If you call it a chop saw, you're not using it right.

Power mitersaws rank second only to tablesaws in woodshop popularity, and behind only circular saws at construction sites. So if you're among the many who regularly use a mitersaw, you'll find these tips will make your sawing safer and easier.

Hurried house framers are particularly guilty of this: physically pushing the blade down into the wood as fast as they can. Of course, a good mitersaw with a sharp blade will cut faster than you can push it down anyway, but don't! All you end up doing is making a lousy cut. And how can you be sure your other hand will always be out of harm's way? Just take your time and let the mitersaw do the work.

Starting your cut when the work isn't flush against the fence and solidly on the table is the surest way I know of to destroy a good piece of wood-and a mitersaw. It can result in broken fences, broken blades, broken or cut upper and lower guards, and if you're lucky, only a general bad attitude for the rest of the day. Before you make a cut on your mitersaw, always make sure you have the board completely on the table and flush against the fence.

Cutting accurate miter angles on crown moldings with a standard (not compound) mitersaw can be one of the hardest trim jobs imaginable. That's because you mount most crown molding at an angle of 38° to the wall. Therefore, you need to hold the molding at this angle when you make the cut-not easy to do. And because there's not solid contact with both the fence and the table, a slip could put you in danger as well as damage the workpiece.

Here's a good way to make those cuts. Simply make a filler block by ripping a 2X4 to a 38° bevel on your tablesaw. Then, attach the filler block to your mitersaw fence with the 38° angle up, as shown in the drawing below. When you place the crown molding upside down against the filler block, the cut will come out perfectly. For even more control, clamp a scrap-wood stop at the base of the molding to prevent any tipping during the cut.


Unfortunately, I've not seen a universal fixture for cutting irregularly shaped wood, such as a dowel. But I do know that the trick to doing it safely is to clamp the work firmly against the fence and on the table. As shown in photo above, a handscrew will work, even for dowels.