One thing that you don’t want to see, is smoke pouring out of your power tool as you’re using it. A miter saw is one such power tool where smoke is a common issue. For reference, a miter saw is a saw that you mount on a table and use to cut pieces of wood at multiple angles.
Anytime that you’re cutting through wood at incredible speeds, smoke is a distinct possibility. There are many factors that could lead to your miter saw smoking. The main ones are using a dull or incorrect blade, cutting the wood improperly, or operating a faulty motor. Fixing may require significant repair or replacing parts altogether.
This is not inherently dangerous to anyone, but you should still try to fix it as soon as possible. This is a very common problem and while it is not a simple one, it can be easily solved with a little research. After you identify the problem, work through the steps and try to find a solution.
Miter Saw Smoking – Causes and Troubleshooting
To fix your miter saw, you have to know what is causing the smoke. It could come from inside the saw itself due to a problem with the motor. If the machine is throwing sparks, that’s an obvious sign of distress within the motor, or under the housing that contains the motor.
Without sparks, you need to identify smoke coming from the motor, versus that which might come from the blade.
1. Blunt saw blade
If you’re wondering why does my saw blade smoke? The most common cause is a dull blade. This means that cutting the wood requires more pressure, which puts wear and tear on the saw over time.
This immense pressure itself will lead to more than acceptable levels of friction and might cause smoking. You can also notice brown/black burn marks on the wood when this happens.
This might not always produce smoke, but it is still worth looking into.
Note that you can only sharpen the blade a few times before it becomes unfit for work. Some blades cannot be sharpened at all. So, you might have to find a replacement.
Here are a few of our recommended best miter saw blade for clean cuts–
- Freud D12100X 12 inch 100 tooth Circular Saw Blade for Wood (Top pick)
- Makita A-93681 10-Inch 80 Tooth Micro Polished Miter saw Blade (Best for money)
2. Dusty Blade
When the blade has too much wood in its teeth, it will become dirty over time and perform poorly.
If this is significant, then the blade will struggle to cut through the material since there is a lot of junk blocking the teeth essentially causing the same effect as that of a blunt blade.
Increasing the pressure and friction and leading to it smoking. Smoking caused by this is usually very noticeable and you should always clean your blade long before it happens. Regular cleaning tends to help a lot and prevent something like this from happening in the first place.
How to Clean Miter Saw Blade
Cleaning a saw blade is easier than you think and after cleaning they will cut again almost as if they were new.
But here’s the problem;
There are several cleaning solutions that work very well. It is important to remember that caustic cleaner, such as oven cleaners or chlorine or bleach-based solutions. Saw blades manufacturers never recommend to use these types of cleaners because they attack the binder in the carbide and deteriorate the welds of the metal. This can cause the individual teeth to peel off during use.
It is recommended to use cleaning product that are specifically designed to clean the cutting blades of circular saws. You can also use household products like vinegar, baking soda, kerosene. I like to use a Simple Green® All-Purpose Cleaner.
Whatever technique you use to clean the cutting blades of saws, always remember to read the safety instructions and always protect your eyes, hands, and lungs when necessary.
Here is the quick miter saw blade cleaning guide-
- Place the blades of your circular saw in a shallow container.
- Pour enough cleaning solution to completely cover the blade and ensures that the cleaning solution comes into contact with each individual tooth.
- Let the solution works for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Scrub the blade surface and teeth with an old toothbrush.
- Rinse and completely dry the cutting blade.
- Spray a thin layer of WD-40 oil to protect against corrosion.
3. Lack of proper feed speed
Feed speed is the rate at which you pass your material through the blade. In order to avoid friction, you have to move the material under the blade at the right time.
This is why this is often the cause for smoking as people tend to feed too slowly and some materials are very sensitive to the friction of the blade. So much so that, even a few additional seconds under the blade could cause it to smoke.
Slower feed speed would obviously result in cleaner and smoother cuts but it could also cause smoking and severe damage to the material. You must always take into account the type of material and adjust the feed speed according to its sensitivity.
4. Saw Blade Drawbacks
Not every saw blade is made to cut every material and while your motor might be powerful enough to produce enough torque to cut through something like tiles, your blade might not be very adequate for that job.
Usually, when you are cutting through harder materials, you should use a carbide blade. Carbide blades are much better to use, and can handle the pressure easier. You can also sharpen them multiple times over the life of the tool.
For any other cheap blade, you will usually be limited to wood and probably just the softer versions of it as well. It is always good to know what your blade is rated for and stick to those guidelines if you want to avoid ruining the blade and cause smoking.
5. Uneven alignment
When cutting using a miter saw, it is important that the material being cut is placed in a perfect angle that the saw is rated to be able to cut. Miter saws have a fence to ensure that the material is in the proper place and hold it in that position until the work is done.
However, if you don’t properly align and secure the fence or the material, there could be a slight tilt on one end. This would result in uneven amounts of pressure on each side of the blade, with one side being significantly greater.
This could sometimes cause smoking and even damage the material. To avoid this, align everything correctly before starting. Sometimes, the blade itself could cause some misalignment while you’re working.
It is a good practice to every so often just to make sure that the alignment is still good especially if you’re working on a material that is very large.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why did my miter saw stop working?
If it stopped working for no visible reason, you’ll have to do a systematic check through a process of elimination. Check the switch, power cord, armature, brushes (if applicable), and fields.
Why is my miter saw burning wood?
Dull blades are the most common reason for burning wood and it isn’t even close. A dull blade creates more friction as the blade spins into the wood. The duller it gets, the higher the level of friction, heat, and smoke.
What causes the blade to wobble?
The most common cause of blade wobble boils down to worn bearings or brushings. You should inspect each and replace them immediately.
How long does a miter saw blade last?
Depending on the quality of the blade and how much you use it, a miter saw blade should last between 12 and 120 hours of continuous use. That’s a wide latitude but the quality of the blade determines longevity.
It is not at all uncommon to notice your miter saw smoking when cutting wood. However, it is important that you identify and address the issue as soon as possible. Failure to do so could cause varying levels of damage to your material, the blade, and in some cases the saw itself.