Whether you are a weekend DIY woodworker or a professional carpenter and constructionist, you will find the simple miter saw to be one of the most indispensable tools in the workshop. Used primarily for cutting joists, bevels and angles, the miter saw can be very simple or somewhat complex.
The manual miter saw is an improvement over the basic miter box. It consists of a backsaw that is held by a framework and a guide and fence that allows the wood to be cut at various angles. Most modern miter saws allow movement by 1 degree increments with several set guides at 15, 30, and 45 degrees since these are by far the most commonly used angles.
The wood is held firmly to the fence so the saw can cut through at a proper angle to fit together at the corners of such things as picture frames or side walls.
For larger projects, such as window and door frames, it is best to step up to a power miter saw. Its greater size and power makes such large-scale projects much easier. The cost of a power miter saw is still a major investment but well worth the extra cost for the extra types of cuts that can be done. The basic setup for a powered miter saw is to attach a circular saw to an aluminum base. The saw blade turns thus providing greater flexibility.
Powered miter saws can also come attached to sliding rails that allow a longer cut than the drop cut type that just lower through the wood. Another variation is the compound saw which also lets the blade lean from side to side or tilt for even greater cutting precision.
Such miter saws as these can make short work of even complex joist cuts that would otherwise take a lot of time using a small hand-held router. There are some woodworking tools that a small DIY shop can do without, but the miter saw is not one of them.