In this article, I will teach you how to cut any angle on your miter saw. You will learn how to cut extreme angles since most miter saws aren’t able to cut angles higher than 45 degrees (sometimes 60 degrees) or lower than 40 degrees. The tool list to complete this is minimal – you will only use a clamp, a scrap piece of wood and a little math! It’s really quite simple, which is something I love about this method of cutting more degrees on your miter saw.
I utilized this method when I made my DIY Outdoor Wooden Christmas Star. The angles needed for that project were 18 degrees, which is an angle that miter saws don’t have the capacity for. I was pleasantly surprised with how simple it was to do!
Tip: If you’re just getting started with using a miter saw, check out this post on How to Use a Miter Saw for Beginners.
Alright, let’s get started!
Tools Needed to Cut Any Angle on a Miter Saw
- Miter Saw
- Scrap Wood
- Clamp (my miter saw came with a clamp built in, so check to see if you have one as well)
Step 1: Make sure that your saw is squared up
This is an important first step, because the accuracy of every cut will be determined by whether or not your miter saw is squared up. Here is a great tutorial for how to make sure your miter saw is square.
The miter saw I use (and highly recommend!) is this Dewalt DWS779 12 inch Sliding Compound Miter Saw. I can’t say enough about how great this saw is. It was an upgrade to my shop a few years ago and took my work quality up a few notches. It came perfectly square and I’m never had any issues with it. I’ve been able to cut many different hardwoods with accuracy and efficiency!
Part of that upgrade to my home shop was making a miter saw station to go with my new miter saw. I used plans from Brad at Fix This Build That and they were great. The miter saw stand allows me to cut long stock easily, make repeatable cuts, and roll my miter saw out of my garage to cut down on dust.
Step 2: Clamp a scrap piece of wood against the fence of your miter saw
I had this scrap piece of 4×4 sitting in my garage and it ended up being perfect for this.
If your miter saw comes with a clamp (like mine pictured below) clamp the scrap piece firmly against the fence. If your miter saw doesn’t have a clamp built in, just clamp the scrap piece firmly against the fence from the back. For this example, be sure to clamp it on the left side of the saw blade.
Step 3: Cut a 45 degree angle into your scrap piece
With the scrap piece still clamped, adjust your miter saw to cut a 45 degree angle. Cut the scrap piece at a 45 degree angle.
Leave the scrap piece clamped down for the remainder of the project. This will now be your new “fence”.
The stock you will be cutting will now sit flush against your scrap piece. Hence, why the scrap piece is now your new fence.
When your miter saw blade is set to the normal 90 degree cut, the blade will now be at a 45 degree angle in relation to the new “fence” (scrap piece), instead of the normal 90 degrees.
So, if you were to butt your stock up against the new fence and make a cut (with the blade at the normal 90 degrees, centered setting), you would get a 45 degree angle cut, instead of a 90 degree angle cut.
RELATED: For another method of easily cutting extreme angles, check out this post on using Kreg’s Adaptive Cutting System.
Step 4: Do some math
It’s pretty simple math. However, a couple things need to be in place for this equation to work:
- your scrap wood is clamped to the left of the blade
- a 45 degree angle is cut into the scrap piece
- you adjust the blade angle to the left (not the right)
If those 3 things are in place, you will do the math to figure out how to cut any angle on your miter saw.
Here’s the equation: 45 degrees (minus) desired degree cut (equals) degree to set your miter saw to
So, if you want to make an 18 degree cut, set your miter saw angle to 27 degrees. This is because 45-18=27.
Step 5: Clamp the piece you will cut against the new fence
When doing this method to change the angle cut on your miter saw, it’s important to note that it will be very hard to keep your hands out of the “danger zone” on your miter saw while making a cut. Make wise and well thought out cuts. Clamp your piece!
It might be a little hard to find the right spot for your clamp to be. It obviously needs to be in a place that won’t interfere with your blade. Practice your cut before you actually make it, ensuring that the clamp won’t get in the way. I found this clamp very useful for this purpose.
Step 6: Cut your piece
Make your cut. You will now have an 18 degree cut (rather than a 27 degree cut like your miter saw is set to).
Alright, now you can cut any angle on your miter saw! I love that this method only needs a scrap piece of wood. Happy building!