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Chop Miter Saws

Determining what types of tools to buy when doing a project depends largely on the size and type of Miter Sawlayout, not to mention the type of flooring to be installed. I'll skip the basics for now because I know the guys want to know which cool power tools should be on the shopping list.

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If you're looking at a standard square room with material under 4 inches wide, the tool of choice would be a chop saw, also called a miter saw. You could get away with using a standard circular saw but your cuts will not be as precise and cutting is a bit more treacherous as the saw tends to get snagged or may bind if not cut on a straight line.

The tool shown above is a cordless miter saw. I haven't been keeping up with the times, but knew the cordless revolution was getting close to larger power tools. With this tool there's no need to buy a bunch of extension cords if the cutting area is far from the project. Best to handle most of the larger cutting projects outdoors or in the garage to keep dust at a minimum.

What Kind Of Saw Blades?

Too many consumers get carried away looking at blades with more teeth. For a basic hardwood job there's no need in spending $60 or $ 80.00 on a fine 80 tooth blade, unless you plan on installing a harder species trim such as maple. For all intent and purposes 40 teeth have worked fine for me in the past.

Miter Saw Tips

Avoid freehand work on a chop saw. Material being cut should be held firmly against the miter saw fence. Most injuries are caused by loose material being grabbed by the saw blade as it begins cutting. For making better cuts, make a reference on the line that was marked. For instance, some trim carpenters prefer to pencil a V as a mark where the cut should be made. When the initial mark is penciled it may not actually be the exact cut point. I prefer to reference it as "cut a tad on the right side of the V, or shave off the V" when taking the piece cut back to the chop saw.

From Our Readers:

Saw Blades Dull Too Fast

Question: I've been installing some unfinished Santos Mahogany and the blades wear out too quickly. Is there any preference among manufacturers you would recommend.

Reply: Dulling will happen with all hardwoods and all blades; even more so with exotic products. Instead of spending money for a new blade I would suggest having them re sharpened every so often. Usually a fully equipped tool supply house has a sharpening service. Cost will depend on the number of teeth on the blade, but don't expect to pay more than ten or 12 dollars for a 40 tooth blade.

Can't But Baseboards To Correct Angles

Question: I've been trying to cut baseboard trim with a miter saw, but having little luck getting the right angles I need. I have no problem with the quarter round. What am I doing wrong?

Reply: Quarter round is more forgiving for cuts because of the smaller surface area that is cut. With base sometimes the profile on the back can alter the angle in which the blade is cutting through the wood. In other words, you need a flat fence to work against so the piece remains stable through the cut. For inside corners, coping can work effectively for a better fit. Other troublesome angles may require some filing or sanding creating a beveled appearance (on areas not visible) for better final appearances.

Cutting 60 Degree Angles

Question: I'm looking to install a pattern in a foyer but stumped on how to make correct 60 degree cuts. The table saw won't let me make a clean cut without showing gaps on the floor.

Reply: You can make these cuts with the use of a speed square clamped to the chop saw. Let's hope it can be explained right without getting you lost. By setting the miter saw to a 15 degree angled cut and placing the work against the speed square clamped at a 90 degree angle to the fence will give you a 60 degree angle. While this is not a common cut, we urge safety and precaution be used in the utmost Dust shrowdregard if considering such a task.

Too Much Dust

Question: Any ideas on how to cut down on the dust? That lousy itty bitty dust collection bag on my Dewalt does little good.

Reply: I could suggest hooking up a shop vacuum but then you have to either keep the vac on all the time or switch it on an off every time you make a cut. In recent years some manufacturers have come up with dust shrouds. The one shown is made by Rosseau Co called the 5000 Dust Solution