Using a Mitre Saw; How to Cut Mitres with a Mitre Saw or Mitre Block

Summary: How to use a mitre saw for cutting angles with precision for picture frames, architrave and many other uses. Find out how to use both powered mitre saws and a hand mitre saw with a mitre block to guide your cut. Understand the range of tools available to help you with your mitre work.

Don't want to do this job yourself? Let us help you find a tradesman local to you

Mitre saws can be both hand operated and power operated. The power models of mitre saws use a high speed disc blade to cut material. Before using a power mitre saw you must first make sure your saw is firmly fixed to a work bench or located on a stable work stand, a high speed revolving cutting disc can be a dangerous device if not used correctly.

Tabletop mitre saw

Tabletop mitre saw

You can find out more about all the tools shown in this project or purchase from our toolstore. You may also want to see:

When using a power mitre saw the blade engages instantly when switched on so be prepared for this. Make sure the blade guard is down at all times.

If the item you are cutting is too long (or heavy) for you to handle safely, make sure you have a person to help or use roller support stands as shown below

Roller stand for supporting long timbers

Roller stand for supporting long timbers

Collapsable mitre saw legstand with wheels

Collapsable mitre saw legstand with wheels

Most new model power mitre saws come with a blade guard that retracts when the cutting arm is lowered into the cutting position. The material you are cutting can be clamped in position or held firmly in position, if in doubt clamp the item that is to be cut. Your fingers are very precious!

Types of Power Mitre Saw

This kind of Miter Saw is usually called a chop saw and now is available in 4 different formats:

Standard Chopsaw

This saw will give you a straight cut through timber. The depth of the cut (I.E. The largest timber it will cut in one stroke) is equal to 20mm less than half of the blade diameter. For example a 215mm blade will cut a timber 90mm wide in one stroke.

Chop saw for straight cuts through timber

Chop saw for straight cuts through timber

Compound Mitre Saw

This saw will be able to also do all the cuts a standard chop saw can do, but with the added feature of being able to lay the blade to one side to create another angle of cut for the mitre mainly for aid of producing skirting joins, boxing in, and MDF work (check our cutting a mitre joint project).

Compound mitre saw

Compound mitre saw

Sliding Compound Mitre Saw

This version can reproduce all of the other cuts of the Compound Saw but with the added feature of being able to extend the cutting width by sliding out on a fixed rail. This saw can be used for cutting wide timbers laid flat on the saw base.

Sliding compound mitre saw for long mitre cuts

Sliding compound mitre saw for long mitre cuts

Dual Compound and Cross Cut Mitre saws

This version of the mitre saw can produce all the other cuts of the previous saws, but with the added extra of the cutting blade being able to flip to both sides making opposing mitre cuts able to match with great detail.

Cross cut mitre saw

Cross cut miitre saw

The more operations a saw does, the more expensive it is to buy.

Setting up a Jig Block for Cutting Mitre Joints

Chop saws are ideal for cutting many timbers to the same length.

If you need to cut quite a few pieces of timber to the same length then it is well worth your time setting up a jig block

This can be achieved by fitting a jig block to your work bench at the required distance to the blade and simply butting your timber up to it every time you make a cut.

Jig block for cutting timber to the same length

Jig block for cutting timber to the same length

Manual Cutting Mitre Saw

The manual mitre saw is basically the early pre-runner to the machine version, a plate for wood to be placed onto, 4 upright sliding rods which allow a saw blade to be guided while cutting through a material and a ratchet system which can be adjusted to cut at a pre set angle of degrees.

Hand mitre saw for manual cutting

Hand mitre saw for manual cutting

This device would normally be fixed by screwing to a wooden horse or work bench prior to use. The blades are also exchangeable for cutting through different materials.

Using a Mitre block

A mitre block or box is made of plastic or wood, which guides a hand saw (through pre cut grooves) on the correct angle to cut repeat mitres.

The timber is placed in between two raised sides of the box and the saw cuts at preset angles of (usually) 45°, 66°and 90°. Cheap and cheerful but can help with simple tasks.

Mitre block for cutting mitre angles

Mitre block for cutting mitre angles

When you have finished using a Mitre Saw it is always advisable to clean all dust and dirt from your machine, then oil it. Build up of debris in the moving parts of your Mitre Saw will give you incorrect cutting angles or sliding parts that will not work correctly when required.

As always DIY Doctor always recommends the use of safety goggles, gloves and dust masks when using any device which creates dust and debris and has sharp moving components.

Don't fancy doing this project yourself? We work with Checkatrade to ensure that we recommend only reliable and trustworthy tradesmen.

All project content written and produced by

Project Feedback