjusted appropriately for the cut you need to make, and that you place the stock firmly against the table and fence when making a cut. “Freehanding” a cut is very dangerous and ill-advised.
Fourth, remember to keep your saw clean as you use it. Little cutoffs from previous cuts or an excessive amount of sawdust can interfere with your current cutting operation. Keep a small box or bucket nearby for your small cutoffs.
Finally, whenever you use any power woodworking tool, take your time and use common sense. You may be eager to complete a task, but hurrying leads to mistakes. If you keep your wits about you (and this includes avoiding drugs and alcohol when working), you’ll be far less inclined to make a mistake that could lead to a debilitating injury (or worse).
Woodworking is to be enjoyed. Take your time and take pride and pleasure in your work and you’ll be much safer in the long run.