A miter saw is used to make a quick, accurate crosscut in a workpiece. Common uses include framing operations and the cutting of molding. Most miter saws are relatively small and portable, with common blade sizes ranging from 8 to 12 inches. A miter saw makes cuts by pulling a spinning circular saw blade down onto a workpiece in a short, controlled motion. The workpiece is typically held against a fence, which provides a precise cutting angle between the blade and the longest workpiece edge. In standard position, this angle is fixed at 90°. The primary distinguishing feature of the miter saw is the miter index that allows the angle of the blade to be changed relative to the fence. While most miter saws enable precise one-degree incremental changes to the miter index, many also provide stops that allow the miter index to be quickly set to common angles (such as 15°, 22.5°, 30°, and 45°).
There are different types of miter saws:
- A standard saw has a fixed vertical pivot with rotating cutting table allowing horizontally angled (or mitered) cuts while the blade always remains vertical.
- A compound miter saw has a rotating vertical pivot allowing the cutter head & blade to be tilted (or beveled) sideways in addition to the horizontally rotating table. This allows vertical & horizontal angled cuts as well as cuts angled in both planes.
- A sliding compound miter saw is a compound miter saw with horizontal sliding arms for the cutter head allowing cuts on much wider boards.
- A dual compound miter saw is like a sliding compound miter saw, but its blade and motor can tilt both left and right. This provides more flexibility for cutting complicated angles such as required for crown molding.