The Miter Saw is a very popular power tool that is used by first-time builders all the way to construction experts. You would be hard-pressed to find a seasoned builder who does not have a Miter Saw in their arsenal, assuming they require the use of a saw that can cut through many different types of materials.
Prized mostly for its versatility, Miter Saws are actually quite easy to use (and learn to use). Even those who have little experience with using electric saws can quickly get up to speed on how to use this powerful saw safely; that said, it can be quite hazardous if not used correctly.
All things considered, Miter Saws can be very dangerous power tools when used incorrectly. This is mostly due to the sharp blades combined with the high speed ‘saw’ action built-in to the tool, which can cause serious injury in extreme circumstances.
But, as long as you know how to handle a Miter Saw and take the necessary precautions before and during use, you can severely decrease your chances of injury to you and others while using this powerful tool.
Let’s take a look at how the Miter Saw works, what it’s used for, common injuries from the saw, and how to avoid them.
How A Miter Saw Works
A Miter Saw is an electric saw that must be plugged in to be used properly. It is, if you didn’t know, ‘heavy duty’ – weighing up to 100 pounds, in extreme circumstances.
Since the Miter Saw is electric, the machine has a life of its own. The blade on the saw spins extremely fast… enough to injury oneself severely, although we’ll get to that later.
The Miter Saw is quite similar to a Circular Saw, so much so that the two often get confused. The main difference is this: Miter Saws are mounted to a table, while Circular Saws are handheld. While Circular Saws are great since they are not tied down a table, this also means they are generally less accurate and more dangerous… a Miter Saw, on the other hand, is safer and more accurate since they need to be tied down to a table for use.
The use of Miter Saw requires a relatively sturdy table to mount it on; otherwise, it simply will not work. You cannot use a Miter Saw by simply holding it’s weight with your hands (some people have done this, although it’s very dangerous and should always be avoided).
The main benefit of the Miter Saw is its power and accuracy… you will not be able to cut a piece of wood with a regular saw as well as you can with a Miter Saw, which holds true for most electric saws as well.
The major downside of a Miter Saw is that they can only cut a piece of material as long as the blade is; for example, if the blade is 3 inches, a piece of wood can only be cut 3 inches by the saw. For this reason, some builders see a Miter Saw as ‘elementary’ and limited – it all depends on what you need the tool for. If you need to cut a lot of material in a short amount of time, the Miter Saw is probably your best bet since it cuts as fast as any other tool on the market.
With proper care and good upkeep, your Miter Saw can continue its usefulness for decades to come. Generally, the more you spend on your saw initially, the better quality it will be and the longer it’s livelihood will last – but, as long as you clean it regularly and replace the blade every few years, your saw will continue to cut wood with ease for as long as you live!
Let’s take a look at some common uses of the Miter Saw.
Miter Saw Uses
A Miter Saw is generally intended for making miter cuts and crosscuts in a piece of wood. This is typically done by starting with a flat piece of wood and pulling down the saw blade onto the wood; this way, the sawing is done so that the wood remains stationary, thus allowing for more control when needed.
This unique sawing situation allows for precise cuts when a perfect angle is needed. Miter saws are also perfect for when you need to cut large pieces down to multiple smaller ones; because the wood stays flat and only the saw blade moves, you have more control over the finished piece.
It is also important to note that you can maneuver the saw if needed. For example, the blade on your Miter Saw can be rotated to different angles. It is not difficult to make these quick adjustments, so as to make it easier for you.
Now that you know some of the Miter Saw basics, let’s examine why it’s so important to take this power tool seriously.
Common Miter Saw Injuries
The Miter Saw, as well as most other saws and power tools, is capable of causing serious damage and harm to you and your body. For this reason, I consider it necessary to reveal some of the most common injury-prone areas accrued from the use of a Miter Saw.
Yes, your ears can be seriously effected by the use of a Miter Saw.
Unfortunately, ear injuries are commonly overlooked; this is unfortunate, because permanent loss of an ear function can mean a severely impacted life forever!
Like most other electric tools, Miter Saws make a lot of noise. If you’re going to be around a Miter Saw in use, protect your ears – wear earplugs or headphones.
It’s a simple precaution, but can save you years of discomfort or permanent loss of your ability to hear.
I know – didn’t expect to see ‘nose’ on here, did you?
Surprisingly, your nose is actually one of the most vulnerable areas on your face. Although it is made of a material that allows it to break and be fixed time and time again, the issue is mostly surrounding getting hazardous pieces of debris flown up your nose!
Yes, it’s gross and not very likely – but, these things do happen, and it’s smart to take the steps necessary so you don’t wind up in the hospital with splinters in your nostril.
Quite simply, wear a mask when dealing with a Miter Saw.
If loose debris is flying everywhere, cover your nose! You might not like it but you’ll thank yourself later.
The eyeballs are arguably the most prized feature on your face. Without them, you can’t see, and most people find this to be a sense they take for granted… and you probably do, too.
Why risk it?
It’s very simple: wear safety goggles!
A loose piece of wood straight to the pupil can ruin your life, and so can any other material sent slingling towards your iris at 100 mph.
There is no need to risk losing your ability to see; wear protective eyewear, or face risking the consequences. No matter how much control you think you have, there are variables that you cannot foresee.
This is the most obvious yet often overlooked aspect of using a saw.
Your hands are the most vulnerable part of your body when using any type of tool, especially an electric saw, which is why you should always be using some sort of glove during use. This is in case contact occurs between your hand and the blade which, unfortunately, does happen.
As you can expect, the consequences of touching your hand or fingers to the blade while the saw is turned on can be very severe, so the importance of wearing gloves can truly not be overstated.
Now that you know the risks involved with using a Miter Saw, let’s look at how you can use this power tooll safely.
How To Use A Miter Saw Safely
Using a Miter Saw is risky only if you avoid the necessary precautions required to prevent serious injury.
We’ve gone over the safety equipment you should be wearing before using a Miter Saw; now let’s look at how to actually use this power tool safely.
When using this tool, always make sure to keep these in mind:
- Do not reach around the blade of the saw when moving.
- When turning off the saw, make sure the blade has completely stopped spinning until moving its position.
- Always use saw guards during use.
- Never use the saw ‘freehand’, as in, without the tool firmly secured.
- Always check your blade for cracks or general damage; there is a much higher risk of kickback when a blade is dull or cracked.
- Only let the saw cut your wood when it is fully turned on – as in, don’t cut the wood instantly as the saw is first turning on. Allow it to reach full speed before cutting the wood.
- Always inspect your Miter Saw before use for any damages to the tool.
As long as you follow the guidelines discussed in this article and never stop being diligent in your building operations, a Miter Saw is perfectly safe to use.
Treat your power tool with the proper respect it deserves and you will have yourself one of the best electric saws money can buy!