Popular Woodworking 2002-10 № 130, страница 72

Popular Woodworking 2002-10 № 130, страница 72


We've been hearing a lot of discussions about the value of expensive af-termarket miter gauges for your table saw to ensure accurate and simple crosscuts. Then just the other day we all realized we tend to use our miter saws for crosscuts, hardly even setting up our miter gauges - they're that accurate and simple to use.

Many woodworkers use miter saws in place of a radial arm saw for rough-cutting lumber as well. There are lots of good reasons to

include a miter saw in your shop.

Miter saws aren't difficult to use, but there are a few things you can do to get better use out of them. Let's start with outboard supports for long pieces of wood.

Most of the work done on a miter saw is crosscutting long, and often thin, pieces. The base of the saw is usually not big enough to adequately support the work. Most manufacturers include outrigger supports of some type that add another foot or so of support to either side of the tool.

MITER, COMPOUND OR SLIDING? In Increasingly more pricey categories, you can purchase a miter saw (capable of straight and miter cuts up to 45°), a compound miter saw (to cut straight, miter and compound angles) and a sliding compound saw (all of the above capabilities, with increased capacity). But what do you need realistically? Most woodworkers don't need the capacity of a sliding miter saw, and a 12" compound saw can cost hundreds of dollars less.

MOTORS While there is some variety in the amperage for the universal motors used to power all the miter saws on the market, you'll be within 12 and 15 amps in most cases, and that will be plenty of power to handle your needs. More importantly, look for replaceable brushes, indicating anticipated longevity on the motor.

THE BASE Important features to consider are the clarity and adjustability of the miter settings on the base, as well as the smoothness of operation, and how well the miter setting locks in place.This is where many of the differences between manufacturers can be found. The height and convenience of the fence are important as well.A higher fence offers better support, but it should be able to easily move out of the way on compound saws for bevel cuts. THE HANDLE Manufacturers are now offering a few different handle styles: horizontal, vertical or pistol style. Sears even offers a miter saw with a handle that can be changed for your preference. It's a personal choice, but take a look at the options before you decide. BLADES Simple. Don't buy it unless it's carbide. DUST COLLECTION In most cases, the provided dust bag does an adequate job for quick work. But if you'll be using the saw often, hook it to a shop vacuum and it'll stay very clean.

Our suggestion is to go one better and use either roller stands to either side of the saw to support the material, or build a stand that will do the same job. We've included plans for a miter saw stand in this issue on page 28 that provides excellent side support, portability, a small footprint and built-in dust collection.


Setting Up For the Cut

Before making your first cut, it's a good idea to check a few things on the saw to ensure accuracy.

Start by checking the fence. Check it for both squareness to the saw table, and also for flatness across the width of the entire fence. Unfortunately there usually aren't many options if everything isn't right except sending the tool (or just the fence) back. The fence may be able to be shimmed to improve the squareness to the table. Even if you can't fix it, you'll know it's a problem

and be able to compensate for it.

Next, check the blade's angle to the table; it should be a 90° angle. If it's not, check your manual for changing the set screw (usually set to 0° on the scale) on a compound miter saw. Also check the 45° setting while you're at it. If you're using a straight miter saw with no beveling adjustment, there may not be an obvious adjustment for the blade, but check the manual to be sure.

One last setting to check is the depth of cut. This is usually set at the factory, but on many saws it's adjustable to best match your needs. In fact, some saws can be set to cut dados.

Making the Cut

On 98 percent of the miter saws on the market, you're going to use the blade itself to gauge where the cut will happen. A couple manufacturers (and some after-market companies) have started adding laser indicators to their saws. These are useful, but they take a little getting used to. In


Popular Woodworking October 2002

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