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What Is the Proper Way to Make Cuts with a Miter Saw or Radial Arm Saw
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Making Cuts with Miter Saws To make cuts with your miter saw, pull the motor toward you and push the cut through toward the fence.

Q: I was using my sliding miter saw the other day, rocking the saw down close to the fence and then sliding the saw away from the fence. My friend told me I should pull the saw away from the fence and then rock it down and cut towards the fence. I have always started cutting with my radial arm saw behind the fence and pulled it away from the fence. It seems to me that the force of the blade tends to pull the wood down and towards the fence that way. Which way is correct with the sliding miter saw and the radial arm saw?

Making Cut with Radial Arm Saw When you're making cuts with the radial arm saw, the proper technique is to pull the blade through the wood.

A: According to the safety instructions that come with a radial arm saw, your cutting methodology is right for that machine: start with the motor head closest to the column and protected by the fence, and pull it through the wood to make the cut. But your friend is right about how to operate a sliding miter saw. With the saw turned off, pull the motor all the way toward you, squeeze the trigger, lower the blade down into the table slot and push the blade through the cut. It’s the opposite approach from a radial arm saw. I prefer the “feel” of operating a sliding miter saw, because you are pushing the blade against its rotation and pressing the wood into the fence at the same time. Still, the correct technique for a radial arm is a “pull” cut.

posted on August 1, 2011 by Chris Marshall
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2 thoughts on “What Is the Proper Way to Make Cuts with a Miter Saw or Radial Arm Saw”

  • James H Plog

    FYI: My newer radial arm saw - Craftsman 10" - now has a cable that is released at a set speed to prevent the blade from climbing over the workpiece and coming at you. Since I had this happen on my older saw, I now have been using this feature all the time. You cannot pull the blade toward you faster than it leaves out the cable.

  • Bruce Hamilton

    The "push" method on a sliding miter saw is only safe if you are able to clamp the board down. Otherwise, once you start the cut and start pushing, all new cutting is a climb cut, lifting the board. I learned this the hard way!

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