There is a reasonable assumption, that when you purchase a mitre saw, that it is accurately set up and ready to go. After all, that would be a reasonable expectation. The reality is that in almost all cases it is about 98% ready to go, but it just doesn't end there.
When you start to read the complaints or enquiries from actual users, then you start to get a better feel of what you may still need to do.
Where Is Your Mitre Saw Going To Be Placed?
This is really your first decision and it is an important one to make. Ideally you will have somewhere permanent that you are going to put it, and be able to bolt it down. That is of course if you want to make it a permanent feature in your workshop.
Perhaps you have got a saw stand, and if so, then you will be able to clamp your saw on there, and it will then be able to be taken on and off at will. For most people though, they will just want to set it up, use it and then store it away. For those people, they will want some form of temporary solution such as clamping it into something like a Workmate.
Proper Mitre Saw Set Up
The important thing here is that for it to work properly it does need to be clamped or fixed into position. You can set the saw on to a bench, if you just need to cut a few smaller pieces of wood, but for longer pieces, or for those who will be using it a lot, then setting it on the bench just will not work.
The important point that I want to make is that, irrespective of where you are locating it, the saw needs to be completely level on the horizontal level. If it is not 100% horizontal and level, then anything you cut will be out in terms of accuracy of cut.
To the naked eye the saw could look level, but if it off by even a few degrees, you will never be able to make an accurate mitre or bevel cut. Cross cuts will even be off by a few degrees, so even a straight cut like this, will actually not be straight.
Many users complain about the inaccuracy of their new product, and the reality is that when it is checked, then almost always the saw is fine, but the position at which it is sitting, is actually on a gentle slope.
Your saw needs to be cutting square, and that is the really important thing.
In the video, this chap shows you how to ensure that your saw is set up accurately. He begins using his table saw, but does move on to checking the mitre saw, so just bear with the initial part of the video.
Squaring The Fence on a Mitre Saw
The fence as you may know is the part on the saw against which you push the piece of wood against to make your cut. Have a look at the picture below just for clarification.
The blade will then make the vertical cut, and it is really important that this is set on a cross cut to exactly 90 degrees. When you buy your saw this will usually be the case, but it does no harm to check this with a square.
As long as the saw is then set up on a completely level surface, then you will get a very accurate cut.
Here is a video on how to go about doing just that.
Accuracy Using A Mitre Saw Stand
The same applies to setting up your saw onto a stand. What is vitally important here is that the actual stand has been set up on a level surface and adjusted. If the stand is sitting on any type of incline or slope, then you will also get an inaccurate cut.
The best way to do that is to set it up on a level surface, and then use a long spirit level, to check how level it actually is. You may need to place something that will act as a wedge under a particular leg or legs to get the perfect horizontal level