The miter saw is famous for offering you the ability to cut miters, right? But it can actually do a lot more than just cut a miter. These saws can make crosscuts and also help you cut out bevels when you need them.
It’s a pretty handy saw and while that might be the traditional purpose of the saw, it doesn’t mean that is the only thing you can count on it for!
In this guide, we’re going to walk you through the process of making a bevel cut using a miter saw.
What is a Miter Saw Used for?
The miter saw is a saw that you place on your workbench or work table. Some of the heavier models do come with stands but for the most part, they will not come with a stand. It is a heavy-duty saw with a base that you use to run your boards or wood across.
The blade is positioned above the base and typically has some sort of handle mechanism. To use the saw, you pull it down onto the wood in question. The unique aspect of the miter saw is you can use it to cut at an angle with the head positioning.
Miter saws are really popular for making angled cuts, cutting molding and trim, cutting bevels, and even making crosscuts. They can also be used for cutting a miter, just as the name would suggest.
While it’s not your everyday circular saw or chop saw, it is a pretty versatile tool and it actually does things those saws might not be able to do for you as well. The whole stance is the ability to cut an angle when you need to! That’s where the magic really happens.
For a quick overview, these are the primary uses for your miter saw.
- Miter cut
- Bevel cut
- Cross cut
- Compound cut
Notice that all of these types of cuts are angled cuts.
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What is a Bevel Cut?
We’re focusing primarily on the bevel cut with today’s guide. You may be familiar with the term “bevel” already. It’s a common term in woodworking. It ultimately refers to a slant or an angle in many different forms.
We know tools that will bevel, or tilt, to a specific degree, and so on.
A bevel cut can be a really challenging cut to make. Some professional woodworkers have mastered this cut in other ways but the best way to do it is on a miter saw. Even those skilled professionals will most likely attest to that. The problem is not only making the bevel cut but also making sure it is accurate.
Beveled cuts are almost always at 45-degree angles but that is not necessarily always the case.
And then those beveled pieces are often used for things like trim installation. You’ve got to be able to make trim and molding work in a corner and that is where a bevel cut can really come in handy. Of course, there are other times a bevel cut might be needed but that’s a popular example.
They might also just be used for crafting something that has an odd shape or perhaps is even geometric in nature.
Now, let’s talk about how to actually make that bevel cut with your miter saw.
Making a Bevel Cut on a Miter Saw
Obviously, before you make your cut, you will need to do a little bit of prep work. This shouldn’t be overly hard but you need to measure and mark. You also might want some way to identify which end of your wood will end up being the scrap end. Sometimes, this will be easy to tell but if you could end up confused, just mark the scrap side with an “X” or find another way to show it!
We’re going to break down this process step-by-step for you.
1. Measure the Cut
Start by measuring the cut. Since bevel cuts are sometimes very challenging to get accurate, you should measure and then double check your measurements to be sure they are right. Getting your measurements perfectly accurate is really half of the battle if we’re honest!
Make your measurement based on the cut that you need to fit the piece. If you’re fitting trim, you should be able to mark exactly where you need the bevel and the angle right on the board.
Typically, you will measure the distance from the left end of your board. You can draw a line here to know the mark. This is also where you would mark the scrap end if necessary.
2. Line Up Your Saw
Make sure the saw is off for this part of the process. You don’t want to accidentally make a cut and end up starting over.
Get your board lined up on the saw, with your marks in the appropriate range to make the cut. It’s a good idea to do a test pull on the saw while it is still powered off to test where it is going to hit the board.
The blade kerf should fall right on the other side of your mark on the scrap end. Never cut the board short on the wrong side of your mark. When you pull your blade down, you can see just where the kerf hits the board and then move the board to get it properly aligned.
3. And Cut!
Now that you’ve checked and double-checked and got everything perfectly aligned, it’s time to actually make that cut.
Make sure your miter saw has the blade raised back to its normal starting position after lowering it to align with your board.
Find a safe but steady place to hold the board on the left side away from the blade. You should be able to use your right hand to then power on the saw, release any safety mechanisms and then lower the blade right to the mark that you already aligned perfectly.
Pull that blade down through the wood slowly as it makes the cut. When it finishes cutting, raise the blade back up, turn on the safety, and power down the saw until next time.
From this point, you will probably need to check the cut and make sure it really is the perfect fit for your measurements. As long as you marked correctly and aligned the saw properly, you should be good to go!
However, if you find that something was off, you can try again. Sometimes it takes a little practice to get used to where your saw should land and exactly how or where you should make your marks.
Following all of the little tips and taking the time to make sure your marks are accurate will really make a significant difference in the end.
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While you can make a bevel cut with a circular saw or possibly even a jigsaw, the easiest way to make this challenging cut is to use a saw that was designed for it. The miter saw was made specifically to make angled cuts and it excels at the task if you just give it the chance!
Use these tips to make your bevel cuts and you will be a pro in no time.