Miter Cut on the Circular Saw
The circular saw is one of the most versatile
machines used for woodworking. It can be used for a
wide variety of operations including: ripping,
crosscutting; as well as other operations such as
cutting miters, rabbets, dados, and coves.
This sheet describes the procedure for cutting
Controls: The controls on
the circular saw in the materials processing laboratory
consist of the following:
- A magnetic power switch that must be reset if the
power in the laboratory is interrupted.
- A blade height adjustment wheel on the front of the
- A blade tilt adjustment wheel on the side of the
- Fence adjusting knob and fence lock on the rip
Note: There are other controls on various accessories
used with the saw that are not listed in this
Potential hazards: Because
of the rapid spinning motion of the circular saw blade, the
following hazards exist.
- Any body contact with the moving blade will cause
- Clothing or other articles that contact the moving
blade could become entangled and pull the operator into
- The work piece can be thrown (kicked back) violently
from the rotating saw blade.
- Small pieces of the work piece and saw dust can be
thrown out at the operator.
- The operator could slip and fall into the saw.
Safety practices: Because
of those potential hazards the following safety rules must
- Be sure to perform only operations you know how to do
- Always wear safety glasses.
- Never wear cloths or other articles that dangle and
could catch on the saw.
- Be sure to have firm footing.
- Check the saw to make sure it is in good working
- Make all adjustments with the saw turned off, and
unplugged in cases where the blade is or could be
- Use an appropriate saw blade guard when possible.
(most operations can be done with the guard), check with
the instructor before making any cuts without the
- Adjust the blade to 1/8 inch above the top of the
- Check the stock for foreign objects and never saw
stock containing loose or unsound knots.
- Never make "free hand" cuts on the circular saw,
always use the fence, miter gage or other
- Never stand directly behind the saw blade.
- When using the miter gage be sure it slides freely
and clears the blade.
- Do not reach directly over the moving blade to remove
- Use a push stick for narrow work when
- Turn the saw off before clearing any materials from
near the blade.
- Always use a clearance block when cross cutting
duplicate parts (do not use the fence and miter gage in
direct combination), the stock can bind and kick back
- Have someone help support long stock, but don't allow
them to pull the stock.
- Avoid distractions, never look away during a
- Do not allow others to crowd around the
- Turn the saw off immediately if it does not sound
right or if slivers of wood catch between the blade and
- Always push the work well beyond the blade when
finishing a cut (clearing the saw).
- Never let go of the stock during the cut.
- Do not saw stock that rocks on the table or that does
not track straight along the fence.
- Lower the blade below the table surface after after
finishing the operation.
Operation (Miter): A
miter is a crosscut made at an angle. Refer to the following
- Be sure that the stock to be cut is flat and has a
- Check to be sure that a rip or combination blade is
mounted on the saw.
- Adjust the saw blade to approximately 1/8 to 1/4 inch
higher than the thickness of the stock.
- Adjust the miter gage to the desired degree by
loosening the handle at the base, turning the gage to the
desired degree and tightening the handle.
- The miter gage can be either open or closed faced
toward the saw blade. An open miter gage is facing
away from the saw blade. A closed miter gage is
facing toward the saw blade. An open and closed
miter gage can be achieved on both sides of the saw
- Never use the rip fence with this operation.
- Be sure the blade guard is in place and functioning
- Stand to the side of the blade and start the saw. Be
sure no other people are in line with the blade.
- Using the miter gage on the left or right side of the
blade, push the stock through.
- Be sure to push the stock well clear of the blade
when finishing the cut (clearing the saw).
- Turn off the saw before removing the stock
Note: There are several other operations that can be done
using a circular saw. Ask your instructor and refer to one
of the many references for those procedures.
Setting the miter gage at an angle in
preperation for cutting.
Stock is being pushed into the blade at an
angle, note the position of the hands.
Hammond, James J., Donnelly, Edward T., Harrod, Walter
F., Rayner, Norman A. (1972). Woodworking Technology.
McKnight and McKnight Publishing Co. Bloomington, IL.
Feirer, John L. (1988). Cabinetmaking and
Millwork. Glencoe/McGraw-Hill. Peoria, IL.
ITT 252 - Materials Processing
Department of Technology
University of Southern Maine
Prepared by Kevin M. Hanscom, 9/6/2001