Home Made Miter Saw Is Not Completely Dangerous

Home Made Miter Saw

If the term ‘home made miter saw’ instantly instills frightening images of severed limbs into your head, you’re not alone. A quick internet search will yield some pretty hokey tool builds, we’ve even featured a few here on hackaday. This saw is different. [Pekka] made a pretty cool saw for cutting very accurate angles in wood.

This saw was purpose built with one goal in mind: cutting wood that will be glued together for use in segmented turning. Segmented turning is shaping a piece of wood stock that is composed of many different types of wood. This results in a very visually interesting product.

Home Made Miter SawMost of the saw is made from plywood. The hinge and supports for the arbor are beefy off-the-shelf pillow blocks. A 3-phase motor with speed control transmits power to the arbor via a belt. Belt tension is adjusted by sliding the motor further back along the motor mount base. [Pekka] took care so that the entire pivoting assembly was nearly balanced adding to the ease of use.Typical miter saws rotate the blade to achieve different angles of cuts. This design rotates the saw fence.

For safety there are a pair of polycarbonate blade guards and a micro switch on the handle that won’t let the saw start unless it is depressed. The micro switch has a secondary function also, when let go it applies an electronic brake to the motor so that the spinning blade does not touch the work piece when lifting the blade back up.

40 thoughts on “Home Made Miter Saw Is Not Completely Dangerous

  1. I will just pre-empt the predictable responses by saying don’t build this it is unsafe – spend hundreds on a commercial model because if you don’t you might cut your little pinky – poor pet…

  2. I should be slightly less flippant in noting, as well as I can account, that the individual components used in that project would cost, in my country, about 3 times that of a perfectly serviceable Chinese model, say, Makita?

    1. Looking at his website he just likes making things.

      Like everything, some cheap saws are better than others. You can make them more accurate if you’re willing to take the time, and that often means you need access to tools like lathes & mills. Some designs are intrinsically flimsy.

      The blade has a lot to do with it as well, some flex more then you think.

      Personally I use a cheap table saw with a sled, adjustable fence for the angles. Faster (and safer) than a drop saw too.

      Basically this: http://lumberjocks.com/projects/79294

        1. Just like it is sometimes better to rigidly clamp down the thing(s) you are cutting, and have the blade move.

    1. LOL see what I mean? Glad I got in first.

      Suicide machines? (later on) – these idiots get into cars driven by?… THEM – fucking scary…

      1. To be fair, a guard on the pulleys is a small thing and would add substantially to the safety. Sometimes you know you should do a thing and you just don’t until one of your friends say, “Wow you should really do a thing.” Maybe the maker will notice that comment and say to himself, “Yeah, that’s really worth doing.”

        1. Indeed but do you really think the people who build something as well built as this project wouldn’t know that? If you put on all the guards and screens etc. you wouldn’t be able to see the build for christ’s sake.

          People should put on all their posts “all safety guards etc. have been temporarily removed for clarity” – just to shut the safety police the fuck up.

          People in general MUST realise that THEY are TOTALLY responsible for their OWN safety by using a relatively NEW idea – it’s called COMMON FUCKING SENSE. Sorry for the Gordon Ramsay approach to reality.

          1. Common sense, meet momentary inattention. I’m sure you two will get along fine.

            I know someone who lost a finger because of his wedding ring – and that was just it getting caught going down some stairs. So yeah, put the guards on.

          2. Yeah put the guards on like safety Tony says, take photos/videos in such a way as we can’t see the internals, and then take the guards off again to actually use it – because safety Tony imagines that’s the way the world works.

            Yet again leave them off and put your hand into the blade – because safety Tony believes you are stupid enough to do just that and we MUST follow safety Tony’s conception of the world.

            BTW Tony put some aluminium foil on your head so the gamma rays won’t kill you…

          3. Common sense says you will never stick your hand/sleeve/hair/penis in the belt.

            Momentary inattention says you will.

            This isn’t a case of “take the guards off so you can show what’s happening”, this saw has never had one. Trivial to add and doesn’t interfere with the operation.

            I got scars on my thumb from where I put it through a router – yeah I was being perfectly safe. You’ll get yours.

          4. No Tony, you put your thumb through a router because, like your logic, you were careless.

            How do you know this saw never had one? did you build it?

            Guards or not you can still come in contact with the blade – it is a chance we take in using power tools.

            You, coming on to a forum carrying on, so incredibly predictably, like a big girls blouse, does NOT contribute anything to the knowledge base whatsoever.

            Oh, and by the way guards DO interfere with operation, anyone who has used the most safe table saw jig there is – the table saw sled, knows that for a fact. Guards can actually be more of a hazard than a blessing, particularly where they obscure vision, your best safety feature.

            No one is saying don’t use guards or safety equipment – just use them sensibly – over confidence in their ability to protect you is far more dangerous than removing them with the knowledge that there is a danger and acting accordingly.

            I would put my safety regime against yours any old day – I am 61 and still have all my fingers totally intact, and I would bet quids my driving record is better than yours.

          5. Ah, brain damage. Or a classic example of age != wisdom.

            Exactly how does a pulley guard interfere with operation? And this one is only single speed!

          6. Meh, for me cobbled together out of wood scraps does not mean well built. When I take the trouble to fabricate something out of steel then it might be well built. Lately I’d have to say that everything I make out of steel is well built anymore. In years gone by that wasn’t always the case though. I suppose my game has improved.

            I just finished this piece up yesterday

            It looked like this the day before

            It is well built work.

