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How to adjust a miter saw

Continued use of your miter saw, transportation from place to place, cutting different materials, and any number of other factors can contribute to knocking your saw blade and other equipment out of alignment. Some miter saws even come out of the box with poor alignment!

  • Clean the Saw

Get rid of sawdust and other particles from the miter saw. These pieces of debris can impact the process of aligning your saw and might be what is causing the misalignment in the first place. If you’re not in the habit of cleaning out your saw after every use, this might be a good time to change your ways and start doing so to avoid all the extra maintenance.

  • Check the blade

Before put your miter saw back to square or into alignment, it is advisable that you take a look at the blade of the saw to see how it looks. Clean it if it is not clean and then sharpen the blade if it is blunt before continuing with the next stage. You can reduce or eliminate pitch build-up by using cleaners such as Stain Remover and Boeshield’s Rust.

  • Table alignment

A majority of the people using miter saws today will have them set into a working saw table. There is a good chance that you either have a saw table, use one at a job sight, or are looking into getting one for your saw!

  • Fence Alignment

After setting up your table, the next thing that you should do is to square the fence of your miter saw. The fence is located at the back edge of the table and is used for supporting long materials while you’re cutting. You can find out if the fence requires alignment with a straight edge. Place the straight edge along the fence’s length and then look for spots that are not squared.

  • Miter Angle Adjustments

Now is the time to square the angle of your miter saw. The first thing to do here is to set the blade’s bevel angle to 0-degrees. After this, put the miter angle to 0-degrees as well. The miter should square with the fence. Put a combination square or rafter layout square on the table, making sure that it’s square. One of the edges of the square should rest against the fence’s front edge. Now, lower the saw to the lowest possible position of the blade. Slide the square to the blade’s side edge. To get access to the blade side, you might have to raise the blade guard.

  • Bevel Angle Adjustments

Next on the list is to check the bevel angle. Whether it bevels to 45-degree only to the left or to both right and left, you only need to put the table and the 0-degree angle at a square with each other. Place the square on the edge with one of the edges facing upward from the table and the other lying flat on the table. Bring down the saw blade, making sure that the blade guard is raised.

  • Test for Accuracy
  • Safety

Do NOT try to adjust your miter saw in any way until you have unplugged it from the power source! Even if the saw is off, you can still get shocked by electrical currents running through the equipment.

Take caution when working nearby the blade. Try to make sure you’re in an environment where you won’t get bumped or surprised when working by the blade.

How to adjust a miter saw

Do you know how to adjust the miter saw efficiently? If you’re a DIY building junkie, a miter saw is an important piece of equipment that you shouldn’t miss in your workshop. This is a versatile tool that you can use to cut different materials. There are different miter saws on the market and they all come with unique features.

For the best performance and accurate results, you need to adjust a miter saw a few times to make it more efficient. I’m going to provide you with some instructions on how to adjust your miter saw.

How to Adjust Miter Saw – Steps To Follow

Do Some Cleaning

Every time you cut wood, there will be wood chips and sawdust. When the sawdust gathers at the bevel of the miter saw, adjusting without cleaning will prove impossible.

To clean your miter saw, you can use an air compressor. The best air compressors come with an air nozzle to help blow away the accumulated sawdust. When you’re done, use a clean cotton piece of cloth to wipe down the miter saw and your working bench. This ensures that the sawdust that may have settled on the saw is completely taken care of.

You can also check the saw for build-up and rust. To take care of this, you’ll need specialized solutions meant for handling this type of problem. You can do your research and find the best one closer to you and more efficient.

Appropriateness of the Blade

This may seem like an insignificant step in adjusting your miter saw. But when you adjust your miter saw, you’re preparing it for a task almost immediately after.

The type and size of miter saw speak a lot in regards to the type of cutting you’ll be doing. Ensure you know the combination of your blade before you start adjusting. Different combinations of blades perform at different speeds, are more or less effective on the material being cut, and are safe.

