Why is My Miter Saw Chipping Wood?


Let’s say you’re in the middle of making the most beautiful side table that ever existed, only to look down at your cut and realize that your miter saw has chipped away at the edges, causing it to tear out.

There are a few reasons your miter saw could be causing you problems. This includes that you may be using the wrong blade for the job, your blade may be dirty and needs to be thoroughly cleaned, you might need something to support your wood when sawing, or a backboard is needed.

Nothing is more frustrating than looking down and seeing a perfect piece of wood chipped to bits due to your miter saw. Although this is a maddening problem, it does not necessarily mean that your blade is done and needs to be replaced immediately. Continue reading to figure out why your miter saw may be chipping wood and how to take care of the problem.

4 Reasons Why Your Miter Saw is Chipping Wood

Whether you are using your miter saw to create a gorgeous picture frame as a gift for your loved one or using it for angled cuts on the trim work in your home, there is nothing quite as frustrating as chipped wood caused by your tools.

There is a slew of different problems that could be contributing to your wood being chipped by your miter saw. Fortunately, all of these problems have relatively simple solutions to get your miter saw back to working in all its glory.

Of course, you will want to be thorough in seeking out the issue as a simple fix could save you a lot of time and money in the long run. A blade rarely needs replacing, but when it does, don’t delay, and your wallet and current projects will thank you!

4 reasons why your miter saw is chipping wood could include:

  1. You are using the wrong blade.
  2. Your blade is dirty.
  3. Your wood does not have enough support.
  4. Your blade needs to be sharpened.

Let’s take a closer look.

You are using the wrong blade.

I know you don’t want someone telling you how to handle your own workpiece. However, if you find yourself consistently chipping away at those projects, a little change needs to be made.

There is a reason different blades exist for your miter saw: they each have a specific purpose and work best on the type of wood and project they were designed for.

If you are working with a more brittle type of wood, you need a blade that will work well with this specific density. For you, this means working with a blade that has a fine crosscut. A fine crosscut blade has around 60-100 teeth on it. This helps with a quick, precise, and cleaner cut.

As for the teeth on this type of blade, they are beveled at the top, which helps to score the cut’s edges. The hook angle is shallow, which is what you need for a clean cut. The angle will barely lean into the cut and will thus help to prevent chipping.

The biggest things to pay attention to with your blade are the number of teeth it possesses and the gullet between the teeth. If you have more teeth on your blade, you will have a much smoother cut (again, still pay attention to the teeth’ angle).

In case you need a refresher of the basics, the gullet is the space between each tooth. More space between the teeth means the blade is designed for a ripping operation.

So, if your miter saw continues to chip your wood, try changing the blade.

Your blade is dirty.

If you have been using your miter saw often and repeatedly used the same blade repeatedly, and you are noticing that its performance is not so great anymore, there is likely debris build-up on your blade.

With the blade spinning so fast, you would think that it would be free of any build-up. However, over time, your miter blade will accumulate bits and pieces of every project it has encountered, and this is bad news.

Quick and simple: as contaminants build-up, performance goes down. When there is build-up on your blade, it slows the feed rate of your saw.

This may seem like no big deal because your saw still seems to be working at record speeds, but when the feed rate slows, more friction is put up against the woods, and chipped wood is usually the result. Lucky for you, a little debris build-up is easy to get rid of, and your blade will be working like new.

To clean your miter saw blade grab an all-purpose cleaner/degreaser of your choice. Mix one part of the clearer with two parts water in a container. Take the saw blade from the miter saw and place it in the cleaning solution to soak for a few minutes.

Once it has sat, scrub the blade with a toothbrush and really get into its nooks and crannies. When you are finished, rinse the blade and dry it well before re-installing, and you are good to go!

Your wood does not have enough support.

With your miter saw comes the stock miter saw throat plate. This is where your wood is landing, and the work is going to get done. With the throat plate, though, there is a gap between the edges and the blade, making plenty of room for tear-out and chipping.

The simplest and most effective upgrades that you can make to your miter saw are installing a zero-clearance throat insert to reduce this problem.

What this insert does, whether you make it on your own or go ahead and purchase one, minimizes the blade opening’s size by reducing the gap between the edges of the inset and the blade itself.

Instead of having a gap, you have a precise slot in which your blade runs through with a fraction of the amount of room that it had with the stock insert. This may seem like a small feat, but you can give your workpieces more stability by adding this.

Keep in mind; if you are using multiple blades with varying sizes, you will need different inserts to accommodate each blade. Although it may take a little more work to create or a bit more money to purchase, this investment is well worth the results it will bring to your craft.

By stabilizing the wood, tear-out is drastically reduced, and you will not have to worry about your miter saw chipping your new project. Your saw has better support and, thus, will give a cleaner cut.

Your blade needs to be sharpened.

If none of these are your issues, or if you suspect it from the beginning, go ahead and work on sharpening our blade. This is not as intimidating of a process as it sounds, and it can save you a lot of money by sparing you another blade purchase.

All you need is a few small tools to get the job done and 15-20 minutes’ worth of time, and your miter saw blade would be back in action.

To sharpen your miter saw blade, consider the following steps. First, make sure to remove the blade from the miter saw; it cannot be sharpened while it is still attached after it is disengaged, put in between two clamps on your workbench to keep it steady.

Mark the tooth you plan to start the sharpening process to avoid any repeat of oversharpening. Once you have prepared your blade and have your workspace set up, you are ready to go.

Now you want to work on filing the teeth. To do this, you need a diamond file placed right below the front edge of the first tooth that you marked. Move the file forward and upward to create friction against the tooth, but do this slowly and steadily to create an even file.

The file should hit the flat part of the metal’s thickness, and then you should move the file smoothly over the tooth’s top flat part.

Repeat this and it should be as sharp as the first day you brought it home. Now, as you test out various solutions for your miter saw, you should enjoy a chip-free woodworking session again in no time.

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