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I have a 7-1/4" sliding miter saw. It has the Diablo 60T blade.

Cross-cutting, I found out that it cuts easier when sliding the blade through the wood (like a handheld circular saw), than plunging/dropping the blade onto the wood (like in a non-sliding miter saw).

My question is, is this all in my head? Shouldn't it cut the same, since the blade is a circle and the same at any angle?

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No, you're not crazy. The key is to consider how many of the blade's teeth are in contact with the workpiece at a given moment. The more teeth, the more resistance because you're essentially forcing each tooth into the material with your own muscle. Pulling will usually result in less resistance for the blade because it's cutting an effectively thinner depth at any point.

That said, it's not always best to do a pull or push cut. Some reasons to do plunge cuts:

  • You're trying to precisely orient the blade to a mark or other point in the center of the workpiece
  • You're attempting to minimize tearout on one face or another
  • You're making an incomplete cut

Also, there's possibly more risk of "blade walking" with a pull cut. Your arm is less prepared to resist motion if the blade does grab when you're already pulling toward yourself. I've witnessed some pretty hairy situations with very large radial arm saws walking into heavy boards. A 16" industrial blade doesn't like to stop suddenly with all its rotational inertia at play.

Push cuts are often inappropriate for trim work because they result in the blade tearing out upward, though what's usually the finished face of the workpiece.

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    Pull cuts on a SCMS are entirely inappropriate. Unlike a radial arm saw, there's no damping mechanism built into the pull action. I'd expect every manufacturer notes this in their instructions. To deal with tearout, back the workpiece with scrap, apply masking tape, or turn it around. Feb 15 '17 at 15:18
  • Like the recent jig saw question, kickback and walking are more likely if you are aggressively feeding... take your time and let the blade do the work.
    – DaveM
    Oct 11 at 13:52
  • Even the tiniest feed can result in walking. It's a self-feeding situation. It takes a deliberate effort to prevent it and can easily surprise with the energy involved.
    – isherwood
    Oct 11 at 13:53

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