Better Cuts at a Sliding Miter Saw

A common question I get asked is why do I make my miter saw cuts in two passes instead of one? When making a wider cut at my miter saw I almost always score the top surface with a very shallow cut as I pull the saw to me, then plunge down at the near end of the work piece, then push through towards the fence to complete the cut. The reason for this is to get a smoother top surface after the cut. The blade can cut in two directions; as it enters the material and as it exits the material. Any time the blade is cutting as it exits the material you have a greater chance of the exit surface tearing out due to lack of material support. So by making a very shallow scoring cut on top as the saw is pulled back you are cutting into the material which results in a much cleaner cut. Then as the saw is plunged and the final through-cut is made the rest of the material is cut on the intake side of the blade as well.

The top scoring cut is technically considered a climb cut because the blade is cutting in a direction opposite of the travel of the tool. When making a climb cut on any tool you have the risk of a tool “climbing” where the tool want’s to grab instead of cut and increase the speed of travel, sometimes faster than what you are prepared for. A very shallow scoring cut decreases the risk of this happening but the possibility is still there. If you make a cut like this always make sure you have nothing in the path of the blade, you have the material firmly secured, and you are aware of the potential hazards that could happen.


  1. Jay,
    Great info!! I recently got a sliding miter saw. Upgrade from a non sliding saw. Now I can get much better results!! Keep up the great info!!!

  2. Jay, thanks for that info. It would be very interesting if you could also comment on what blade you prefer on the miter saw for everyday use.

  3. I have seen this with a couple Youtubers but with my saw(blade) I don’t see the need to do this as I don’t get tearout.. At the most at the back of the piece (a zero clearance fence would help).

  4. Thanks Jay for the tip. Never really thought about it before. Don’t seem to get tearout with one pass on a table saw.

  5. great explanation I dont own a sliding crosscut yet now I want one lol keep up the great stuff jay thanks

  6. Great tip Jay. You just saved me a lot of money by not ruining expensive birch ply. I will remember your tip for the rest of my life. If you have other great tips like this, please share with us..Good JOB


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