So, if you want to perform a more or less treacherous cutting, look for a versatile combination. This will, of course, perform many tasks very effectively.

Ensure the Blade And Fence Are Aligned

The correct alignment of the blade and fence is a must. But first things first, you have to disconnect your saw from your power source. This is because you’ll need to hold the guard that protects the blade.

After that, ensure that the blade is 90-degrees to the table. The blade is correctly adjusted when the square is in contact with the blade. If there’s a gap, you definitely need to adjust it.

To adjust the blade:

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  • First, loosen the bevel handle and adjust it until the blade makes complete contact with the square.
  • When there’s contact, tighten the handle
  • The bolt you used to loosen the bevel had to be re-adjusted until it comes to a stop
  • Always make sure when you adjust the bevel it’s always at 0-degrees

Also, check if the fence is 90-degrees to the blade by putting the square against the fence. You can then bring the saw down and move the square against the blade. An adjusted miter saw should have the blade of the saw and the edge of the square in contact. If there’s a gap you need to adjust.

To adjust the fence:

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  • There are two bolts on the left that hold the fence. Find them and loosen them
  • Keep adjusting the fence until it comes into contact with the blade
  • Re-tighten the bolts
  • Find the bolts on the right
  • Use a level to find the right alignment of the fence
  • Keep adjusting until the right side of the fence and the left side is aligned
  • Re-tighten the bolts.

Set the Angle of the Miter

The next step after the fence and the saw blade are aligned is to set the miter angle. This is because there will be an even and straight point to re-adjust the miter angle.

After setting the bevel angle to 0-degrees, adjust the miter angle to 0-degrees as well. It ensures that the miter saw will be accurate before you begin your next project.

Check for Inaccuracies

After making all of the necessary adjustments to your miter saw, it’s time to check if it cuts accurately or not.

The first thing to do is plugging in your miter into your power source. Once it’s up and running, put a flat board on the table against the fence. Proceed to perform a crosscut at 0-degrees miter and 0-degrees bevel angle.

After making the crosscut, check if it’s accurate using your square. If you notice any inaccuracies, you need to go back to re-adjusting again. Do this until you get satisfactory results.

There could be other issues that affect the accuracy of your results. So if you’ve adjusted over and over again and there are no accurate results, look for other factors that may be causing the problem. A few are the sharpness of your saw blade. The blade could be bent, damaged or loose.

To solve this problem, you can sharpen your blade. If that doesn’t work, it’s time to replace the blade with a new one.

Alvin V.Stone

I’m a DIY enthusiast and run a woodshop. I created this blog to provide you with reliable information concerning power saws so that you can do your work best. Not only do I provide power saw guide and reviews but also other resources that help you take your projects to a higher level.

Tuning up your miter saw for perfect cuts is a process worth understanding. All it takes is a few miter saw adjustments from time to time to make sure your 90s are true, both horizontally and vertically.

How to adjust a miter saw

How to adjust a miter saw

While the various brands of miter saws have their own specifics on how to make adjustments, they are all pretty much the same.

There are 2 different adjustments you’ll be making for your miter saw.

Horizontal Adjustment – The Fence: You’ll either have a 1 or a 2 piece fence, with bolts holding it down on both sides of the blade. There are probably 4 bolts total securing the fence.

Vertical Adjustment – The Bevel Stop: You’ll likely have adjustable hard stops on the bevel action to make the saw stop right at 90 degrees perpindicular to the cut bed.

Here’s a helpful video that lays out these 2 steps of the process pretty good:

Keep reading to learn how you can make these adjustments to your miter saw for perfecting your cuts.

Miter Saw Adjustments For a Perfect Horizontal 90 Degree Cut

To begin this process, make sure your miter adjustment is set in the factory detent for a straight 90-degree crosscut. This is the position we want to have a perfect 90, and by doing so, the remaining factory detents will be accurate.

How to adjust a miter saw

Prepping the Fence

If your miter saw has a solid 1-piece fence, you’ll want to loosen 3 bolts and leave the bolt all the way to the left snug. This will be the pivot point for swinging the rest of the fence either forward or back.

