Your miter saw is designed to make precise cuts. However, over time and through continued use, transporting your saw from one place to the next, cutting an array of different materials, and any number of other factors can contribute to knocking your miter saw off alignment. Some miter saws even come out of the box misaligned. But don’t fret – with a little knowledge, you can learn how to align your miter saw yourself without the need for professional service. Read below on the steps you need to take.
If your Miter saw Doesn’t cut Straight or Square:
Clean the saw
Sawdust and other debris can embed in your saw and cause it to clog up – which will contribute to the misalignment of your saw. If you don’t regularly clean out your saw after every use, now is a good time to start this habit. You can use an air compressor with an air nozzle on the end of the hose to blow away sawdust from every crevice of the saw. If you have a shop vac, this can also be used to blow away the bulk of sawdust. Then wipe down the entire saw with a clean cotton cloth for a fresh start. Also, make sure that you remove any pitch build-up.
Check the blade
Before you realign your saw, take a look at the blade to see how it looks. First make sure it is clean, then sharpen it if it looks dull before continuing on with the next step. You can also use stain remover to reduce or get rid of any pitch buildup.
Align your table
Most people who use a miter saw will have them set into a worktable or saw table. Although the table itself does not easily fall out of alignment, but over time, lots of usage and general old age can add to gradual misalignment. However, you can check this by placing a straight edge on the table to see how it measures up to your standards. If it is off balance, you might consider replacing that section of wood or just add a small wedge to make it level once again.
Align your fence
After checking and/or fixing your table, then you should square the fence of your miter saw – click here for the full review. The fence is at the back end of the table and is used to support longer materials while you are cutting. By simply placing a straight edge along the length of the fence, you can then spot areas where it is not squared. If you see any areas in question, loosen the screws that hold it in place and re-adjust until it is squared. Once you are happy with the position, tighten the screws. You will need to square both sides independently as they will not necessarily be aligned the same.
Adjust your miter angles
Now you will need to square your miter saw’s angle. The first thing you will do is set the blade’s level angle to 0 degrees. Then you will set the miter angle to 0 degrees. The miter should square with the fence. Now, place a combination square or a rafter layout square on the table and make sure this is square, checking to see if one of the edges rests against the front edge of the fence. Now, adjust the saw to the lowest possible blade position, and slide the square to the side edge of the blade – you may have to raise the blade guard to get to this.
At this point, the edge of the square should be flag against the side of the blade while the other side rests securely against the fence. Check for any gaps between the blade and fence. If there are, then you will have to loosen the miter and tighten the knob. Make slight adjustments to the miter angle until the blade and fence are square to each other, and loosen the screws in the detent plate to adjust to zero degree position.
Adjust your bevel angle
Check the bevel angle – whether you have a basic miter saw or a compound miter saw, you only need to worry about putting the table and the zero degree angle square with each other. Place the square on its edge with one edge facing upward from the table and the other edge flat on the table. Bring down the saw blade with the raised guard.
Move the square toward the blade until the vertical edge and the blade are aligned to each other, checking to see if there are any gaps between the square and the blade. If there are, loosen the bevel adjustment knob and twist to adjust the bevel. Tighten the knob to keep the angle firm. You can also shift the bevel detents, according to your specific saw model.
Test for accuracy
After all these adjustments have been made, you will then test it out for accuracy. Turn the miter saw on and, with a wide piece of junk board, make a crosscut at zero degrees miter. Then using a square or a level, check the accuracy. If it is still not squared, you will need to repeat the process again.
How to Adjust a Makita Miter Saw
Makita has a variety of miter saws on the market, including basic, compound, dual compound, and sliding compound, and range in sizes from 7 1/2-inches to 14-inches. These saws can be used for cutting small pieces, slide cutting, miter cutting, bevel cutting, or compound cutting. Although the cutting angle is factory adjusted, you will still need to adjust the miter and bevel angles.
To adjust your miter angle: Push on the grip, or the knob on the side of the saw, so the cams engage, then rotate it clockwise as far as you can. Then press on the lock lever and turn the base. Adjust the grip so that the pointer is aligned to the desired angle on the miter scale, then turn the grip counter-clockwise to lock it in place.
To adjust the bevel angle: Loosen the lever at the back of the saw by turning it counter-clockwise. Then push the latch lever forward, which will unlock the arm. Tilting the carriage, press the release button. Then tilt the saw blade until the pointer is aligned to the desired angle on the bevel scale. Once aligned, tighten the lever by turning it clockwise, which will secure the angle in place.
To adjust the locks: Pull the lock lever at the lower side pole, which is at the end of the arm near the grip, towards you. then lock the upper side pole by turning the locking screw clockwise. This locking screw is located at the top of the saw, across from the blade.
Always remember to unplug your miter saw before making any kinds of adjustments. Even if it is switched off, you can still get shocked by any electrical currents running through the equipment. When working near a table, make sure your environment is free from obstructions or others working to avoid possible collisions.