Can Miter Saw Cut Metal? (We Find Out)

Can Miter Saw Cut Metal

There are a lot of different tools available, and it can be overwhelming (and expensive!) to acquire everything you need to complete a project. Because of this, it’s tempting to use the same tool for a variety of uses, even uses they weren’t necessarily intended for. One such temptation may be using a miter saw to cut metal.

A miter saw can cut metal, but doing so may cause more harm than good. Miter saws are for cutting wood, which is much softer than metal. Cutting metal with a miter saw can cause overheating, safety hazards, and an overworked motor.

The rest of this article will answer all your questions about miter saws, how to use them safely, and what to use them for. I’ll also offer some recommendations for my favorite miter saws available. 

Can You Use a Miter Saw To Cut Metal?

You can use a miter saw to cut metal, but it is not advisable. Cutting metal can have undesirable side effects, such as too much heat, a lack of safety, and overworking the motor.

Miter saws are robust tools, and they can cut through many materials. However, just because they can doesn’t mean that they should. 

So, while the saw can cut through metal, some side effects of doing so are undesirable and dangerous.

Cutting metal with a miter saw can cause a lot of extra heat, resulting in sparks. That is because miter saws work at a higher speed than chop saws, which are saws designed to cut through metal. Because of this extra speed, the blade and the material have more friction and therefore get hotter.

This extra heat can damage the material you’re cutting. You may have to do some repairs to fix this damage, which is an unnecessary hassle. This excess heat can also cause a lot of sparks, which is dangerous to the user.

Finally, the extra heat associated with cutting metal can overwork the motor in the miter saw, causing the saw to stall or stop working. 

If you want to use a miter saw to cut metal, here are some tips for doing it as safely and effectively as possible:

  • Clean your miter saw first to avoid interference from leftover debris from earlier projects. The last thing you want is to set that old sawdust on fire with your sparking miter saw!
  • Wear proper safety gear.
  • Be prepared for sparks to fly, and remove any flammable objects or liquids from the workspace.
  • Get an aluminum oxide blade. These blades can cut through steel and aluminum. I recommend the TOMAX 12-Inch Metal Saw Blade. I like this blade because the teeth are construction grade, so they’ll last a while. The electrophoretic coating also reduces rusting or corrosion.
On Sale
TOMAX 12-Inch 100 Tooth TCG Aluminum and...
  • Ideal for cutting Plastic, Aluminum and Non-Ferrous Metals
  • Construction grade carbide teeth provide maximum resistance for longer life
  • Electrophoretic Coating reduces the rusting and corrosion

If you follow these tips, you should be able to cut metal with a miter saw. However, I do not recommend it. Miter saws are for wood, and other tools, such as chop saws, are more suitable for cutting metal.

What Should You Never Cut With a Miter Saw?

What Should You Never Cut With a Miter Saw

You should never cut stone, bricks, or tile with a miter saw, as doing so is dangerous and produces massive dust. You shouldn’t cut metal with a miter saw unless you have a proper blade.

Miter saws are designed to cut wood, so it is best only to use them to cut wood. However, sometimes you want to cut something else and don’t want to pay rent or buy a completely different tool.

As discussed above, you can use a miter saw to cut metal, but only if you are using a proper blade. Otherwise, you risk damaging your miter saw’s metal and motor.

Technically, you can cut stone, bricks, and tile with a miter saw, but this is dangerous and potentially damaging to your saw.

Related: 8 Things To Never Cut With A Miter Saw

For these materials, it is best to use a concrete saw. I recommend the Evolution R300DCT 12-Inch Concrete Saw. This saw has a considerable cut depth of 4-½ inches (11.4 centimeters) and a powerful electric motor that can easily cut through these materials. It also comes with an adjustable blade guard.

Evolution R300DCT - 12 in Concrete Saw (Aka...
  • Huge 4-1/2” cut depth
  • Powerful 15A Electric Motor. No pull chords, no fuel & no servicing!
  • Steel wrap-around front handle with rubber grip

What’s The Difference Between A Miter Saw and a Chop Saw? 

If you’re shopping for or researching miter saws, you’ve probably come across chop saws. While these are similar tools, there are essential differences between these saws. You’ll have to understand these differences to know when to use each saw and how to use them safely.

The difference between a miter saw and a chop saw is the material that each one cuts best. Miter saws are ideal for making quick cuts to wood and can cut at angles. Chop saws are best for cutting metal and are much slower and more stationary than miter saws. 

Both tools are for the crosscutting of materials, and they both use a back fence that holds the material as you cut it. They also both have a circular saw blade. However, this is where the similarities end.

Chop saws do not have blades that bevel or miter, and they are for cutting metal, not wood. 

These saws also often include clamps to hold the metal down as you cut it. The blade can go up 15 inches (38.1 centimeters) in most cases. These saws’ abrasive blades typically have difficulty making precise cuts because they deflect during use. In addition, chop saws are much slower than miter saws.

On the other hand, miter saws make straight or beveled cuts and are for cutting wood. Blades for miter saws can go up to 12 inches (30.48 centimeters).

What Is a Miter Saw?

What Is A Miter Saw

A miter saw is a stationary saw used for making crosscuts in a piece of wood. This kind of saw consists of a circular blade that you can position at different angles, then lower to cut. 

This kind of saw has a stand that allows you to pivot the saw blade. This feature makes cutting pieces of wood at precise angles easy, perfect for creating joints. 

Types of Miter Saws

There are four different types of miter saws:

  • Sliding Miter Saw. This saw has rails, which lets the blade slide front to back, allowing for deeper cuts. They can also make compound cuts. This type is best for those who need to cut thicker materials.
  • Compound Miter Saw. Compound miter saws have a bevel and a miter, allowing the user to make bevel cuts. These saws are best for people working with trim or other moldings for a wall.
  • Compound Sliding Miter Saw. This saw has rails and a bevel, so it’s a combination of the two above types. These features allow for increased flexibility and depth.
  • Dual Compound Sliding Miter Saw. This saw has sliding rails and beveling that can go left and right. The dual-compound sliding miter is best for people who need to bevel in both directions.

Cuts That Miter Saws Can Make

These are the four basic cuts miter saws can make, depending on the type:

  • Crosscut. This simple cut just goes straight across the material against the grain.
  • Miter Cut. The miter cut is an angled cut that goes across the face of the material, typically at a 45-degree angle. This type of cut is most common in framing.
  • Bevel Cut. These cuts go through the thickness of the board, and they can have multiple angular facets to create joints and decorative pieces. 
  • Compound Cut. As the name implies, the compound cut is a combination of miter and bevel cuts. This type of cut is common for wall trim. A compound cut is usually a good option whenever you want something to look fancier or more rounded.

Miter saws are good tools for regular crosscuts because they are stable, durable, and can cut through most boards. It’s also easy to align the cut line, and some miter saws even come with a laser that displays exactly where the cut will be.

Miter Saw Benefits

Here are some of the advantages of using a miter saw:

  • You can achieve different types of angle cuts using one saw.
  • Miter saws are precise and accurate.
  • The saws usually provide smoother cuts than other kinds of saws.
  • Miter saws are efficient. They get the job done quickly and well.
  • These saws are easy to use.
  • They can cut angles that are impossible for circular or table saws to perform.
  • They’re lighter in weight than table saws, making them easier to transport and store.
  • Miter saws don’t require the same set-up as table saws.
  • Using a miter saw allows you to use a table for support and stability.
  • Miter saws prevent the material from damage and defacement.
  • These saws are capable of cutting almost any kind of wood.

The above reasons are some of the many benefits of having a miter saw in your woodworking shop. 

The bottom line: If you want to get a woodworking job done quickly, efficiently, and well, then a miter saw is a great tool to use.

How To Use a Miter Saw

How To Use a Miter Saw

Miter saws are useful tools, but they are also incredibly powerful and can do some severe damage to the user if not used properly.

Before using your miter saw, you should read the owner’s manual thoroughly. This manual will instruct you on using the machine and teach you about the saw’s limitations. Having a complete understanding of these things is essential if you want to use the saw safely.

Here’s a very general guide on how to use a miter saw:

  1. Mark where you want to cut on the material.
  2. Place the material on the saw.
  3. Align the blade with the cutting mark.
  4. Adjust the miter saw angle.
  5. Start the saw and cut.
  6. Release the trigger and let the blade slow to a stop before you lift the saw.

Here are some tips for using a miter saw:

  • If you have to make repetitive cuts, use a stop block.
  • If your miter saw didn’t come with a laser, install one.
  • Invest in a high-quality blade.
  • Use clamps to hold small pieces of material to the fence.
  • Use an auxiliary fence for smaller pieces.
  • Get a miter saw with a transparent blade guard.
  • Let the blade reach full speed before starting to cut.
  • Mark the “danger zones” on the bed and fence to indicate where your hands shouldn’t be.

Safety Tips for Using a Miter Saw

Finally, your safety is of utmost importance when using a miter saw. Here are some safety precautions you should take:

  • Wear safety goggles. I like the DEWALT Anti-Fog Safety Goggles. These goggles have a comfortable elastic headband, and the coated lens protects against scratches, even against the most powerful debris. The soft rubber conforms to the face, so there isn’t any wiggle room for dust and shrapnel to reach your face or eyes.
  • Use a dust extractor if you’re sawing a material that produces a lot of dust. I like the Festool 574831 Dust Extractor on because it is compact and lightweight but still gets the job done. Additionally, I like that it holds about four gallons of dust, so you won’t need to change the dust collection bag during a project.
  • Wear earplugs to protect your ears from the noise.
  • Wear sturdy, close-toed shoes.
  • Only make adjustments when the saw is off.
  • Keep your hands out of the path of the blade at all times.
  • Ensure that the blade is clean before you begin cutting.
  • Keep your work area clean and well-lit.
  • Unplug the saw whenever it isn’t in use.
  • Clean the motor air slots, so they aren’t full of dust.
  • Don’t operate the saw when it is on the ground.
  • Don’t force the saw. If it isn’t cutting, there’s probably a good reason.
  • Don’t use the saw in damp places.
  • Don’t use the saw near flammable material because the blade may produce sparks. 

