Shop Talk

The "How To" of May 2012

  • How To Replace a Miter Saw Blade


    A miter saw is one of the most commonly owned and commonly used power tools in the industry. Accordingly, miter saw blade changes are one of the most common tool maintenance applications. Fortunately, for tool users of all skill levels, changing the blade on a miter saw is easier than you might think. In fact, whether your saw has a blade lock feature or not, changing your miter saw blade requires only a few minutes, a screw driver, an Allen wrench and, in some cases, a hunk of scrap wood.

    As with all repair and maintenance procedures, the first step in replacing your miter saw blade is embracing a few safety precautions. Disengage the saw and unplug it; never work on a power tool that has the potential to turn on. You might also throw on your safety glasses because they make everyone look smarter and absolutely stay focused. Handling a blade is always dangerous and particularly so if you’re rushed or distracted. So, keep your eyes on the prize.

    The next step is bypassing the blade guard. Slide the guard up slightly. This will reveal the screw that holds the guard to the miter saw. Loosen that screw so that you can slide the blade guard further backward. Slide it back as far as it will go positioning it about 170-degrees behind its usual position. This gives you access to the saw’s locking pin and blade bolt.

    Depress the saw’s locking pin (in the very center of the blade) and spin the saw blade until it locks. If your saw does not have a locking pin, wedge your scrap wood (ideally a piece of 2×4) in front of the blade to prevent it from moving. Next, using an Allen wrench (or an open-ended wrench), remove the blade bolt. Though many saws have a reverse threaded blade bolt, the thread pattern is not universal to all miter saws. Accordingly, you should look for an indicator on the tool of which way to loosen the bolt or review your tool’s manual before going to town on it. Remove the flange and finally, remove the blade.

    Install the new blade in the same way the former blade was removed. Replace the flange and the blade bolt ensuring the blade bolt is securely tightened.

    Slide the blade guard forward and tighten the screw that fastens it to the saw. Replace the guard to its normal working position and, after reengaging the saw and again embracing the safety precautions of miter saw operation, make a few cuts to ensure the saw is in perfect working order.

    Lastly, pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

    As you can see, replacing the blade on a miter saw is a fairly fast and simple process. Just remember to be careful while doing it. Also keep in mind the necessity of having a sharp, maintained blade: it will enhance both your results and your safety on the job; so, to those who balk at blade changing, do it for the well-being of your projects and for the overall safety of your shop or jobsite.