Picture this, you’re making a cut on you miter saw and the saw stop mid cut! Miter saw binding is a common problem that a lot of miter saw users and other circular saw users have.
Luckily, there are a few easy tips you can do to prevent this from happening. Ensure you blade is sharp and the correct type for your material. Clamp your material down and allow the blade to do the work, don’t rush the saw.
With those few tips you’ll avoid miter saw binding altogether. If you want a more detailed answer, we’ll go over all the reason your miter saw might be binding, and how to prevent it!
First off, this video gives a great overview of what binding is, and how to stop it.
Use The Correct Blade to Prevent Binding
There are many different types of circular blades for a miter saw. Each blade is meant to be used on a different material or in a special way.
You don’t want to be using an abrasive cutting blade if you want to cut laminate. Likewise, you don’t want to use a blade with a low tooth count to cut trim.
What does this all mean? If you’re unfamiliar with choosing the right blade for your material, we suggest you check out our guide on the different material miter saw can cut:
That guide will help you choose the correct blade. Using the correct blade will not only prevent binding from occurring, but will also make the job that much quicker. Whenever you start out on a new project with your miter saw, always consider the blade you have installed.
As an example, if you want to cut laminate flooring and you’re using a standard wood blade with a low tooth count, you’ll run into a binding problem.
This means that 1, the blade is going to get all gummed up with bits of laminate. And 2, you’ll be destroying pieces of laminate that could have been installed. So not only are you wasting material, you’ll also have to go out and buy a new blade anyways.
Laminate will have bad tear out if not cut correctly, leading to binding. Does this mean that laminate is difficult to cut? No, not at all. You simply need to make sure you have the correct blade installed on the miter saw.
Clean Or Sharpen Your Miter Saw Blade
Your blade is going to be the most likely culprit in the event your miter saw starts binding.
Aside from using the correct blade, you also need to make sure your blade is sharp and clean. Blades cut through all kinds of materials, but they also only have a finite lifespan.
Each cut you make puts wear on the blade and eventually you will wear the teeth down to the point where they are not sharp. Also, depending on the material, you’ll also have slight build up on the blade. Wood residue builds up over time.
This residue dulls the blade and not only makes cuts take longer, but will increase tear on your material. A dull blade is much more likely to bind than a sharp blade. Keep it clean!
If you regularly cut materials that are prone to leave residue, you’ll find cleaning the blade after every couple projects will make a world of difference. Even if you are only cutting standard lumber we recommend to include cleaning the blade as part of regular maintenance.
Cleaning Prevents Binding
Cleaning the blade is quite simple. Remove the blade from the miter saw and soak it in a cleaning solution designed for circular saw blades. Then take a small stiff brush and scrub any residue. Repeat as necessary, dry off the blade and reinstall.
You’ll be giving your miter saw blade a new lease on life!
Your miter saw blade will dull over time. Depending on the type of blade, and its state, it might not be possible to sharpen. You can try sharpening the blade with files, however, do be careful.
Chances are that if your blade is still dull after being freshly cleaned, it’s close to the end of its life. It likely has other wear on the blade as well. If it has gotten to this point, chances are you’ve gotten a lot of use out of it. Just buy a new blade.
Yes, you can sharpen it, but it still won’t cut like new. The older the blade is and the more miles it has on it increases the chance for other issues. Feel free to look into sharpening if that is what you want. However, we recommend that if your blade is still dull after a cleaning, it’s time to replace it.
Clamp Material To The Fence
We feel this is an underrated and under used item for miter saw users. Clamping material down prevents it from moving while the cut is being made. Sounds simple right? Then do it!
Binding can occur if the material is not stable, and begins to move during the cut. This is bad! If the material is warped or bowed this can happen easily.
If you’re making quick simple cuts to a lot of pieces, yes this is time consuming, and might not be necessary. But if you have an issue with binding, you should be using a clamp.
Not only will clamping prevent binding you will also have better cuts as a result. The blade can draw the material towards it or the fence. For many cuts this goes unnoticed, but for bevel cuts you’ll see a drastic improvement when you use a clamp.
Clamping helps prevent binding, improves the quality of the cut and makes the job all around safer. To top it off, a good clamp is inexpensive! You don’t need to use a clamp for every cut you’ll make on your miter saw. However, a clamp is a huge help for any miter saw user.
It Might Be Your Miter Saw Skills
Let’s not point fingers, heck you might not have any left if you don’t fix this binding problem.
Just kidding, binding rarely causes injuries, especially on a miter saw. (Even more so if you use a clamp)
What is true is that you need to know how to properly make cuts on your miter saw. If you’ve checked that the blade is the correct type. You’ve checked to ensure it’s clean and sharp. Your even using a clamp. Why do you still have binding?
Two likely reasons, and unfortunately there on you and not the miter saw.
First, you might be making the cut to fast, applying too much pressure on the saw. Sliding the head back to quickly, or not allow the blade to fully speed up also might cause binding.
In all these cases, just slow down and allow the saw to do the work. Miter saws are pretty good at what they do, but they still need a few moments to complete each cut. Just slow it down!
Second, you could be using the wrong tool. What material are you trying to cut? Steel? Great, miter saws with a metal blade can cut that. However, certain shapes of steel might be harder to cut than others.
A flat piece of thin steel will be easy for it. A thicker piece of angle iron should not be attempted. A piece of metal with a 90 degree bend is more likely to bind.
Be smart and use the right tool. A chop saw with an abrasive wheel is what you need in this instance. That type of blade does not have teeth that can catch on the edges.
Miter saws are great but if you’re making it perform a task it isn’t meant to do, don’t be surprised if the results are not flattering.