Q&A / 

Compound Miter Saw

Compound Miter Saw TIPS

DEAR TIM: A compound miter saw has bubbled to the top of my power-tool wish list. To be sure I need a compound miter saw to put up some crown molding.

Would it be better to get a sliding saw if I do go ahead? I'm a serious DIYr and would like a great saw. Furthermore I've read quite a few tool reviews for these saws and I'm confused. Andy D., Nashville, TN

DEAR ANDY: I am sorry to hear about your confusion after reading the tool reviews. That's unfortunate as a compound miter saw is a significant investment, and you do not want to make a mistake when you are buying a specialized tool.

Compound Miter Saw & Crown Molding

A compound miter saw is a specialized saw. It allows the saw blade to pivot in two different directions at the same time. This feature allows the saw to make a compound cut you'd find on the ends of crown molding. Hip and valley roof rafters have compound cuts.

tim compound miter saw

Compound cuts are very rare in typical residential construction. To put it differently the vast majority of angled cuts in a home are simple 90 or 45-degree cuts.

Baseboards and window and door trim casing miter cuts are made with the saw blade cutting down through the material at a 90-degree angle. Consequently the saw needs to swing to the left or right 45 degrees to make most miter cuts. With this in mind the saw you want to purchase will make these cuts with ease.

Free & Fast Bids

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Related Links

opens in a new windowMiter Saw Stands Are Essential

opens in a new windowCutting Crown Molding with Ease

opens in a new windowRoof Framing Basic Tips

Compound Cuts Without a Compound Saw

You can opens in a new windowcut crown molding without a compound miter saw. The first thing to remember is to place the crown molding in the saw so it thinks it is already hanging up against the ceiling.

As an illustration the table of a regular miter saw and the vertical fence that rises up from the saw table are oriented at 90 degrees to one another, just like the typical wall / ceiling interface so it is easy to hold the molding at the funny angle.

If you put the crown molding upside down in the saw and hold it in the saw the same way it will be installed it your home, all you need to do is rotate the regular miter saw to the correct miter angle and make the cut. Because the crown molding is being held against the saw fence tilted down at an angle towards the table of the saw, the resulting cut is a compound cut even though you were not using a compound miter saw. Isn't that amazing?

opens in a new windowcompound-miter-saw

The compound miter saw is set at 45 degrees in both orientations for the purpose of making a compound cut. You'd use this setting to cut a cheek cut on a valley rafter for a 12:12 pitch roof. CLICK THE PHOTO NOW to have this saw at your home in days. Copyright 2017 Tim Carter

Sliding Saws Are The Best

I own a sliding compound miter saw. It is a fantastic tool and I use it frequently.

It's important to realize the 10-inch blade and the sliding function allow me to make precision cross cuts on material as wide as 12 inches.

A sliding miter saw in not much different from a small portable radial arm saw. While it can't do everything a radial arm saw can do, but it sure comes in handy most of the time.

opens in a new windowcompound miter saw compound angle gauge

This angle gauge allows the saw to tilt one way or the other past 90 degrees. In fact you can see you can go a few degrees past 45 degrees. CLICK THE PHOTO to have this delightful saw delivered to your home. Copyright 2017 Tim Carter

Very Versatile

A sliding compound miter saw is a wonderful tool to have around the shop or for a serious do-it-yourselfer. For one thing, you'll use it for many purposes. By all means don't buy it just to cut crown molding.

There are many finish carpenters who love their compound miter saws and use them regularly to cut crown molding. But realize that the master carpenters of yesteryear installed crown molding without this fancy tool, much less a saw powered by electricity!

opens in a new windowCLICK HERE to get FREE & FAST BIDS from local carpenters who will demonstrate how to use one of these fantastic saws.

Good Better Best Saw

The best compound miter saw is hard to pin down. In general, tool reviews include bias. A point often overlooked is five different carpenters can have five different opinions when they test the exact same compound miter saw.

With this in mind here's a partial list of things to consider when deciding on a saw:

  • weight of the saw
  • size and horsepower of the electric motor
  • range of cutting angles
  • type and shape of the handle
  • diameter of the blade

Cut Past 45 Degrees

My miter saws can swing and cut past 45 degrees. For this reason all of the miter saws I own can make cuts up to 50 degrees.

For instance this characteristic comes in very handy when installing crown molding on outside corners. Frequently the needed angle to make perfect cuts is 47 or 46 degrees.

opens in a new windowcompound miter saw 60 degree miter gauge

This is the table miter gauge on my compound miter saw. Note how the table can rotate to 60 degrees! This is a very useful feature. CLICK THE PHOTO to have one delivered to your home. Copyright 2017 Tim Carter

Miter Saw Stand Essential

A miter saw stand is the number one accessory you should buy. My stand is lightweight and furthermore it keeps the saw safe and stable.

opens in a new windowmiter saw stand

The four-legged saw stand is made primarily from aluminum. It folds up for easy storage and transport. You can place the saw anywhere you want along the horizontal aluminum beam. CLICK THE PHOTO to have this stand delivered to your home. Copyright 2017 Tim Carter

Miter Saw Stand Video

Watch this video of my miter stand. The saw stand will make your mouth water.

Price Is A Good Measure of Quality

Price is often a very accurate measuring device when you are comparing the quality of compound miter saws. This is a very competitive marketplace, and there are enough manufacturers that they have to create crisp features that set them apart.

If you're a manufacturer that wants to deliver exceptional quality, then you will probably include high-quality parts that cost more. These costs result in higher retail costs to the consumer.

In conclusion, I try to purchase high-quality power tools to avoid heartbreak. I want to know it will be durable, and that it will produce accurate work. All things considered those things are very important to me.

opens in a new windowCLICK HERE to get FREE & FAST BIDS from local carpenters who will demonstrate how to use one of these fantastic saws.

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