A Complete Guide on How to Use a Compound Miter Saw

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How To Use A Compound Miter Saw

A compound miter saw differs from a standard miter saw or a sliding miter saw because it enables the user to tilt the blade to specified angles from the vertical one in order to cut a compound angle.

To easily be able to handle working with a compound miter saw, there are a couple of things you should know and you’re good to go.


A helpful general tip is to determine if you’re going need your compound miter saw that often. You can go for renting or borrowing if you’re only going to use it for a one-time job.

How to Use a Compound Miter Saw

First: selecting the size and amperage of the compound miter saw according to how you intend to use it

Compound miter saws come in various shapes and sizes. The size is determined by the blade diameter which usually varies from 8 to 12 inches and it’s the factor that affects the width and thickness of the material you can cut.

You should also choose the compound miter saw that has a suitable amperage rating. For heavier-duty jobs, you should get a higher amperage rating and vice versa.

Second: Setting your place up.

You can comfortably operate your compound miter saw on a workbench or a table. However, longer workpieces may require you to work on the floor. If you have a workbench, make sure it is completely stable to avoid any vibrations during the operation.

Third: Fully understand your tool

miter saw parts

Before you begin using your saw, read the operator’s manual carefully. The first section will typically include all the safety rules. You should make sure that you fully understand the saw’s requirements before you operate it as overloaded electrical circuits can cause damage to your tool or even cause a fire in your workplace.

  • Make sure you’re well-informed about the different parts of the saw and the purpose of each.
  • You should locate the angle scale, the angle indicator, the blade guard, the power switch or trigger, and the mechanism for locking the saw in place when you’re not using it.
  • Some saws have laser guides, locking clamps to secure your workpiece, and saw tilt scales.
  • Check in your manual for any of these features.
  • Release or unlock the saw so that a workpiece can be placed on the saw bench and the blade will travel.
  • Make sure to lower and raise the saw a few times before you start using it so you can get familiar with the path the blade travels.
  • This enables you to avoid any accidents or mishaps when you get to the actual cutting using your saw.

Fourth: Practice makes perfect

  • Try placing a piece of material on the bench. You can start with a small piece of scrap metal to try out your saw on.
  • Double-check that it’s long enough to securely fit against the backrest of the saw’s bench and enable you to hold it in place while you’re cutting it.
  • If you’re going to be cutting shorter stock, it’s safer to use clamps.
  • Otherwise, cutting near the end of a short piece of stock may cause kickback, (the piece that you’re going to cut off) to be jerked by the blade when you finish your cut.
  • Try using your saw to cut a variety of angles on scrap material and try fitting them together to see the different ways in which they fit.
  • At first, it may be tricky to fit –seemingly- easy pieces but with practice, you’ll figure your way around.

  • Like how you shouldn’t cut the stock ends at 90 degrees but rather cut the ends of two pieces of stock at 45 degrees each and fit them together to make a square.

In Just one minute, watch this video to sum up the previous steps:

Compound Miter Saw Tips and Techniques

Creating Clean Cuts with a Steady and Firm Grip

Step 1: Align the blade with one side of the mark

  • Start by lifting the blade guard using your thumb and use one edge of the blade to align your cut.
  • Don’t forget to remove your fingers from the switch as you align the cut.
  • Use a clamp to secure the workpiece in place or make sure you hold it as firmly as possible.
  • Gradually release the blade guard and find your way back to the switch to make your cut.

To Saw the Perfect Miter by Adjusting the Angle

Step 1: Making fine-tune cuts

  • If you want to make fine-tune cuts, adjust the blade angle slightly for a tight fit.
  • Move the blade adjuster and hold it in position until the locking handle is tightened.

Step 2: Preventing the cutoff from being thrown

  • You should add small pieces with a sacrificial board to stop the cutoff from being thrown away by the blade.
  • Make sure to hold down the saw until it stops rotating completely at the end of the cut.

Step 3: Use stop block for repeat cuts

  • Screwing two blocks of wood to the miter saw stand works perfectly as a stop if you’re going to repeat cuts of the same length.
  • You can set the lower block back about half an inch so that your cut length wouldn’t be affected if wood chips or sawdust pile up against it.

Holding the Crowns and Coves in Place By Constructing a Jig

Step 1: Crown mold with the help of a jig

  • You can build a jig to hold crown moldings at the precise angle you need by setting a scrap of your molding upside down in the jig and marking the position of the stop.
  • Then, screw the stop to the jig and placing all fasteners so that they’re out of the path of the blade.

Step 2: Fasten the jig to the fence

Attach the jig with ¾-inch screws using holes in the miter saw fence. Then, cut miters with the crown molding upside down.

If you don’t know what the jig is, this video explains it comprehensively 

How To Use a Compound Miter Saw Safely

  1. Make sure to take off any jewelry before using the saw.
  2. Avoid any gloves (save the safety ones) and loose clothing when you’re using the saw.
  3. Carry all the guard during the use of the miter saw and make sure they’re repaired or readjust them if you’re getting any inaccurate results.
  4. If your blades aren’t working optimally, make sure your miter saw is well-maintained.
  5. Refer to the user’s manual to properly match the type of blade you’re using to the item you’re cutting or your purpose. Otherwise, your results may not be as accurate.
  6. Always make sure your fingers are at a safe distance from the cutting blades.
  7. Double-check the blade arrangement and its result after finishing your cut.
  8. After leaving the trigger, wait until the blade comes to an absolute stop.
  9. Make sure you’re wearing a safe uniform including protective glasses, hearing protection, a tight uniform, and solid working shoes.
How to Use a Compound Miter Saw
Article Name
How to Use a Compound Miter Saw
A compound miter saw differs from a standard miter saw or a sliding miter saw because it enables the user to tilt the blade to specified angles from the vertical one in order to cut a compound angle.
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Power Saw Expert
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