Some folks are upset that I wrote yesterday’s post a little tongue in cheek, where I said that referring to a product manual is the best first step for calibrating a miter saw or table saw.
Okay, maybe I should have elaborated a bit more. Here’s the super duper professional expert ultimate authority way of doing it:
Step 1: Consult the user manual.
Just kidding (but not really). After a 3-day power outage and a bit of exhaustion, I’m allowing myself to be sillier than usual, sorry about that.
Miter Saw Calibration
Most miter saws (at least all I’ve used) have miter scale and bevel stop adjustments.
To square up the miter scale, reference a square off of the fence (which is locked in place – don’t leave it loose), and the blade. Be sure to reference the square off the blade body and not the teeth.
The user manual will tell you which screws to adjust if the miter scale or indicator needs to be adjusted.
Then, there’s the bevel stop or scale adjustment. For that, you reference your square off the miter saw table and the blade.
For either adjustment, there should be a pointer or indicator to adjust as well. You adjust the 0° miter and/or bevel positions, and then ensure the pointer, arrow, or other angle indicator properly reflects the angle. You won’t always have to adjust the pointer.
There could (should) also be a stop at 45° or the end of the bevel range which can also be calibrated.
Seriously – refer to the user manual for guidance. Different saws can have very different adjustment points or methods. You can sometimes get by with trial and error, if you’re experienced to know where an adjustment point might be, but that’s ill-advised for the inexperienced. Loosening the wrong fastener can create more problems.
Miter scale and bevel stop adjustment methods can be widely different, depending on the saw. The diagrams above were taken from Dewalt (left) and Bosch (right) product manuals. They really do tell you everything you need to know to square up your miter saw.
The basics are the same for most saws. The fence and table are fixed in place, and so you check the blade’s squareness against those fixed reference planes.
Now, if your fence is crooked and your table warped, squaring up the blade is going to be a lot more challenging.
6″ Combination Square ($8+ on Amazon)
Or you can get a 12″ square. I have a 12″ square, but sometimes prefer smaller squares. You don’t want an itty-bitty square, but if a square is too big, it can contact blade teeth or hamper you in other ways. If it’s too small, there might not be enough contact area with the reference surface.
Don’t reference a square off the teeth on a blade, or on a saw’s kerf or clearance plate.