Using a sliding mitre saw to notch a 4x4
I'm new here and a novice woodworker. I'm trying to find the best way to notch a 4x4 to insert a 2x4. The only tool I have is a sliding mitre saw with a depth stop. My questions are as follows:
1. Is it safe to do this?
2. Because the cut will not go all the way through the wood, do you let the saw stop before raising it up, or take it out while the blade is still rotating?
3. If you make the kerf cuts close together is there a danger in the small pieces that are left breaking off and kicking back?
Thanks for any help. Sorry if this seems like a silly question, but my main concern is safety and there are a lot of mixed messages out there regarding this.