How to Unlock a DeWalt Miter Saw

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Whether you’re a professional woodworker or a casual DIYer working on a Dewalt model, knowing how to unlock a Dewalt miter saw is necessary. 

The unique features of the newly released models make unlocking a little complicated, but it’s one skill you need to master to work on this saw profusely.  

What to Do First

Familiarize Yourself With the Saw

Saws vary inbuilt, brands, and locking mechanisms. Acquainting with your saw, the manual, and other brand guides will help you get familiar with your saw’s operation, and the common mishaps, especially when you want to unlock your miter saw.

Remove Any Hazards in Your Shop or Space

Eliminate all hazards in your shop or working space, such as power cords. Safely store your cords to avoid trips and accidents. 

Ways of Unlocking Your DeWalt Miter Saw

Miters have different locking systems depending on the model and the brand. Some have knobs and locking pin, and knowing the different locking system that works for the different points, is vital when working with your miter saws. 

DEWALT DWS780 12-Inch Double Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw

Remember that you can’t apply the same technique to every brand or model. It’s a simple task, but the technicalities are essential to avoid damaging your power tool.

1. Unlocking the Head Using the Lock Pin

The handle connects to the rail, which is made of thick metal, and there’s a small metal pin that you can find easily on new models. Use a lever at the guide rail’s end to adjust the cutting angle. 

Older models, however, have the pin on the exterior side and usually look like a knob. This small knob keeps heat locked onto the machine. To unbolt this, turn it counterclockwise and rotate the knob clockwise if you want to push it in. 

pulling the pin of a DeWalt Miter saw

2. Unlocking Using the Down Lock and Push Lock

Most of the saws you will find, such as a Dewalt miter saw, have a down lock, and using a simple knob can move this lock. 

You must move this knob and apply a gentle push to unbolt the saw. Also, you can pull the lock to unlock your miter saw. 

3. Unlocking the Angle Lock

Angle locks are common with Dewalt Saws, like the DCS361B sliding miter saw, and you can locate this lock on the front side of the saw. 

DeWalt miter saw base

The knob keeps the angle locked; press the knob or pin to unlock it, whichever works for your model. This is also used to create different angles to snap the saw into different pre-set angle positions. 

4. Unlocking the Knurled Knob Lock

Miters have this knob lock, which is the easiest to unlock, even for starters. Just twist the knob in a counterclockwise direction, and that’s it. 

5. Unlocking the Bevel

If you want to utilize the bevel function of your miter saw, it’s also necessary to unlock the bevel cut. You will often want to set the titling angle on its desired position to maximize the 45-degree and 40-degree bevel cut options, but if the angle is fixed, you can skip this step.

In setting the titling positioning, slide the stopping pin and push it until the desired angle is set at a certain point. 

(Know more about the bevel cut and its uses here!)

6. Unlocking the Miter Saw's Base

Saws often come with a head base or table attached to their main structure to provide convenience for their users. This is movable and can be set depending on your preference for cutting wood. 

operating a miter saw

If your saw has a moveable base, unlock it by twisting the knob on the stored position you want. After moving it in a specific direction, twist the knob back to lock the base before working with your saw. 

7. Unlocking Sliding Rails for a Compound Miter Saw

Compound and sliding miter saws have sliding rails which you should unlock as well.

The black lever is usually placed at the end of the saw and is visible because it sticks out. Once you can locate the handle, use this to adjust the location of your guide rail. 

Guide rails are where the saw blade drives in, and on compound miter saws, you can adjust it to make bevel or angled cuts. Note that the black lever is unique to Dewalt models.  Usually, for other brands, the saw uses a latch and a knob when adjusting the guide rail.

DeWalt Miter Saw guide rails

Then, locate the small black button, which functions as a release to the locking mechanism of the guide rail. Move the adjustable fence and hold this with your finger as you gradually adjust the angle of your cut. 

(For more cutting tips, here’s how to cut 45-degree angles using your miter saw.)

Extra Tips and Tricks to Know

  1. Unplug the miter saw before you unlock anything on it.
  2. Please do not touch the blade, as it can be very sharp and dangerous. 
  3. Ask for expert help if you get problems unlocking your saw.
  4. Check in with the user manual, as different saws can have particular instructions. 
  5. I highly recommend wearing gloves, safety goggles, ear protection, and extra safety gear like boots, and apply safety precautions when operating with your saw to avoid miter saw injuries.
  6. Apply the right amount of pressure when turning the knob to avoid causing permanent damage to the parts of your miter saw. 
  7. Make time when unlocking, as rushing can cause irreversible damage to the parts of your power tools.

The Locking System of Miter Saw

Angle Lock

Located at the front side of the saw, the angle lock is usually managed by two locks.

Rail Lock

Rail locks aid security on the arm when making certain cuts. It’s located on the blade arm’s base.

rail lock

Swivel Lock

You’d want to use the swivel lock to connect the points up and down or in a horizontal direction.

Blade Lock

You will find the blade lock on the rear side of the miter saw. Push the head down and pull the pin to secure this lock.

Back Lock

The back lock helps control the blade in an up-and-down direction, and there are different locking systems available in a miter saw [1].

Front Lock

When managing the angles of the cut, the front lock is utilized. 

front lock

Things To Do After Unlocking the Miter Saw

Unplug the Miter Saw

First things first, get that saw unplugged. I can’t stress enough how important it is to unplug your tools after using them. This not only helps preserve the lifespan of your miter saw but also eliminates any risk of accidental starts. Trust me, you don’t want to learn this the hard way. Coil that power cord neatly to avoid creating a tripping hazard in your workspace.

Clean it

If you want your miter saw to serve you well, you’ve got to return the favor. Brush away any accumulated sawdust; it may look harmless, but it can actually harden and corrode your saw over time.

Also, the inside of the blade guard is important, so you have to check it. Empty the dust bag so it won’t affect or attack the bag’s material. 

Return the Saw Parts to Proper Storage Positions

Return the adjustable parts to their original position when storing your saw. The table angle adjustment should be in the center position. Lock it in place and adjust the bevel angle to zero. The slider should be in full-back to engage the locking mechanism. I like to double-check these settings; it just ensures the saw is ready to go for next time.

DEWALT DWS715 Single Bevel Miter Saw

Cover and Protect the Saw

Last but not least, throw a cover over your saw. Trust me, when you’re bouncing between projects, it’s easy for dust and other contaminants to find their way onto your tools. A simple cloth wrap will keep your miter saw clean and ready for your next masterpiece.

Common Problems on a DeWalt Miter Saw

While DeWalt Miter saws, like the Dewalt DWS716XPS model, are robust and sturdy enough, it’s still possible for problems to occur, especially after prolonged use. Here are the most common problems you will encounter.

Cracked Edges on Cuts

It is crucial to ensure that the correct blade for the material and cut type is used, and that it is sharp and in good condition. Additionally, using the appropriate cutting technique, such as maintaining a steady and consistent feed rate, can help reduce the likelihood of cracked edges.

Also, when a blade is out of tune, it will misalign and cause splinters on the edge of your cuts. Check with your manual on the proper procedure for setting the right alignment back again. 

Burning on the Stock Edges

I’ve seen this more times than I care to count. A dull blade can cause burns or scorch marks to the cutting edge of the material. When it becomes dull, it’s forced to generate more heat when cutting, which then causes the temperature to rise and scorch the wood. Change that blade before it ruins another project.

Wobbling Blade Making Bad Cuts

You don’t want to use a wobbly blade when working with your Dewalt saw. Some of the reasons include the arbor flange can wear down, causing it to wobble. When this happens, replace the arbor flange. 

DEWALT DCS361M1 Cordless Miter Saw

Another thing, blades wobble due to worn-out spindles. Excessive sawdust can accumulate in the tight spaces of your tool, causing excessive wear. 

Don’t ignore gear issues either; they can be sneaky contributors to blade wobbling. A quick trip to the service center for a thorough inspection might be in order.


DeWalt miter saws are easy to figure out, but you’ll have to learn the unlocking mechanism thoroughly and follow the steps carefully. 

Some saws have different designs, and there’ll be some adjustments to make. I hope this guide has helped you learn how to unlock DeWalt miter saw with ease. 

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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