How to adjust a miter saw

If yours has a 2-piece fence, loosen the same 3 bolts. You’ll just push the right fence back out of the way and make your initial adjustments on the left fence.

Small taps make small adjustments.

You can use a rubber mallet or a block of wood to tap the fence to make fine adjustments. If you push on it, you could make the fence flex, and you’ll probably move it too much.

First, align with your square

Now you want to lock the blade down into the lowest position and slide it all the way back (if it’s a sliding saw).

Place your square against the fence, and slide it over until it touches the blade. Make sure it’s not getting against the teeth of the blade though, this will mess up your reading.

How to adjust a miter saw

Make small adjustments to your fence and retest with the square. Do this until you get it as close as you can to perfect. Tighten down the 2nd bolt to hold it in place. Just make it snug, as you may have to loosen and make more adjustments in a minute.

Fine Tune With Test Cuts

Take a piece of scrap wood that has good straight edges. Using a twisted, bowed or warped board here can mess up your miter saw adjustments.

Hold the piece against the fence like normal and cut off just the edge of the scrap piece. Then check the cut for square.

How to adjust a miter saw

You’ll either see a gap at the front or back of the cut, or it will be perfect. Depending on what you see, you’ll be able to determine which way the fence needs to be adjusted.

Now loosen that second bolt, and tap the fence to make small adjustments, then retest with a new cut.

Keep doing this until you get a perfectly square cut.

Tighten the fence back up

Now you can really tighten down the 1st 2 bolts. Make another test cut to double-check that you didn’t make the fence move while tightening.

If it still holds a true 90, then tighten the 2 bolts on the right fence.

If you have a 2 piece fence, just hold a straight edge against the left fence and then pull the right fence against the straight edge. Hold it in place and tighten the right 2 bolts.

Make a final test cut to make sure everything has remained perfect while you tightened all the bolts.

Miter Saw Adjustments For A Perfect 90 Degree Vertical

Make a cut to test for square

Hold your scrap wood vertically against the fence and make a cut at the end of the board.

How to adjust a miter saw

Now holding your square against the base of the board (the side that was against the cut bed), check the cut for 90 degrees.

Fine Tune Adjustments To Your Bevel Stop

How to adjust a miter saw

By adjusting the bevel stop adjustment nuts on your miter saw, you can fine-tune the vertical cut angle.

Make small adjustments and re-check for square each time, until you get this as close to a perfect 90 as you can get.

Wrapping It Up

Once you’ve made these miter saw adjustments, you should be able to trust the factory common-angle detents to be accurate. This means, for example, your detent stop for a 45-degree miter should be dead-on accurate since you’ve got your fence adjusted perfectly at the 90-degree detent.

With your saw set up for perfection, you can try out a cool little project that really tests the accuracy of your miter cuts: my detailed walk-thru with pictures on How To Build A Picture Frame.

Please leave me a comment below if you have any questions or comments about making miter saw adjustments for perfect cuts.

How to adjust a miter saw

We used a good bit of digital ink writing about miter saws in our Pro Guide series. If you’ve missed any series installments, they are great resources, if we do say so ourselves! For this edition, we’re looking at how to calibrate a miter saw. What good is a great saw on paper if it makes inaccurate cuts on wood? So before you go making some sawdust with that ol’ miter saw (or better yet, a shiny new one), be sure it’ll make true cuts. You’ll also need to tune it up occasionally over its life. Here are some Pro tips.

How to Calibrate a Miter Saw

We have a saying around here: It’s wise to de-energize. Before inspections and adjustments, either unplug or remove the battery from the miter saw. Yes, there are now battery-powered miter saws. And although they aren’t suited for all projects, they are awesome. Here are a few to check out:

Step 1: Inspect the Blade

If your crosscuts, miters, and bevels aren’t as tight as they should be, the culprit may be a bum blade. Or, the blade could merely be dirty. It’s the easiest place to start your investigation when learning how to calibrate a miter saw. A little visual inspection goes a long way. Carefully spin the blade and look for warps, bends, broken teeth, or any other irregularities. If you find any, it’s time for a new blade.

