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How To Calibrate Your Miter Gauge To Your Table Saw

So you’re ready to calibrate your miter gauge, but would like a few pointers to make sure you’re doing it right… Perfect, that’s what this page is all about.

calibrate your miter gauge

The miter gauge on your table saw is there to help you make safe and consistent cross cuts or miter cuts on the table saw.

A good miter gauge will slide along the miter slot in the table saw, without any ‘wiggle room’ side to side.

A good miter gauge will hold a perfect 90 degrees when locked down for a regular cross cut.

A good miter gauge will also have a built-in stop that will make it quick and simple to set the gauge back to 90 degrees.

And luckily, a good miter gauge has adjustments so you can fine-tune all 3 of these settings.

1) The Miter Bar

Some miter gauges will have a bar that has adjustable screws to loosen or tighten the fit of the bar in the miter slot.

miter gauge bar adjustment

These should be set so the bar slides freely in the miter slot, but with zero (or minimal) play side to side.

It can help to use some blue thread lock on these set screws to keep them from loosening over time.

2) Setting the Gauge To 90 Degrees

For this adjustment, you’ll want to use a square. There isn’t much to it. Just take your square and hold it against the miter gauge, and against the side of the blade.

miter gauge with speed square
miter gauge with framing square

Make sure your square is either touching a tooth at the front and the back, or not touching any tooth.

If the front of the square is against a tooth, and the back is against the body of the blade, you won’t end up square.

IMPORTANT – Make sure the blade is aligned to your miter slot before doing this adjustment. You can learn how to align your blade here.

3) Setting Your Positive Stop

This is not the same for all miter gauges. Yours should have some kind of adjustable stop that gives you a reference point to easily set your gauge to 90 degrees.

miter gauge positive stop
positive stop type 2

This is helpful so if you need to make a miter cut at a different angle, this positive stop allows you to accurately get your gauge back to 90 degrees again without having to re-align it to your blade with a square.

Miter Gauge Tips

Quickly Setting a 45 Degree Angle

Use a framing square to quickly and accurately set your miter gauge to 45 degrees.

The framing square will have a scale on the inside edges of each leg, starting zero at the inside corner.

Insert the miter gauge into the miter slot and release it so it’s able to be freely adjusted.

Hold the framing square against the miter gauge with the 10” mark lined up along the edge of the miter slot.

Turn the gauge until the other leg of the square also has the 10” mark at the same edge of the miter slot.

You will have to rotate and slide the square in small increments until both sides are in line, then tighten the gauge down.

miter gauge at 45 degrees

What you’ve done is created a ‘Right Isosceles Triangle’, which is made of a 90 degree angle and 2 – 45 degree angles, and you’ve aligned the miter gauge with one of these 45 degree angles.

Knowing that, you can also set other specific angles by doing a little math and determining the length of 2 sides for the triangle.

Setting Custom Angles Based On Marks

Lets say you need to make a miter cut for a board at a very specific angle, which hasn’t been determined. But the angle doesn’t really matter, you just need to make sure it fits.

An example would be fitting a strip of wood at an angle in a panel door, to add the ‘x-style’ decoration.

If you simply mark the board on each side, you can now hold the board against the miter gauge and line these marks up with edge of the miter slot.

miter gauge with a custom angle
custom angle line close up
miter gauge set to match custom line

Now lock the miter gauge down and you’ve got an angle set exactly where you need it, without ever having to figure out exactly what that angle was. 

This works perfectly, and sometimes can be more accurate than figuring out the exact angle, because with this method your final angle has taken into account any imperfections in the project.

Miter Gauge Sacrificial Fence

Often you’ll find that a board needs a little more support to be securely cut with the miter gauge.

The factory fence on a standard miter gauge may only be about 6 inches wide or so. 

You can easily extend this out by screwing a sacrificial fence to the miter gauge, which can extend past the blade, and the blade will pass right through it.

sacrificial fence screwed to table saw miter gauge

As you can see, some miter gauges may have mounting bolt holes on the top, and you’ll have to be a little more creative when building your sacrificial fence

calibrate your miter gauge with a bolt-mounted sacrificial fence
fence attached to the miter gauge

This fence allows for full support of the workpiece all the way to (and past) the blade.

For more help fine tuning your table saw so it cuts with precision, see:
How To Align Your Table Saw Blade
How To Fine Tune Your Table Saw Rip Fence

For more consistent and versatile cross-cutting capabilities, you’ll want to build a custom table saw sled.

Watch this presentation here to see a premium table saw sled in action. It’s designed to cut 90 degrees consistently, as well as 45s, and other custom cuts with various attachments.

How To Calibrate Your Miter Gauge To Your Table Saw

This page may have affiliate links. For more information see my disclosure page.

About The Author
Adam has been woodworking for the last 10 years. He considers himself a 'Small Shop Woodworker' and practices his hobby in his garage. With the lack of time, space, and proper tools, he always finds ways to get great results without over-complicating or over-thinking the process. Various shop jigs, table saw sleds, and tricks of the trade have served him well. God has blessed him with a beautiful family, as well as a passion for teaching others about woodworking. You can read more about Adam here.

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