Can You Use a Miter Saw on the Ground?
A miter saw isn’t just an essential piece of kit for professional woodworkers or contractors; it’s also a handy tool for DIYers looking to tackle home renovation projects.
Despite how useful they are, though, a major drawback is how much space they require.
Not necessarily from the miter saw itself (there are very compact 8″ and 10″ models available, after all), but rather from the space needed on either side, especially if you’re cutting longer pieces of lumber.
One option people often consider, usually if they’ve only got a small workshop or cluttered garage to work in, is to use their miter saw on the ground.
Can you use your miter saw on the ground, though, and is it the best option?
Let’s find out.
We don’t recommend using a miter saw on the ground. It’s a trip hazard and can lead to a back injury from handling a heavy saw (often 50lbs+) and lumber. Most manufacturers recommend bolting down a miter saw before use, which is difficult to do on the floor but can be achieved on a workbench.
Let’s look at the specific reasons why using a miter saw in this way could be an accident waiting to happen.
Stick around to the end of the article, too, as we’ll be letting you know what some of the most popular tool companies have to say on the matter.
Can You Use a Miter Saw on the Floor?
The short answer is yes; you can technically use your miter saw on the ground instead of clamping or bolting it to a workbench or using it on a dedicated miter saw stand.
Does that mean you should, though?
We’d say no – we’d never recommend using your saw on the ground, regardless of how easy or convenient it seems.
Here are a few reasons why…
Firstly, and perhaps the most obvious risk of all, is the trip hazard that your miter saw will form if you place it on the floor of your work area.
It’s not just the miter saw itself you need to look out for; there’s also the power cord on corded models and the wood hanging off the end of the saw’s table that you’re about to cut.
It’s safe to say that there’s no shortage of things to trip over and potentially ruin your day if you’re constantly clambering over or around your miter saw.
Not only do you run the risk of hurting yourself, but you could also do some costly damage to the saw – for example, by tugging on the power cord too hard or by accidentally kicking the timber, causing it to impact the blade or blade guard.
We’ve all heard the advice that says we should lift with our legs and not with our back.
If you’re anything like us, though, you’ll usually only remember that advice after you’ve already completed your lift.
After all, we’re all busy, and we want to get the job done as quickly as possible without thinking about anything that could slow us down. Right?
Well, unfortunately, that can come at the price of safety.
For example, if you choose to use your miter saw on the ground, the chances are that you’ll have to bend over to place potentially heavy and large or awkward pieces of lumber onto the saw’s table.
The more you do this, the bigger the risk you’ll develop some kind of back injury.
Also, while you can find lighter miter saws on the market, some can weigh upwards of 60 lbs.
We don’t know about you, but we wouldn’t like to constantly lift and set down a saw of that weight each time we wanted to cut some timber.
Working on wet ground isn’t particularly pleasant, although a more critical issue here is that water and electricity do not mix.
Any issues with your miter saw, for example, a frayed power cable could put you at significant risk if you’re working on wet ground.
A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI), a device aimed at preventing an electric shock when an electrical device comes into contact with water, could potentially eliminate this risk. Still, the fact remains that using a miter saw on the ground isn’t recommended anyway, regardless if it’s wet or dry.
Most tool manufacturers recommend that you bolt down or clamp down your miter saw, and for good reason.
For example, if you’re cutting a piece of timber that pinches the blade or you encounter a hidden nail or particularly tough knot, the saw could experience something called kickback.
When kickback happens, the saw can shift while the blade is spinning, which can be extremely dangerous.
Most miter saws have bolt down points for this reason, as shown above.
The problem here is that if you’re working on the ground, in most cases, it won’t be possible to bolt or clamp down the saw to prevent any movement during cutting.
Until this point, we’ve focused pretty heavily on the safety-related issues that come from using your miter saw on the ground.
Another disadvantage is the fact that using your miter saw in this way can be much less accurate.
For example, before even switching on the saw or completing a cut, we like to check where the blade will come into contact with our cut mark to prevent mistakes.
With your saw placed on the ground, it can be much harder to judge this accurately, and that’s why we prefer to use a dedicated miter saw stand or workbench to better dial in our cuts at eye level before the blade starts spinning.
What Do the Manufacturers Say About Using a Miter Saw on the Ground?
We don’t just expect you to take our word for it, though.
To find some more ‘official’ information, we decided to trawl through the user manuals of several of the most popular miter saw models, and to collate information from various safety bodies that promote improved safety and better working practices for anyone using power tools.
Here’s what we found:
We use the Bosch GCM 350-254 in our workshop, and here’s what the user manual has to say:
As you can see, it doesn’t specifically mention not using the saw on the ground. It does, however, reference using a workbench, and it mentions bolting and clamping down the saw, which you probably wouldn’t be able to do if operating it on the ground.
Reading between the lines here, it is unlikely that Bosch would endorse using the saw on the floor.
The user manual for the Festool Kapex KS120 is similar to the Bosch in that it recommends using a flat, stable work surface when operating the saw.
Again, there’s no specific reference to working on the ground, but it also mentions the need to clamp and bolt the saw, which, in most cases, would prevent this kind of working anyway.
It’s a similar story from Makita.
No specific reference to operating a miter saw on the floor; however, like Bosch and Festool, the user manual for the Makita LS1019L discusses the need to securely fasten the saw to whatever surface you’re working from.
Makita also advises against using the saw in a way that would make the positioning for the operator awkward, something we’d argue would happen if the saw was being used from the ground.
Again, reading between the lines here, it would be reasonable to assume that Makita is against the idea of operating a miter saw on the ground.
4. Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) provides guidance on a whole host of workplace health and safety topics, including best practices for using power tools.
While primarily aimed at workers in Canada, its guidance can be applied to the use of power tools, including miter saws, worldwide.
Unlike the various tool manufacturers above, they provide more detail by explaining that you should use a miter saw on a workbench that is waist height:
Attach the saw firmly on a workbench or other rigid frame and operate saw at waist height.
And again, unlike the various screenshots from the user manuals above, they take their guidance one step further and specifically state that you shouldn’t use a miter saw on the ground:
Do not operate the saw when placed on the ground.
So, there you have it, a firm recommendation to never use a miter saw on the floor.
It’s just too risky.
We hope you found this article helpful and that you now understand the potential risks and issues that come from using a miter saw on the ground.
Power tools can be dangerous, and a miter saw is no exception. Always remember to follow the manufacturer’s operating and safety guidelines, and always use the correct safety equipment to avoid any unnecessary risks.
If you’re struggling for space, a dedicated miter saw stand that can easily be setup and folded away, or a mobile miter saw station on wheels, will typically be a much safer option than using your saw on the floor.
If you have any particular questions or queries that you can’t find an answer to above, drop us a comment below, and we’ll do our best to get back to you as quickly as possible.