How to adjust a miter saw

But you might be able to improve your cuts and extend the blade’s life simply by cleaning it. Pitch buildup, sap, adhesives, and general gunk can accumulate around the teeth, gullets, and in a concentric ring around the broadside of the blade. Solvents can get you back on the road to true cuts quickly.

Step 2: How to Calibrate a Miter Saw by Leveling the Table

The major tool manufacturers calibrate miter saw tables to tight tolerances. But there’s a slim chance that a new saw—and perhaps a larger chance that an older saw—will have an untrue table. To test it, put a reliably flat level on edge across the table. Now inspect for gaps between the level and table—on each end and in the center. To really dial in the inspection, try to slide a sheet of paper underneath the level to reveal gaps you might not be able to see.

How to adjust a miter saw

In contrast to other tips on how to calibrate a miter saw, making an out-of-whack table true is somewhere between difficult and impossible. If a couple of sheets of paper can fit in the gap, then the table could be ground/scraped or pressed flat at a machine shop. If a larger gap exists, you should probably go shopping!

Step 3: Square Up the Fence for Good Miters

Believe it or not, your miter saw fence might not be square to the table. Kickbacks and other use/abuse can knock it out of alignment. To find out, pull the blade down to its fully depressed position and lock the arm in place using the pin.

Pull the articulating blade guard up and out of the way so you can place a square against the blade and fence. YOu can use a combination square or even the plastic triangle that comes with many saws today. Any gap between the square and the blade or fence means the blade won’t cut 90°. If that’s the case, it won’t cut accurate miters, either.

How to adjust a miter saw

To rectify the problem, loosen the bolts holding the fence to the table and square it up. Then carefully tighten the bolts. While doing this, make sure the fence doesn’t move in the process. Some saws have a solid fence while others have a split fence. You can square one side of the split fence and then use a level to align the other to the first.

How to adjust a miter saw

Step 4: Take It to the Next Bevel

Now it’s time to true up the bevel angle. Use the 45° or hypotenuse of your square and tilt the saw to its 45°. If there’s a gap between the blade and the 45° of the square, use the bevel adjustment bolt (often located near the back of the miter saw) to bring the bevel into alignment. Most people who say they know how to calibrate a miter saw don’t realize you can even adjust this aspect of the tool.

How to adjust a miter saw

Step 5: Adjusting the Miter Gauge (If Needed)

Knowing how to calibrate a miter saw’s miter gauge gets you back on the numbers. Many saws have immovable miter gauge scales with the hash marks and numbers stamped into the metal. On these, you can loosen the screw on the indicator to give it a little adjustment. Once you’re confident that the fence is square to the blade and the bevel angle is accurate, take a quick look at the miter gauge. Does it match your adjustments? If not, you can bring the gauge into alignment with just a Phillips head screwdriver in most cases.

If it’s way out, some miter gauges are held down by a few screws to let you adjust them.

How to adjust a miter saw

Step 6: Checking Your Work with the Flip Test

A quick way to check a miter saw’s accuracy is the Flip Test (we might have made that name up). But it’s quite simple. Set your saw up for a 90° cut and shave the end off of a piece of lumber. Then make another cut, only this time make it a few inches long. The length doesn’t really matter.

Now, flip that newly created piece over so that the shaved end butts up to the end of the second cut. Be sure both pieces are firmly against the fence. If the miter wasn’t a perfect 90°, you’ll see a triangular gap between the pieces. Adjust accordingly. You can also perform the same test with bevel cuts.

How to adjust a miter saw

How to Calibrate a Miter Saw: Epilogue

A little Google searching will reveal several different methods – from simple to sophisticated – for how to calibrate a miter saw. We’ve boiled it down to the methods that we think represent the most bang for your (time) buck. If you’re a Pro and have some tips on how to calibrate a miter saw, add them in the comments below.