          7. I actually get where you are coming from (a little less venom, though.) It is pretty irritating to see comments not really helpful at all and instead just blather on about safety. I think some people, that is all they have to contribute and think they are the only one with common sense. Perhaps they think it makes them look smart when they don’t know anything else.

            I don’t like the safety police either. Quite annoying, really. I think they are the reason my state has a stupid law requiring you to wear seat belts. I have always worn it anyway, but until there is a case of a person flying through their windshield and killing an innocent bystander with their flying projectile of a body, we don’t need a fucking law. Honestly, it’s just a money maker for the state. They hold special events just to catch people not wearing seatbelts at $75 a pop (obviously taking officers away from responding to real crimes.)

            /rant

  3. I have worked in foundry’s that have had “professional” chop miter saws” that were 900X more dangerous than this. In fact this one is probably safer than most you can buy.

    1. Because you need a different speed to cut metal, plastic, etc…

      The same reason I cannot cut metal on my miter saw (well, shouldn’t anyway).

      1. I cut everything at the same speed, unless I am using a completely different kind of a tool. Abrasive metal chop saws run at about the same speed as miter saws do. The biggest difference is in the blade arbor sizes though. Wood saws have a 5/8″ arbor, abrasive blades have a 1″ arbor hole. Saw swarf is a bit different too. My metal chop saw sinters its swarf to the blade guard. You probably wouldn’t be too into that with your miter saw. I cut plastics with my radial arm saw, and table saw often too. It works just fine.

        Now cold cutting ferrous metals is a whole other kettle of fish. One you’re not going to cook on that saw either. So I’m not going to address that in the context of this machine, other than to say that it isn’t happening at any speed.

        1. What about pork? Ever cut up hog heads with your saw to make head cheese?

          My friend’s wife does that. She’s not from here.

  4. I should put up some pics of the plywood belt sander I have – found it at a yard sale for 5 bucks and couldn’t resist.

    1. Yes, you should. I couldn’t resist buying this last weekend myself

      Everything there $17. At first he wanted just $15 for the drill, and the bits, but wanted another $2 for the box. So I was like OK, because I couldn’t think of how I’d carry it all without the box.

      I’m usually not the world’s biggest fan of plastic toolboxes though. I’ve had some bad experiences with them breaking on me. I’ve busted up some metal toolboxes too. But I’ve always managed to fix metal toolboxes. When the plastic ones break on me there is nothing but shards left. What is left then doesn’t strike me as feasible to repair.

      So that has left me with a bias against plastic toolboxes. Looking back at it I have to say that guy was a good salesman. He got me to shell out money for something that I didn’t really want. I just wish the drill was in it’s original Milwaukee metal case. I might run across one of those in my travels though. Just the metal case I bet is about $40 new.

      Ack! Milwaukee is going over to blow molded plastic cases for their tools! I nailed it for the MSRP, street price seems to be about $25 to me. Like I said, I’ll run across one someplace.

  5. Like the saw, and what [Pekka] is producing with it is spectacular.

    This doesn’t appear to be a normal-sized miter saw, and I bet it will never be used to cut a 2×4. It’s a small tool, made for cutting small pieces with high precision. As such it may indeed fill a need for which a suitable tool can’t be economically purchased, which makes DIY worthwhile.

    It’s when cutting small pieces that I take the most caution, making sure my fingers are far from the work area. No guard should be relied on to protect you from poor technique or lapse of awareness. Some can even encourage poor technique, as you are forced to work around limitations created by the guard, and the resultant frustration is distracting. I’ve removed a few guards from my commercial tools, others I will never remove.

    As for exactly why [Pekka] doesn’t seem to have a belt guard I don’t know. I’d add one. But he does have other lovely miniaturized wood-crafted DIY tools, including a bandsaw and tablesaw, and all of his fingers as well. So he must be doing something right. If he doesn’t want a belt guard, I trust in his judgment to omit it from his own personal tool, and his ability to use it safely.

  6. Looks like a good build. I’ve done woodworking for years, and I’ve never invited momentary intention when using power tools. He’s too annoying. And, having been almost been killed by the anti-kickback pawls on a table saw once, I actually never use them. Still have all my body parts. I do LOVE safety glasses when cutting of course.

    It’s just safer to know exactly where your hands are, and where the moving parts are EVERY time (with or without shields, guards, or brightly colored warning stickers). And do your homework before you flip the switch.

    Thousands upon thousands of woodworking enthusiasts and professionals have done builds like this, used them for years, and have never once been folded, spindled or mutilated.

    With the build as it is, there’s no less reliability with wood than there is with metal, and is no more dangerous than any other power tool with sharp parts.

    It’s a good hack.

  7. Thanks for many comments. Yes belt guard is a good feature, will add a later in winter. But how I use the saw: my right hand is on crank, pressing with my finger starts the saw. Left hand supports the board with a hold down stick away from the blade. So I can not toutch the pulleys. After building the saw have added an adjustable stop block to control how long piece will be cut.
    Why building such a saw? Those commercial “cheap” saws are not ridgid at all, toutching the unit you can flex the blade sideways and then you can not get precise cuts. On segmented turnings you must have very precise angle and all pieces in a ring must be exact same length.
    The price is not interesting, designing and building home made gives you a satisfaction!
    All my machines have 3-phase motors. I have not a 3-phase supply in my house, but have 2 3-phase inverters to run my machines. And that gives me control of rotation.
    Regards [Pekka]

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