How To Use A Dewalt Miter Saw – A Guide For Beginners

In this article, I’m going to share with you my experience on how to use a Dewalt miter saw. For your information, I’ll also talk about the different types of miter saws and how to change the blade.

What Is A Miter Saw?

A miter saw is a stationary power tool with a circular blade that allows you to make angled cuts against the width of a wood piece with repeatable accuracy. It is a very popular type of saw in woodworking but, with the appropriate blade and motor, it can cut metal, too.

Types of Cuts

There are four types of cuts that you can perform with a miter saw. Depending on the model you’ve purchased, you can either only perform the first two types or every type.

Crosscut

This is the most common cut. It is just a straight-down cut where your blade is square against the length of the board.

Miter Cut

Miter cuts are the signature cut of this power tool. With this cut, your blade runs through the board at an angle against the width of the board.

How To Use A Dewalt Miter Saw

Bevel Cut

Like the above cut, this is an angled cut. But this time, the angle is against the thickness (height) of the board.

You will be very familiar with it if you need to make lots of crown molding. The common bevel angles for crown molding are 31.6 degrees miter and 33.9 degrees.

How To Use A Dewalt Miter Saw

Compound Cut

The last type of cut is a combination of the last two types. That means your blade will run against both the width and the thickness of the board.

Types of Miter Saws

Accordingly, there are different types of miter saws with different cutting capabilities.

Miter Saw

Basic miter saws can only perform crosscuts and miter cuts. To make a miter cut, you turn the miter gauge with a lever arm, so the blade goes down accurate miter angles.

Sliding Miter Saw

A sliding miter saw is a miter saw with the ability to extend the blade outward to cut boards with greater width.

Compound Miter Saw

A compound miter saw can make compound cuts, so there are both miter gauge and bevel gauge. It can tilt down the blade to make a bevel cut.

There are single-bevel and dual-bevel models. A single-bevel compound miter saw can only tilt its head on one side, while an electric double-bevel compound miter saw can do so on both sides.

You can make bevel angle adjustments with a handle behind the machine.

Compound Sliding Miter Saw

As its name suggests, this compound saw design has a sliding function that can handle a wider range of stock.

Double-Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw

This is the ultimate combination of the above types. Dual-bevel sliding miter saws can make compound cuts, slides, and tilt on both sides.

Dewalt Miter Saws

Dewalt is one of the most popular miter saw brands with 12-inch miter saws being their top-selling lineup. Currently, Dewalt is offering 12 models. They include the last four types of miter saws that I mentioned above.

There are cordless options with batteries and models with power wires. The company has many stands for your power saw, too.

Alongside miter saws, Dewalt also has other quality stationary and portable products like band saws, table saws, circular saws, scroll saws, tile saws, and many more.

How To Use A Dewalt Miter Saw

A Step-By-Step Guide On How To Use A Dewalt Miter Saw

Below are my step-by-step instructions on how to use a Dewalt miter saw.

Step 1: Safety On

The required personal protective equipment for operating a miter saw are safety goggles, work gloves, and mask. Safety goggles protect your eyes from flying debris and sawdust. Always keep your head at least 6 inches away from the rotating blade.

You also need some kind of dust protection like a dust mask to avoid inhaling small sawdust. Many models come with a dust collector, but that is more for a clean working area. And if you do your work outside, you should pay attention to the direction of the wind.

A pair of work gloves is very important and should not be neglected. Lacerated fingers are one of the most common types of injuries related to the miter saw.

You would want to keep your clothes and your hair tidy to avoid the chance of them getting caught in the machine. Also, it is advisable to clear your work table from any obstacles.

Your machine should be on top of a steady construction. It can be a miter saw stand, a normal table, or a special setup.

Other than that, I recommend you illuminate your workplace adequately. It is beneficial for the accuracy of your work and can prevent unwanted accidents.

Last but not least, take your time to read the user manual because different models often require different safety measures.

Step 2: Mark Your Work

The purpose of a mark is to guarantee accuracy. Marking tools like chalk, charcoal pencil, and sharpie pen are all suitable.

One important concept that you need to grasp about sawing is the kerf. Kerf is the width of material that your saw turns into dust after a cut.

You need to take it into account when doing the marking. For example, if your blade is 0.8 inches wide, you can’t make two 10 inches pieces out of a 20 inches board.

You would need at least a 20.8 inches board to do the job. Never forget the kerf because you can’t reattach a piece of wood after cutting it.

Step 3: Attach A Clamp

A clamp or a hold-down keeps your stock from moving and allows your hand to stay away from the spinning blade. It is recommended to use this product if you are a beginner or are working with difficult angles.

To tighten or loosen a clamp, you use the turning knob at the top. The safe position for your clamp is 6 inches away from the blade.

One trick to deal with a small piece of board is to glue it on another longer piece. That way, you can keep your fingers at a safe distance from the blade.

How To Use A Dewalt Miter Saw

If you deem a clamp is not necessary, just put the wood up against the base fence. Some zero-clearance sacrificial fences may be beneficial for a cleaner cut.

Step 4: Adjust The Miter And Bevel Angles

Adjust the miter gauge and bevel gauge to achieve the desired cut. There are common angles, such as 31.6 degrees and 22.5 degrees, on the gauge for your convenience.

Make A Cross Cut 

To make this cut, set your miter gauge and your bevel gauge to 0 degrees. Then just cut straight through the wood.

Make A Miter Cut 

In most models, you can set your miter angle by squeezing the miter lock lever and turning it. Then proceed with the cutting movement.

Make A Bevel Cut 

How To Use A Dewalt Miter Saw

Similar to the previous cut, change your bevel angle with the black lever arm and the bevel lock knob before cutting. Remember that single-bevel saws can only tilt to one side.

Make A Compound Cut 

Adjust both your miter gauge and your bevel gauge to your desired angles before letting the blade bite down to the work.

Step 5: Execute The Cut

You should aim your cut first by lifting the blade guard and lowering the non-spinning blade to the mark on your work. The contact point should be on the other side of the piece that you want to keep.

Put one hand on the trigger and squeeze it to activate the saw. You should let your blade reach its maximum speed before lowering it down on your work.

The cutting movement is from front to back. If you are using a sliding saw, pull your blade all the way out before pushing it in to cut.

Never cross the blade with your left arm. Your left hand should be at least 6 inches away from it.

At the end of the cut, release the trigger and raise your blade only after it has come to a full stop. Now remove your work to know if it needs any further refinement.

How To Change A Dewalt Miter Saw Blade

I will give you detailed instructions on blade changing on another occasion. For now, the basic steps to install a new blade for your miter saw are:

  • Put on gloves and goggles
  • Pull off the power cord
  • Lift the blade guard and lock it in position
  • Dismount the blade
  • Keep track of your parts
  • Install the new blade
  • Do some test cuts

You will need a blade wrench, a pair of gloves, and safety goggles for this task.

Conclusion

I hope that you find this guide on how to use a Dewalt miter saw helpful. In short, put on the PPE, mark your work, secure it, make accuracy adjustments, and make the cut.

Remember to apply safety measures and study the user manual carefully before operating a miter saw.

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