How to adjust a miter saw

A miter saw is one of the most critical tools for a pro carpenter. The reason why people prefer this saw as it can make many specific cuts such as bevel, miter, or crosscut accurately.

However, not many people know how to use this device correctly; users must calibrate their miter saw before turning it on to get the best cutting process.

So how to adjust a miter saw?

To answer your question, we bring you all the information you need for this problem. Let’s check it out!

Things in a miter saw that need adjusting for better cut

Before adjusting your blade for a precise cut, you need to check whether your blade is still sharp or not. If it’s getting dull, then you need to sharpen it.

Otherwise, spinning it some round to check if your edge comes with warps, bends, or any other irregularities, then you should replace with a new one.

Remember to turn off the power when you check the blade for safety purpose.

The main point of this work is checking if the blade is square to the table or not. To test the angle of your edge with the table in the flat area, you have to use a specific measurement tool named “speed square.”

How to adjust a miter saw

Place the speed square on the saw table, then slowly pressing down the blade system until the side of the saw blade touches the measurement tool.

If the edge of the speed square doesn’t wholly contact with the side of the blade, then it means the blade doesn’t make an angle of 90° with the table. If this situation happened, you should adjust the blade immediately.

To calibrate the blade, you can follow these steps.

  • Loosen the bevel handle
  • Adjust the angle to make the blade square to the table.
  • Tighten the handle when you finish.

The second essential thing we need to adjust in a miter saw is the fence. Similar to adjusting the blade system, you need to check whether the fence square to the blade or not.

Again, use the speed square to test the angle. Set the measurement tool horizontally then pressing down the blade to the table. If the edge of speed square didn’t contact entirely with the blade, then you must adjust the fence.

How to adjust a miter saw

These steps below show you the proper calibrate process for the fence:

  • Find the place of two bolts on the left side of the fence, then loosen them slowly
  • Adjust the fence until the side of the saw blade contact entirely with the edge of the speed square.
  • Tighten two bolts on the left when you finish
  • Find the station of the bolts on the right-hand side of the fence. Do the same with the left-hand side but remember to adjust a 3’ level across the rails.
  • Tighten all the bolts when you finish.

After the adjustment process, you can test the machine by making some cuts. You should do all types of trimming such as bevel, miter, or crosscut to check if there are any problems or not.

If your device works perfectly, then congratulation, you have made the right calibration.

To sum up

Now you know how to adjust a miter saw properly to have the best cutting process.

However, we have to recommend that you should clean and oil the system annually, especially your blade as it can increase the durability, so you don’t need to calibrate the system many times.

If you find this article helpful, please comment and share it with your friends.

How to adjust a miter saw

The reason why people prefer the Dewalt miter saw is its accuracy. Once it is no longer accurate, it will affect your cuts. When your miter saw is no longer accurate, it must have gone out of adjustment. You will need to re-adjust it. This is why this article gives you the necessary information on how to adjust Dewalt miter saw.

Of course, manufacturers adjust miter saws before shipping them, but the saws sometimes go out of adjustment while in transit. Also, it is necessary to check the accuracy and adjust your miter saw at least twice a year. This will help you to get optimum performance from your saw all the time.

Dewalt Miter Saw Manual Adjustments to Get More Accurate Cuts:

Cleaning

How to adjust a miter saw

The first step toward adjusting your miter saw is to clean it. If wood chips and sawdust build up around the bevel, an adjustment will be difficult, if not totally impossible. So, you must clean it first. A good tool for that is an air compressor with an air nozzle for blowing. After blowing the dust away, you can wipe it clean with a wet piece of cloth.

When it comes to adjustment, the two components that should be adjusted are the fence and the blade. The blade should be 90-degrees to the table. If not, it requires an adjustment. Also, when there’s a gap between the table and the blade, you also need to adjust your blade.

How to Adjust the Blade?

How to adjust a miter saw

First Step: You need to loosen the bevel handle so that you can re-adjust it. Ensure you adjust it until the blade is in complete contact with the square.

