Not sure what size miter saw you need? Check out this guide that includes everything you need to know in order to make the best decision for your needs.
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What size miter saw do I need for…
You need to take into account the size of the project you’re working on, the size of the lumber you’ll be cutting, and the type of cuts you’ll be making. With that being said, let’s take a more in-depth look into finding the right size miter saw for your project.
For baseboard molding, you will need a miter saw that can handle at least 6-inch crown molding. If you are planning on doing any type of taller or wider molding, you will want to go with an 8 or 10-inch blade.
For most crown molding applications, you will need a miter saw that can make cuts between 45 and 50 degrees. Some saws have a stop at 45 degrees, while others have stops at both 45 and 50 degrees. If you know you will only be working with crown molding, you can get away with a saw that only has one stop at 45 degrees.
You will need a miter saw that can handle at least a 12-inch blade to cut plywood efficiently. A 10-inch blade can also work, but it will take longer to make each cut. For thicker plywood, you will need a saw that can accommodate a 14-inch blade.
How to measure for the right miter saw
There are three key measurements you need to take into consideration before purchasing a miter saw: the largest piece of material you need to cut, the thickness of that material, and the size of your work space. These three measurements will determine the size and capacity of the miter saw you need. Let’s get started.
To find the right miter saw for your project, you’ll first need to know two things: the width of your baseboard molding and the angle you’ll need to cut it.
The width of your baseboard molding will determine the size blade you need on your miter saw. For example, if you’re working with 4″ wide molding, you’ll need a saw with at least a 6″ blade.
The angle you’ll need to cut will depend on the style of molding you’re using. For example, if you’re using crown molding, you’ll need to make bevel cuts at both 45° and 22.5°.
One of the most intimidating things about crown molding is figuring out all the angles. You have to take into account the angle of the saw blade, the bevel angle and spring angle, and the wall and ceiling angles. If you’re not careful, you can easily end up with joints that don’t fit together correctly.
But don’t worry, there’s a relatively easy way to make sure all your angles are correct. First, you need to know what size miter saw you need. The most common sizes are 10-inch and 12-inch. If you’re unsure which size you need, ask a salesperson or consult the manufacturer’s instructions.
Once you know what size saw you need, set it up according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Most miter saws have a bevel adjustment lever that lets you change the bevel angle. Set it to 0 degrees for now. Next, adjust the blade to 45 degrees using the miter adjustment knob or lever.
Now place a piece of scrap wood against the back of the blade and holding it tight against the fence, make a cut. Rotate the scrap wood 180 degrees and make another cut. These two pieces should fit perfectly together at a 90-degree angle. If they don’t, something is wrong with your setup and you need to start over again.
Now that you know your saw is set up correctly, it’s time to start measuring for your crown molding cuts. For each piece of molding, you will need to measure four things:
the length of the wall (L),
the length of the ceiling (C),
the width of the molding (W),
and the spring angle (S).
To find out how to measure each one, consult our handy chart below:
L C W S
For Outside Corners: Measure from corner Measure from farthest point Measure thickness of molding Look up spring angle in chart below down to floor then add 1/16″ on ceiling minus thickness plus 1/16″ for expansion room of molding; add 1/16″ for expansion room OR for expansion room use printable protractor OR use printableprotractor use printable protractor
L C W S
For Inside Corners: Measure from corner Measure from closest point Measure thickness of molding Look up spring angle in chart below down to floor then subtract on ceiling minus thickness plus 1/16″ for expansion room of molding; subtract 1/16″ for expansion room OR for expansion room use printable protractor OR use printableprotractor
For most woodworking projects, a 10-inch miter saw is all you’ll ever need. If you’re cutting 4×8-foot sheets of plywood or OSB, however, you’ll want an industrial-strength 12-inch model. These saws weigh 50 pounds or more, and their extra heft gives them the power to rip through plywood and other stock without bogging down.