A 10-inch blade saw makes right-angle cuts across a board 5 1/2 inches wide, plenty for two-by-six timber. A 45-degree angle may be cut using the same 10-inch saw. Manufacturers also provide 12-inch variants with a maximum cut width of roughly 7 1/2 inches, broad enough for two-by-eights. These are called bulkier models and they include a table extension on which to rest the wood while it's being sawed.
A miter saw cuts at precise angles, making it useful for cutting decorative molding and other hard-to-reach items. The saw must have a straight edge or guide along which to cut. Most come with a fixed-blade design that cuts on each pull of the trigger. Bulkier models may have two blades that can be switched out when replacing the battery. The more expensive versions include a dust collection system, ergonomic handles, and other features.
Miter saws are popular tools in construction and industrial settings because they can cut large amounts of material quickly and accurately. They're also used by do-it-yourselfers to make custom furniture components and accessories. Before using your miter saw safely, read the manual and watch any instructional videos posted online. Then practice making some test cuts on some scrap wood so you know what size blade to use and how to set the depth stop. It's important to use caution when operating any power tool, especially one as heavy as a miter saw.
7-1/4 inch blade diameter is the most frequent. Most saws with 6 inch or larger blade capacity can cut through 2-inch dimensional lumber at a 45-degree angle in a single pass. A 5-3/8-inch saw can cut through 2-inch dimensional timber in one pass at 90 degrees, but two cuts at 45 degrees require two passes.
Saw blades are not designed to cut all the way through 4-foot-diameter trees. A 7-1/4-inch saw can cut almost any tree up to 18 inches in diameter, but a bigger saw is needed to cut through thicker wood.
The thickness of a board determines what types of tools will work with it. For example, a backsaw cannot be used to crosscut thinner boards, because they will go all the way through. But it can be used for dadoing (cutting channels in) thin boards to make them fit together more securely. A chisel can be used for this task.
Dadoed boards fit together better than smooth ones. This is particularly important when using softwood such as pine that tends to close up when dried. The less secure the fit, the more likely you are to get splintering when cutting with a saw.
Thicker boards need a different approach. Because axes cut straight down into the wood, they can only be used on much thicker timber than saws.
Standard-size saws have 7 1/4-inch blades and can cut up to 2 1/2 inches deep. Large saws have 9 1/4-inch blades and can cut down to 3 inches deep. Wide saws have 11 1/4-inch blades and can cut down to 4 inches deep.
For cutting thicker materials, such as wood, plastic, or metal, use a spade bit. For cutting thinner materials, such as paper, cloth, or foam board, use a straight bit.
The maximum depth of cut for any material is determined by the amount of material you can lift over the blade. Thicker materials require more force to move them through the saw so a deeper cut can be made only with a power tool. Thin materials will break if pushed too far through a standard band saw blade.
Circular saws are designed to make smooth, even cuts without breaking or tearing away large chunks of material. The saw's unique design allows it to follow the contour of the substrate while cutting, making it useful for cutting curves and corners. This is particularly beneficial when cutting wooden signs or moldings where a single saw could not do the job efficiently.