Second Step: After establishing the contact, the next step is to tighten the handle very well.

Third Step: Remember, you loosened a bolt before you could loosen the bevel. Now, you should tighten the bolt. Continue to tighten it until it stops.

Whenever you adjust the bevel, you should ensure that it is always at 0-degrees.

How to Adjust the Fence?

How to adjust a miter saw

The fence should be 90-degrees to the blade. You should confirm this by putting the square against the fence. The blade and the edge of the square should be in contact. If there’s a gap between them, you have to adjust the fence using the following steps.

First Step: Find the two bolts that hold down the fence, you should loosen them. You can’t possibly adjust the fence without loosening it.

Second Step: Reposition the fence until it comes in contact with the blade. You need to do this slowly.

Third Step: You can now re-tighten the bolts that you loosened.

Fourth Step: Look for the bolts on the right as well. Loosen them, after that, determine the right alignment of the fence with the aid of a level. You have to keep adjusting it until both sides of the fence are aligned.

Fifth Step: Re-tighten the bolts, and that’s all.

Now you know how to adjust Dewalt miter saw. We have broken it down into a few simple steps. It is necessary to check the accuracy and adjust your miter saw at least twice a year. The rule does not only apply to Dewalt miter saws. It is also applicable to other miter saws.

Continued use of your miter saw, transportation from place to place, cutting different materials, and any number of other factors can contribute to knocking your saw blade and other equipment out of alignment. Some miter saws even come out of the box with poor alignment!

  • Clean the Saw

Get rid of sawdust and other particles from the miter saw. These pieces of debris can impact the process of aligning your saw and might be what is causing the misalignment in the first place. If you’re not in the habit of cleaning out your saw after every use, this might be a good time to change your ways and start doing so to avoid all the extra maintenance.

  • Check the blade

Before put your miter saw back to square or into alignment, it is advisable that you take a look at the blade of the saw to see how it looks. Clean it if it is not clean and then sharpen the blade if it is blunt before continuing with the next stage. You can reduce or eliminate pitch build-up by using cleaners such as Stain Remover and Boeshield’s Rust.

  • Table alignment

A majority of the people using miter saws today will have them set into a working saw table. There is a good chance that you either have a saw table, use one at a job sight, or are looking into getting one for your saw!

  • Fence Alignment

After setting up your table, the next thing that you should do is to square the fence of your miter saw. The fence is located at the back edge of the table and is used for supporting long materials while you’re cutting. You can find out if the fence requires alignment with a straight edge. Place the straight edge along the fence’s length and then look for spots that are not squared.

  • Miter Angle Adjustments

Now is the time to square the angle of your miter saw. The first thing to do here is to set the blade’s bevel angle to 0-degrees. After this, put the miter angle to 0-degrees as well. The miter should square with the fence. Put a combination square or rafter layout square on the table, making sure that it’s square. One of the edges of the square should rest against the fence’s front edge. Now, lower the saw to the lowest possible position of the blade. Slide the square to the blade’s side edge. To get access to the blade side, you might have to raise the blade guard.

  • Bevel Angle Adjustments

Next on the list is to check the bevel angle. Whether it bevels to 45-degree only to the left or to both right and left, you only need to put the table and the 0-degree angle at a square with each other. Place the square on the edge with one of the edges facing upward from the table and the other lying flat on the table. Bring down the saw blade, making sure that the blade guard is raised.

  • Test for Accuracy
  • Safety

Do NOT try to adjust your miter saw in any way until you have unplugged it from the power source! Even if the saw is off, you can still get shocked by electrical currents running through the equipment.

Take caution when working nearby the blade. Try to make sure you’re in an environment where you won’t get bumped or surprised when working by the blade.

How to adjust a miter saw

If you’re still using the contractor-grade blade that came with the saw, my first advice is to upgrade to one more suited to woodworking. Choose a blade with a negative hook angle to prevent climbing during a cut. For a 10″ blade, get one with 60-80 teeth; for a 12″ blade, 80-100 teeth. These high tooth counts provide splinter-free edges when mitering and crosscutting.

