So as you can see from the choices above you have a few alternatives to getting the job done, without the need to buy an expensive power mitre saw. Let's have a look at these in more detail so as you know how to go about each of the above. These are probably your best option if you only have a small number of cuts to do on a small project. There is no point in buying a powered version if you only ever plan on doing a few simple mitre cuts.

1. The Old Fashioned Way - By Hand and Measurement

This is the way that carpenters and joiners did this for years. It sounds really easy but the reality is that it is not easy. Trust me, there is a very good reason why they invented mitre boxes and saws. Trying to cut a 45 degree angle in a straight line through a piece of wood, needs a fair bit of practice and skill.

To make a simple square mitre joint like this you need to be able to draw a 45 degree line on the two pieces of wood that you want to join together. For rectangular frames that angle will vary and you will need to calculate it.

For that you will need something like a protractor. Once that is done, then you need to cut carefully along the lines with a saw. Check out this video below to see how it is done.

Hopefully after watching that you will now understand why mitre saws were made in the first place. Clearly it works, but it takes forever to make a single joint.

You can of course mark out a square and then draw a diagonal line to get a nice accurate 45 degree angle. That still takes a bit of time and if you have to make a lot of mitre cuts, that will really slow you down.

The biggest problem with this old fashioned method is learning to cut the lines perfectly straight. This takes a lot of practise to get right and most of us just don't have the time to do that. There was a reason all those years back why a woodworking apprenticeship lasted 5 years.

2. Using A Mitre Box to Cut Mitre Joints

The good old mitre box has been around for years, and in my opinion still will be for a few years to come. For someone who does not fancy the first idea I have explained above, you can skip out the tricky bits and just buy a box, with pre-cut angles.

All you have to do then is place the wood to be cut inside, and simply follow the cut outs on the mitre box. These can be picked up at most DIY shops such B&Q, Screwfix, Wickes, etc for under £15.

They are pretty useful if you only need to make a few cuts and are also easy enough to store away when you are finished. Just make sure that whatever box you buy is wide enough to accommodate the width of your piece of wood.

This is an affordable alternative to a mitre saw.

3. Using A Mitre Box and Saw Set to Cut Mitre Joints

The first method is still a tricky. It probably is easy if you have done it a hundred times, but for the person who is new to this, or hasn't done it for a while it can be a pain in the rear end.

The mitre box I mentioned above works well and I have used that many times myself. Personally I don't own a good quality tenon saw and just use a standard crosscut saw that I have in my garage.

Even with a tenon saw, trying to hold the wood in place, and saw at the same time can still be awkward and not that accurate. That is where a precision mitre saw can come in useful.

As you can see this comes with a small stand, a base that swivels and a saw that is built on guides. These are useful if you have a few small jobs to do about the house. They are also a lot more accurate than a mitre box or doing it all by hand. The big disadvantage of these is storing the saw away when it is not needed.

4. Using A Table Saw with tilted Blade

Table saws are really expensive and also one of the most dangerous power tools to use. However if you know someone who has one, or actually own one, then it can be used as a mitre saw alternative. Table saws will have a mitre fence and/or a mitre gauge which can be used along with the ability to tilt the blade.

  1. Set up your table saw with a suitable blade type that can cut a mitre joint. Make sure that the blade is perpendicular to the table top.
  2. Measure the width of the piece of wood that you need to cut.
  3. Mark the mitre joint on the wood using a square or a protractor.
  4. Secure the wood to the table saw using a mitre gauge or a feather board.
  5. Adjust the blade height to the thickness of the wood.
  6. Push the wood through the blade, keeping it steady and guiding it in a straight line.
  7. Turn off the saw and remove the wood.
  8. Sand and finish the mitre joint as needed.

5. Using A Circular Saw

More people own a circular saw than any other type of power saw. That is because they are more affordable and also are much easier to use.  All good quality circular saws allow you to change the angle of the blade by adjusting the base of the saw. This is usually by means of a lever or knob.

1. Begin by measuring and marking the angles of the mitre joint on the two pieces of wood.

2. You should then set the circular saw blade to the correct angle.

3. Place the piece of wood on a flat surface, and align the saw blade with the marked angle.

4. Secure the wood in place with a clamp or a few clamps if the wood is large.

5. Turn on the saw and slowly move it along the marked line.

6. When the saw is almost through the wood, stop and let the blade come to a stop.

7. Check the cut to make sure it is at the correct angle and is a straight line.

8. Repeat the process for the other side of the mitre joint.

9. Sand the edges of the mitre joint to ensure a smooth fit.

6. Using A Jigsaw

Just like circular saws, jigsaws are also an affordable option for many people. They are of course designed to cut out shapes, though they can be used for cutting straight lines and also mitre joints.

  1. Mark the line of the mitre joint on the material that you are cutting. We would recommend using a protractor to make sure the angle of the joint is correct
  2. Rest the footplate of the jigsaw on the material, and align it with the marked line. Make sure the jigsaw is firmly held in place.
  3. Turn on the jigsaw and guide it along the marked line. Keep the blade of the jigsaw perpendicular to the material to ensure a clean, straight cut.
  4. Once the cut is finished, use a sharp chisel to clean up any rough edges. Sand the joint to ensure a smooth surface.
  5. Apply wood glue to the joint and clamp the two pieces together. Allow the joint to dry for several hours before removing the clamp

Hiring a Mitre Saw to Cut Mitre Joints

As you know there are usually a number of places where a tool can be hired out for a day, a few days or even a few weeks. Many people are under the impression that all you can hire out at these shops are tools like cement mixers. The opposite is actually the case and you can just about hire out any type of tool you need from these shops.

They are also a lot cheaper than many people may first think. There are many such as the National Tool Hire UK shops.  When we last checked there it was around £20 for a day to hire out a mitre saw and that included VAT and damage waiver insurance. So if you were doing some skirting boards in a room, then you should be able to hire one of these and get the job done in a day.

These are the alternatives to buying a power saw. At least you now how to cut mitres without a mitre saw and most of these alternatives are also cheap and affordable to do. If you only have a few cuts to do then just get a cheap mitre box. It is enough to do your job in most cases.

These are the main mitre saw alternatives available. The bottom line is that mitre joints rely on the accuracy of the angle cut. That needs to be very precise, otherwise you have a pretty horrible looking joint. The mitre saw was designed to be able to do that. Any other method relies on your eye and taking highly accurate measurements,

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