Table, miter, or miter box for cross-cutting 2x6s?


Old 08-05-14, 09:04 PM
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Question Table, miter, or miter box for cross-cutting 2x6s?

I apologize: I know this is a common question, but everywhere I look there seems to be a different answer. I'm hoping to get some feedback on my specific needs.

My mother-in-law knows I've been planning to fix some boards and railing on my deck, and got me a table saw recently to help me along. After thinking about it for a while though, I'm not entirely sure it's what I really need.

My woodworking experience is pretty limited. I've trimmed the sides off hollow-core doors with a handheld circular saw, but that's about the extent of my rip cutting so far. I'd say I'm more interested in cross cuts, like trimming 2x6s for the replacement deck parts.

Wouldn't it make more sense to have a miter saw vs. the table saw for now, given what I'm planning? I've read table saws shouldn't be used for a piece more than four or five feet long; I'm looking at starting with lumber that's 10' or 12' long to start with, and I can't imagine running that through the table saw.

(As a follow-up thought, would a manual miter box be able to handle a 2x6s and thicker?)

Old 08-05-14, 09:13 PM
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A circular saw will do almost anything that a miter saw will do... it's just that a miter saw will usually do it more accurately. Miter saws make nice square cuts, and are good for cutting boards to length. But you won't usually see framers using miter saws as it's too slow to take the material to the saw. They take the saw to the material. (circular saw). But a miter saw is best for trim... anything that needs to be "precision cut". Table saws aren't best for cross cuts.
Old 08-06-14, 05:08 AM
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I'm a painter, not a carpenter and I bought a table saw before a miter saw. I thought going in that since the table saw had a miter option that it would improve my miter cuts. I was wrong!! I could get better miter cuts with a speed square and a handsaw than with the table saw. When I finally bought a miter saw, I wondered why I waited so long.

IMO a skil saw and speed square gives enough accuracy for most any joint you are going to cut on a 2x6
Old 08-06-14, 05:23 AM
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You would need at least a 12 inch miter saw and most likely would need a sliding one to cut your deck boards. A hand saw with a framer square would be more cost efficient for a small job. Love my table saw but not for cross cuts. Is table saw still in box? it is usually about the same as a good 12 inch sliding miter saw.
Old 08-06-14, 05:50 AM
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My 10" sliding miter saw handles 2x12's fine, so no problem for 2x6's. And a 12" no-slider will handle 2x6's, but a 10" non-slider will generally not get the last 1/4" or so on the bottom outside corner. That said, depends on what you're doing, but a lot of times I would only use a miter saw for squaring the mill cut on one end of the deck boards, and you could do that easy enough with a circular saw and speed square. Posts and beams I would typically cut with a circular saw, and where possible I let the ends of the deck boards away from the house fall where they will, then chalk a line and cut all of them at one time with a circular saw. Saves time and you only have to line up one end when you're laying them. Handrails and other details, yes, a miter saw can come in handy for some of that, but if that's your only plans for it, well, there have been a lot of nice looking decks built with a circular saw. As far as a table saw, ripping a plank would be about it, and a circular saw will do that as well.
Old 08-06-14, 05:56 AM
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My 10 in. non-sliding Dewalt mitre saw will cut 2x6's completely through. I guess it depends on the brand. If in doubt, measure the depth of cut with the saw not running and the blade fully engaged. You will need outboard support for cutting long 2x6's with a mitre saw. I suggest using a circular saw with a speed square as an edge guide.
Old 08-06-14, 11:14 AM
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A lot of good information, thanks everyone. I'm looking into circular saws now as well.

I noticed there's some variance in folks' experiences with the 10" non-sliders, in terms of it being able to cut a 2x6. Logic would seem to indicate that as long as the widest part of the blade reaches the cutting surface, the 10" blade would cut a 5.5" piece fine, no? I'm wondering why it wouldn't.

And to focus on my last question for a moment: would a miter box have any application in this instance? Or is it more for smaller "trim" projects and a 2x6 would be too big for it?

Again, thanks.
Old 08-06-14, 11:41 AM
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Most 10" miter saws will cut a 2x6 at a 90 degree angle. Some may not due to design of the housing.

If you are cutting a bunch all to the same length, then using a miter saw may make sense. But only if you have someone to handle the wood as you cut. 4 or 5 can be cut faster with a circ saw and speed square by just setting them on saw horses and sliding them in and out as you cut.

Don't forget also, you normally use a much finer blade for normal trim cuts than you would for rough cuts to length. The normal framing blade on a circ saw is fine, but you'd need to have 2 blades for a miter saw.

If you think you may want a miter saw for future use and fine cuts on trim, for 90% of people a 10" will be fine. If you think you may be cutting taller base or large crown, then you may need a 12" or a 10" slider.

I have a 10" Ridgid non-slider and in the 10+ years I've had it, I never wanted for a 12" or slider. It's also much lighter and easier to handle than my neighbors old 12" DeWalt.

As to a miter BOX, only if you have little pieces like 2x2 that you need to cut at finely at an angle. Even then, you can probably do it with a crosscut handsaw faster.

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