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?
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.