A miter saw is an easy tool for DIYers to use with practice. As long as you follow the above safety precautions, you’ll be cutting wood quickly, smoothly, and safely.

Best Miter Saws Recommendations

There are many options for miter saws out there, so it can be challenging to know which one to get. Here are my recommendations for picking the best Miter Saws.

Related: All You Need To Know About Miter Saws

Dewalt 12-Inch Miter Saw

For an affordable miter saw, I recommend the Dewalt 12-Inch Miter Saw. This reasonably-priced saw is reliable and precise. The 15 amp motor is capable of up to 4,000 RPM, sufficient for most projects.

This miter saw also features a stainless steel miter detent plate and a miter lock that provides accuracy and durability while allowing quick and easy adjustments.

DEWALT 12-Inch Miter Saw, 15-Amp, Single Bevel,...
  • Stainless-steel miter detent plate of 12-inch miter saw blade comes with 14 positive stops
  • The mitre saw features the precise miter system and machined base fence support
  • Tall sliding fence of DEWALT miter saw supports 5-1/2-inch base vertically

Metabo HPT Compound Miter Saw

The Metabo HPT Compound Miter Saw is an excellent option for this price point. I like this saw because it comes with a laser marker and an upfront bevel lock. It also bevels to the right and left, so if that’s something you’re looking for in a miter saw, you’re in luck.

The zero rear clearance slide system lets the saw move effortlessly and smoothly along fixed rails. Additionally, the upfront bevel lock allows for quick angle adjustments. With this saw, you can get a professional finish without paying a professional price.

Metabo HPT C10FSHC 10' Sliding Dual Compound Miter...
  • Metabo HPT C10FSHC 10" Sliding Dual Compound Miter Saw with Laser Marker, Zero Rear Clearance Slide System, Ergonomic Upfront Bevel Lock, Includes 10" 40T TCT Miter Saw Blade

Bosch CM10GD Compact Miter Saw

The Bosch CM10GD Compact Miter Saw has the Bosch-exclusive Axial-Glide system, which allows for better alignment and broader crosscuts. 

Additionally, the upfront metal bevel controls allow for quick and easy adjustments. The saw also comes with a dust collection chute and a vacuum adapter, so you may not need to invest in a dust extractor, as long as you aren’t cutting materials that produce excessive dust.

I also like the crown chop lock, which locks the head into place for the best chop cutting capacity. The ambidextrous trigger has a soft grip, so you can use the saw all day without experiencing too much discomfort. This saw is compact, so it won’t take up too much space in your workshop.

For those with a medium budget, this saw is a great choice.

On Sale
BOSCH CM10GD Compact Miter Saw - 15 Amp Corded 10...
  • ACCURACY: The Bosch-exclusive Axial-Glide System allows wider cross cuts and better alignment
  • CONVENIENCE: Featuring large, upfront metal bevel controls and Square lock precision fences for precise, quick and easy adjustments. Complete with dust collection chute and vacuum adapter for easy...
  • CONTROL: This miter saw provides accuracy and cutting control at all angles. Crown chop lock locks head in place for maximum chop cutting capacity for upright base moulding and nested crown. Depth...

Makita Sliding Miter Saw Kit 

The Makita Sliding Miter Saw Kit comes with a saw with a brushless motor with 4,400 RPM for fast and smooth cutting. The auto-start system uses Bluetooth technology, so you can turn the power on and off wirelessly. The automatic speed technology adjusts the speed during the cut so the cut is as smooth and professional as possible.

This saw is also a cordless option, so you will not have to worry about a bulky cord getting in the way of your work. 

The kit comes with the saw, two lithium-ion 5.0Ah batteries, an 18V lithium-ion dual-port charger, an auto-start wireless transmitter, and a vertical vise, so you’ll have everything you need to start using this top-quality saw right away.

Makita XSL04PTU 18V X2 LXT Lithium-Ion (36V)...
  • Powered by two LXT batteries; x2 LXT technology delivers more power, speed and run time without the hassles of a cord
  • Makita built electronically controlled BL Brushless motor delivers 4, 400 RPM for faster and smoother cutting
  • Auto-start wireless system (AWS) utilizes Bluetooth technology for Wireless Power-on/off communication between tool and optional dust extractor

Conclusion

Miter saws are powerful and practical tools for various projects, but you’re better off using them on wood only. They are capable of cutting through metal, but doing so is potentially dangerous and can cause damage to your project and the saw. Other tools, such as the chop saw, can cut through metal more safely and effectively than a miter saw.

About the author

David Yeoman

David Yeoman

I'm a technical writer who writes in-depth articles for readers wanting uncomplicated explanations for creative topics made difficult by industry jargon. I'm a woodworker, metalworker, landscape photographer, writer, Python and PostgreSQL programmer, and pilot. Freelance after 42 years in the corporate world, I have an MBA in Technology.

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