Now, work the angles
Next, make sure that your new blade sits 90° to the base of the saw. Rest the handle of a quality square on the saw base with the blade of the square against the saw-blade body, not the teeth, as shown in photo. Your manual will explain how to adjust and set the stops on the saw’s bevel post to eliminate any gap between the saw blade and the square.

Set the bevel

You can then set the cursor at the back of the saw to exactly 0°. Repeat this procedure to set the 45° bevel.

How to adjust a miter saw

A plastic drafting triangle works well to check the 45°; bevel angle. The triangle provides longer edges than the head of a combination square.

Square the fence to the blade

Once the bevels have been set, adjust the saw’s miter stops. First, set the blade 90° to the fence, as shown in photo. Making this adjustment depends on the type of fence you have.

How to adjust a miter saw

Place the square’s handle against the fence and check for a gap between the square’s blade and the plate (not the teeth) of the saw blade.

Adjusting a one-piece fence

For a one-piece fence, photo below, loosen the adjusting bolts or screws on each side of the fence and adjust either the right or left side to the blade body. You only have to adjust one side because this automatically sets the opposite side.

How to adjust a miter saw

On this one-piece fence, the left and right sides are connected by the yoke. Adjusting one side aligns them both.

Adjusting a two-piece independent fence

If your saw has separate (left and right) fences, aligning each side square to the blade may result in fences that do not align with one another. The solution is to square one fence to the blade and retighten that fence’s bolts or screws. Then, align the opposite fence, as shown in photo. Finally, adjust the cursor to 0°.

How to adjust a miter saw

Set the left fence first. Then, place a straightedge flat on the saw’s base and against the left fence to align the right side with it.

Adjusting a fixed fence

On some saws, the fences are not adjustable, as shown in photo, so you instead align the blade and saw carriage square to the fence. Do this by setting the miter at the 0° detent and then loosening the screws on the miter detent plate. Rotate the table (and the detent plate) to position the blade 90° to the fence. Then, retighten the adjustment screws. There is no need to adjust any other miter settings.

How to adjust a miter saw

Loosen the setscrews found on each side of the miter scale to fine-tune the angle of the blade to the fence.

How did you do?

The true test of your work is to cut 45° miters on each end of four equal-length pieces of stock and check the fit by dry-clamping them into a square, right. A less-than-perfect joint at any corner means you’ll need to review each alignment step and correct as necessary. Remember, miters draw the eye. With careful setup, yours will draw many admiring looks!

How to adjust a miter saw

A band clamp brings all four corners together easily. Don’t have one? Secure each corner with painter’s tape.

A compound miter saw is designed to make precise bevel cuts (along the Y-axis) and miter cuts (along the Z-axis) cuts, either independently or simultaneously. However, if your miter saw has been used on a job site, meaning that it has been bumped or banged around getting it into and out of a truck, or any one of a hundred other job site hazards, it is probably at least minimally out of alignment.

If you really want to get down to it, most miter saws are at least somewhat out of alignment the moment you take them out of the packing crate. While most alignment issues won’t affect the safety of the miter saw, they certainly can affect the accuracy, which can become particularly evident when performing such tasks as matching corners with miter joints.

Clean Your Saw

The first place to begin with tuning up and calibrating your miter saw is to give it a thorough cleaning. Use an air compressor with an air nozzle on the end of the hose to blow sawdust out of every nook and cranny of the saw and table. Then, wipe down the entire unit with a clean, cotton cloth so you are working from a fresh starting point. As you’re wiping it down, check the entire saw for pitch build-up, particularly if you cut a lot of softwoods with your saw. If you find excessive pitch build-up, you can use a cleaner such as Boeshield’s Rust and Stain Remover to help reduce the pitch build-up on the saw.

