How to Accurately Square Your Miter Saw

Square miter saw

A squaring triangle can reveal if your blade is off or not.

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!

If you have alignment issues, you can get your miter saw squared by yourself without the need of a professional service. Here are the steps you need to take in order to square your miter saw and supporting gear:

  • 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.

You can utilize an air compressor with an air nozzle on the hose’s end to blow away sawdust from every part of the tool. If you have a shop vac, you can also use that to get the bulk of the sawdust away from the saw. Use a clean cotton cloth to wipe down the entire unit so that you will work from fresh slate. Make sure that you remove any pitch build-up when you are cleaning the miter saw.

  • 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.

If your blade is warped or at all broken, replace it before you begin aligning the miter saw. Any warped or disfigured sections of the blade might interfere with the process and make it impossible to properly complete the alignment. Simply swap out your messed up blade for a different one and you’re ready to continue on.

  • 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!

The table does not easily go out of alignment, but usage and old age can force it to become misaligned over time. However, you can adjust it in order to make sure that it’s flat. Simply place a straight edge on the table and see how it is measuring up to your standards. If it is off, you might think about replacing that section of wood or else adding a small wedge to create a level surface again. You can also check for gaps using your naked eyes, but this is not as reliable as a proper straight edge device.

  • 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.

If the fence is not squared, loosen the screws holding it and then adjust it until it is squared. Once it is acceptable, tighten it back in place. Remember to square both sides of the fence independently as they will not necessarily be on the same alignment.

  • 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.

At this point, one edge of the square should be against the blade side while the other rests securely against the fence. Check the gaps between the blade and fence to see if it is even. If there is any uneven gap, then you have to loosen the miter and tighten the knob. Adjust the miter angle to the point when the blade and fence are at square to each other. Loose detent plate’s screws in order to adjust it to make the saw’s zero degree position to be accurate.

  • 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.

Move the square towards the blade until its vertically oriented edge and the blade become aligned to each other.  Check if there is any gap between the square and the blade. Loosen the bevel adjustment knob and twist it to adjust the bevel if find that there’s any gap. Make sure the the square and saw blade are aligned to each other. Tighten the knob to keep the bevel angle firm. Shift the detents for the bevel (Your saw model determines how this will be done).

  • Test for Accuracy

After adjusting everything and squaring up the miter saw, you need to test the accuracy. Just turn the miter saw on and make crosscut at 0-degrees miter on a wide junk board. Check the accuracy of the cut using a square or a level. If it’s not squared, then you have to go through the process again.

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.

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8 thoughts on “How to Accurately Square Your Miter Saw

  1. I have a Rigid model ms255sr sliding miter saw.
    Blade is straight and is square with fence
    My problem is that when using the slide, the blade runs out at full travel to a good 1/16 off from start of cut to end of the cut
    Is there any adjustment for this.
    Owner and internet search can’t find any mention of this problem

  2. I don’t really know what’s going on, but I’d do all that you’re talking about (clean the saw, check the blade, align the table, miter, bevel, the fence) and when I take a board and have the saw cut it, everything goes down the drain because I notice that the saw is not squared. And this happens over and over again… It happens even when I have my friend over to help me square it. What could I be doing wrong? I need some help you, guys!

  3. Such a detailed guide! I have one question only: how do we know how much squaring is too much? The miter saw that I have l, I check its alignment every 4 days. Is it time to buy a new one?

  4. My problem is that my miter saw performs better when the bevel is slightly off angle… Do I keep using it like this or can that cause me some trouble?
    p.s. It’s too late to return it now, the warranty period ended a long time ago.


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