What is a miter saw? What are the different types? How do they work? This article will provide these answers and much more.

A miter saw is a handy tool for high-precision work. This saw features a circular blade fixed on a hinge. While the operating principle is similar, there are different types of miter saws.

This article will discuss a miter saw, its types, and its safety measures. We will also answer the most common frequently asked questions about miter saws.

What is a Miter Saw?

This is a circular blade saw that is mounted on a hinge. It works by swinging it down on the material you are cutting. Since you have the hinge fixed firmly, the blade will drop in a controlled motion creating a clean and consistent cut.

This saw is an indispensable tool for DIY lovers. It can easily make accurate 90-degree crosscuts. Some models can even make perfect angle miter cuts. Others can make compound angle cuts.

What makes this saw so popular with DIYers is the precision with which it can cut. You can use it to shave off delicate bits. Moreover, the built-in blade guards mean that these saws are relatively safer. However, you should operate them with care.

Types of Miter Saws

Sliding Miter Saw

A sliding miter saw has rails to enable you to use the blade to cut back and forth the material you are working on. The addition of rails enables the saw to cut at a much greater depth than a saw without it would cut.

A sliding miter saw has rails to enable you to use the blade to cut back and forth the material you are working on. The addition of rails enables the saw to cut at a much greater depth than a saw without it would cut.

Compound Miter Saw

Unlike your regular miter saw, the compound miter saw has a bevel and a miter. This tool has the added benefit of tilting the saw and head to various angles. Essentially, a compound cut brings together a miter and a bevel cut. The compound miter saw achieves mitering by rotating the blade around a base. The base contains a scale that lets you read the miter angle.

Compound Sliding Miter Saw

As you may have already guessed, a compound sliding miter saw combines the best of both worlds. Essentially, a compound sliding miter saw is a compound miter saw fitted with rails.

Dual Compound Sliding Miter Saw

With this advanced miter saw you get a miter table fitted with sliding rails and beveling that goes both ways. This implies that you do not need to flip the material you are working on as you work on it.

As you may know, with more features comes a hefty price. Therefore, a sliding compound saw will work fine if you hardly need to make bevel cuts in both directions.

Corded and Cordless Miter Saws

Traditionally, miter saws are all corded. However, with better battery technologies, you can now get battery-powered miter saws. In case you are wondering where the connection comes between corded or cordless saws and the batteries, corded saws do not have an inbuilt battery. This means you must plug it in when you want to use the miter saw.

Corded miter saws are best for working long hours in garages with power outlets. On the other hand, cordless miter saws are best if you want to work outdoors without power plugs.

How to Use a Miter Saw Safely

Miter saws are dangerous if handled carelessly. Here are some safety measures to prevent accidents when working with miter saws:

  • Always read your owner’s manual before working with a miter saw. These saws are all different. Therefore, knowledge of one saw does not mean you can operate another saw safely.
  • Always wear eye and ear protection equipment.
  • Never operate your miter saw if you are in any condition that impairs your judgment. Things can go South quickly.
  • Never place your fingers near a running blade. Most manufacturers recommend a safe distance of at least 6”. Some saws even have guidelines to help you identify the correct working position.
  • If something falls and you must pick it up, turn off your saw before reaching for it.
  • Always unplug your miter saw when you want to work on it, such as replacing the blade.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why do we call it a miter saw?

A miter saw got its name from the way it works. It makes precise cuts (miters) in your material.

2. What materials can a miter saw cut?

Traditionally, miter saws were made to cut wood only. However, modern miter saws can cut through different materials provided it has the correct blade to cut through that material. However, always check the rating of the miter saw and the owner’s manual to know if it can cut through whatever material you have in mind.

3. Is a miter saw and a chop saw the same thing?

Miter saws and chop saws are two different tools. While very similar in how they operate, a miter saw is designed to cut materials such as wood and plastic. A Chop Saw is meant to mainly cut metals. They both have different blades for the material they are being used for.


A miter saw is a circular blade that is fixed on a hinge. You swing it into the material you wish to cut. Many variations of miter saws include sliding miter saw, compound miter saws, compound sliding miter saws, and dual sliding miter saws. There are also cordless and corded options.

While the blade in a miter saw is not exposed as you work, it is still a powerful machine you should be careful with. Pay keen attention to the safety measures we listed. Better still, always refer to the owner’s manual for certainty.

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