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Just to make sure that we are on the same page, I have a DeWalt DW716 compound miter saw. I have talked about it in several posts and videos, including “How to cut any angle” and “getting perfect miters.” While this post is specifically addressing how to change DeWalt miter saw blades, it can be used for just about any brand with a few slight alterations.
Since I love sharing tips on how to get the most out of woodworking tools, I wanted to add this most basic “how to” to the mix. Although it may seem obvious to some, I know that there are a lot of people out there still using their original blade simply because they don’t really know how to replace it, or even that they should.
Why Change Miter Saw Blades?
Your miter saw probably came with a perfectly fine blade preinstalled and ready to go. So, why should you even bother to change it out for a different one?
Avoid Tear Out
Tear out is that splintered edge that happens on one side of the cut edge. There are several ways to prevent tear out from occurring, but the first step is to make sure you are using a sharp blade specific to the material being cut.
Most preinstalled blades don’t have very many teeth. The one that came with my DeWalt miter saw has 32 teeth and is a construction blade. This is perfect if you want to make rip or rough cuts. But, not so great when you are trying to make fine cuts.
If you want to make nice clean cuts, you will need to change the blade to one better suited to that task. That means you will want to get a quality blade that has more teeth. The more teeth a blade has the cleaner the cut. I recommend a minimum of 60 teeth when cutting anything that will be visible.
In addition to cutting wood, miter saws can be used to cut melamine, PVC, aluminum, and copper. However, you want to make sure that you have the proper blades to do so. The blade that came preinstalled on your miter saw can generally be used for PVC, but all of those other materials need something different.
When working with melamine, you always want to use a fine cutting blade. There are some blades designed specifically for melamine which will do a good job. With a few tricks, you can also use any good quality blade as long as it has a high tooth count.
You can even use your miter saw to cut nonferrous metals (i.e aluminum and copper). However, the blades need to be designed for this type of material.
Never use the preinstalled rip blade on metal. This can be very dangerous. For starters, metals require a high tooth count, much higher than a rip blade offers. In addition, rip blades have a high hook angle and metals must be cut with low angled hooks.
Over time, blades age and become dull. While some can be sharpened, some can’t and others just aren’t worth the time or expense to do so. Replacing a dull or old blade with a new one can really improve the results.
But, don’t throw away those old blades. You can save dull blades for use on demo or recycle items. Anytime I have something that I need to cut down so that I can dispose of it, I throw an old blade on the saw and go to town.
How To Change DeWalt Miter Saw Blades
Unplug the miter saw. It may seem obvious but you would be surprised at how many people forget to do this one basic thing. You should never make any adjustments to your power tools without disconnecting them from their electrical source.
Remove the blade wrench that is located behind the fence. Use the driver end to loosen the bolt that holds the guard cover to the guard link. You don’t have to completely remove the bolt, you only need to loosen it enough to allow the guard cover to be raised up and out of the way.
Once the bolt is loosened, raise the guard cover until the blade bolt is completely exposed. Holding the guard up, tighten the bolt holding the guard cover back down so that it holds the cover in this new position.
Now, locate the spindle lock button. It should be on the opposite side of the blade bolt. On my miter saw, it is a black push button located below the handle. Different models may vary but the lock should be easy to find.
While pressing the spindle lock, carefully rotate the blade until it locks in place. Continue to hold the spindle lock in place while using the blade wrench to loosen the blade bolt. Remove the old blade and replace it with your new blade.
Tighten the blade bolt and release the spindle lock. NOTE – the blade bolt on the DeWalt miter saw turns forward to loosen and backward to tighten. Your initial tendency may be to do the opposite.
As you are probably familiar with the concept that right is tight and left is loose (or clockwise to tighten), this may feel wrong the first few time that you do it. You will get used to it after a while, but just be aware so that you don’t crank the bolt on tighter when you are trying to remove it.
Loosen the bolt holding the guard cover out of the way. Reposition the guard cover, and tighten the bolt back down. Now, give your new blade a try!
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can circular saw blades and/or table saw blades be used on miter saws? The quick answer is no. Some are interchangeable, but because blades are designed with a specific purpose and a specific speed in mind, interchanging blades can be dangerous. On the surface, blades may look very similar, but they are not alike. You would need an understanding of blade composition before attempting anything like this. It is best to stick with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Does it matter which way I install blades on a miter saw? YES! Always place the blade in the direction indicated. This will usually be with the print facing out. Miter saws spin forward and the teeth must also spin in that direction in order to bite into the wood.
- Is there anything that can be done to keep blades in good working condition? Yes. There are several products on the market that allow blades to be cleaned. Because pitch can collect on the blade and dull it, doing this occasionally will drastically improve your results.
- Can laminate flooring be cut on a miter saw? Yes. People do it all the time. However, there are other options when installing laminate flooring. Laminate will dull a blade very quickly. I wouldn’t recommend using your best blade. Instead, purchase one that you consider a reasonable price for the project. Don’t expect to be able to reuse the blade once you are finished.
Now that you have finished reading this post, you might be interested in reading a few others: