Can a Table Saw make Miter Cuts?


Whether you are a beginning woodworker starting your DIY project in your home, or you are experienced but do not have current access to your miter saw at home, you might be wondering how to make those 45-degree cuts with a table saw.

Can a table saw make miter cuts? Yes, a table saw can make 45-degree miter cuts by using miter gauges or a sled to secure the saw in place. Gauges can be faulty, so use proper precautions or invest in a sled to provide more safe and accurate miter cuts. Miter saws are limited to 6-12” wide cuts where table saw can cut any length.

Since using a table saw to make miter cuts is not using the saw as it was originally intended, it is important that you use proper precautions when doing so. This is especially true if you are a beginner and are not as well-versed in using sharp tools in this way. But, if you are using what you have and are not planning on making miter cuts often enough to invest in a miter saw, you can make this work. Let’s take a closer look.

What is the Difference Between a Table Saw and a Miter Saw?

If you are new in the world of woodworking or are just trying to get the best bang for your buck, you might be wondering what the differences between various types of saws are. After all, each one is designed to cut wood, so they cannot be too different, right? Wrong.

So, what is the difference between a table saw and a miter saw? Both a table saw and a miter saw typically have round blades. But, a table saw is most often used for long, straight cuts where a miter saw is used for short, angled cuts. The direction of the cut is the primary difference between the two. Table saws are much more common for beginners.

Of course, the cut of the angle is not the only difference between the two types of saws. However, since it is the primary difference, it is important to understand the effects of this type of cut.

Angle and Length of Cuts with a Table Saw vs. a Miter Saw

In terms of the angle of the cut that a table saw is able to make, it is designed to provide a straight cut. However, since the table saw is generally stationary while the material is run through the blade, the table saw is not limited to any length of cut. In this way, you can use a table saw to cut as long as you need without limitations.

This can be highly advantageous when you want to achieve a longer cut- even if you are not wanting to cut the wood at a perfectly straight angle. But, if you intend on using a table saw (that is designed for straight cuts) to make angled cuts (like those a miter saw can do), then you will need to readjust your workspace.

To do this, you will either have to use miter gauges (that are known to be faulty), or a sled to secure your table saw into place at the angle you are attempting to cut. But more on that later.

In terms of the angle of the cut that a miter saw is able to make, it is most often used to make cuts at a 45-degree angle that can be perfect for framing among other home projects. It does this by moving through the stationary material at the angle that it is set.

However, because the miter saw is the moving part in this equation, it can only achieve a cut at roughly as long as the blade is wide. For example, it is used to cut the width (a cross cut) rather than the length (rip) of your wood. In this, you will find that a non-sliding miter saw will max out at roughly a 6” wide cut, and a sliding miter saw will max out at roughly 12” depending on the particular device that you are using.

So, if you are wanting to achieve a cut that is longer than this that is also angled, then rigging your table saw can be a viable option. But, you will need to do so cautiously as this is not the purpose that the table saw is originally intended for. You can risk injury if you are not careful, and beginners should heed extra precautions.

Commonality of Table Saws and Miter Saws

While there are plenty of differences between table saws and miter saws, the common use of each is one of the other key differences we will focus on. Just about any beginner will look into getting a table saw. After all, this is a common device that is used for long cuts- those that are pretty common for beginner woodworking projects.

But, since they are not designed for angled cuts, it is truly wise to invest in a miter saw if you plan to use angled cuts for a framing project (or really just any project needing angled cuts that a table saw is not designed for).

Since a miter saw is designed to make angled cuts, it is not required for many home projects. However, if you are planning on beginning a framing project or another project that will require many 45-degree angle cuts, it is wise to invest in a miter saw that can provide a precise and accurate angled cut. Especially if you are a beginner and are not able to ensure safety precautions when using a table saw to make miter cuts, then it is recommended to just invest in a miter saw in the first place.

Read my article on Miter vs Table saws for more details on each type[Link Here].

How to Make Miter Cuts with a Table Saw?

While it is recommended to invest in a miter saw if you plan on making many miter cuts (especially if you are new to woodworking and do not have the refined skills to make the tools work for you and not the other way around), you might be working with what you have at home to get the cut that you need.

With this in mind, you might be wondering how to make miter cuts with a table saw. There are two main ways that you can do this including using the miter gauges that come with or can be purchased for your table saw, or you can make a sled for your table saw to achieve more accurate, safe, and precise cuts.

While it is going to be a bit more work and an investment to make a sled for your table saw, this is going to be the best option if you choose not to purchase a miter saw to make the angled cuts that you are hoping for.

Let’s take a closer look at how to do either of these options.

How to Use Miter Gauges with a Table Saw

If you are looking to use miter gauges with a table saw to achieve miter cuts, then you should consider the following steps:

  1. Use caution. Since the table saw was not originally designed to make miter cuts, you will need to use caution when working with the sharp blade and moving wood. Otherwise, your wood can be cut inaccurately, or you can risk personal injury. So, keep a cautious and safe environment as you set this process up.
  2. Set the angle of the miter gauge. Assuming you are attempting to make an angled cross cut, you will need to adjust the angle of the miter gauge. While you can change this to the specific cut angle that you need, you will use a 45-degree angle for an angled cut or a 90-degree angle for a perpendicular cut.
  3. Place the miter gauge at the front of the table saw. You will want to slide it to the front of the table saw and then place the wood (that you will be making a cross cut on) on the flat side of the miter gauge.
  4. Mark the wood. Using a pencil, draw a slight line on the wood so that you know that it is in place as you begin to cut the wood. You can use a ruler or something with a flat edge to ensure a steady cut as you begin to use your saw.
  5. Carefully begin making the cut. After you have marked the wood, it is time to make the cut. Since the table saw can have jagged edges, you will want to do this carefully and ensure that the wood is securely in place. Otherwise, you risk the wood moving, an uneven cut, and a potential risk of injury.
  6. Turn the saw off and remove the wood. After you have finished making your cut, you can turn the saw off or ensure that it will not accidentally turn on, and remove the wood. Be sure to sand the edge to make a clean, crisp miter cut using your table saw.

How to Use a Sled with a Table Saw to Make Miter Cuts

The other, more highly suggested option for making miter cuts with your table saw is to use a sled. Here is how:

  1. Set the sled and the table saw up. Before you begin this process, you will want to construct a sled that will work with your table saw and has a wide enough base for the wood that you plan to cut. The blade of the table saw will obviously need to fit through the sled.
  2. Mark the wood. Using a sled, you will want to have the markings for the wood already made so that you can follow along as you cut. Since there will be reduced friction resulting in a more accurate cut this way, you should be good to go once you know where you will be cutting the wood.
  3. Place the wood on the sled and begin moving the sled towards the table saw. Now that you have angled your cut, you can begin moving the sled towards the table saw to initiate the cutting. As the table sled provides stability, you can focus on the directness and accuracy of the table saw.
  4. Remove the wood once the table saw is no longer turned on. You might want to unplug the table saw completely, but just be sure that it is not running as you go to remove the wood. You should find a smooth edge that has been cut precisely when using this method.

Check out my review of craftsman table saws for more information[Link Here].

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