How to Align a Miter Saw : A Complete Guide

Need to align your miter saw? Here is everything you need to know to align a miter saw to make accurate cuts and professional-quality projects.

aligned blade and miter saw table

A miter saw is known for being able to make precise cross-cuts easily. However, that doesn’t work if it is out of alignment.

The key to getting precise, accurate cuts with a miter saw is to ensure that the table, the blade, and the fence are aligned perfectly.

Apart from being important for precise cuts, it is also important to have a well-aligned saw to prevent blade binding and kickback.

When Do You Need to Align a Miter Saw

If any of the below are true, it may be time to align your miter saw

  • You notice the cuts are off in spite of making sure you measured and took kerf into account
  • You cut through some really hard lumber or a knot
  • You changed the blade
  • It’s been over three months since you aligned it.

As best practice, I like to check my miter saw for alignment at the start of every project. It is a quick check to make sure everything is in order. If you check regularly and catch any misalignment, it is usually a quick fix.

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Tools/Material Needed

Video Tutorial

Aligning the Miter Saw

Before getting started with the alignment:

  • Ensure the miter saw is unplugged before performing any of the below actions. SAFETY FIRST.
  • Have the manual for your miter saw handy so you can locate the exact screws and knobs you need to make the required adjustments.
  • Lock the miter gauge and the bevel gauge in the 0-degree position.
  • When you check for alignment, please do so on both sides of the blade and use at least two different squares. This helps you eliminate any variations from imperfect squares.

Step 1: Check the Blade

If you have been using the blade for hard materials or ended up cutting through a tough knot, you want to check if the blade is warped in any way.

The easiest way to do this is to raise the blade guard, spin the blade by hand, and look at it directly in the line of sight. If the blade wobbles as it spins, it is time to get a new blade.

woman checking the blade of the miter saw

Step 2: Align Blade and Table

In a perfectly aligned miter saw, the blade should be perfectly square to the table, which is another way of saying that the blade should be precisely 90 degrees to the table, allowing for a perfectly perpendicular cross-cut in your board.

Use a combination square to check if the blade is square to the table.

  • Lift the blade guard and place the combination square on the table as shown below.
  • You should not see any gaps between the combination square and the blade.
Anika checking the miter saw alignment with the table. This is the bevel adjustment

If the blade is not at 90 degrees, find the bevel adjustment for your miter saw (refer to the manual for this). These are usually small screws behind the bevel gauge but can vary between models and brands. Adjust the bevel adjustment until the blade is at 90 degrees.

  • Check if the bevel gauge shows 0 degrees.

You can adjust the indicator if the blade is at 90 degrees, but the bevel gauge reading is different. Locate the screw holding it in place and adjust it as needed.

adjusting the bevel gauge pointer on a miter saw

Step 3: Align Fence and Blade

The fence plays an important role in making cuts on the miter saw. The boards are pushed and held against the fence while cutting. You will not get a square cut if the fence is not at 90 degrees to the blade.

To align the fence and the blade,

  • Lock the blade in the down position.
  • Place the combination square, as shown in the picture below.
  • The fence and the blade should touch the square evenly.
checking the miter saw alignment of the blade with the fence

If it doesn’t, you want to adjust the fence.

How you need to adjust the fence depends on the model and your saw’s type of fence system. Miter saws can have:

  • A single fence system where a bridge at the back connects the two sides of the fence. In this case, you can adjust the entire fence simultaneously.
  • A two-fence system where the fence is in two pieces. You must adjust one fence and then align the other with the first.
  • A fixed fence system where you cannot adjust the fence but need to align the saw carriage to the blade.

Please refer to your manual to check for the fence adjustment settings.

  • Locate the fence adjustment screws for your miter saw (refer to the manual).
  • Adjust the screws until the fence is aligned to the combination square making it perfectly perpendicular to the blade.

Step 4: Check the 45-Degree Bevel

We checked the alignment for the 0-degree bevel, but it is best also to check the 45-degree bevel.

  • Set the miter saw bevel to 45 degrees.
  • Place the combination square, as shown in the picture below.
  • There should be no space between the combination square and the blade.
Checking the 45 degree bevel with a combination square

If there is a gap, adjust the bevel until the gap is zero. Check your manual for the bevel adjustment settings.

Test Alignment

The best way to test alignment is to make the actual cuts.

Test the Straight Cut

  • Make a straight cut on a scrap board with the miter and the bevel gauges at 0 degrees. Check the cut using a framing square. The cut should be perfectly perpendicular to the sides.
checking the alignment of the saw with a straight cut.

Test the Miter Cuts

  • Set your saw at 45-degree miter and cut a scrapboard. Put the two cuts together. If the saw is well aligned, the miter cuts will align perfectly!
checking the mitered cuts for miter saw alignment

If not, you will need to go through the alignment process again.

Test the Bevel Cuts

  • Repeat the alignment test by cutting a 45-degree bevel in a board. These cuts should also align perfectly if the miter saw is well aligned.
Checking the bevel cut for the liter saw alignment.

That is it! Once the miter saw is aligned, you can start using it to build all your projects.

Before you get started building projects, be sure to read: How to use a Miter Saw.

Related tutorials:

Projects to get started:

Anika's goal is to inspire and empower beginners with woodworking, DIY, home improvement, and home decor ideas.
She wants everyone to unlock their creative potential and experience the feeling that comes with making something. Nothing feels better better than seeing something and saying "I can make that!"

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