Check the Blade

Before getting into calibrating your saw, take a good look at the saw blade. Not only should your blade be sharp and clean, but it also should be appropriate for the type of cutting you’ll be doing. There are many different sizes and styles of miter saw blades from which to choose, but for most projects, a good combination blade of the 60 to 72 tooth variety performs well for a most tasks and most materials.

Check Fence Alignment

Most newer saws have very sturdy and flat table bases from which to work, bases that don't require an adjustment. If your saw is an older one, though, you may need to adjust the table to ensure that it is flat. One way to check the table for flat is to place a metal straight-edge or the long edge of a framing square on edge along the top of the table. You can merely eyeball between the straight-edge and the table to check for any gaps or slide a thin piece of paper between the two for verification.

Once you know the table is solid and flat, next make sure that the fence along the back edge of the table is straight. Once again, a metal straight-edge or framing square can be placed along the length of the fence to check for any spots that are out of alignment. Most miter saws have a split fence, with one-half to the left and the other half to the right of the blade, and each section should have at least two set screws or knobs for loosening and tightening the mounting of the fence. Loosen and adjust each side of the fence until both are straight and in line with one another.

Check the Miter Angle

Once the fence is straight and true, you now have a solid point from which to check and/or set the miter angle of the saw. Begin by setting the bevel angle of the blade to 0-degrees (straight up-and-down), and adjust the miter angle so that it is also at 0-degrees, which should be square to the fence. Unplug the saw from the power outlet for safety, then place a rafter layout square or combination square flat on the table, with one edge against the front edge of the fence. Next, lower the saw until the blade in the lowest position possible, and slide the square against the side edge of the blade (you may need to manually raise the blade guard to have access to the side of the blade).

With one edge of the square securely against the fence and the other edge against the side of the blade, check for any uneven gaps between the fence and the blade. If you find any, loosen the miter tightening knob and adjust the miter angle until the blade is as square as possible to the fence, then tighten the knob to hold the angle. You can then loosen the screws on the detent plate and adjust it accordingly so that your saw's zero-degree detent will always be accurate.

Check the Bevel Angle

Some compound miter saws can bevel up to 45-degrees to both the left and the right, while others can bevel only left. In either case, if you set up the 0-degree angle to be square to the table, all other angles should be precise, as well.

To check the bevel angle, place your square on edge, with one edge flat on the table, and the other edge rising straight up from the table. Lower the saw (with the blade guard raised) and slide the square until the vertically-oriented edge of the square is aligned with the blade. Visually (or with a piece of paper as discussed earlier) check for any gaps between the blade and the square. If any are present, loosen the bevel adjustment knob and adjust the bevel until the saw blade is aligned with the square. Tighten the knob to hold the bevel angle, then adjust the detents for the bevel. The method of doing so will depend on your saw model, so consult your operation manual for details.

Check the Blade Guard

The blade guards on power miter saws are designed to shield the blade when the arm is up and the blade is exposed, then gradually lift out and out of the way as the arm lowers and the blade cuts into the workpiece. The blade guard uses a spring-loaded mechanism that easily gets clogged with debris or loses alignment, especially after changing blades. The mechanism varies from saw to saw, so make sure to consult your owner's manual for instructions on how to properly install the blade guard and make adjustments. Before every use, test its action: it should raise and lower smoothly following the action of the saw arm. If the guard binds up or fails to operate smoothly, consult your manual for instructions.

Check for Accuracy

Once you have completed all of the adjustments, it's time for some real-world testing. Plug in your miter saw to the power outlet and place a flat, wide board (such as a 1 x 8) on the table against the fence, and make a crosscut at 0-degrees miter, 0-degrees bevel. Remove the board from the saw and check both angles with your square for accuracy. If the cuts aren't square, you may need to re-adjust the saw.

NOTE: This test is far better suited to checking the miter angle than the bevel angle. For a better verification of the bevel angle, place a 2 x 4 on edge flat against the fence and table and make a 0-degrees miter, 0-degrees bevel cut. Then check the angle of the bevel with your square and make any necessary adjustments to the bevel detents based on your findings.