Crosscutting simply means sawing wood across or against the grain. Once you have ripped your lumber (see previous article on Ripping) to manageable lengths, say 4 ft. or so, you now have to cut the actual length that you need. This is crosscutting.
First, check your blade angle with a small square. Raise the blade, set the square on end with the square tang against the saw blade in between the saw teeth. There should not be any light between the square and the blade. If there is, straighten your blade with the blade angle handle on your saw.
Next, check the miter gauge and make sure the gauge is set exactly at 90 degrees. To be absolutely sure, lay a framing square on the flat face of the gauge and line it up with the edge of the slot that the miter gauge slides in. The square and the slot should line up perfectly. If not, adjust the gage.
Two things are necessary to make a good crosscut:
1. A legible mark to line up with the saw blade.
2. Make sure to hold the piece to be cut firmly against the flat portion of the Miter gauge. The saw should remain off.
With the board firmly against the miter fence, using your right hand, hold the fence and put downward pressure with your fingers on the board. Use your left hand to slide the board toward your saw blade and line up your cut mark with your blade. Pull the board and the miter gauge back. Turn on the saw.
With your left hand holding down the board as well as pushing back against the fence, slide the miter gauge toward the blade and smoothly push the board through and complete the cut. Slide the good piece slightly to the left and pull back on the miter gauge and the wood.
Do not try to remove small cut pieces as it is very dangerous. Turn off the saw and after it stops remove the small waste piece. The larger pieces can be moved to the right and removed.
To cross cut wider longer pieces, use the rip fence. Set your dimension, and with your right hand, push the wood along the fence. Use your left hand to push from the left side. Push both hands evenly all the way through the cut. Do not stop or change the angle of the wood during this process.
To make repetitive cuts on small stock, clamp a small block of wood to the rip fence. Use the block as a stop. Double check your measurements and with your left hand push the stock against the stop block. Firmly holding the stock with your left hand against the Miter fence, slide the miter gauge forward and complete the cut. Remove the cut piece and withdraw your miter fence and remaining stock for another cut.
As with all work using power tools, safety is primary. Remember to use both eye and hearing protection. The on-off switch is a friend, use it in between operations and you will surely save some body parts! As always, be safe and have fun!