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31 July 2016

Mitre-saw setup for monkeys

Following the Jorgensen Clamp incident, I felt the need to return to the carboot last weekend just in case there were more bargains to be had. The thing is... if you're at a carboot on the hunt for something specific then you're going to come home empty handed. You need to keep and open mind and your wallet will follow. I picked up something rather special...


Can you believe that this is a real advert? Sadly, it is, and not from too long ago. I wonder how many they sold?


Check this out!

People know this type of saw by many different names. Some call it a chop saw, because of the chopping action as you pull it down. Some call it a circular saw because the blade is round. Some call it a mitre saw because it can swivel sideways and cut angles. Some call it a composite saw because it can be tilted to the left to once again cut angles. I have no idea why that is termed "composite".

Put it all together and what do you have?

A circular-composite-mitre-chop-saw!

or perhaps a composite-circular-chop-mitre-saw?

It doesn't really matter. All you need to know is that I've got one and it's cool!


I spied this beauty right at the end of my visit. It looked largely unused.

I've been curious about mitre saws for some time, but now I have my fantastic table saw, it's been a tool that I've been able to live without.

There is a difference in application: Table saws are designed for ripping (so cutting with the grain); Mitre saws are designed for cross-cuts. You can do cross-cuts on a table saw, but its a bit tricky to hold it straight if your stock is long. Mitre saws are the tool for this job!

 I did check out the name as I inspected the saw at the carboot, but "Challenge" didn't ring any bells. My guess was that it was a cheap knock-off. I've since learned that Challenge tools are sold by Argos. I wouldn't say they're cheap knock-offs, but they are certainly aimed at the budget market. You can see here that this one was made in 2002 and it isn't sold anymore by Argos. I haven't been able to uncover anything on the internet to show that they even existed: I would have expected to have at least to have been able to download a manual, but no.

But they do exist... I have one!

What I did see in my searches however were some very unhappy mitre-saw buyers all complaining of receiving saws that didn't cut straight. There were some for Challenge saws, but it seems to be a trend irrespective of what brand of saw was being bought. Oh dear, what could be going on here? and, would I have the same problem?


My heart dropped when I got the saw home and started to examine it a bit more closely. Whilst the blade looked virtually unused I could see that the arm was at an odd angle and had even cut into the base-plate at some point. NOOOO!!!!

Much googling later and I found a wonderful article on how to tune up mitre saws at the This is Carpentry site. What a god-send!

What I learnt is that mitre saws are big heavy tools that get banged about and are prone to chop arm alignment issues. It's a bit of a design flaw, but one that can be fixed. Suddenly the penny dropped... could it really be this simple... all those unhappy mitre saw purchasers sending their mitre saws back because they'd got bumped about in transit?

With my new-found expertise I set to tuning my saw...


The chop arm is held in place by four bolts. You can see two of them here. By loosening these I was able to fix my blade so that it cut straight on the x axis. What I was seeing then was that the blade had a slight tilt to it. It wasn't cutting perpendicular to the base. You can see here that I fixed this by raising the left had side of the arm slightly by jamming in a washer.

It appears to have fixed the problems and the saw now cuts square! Wow! Not bad for a 15 quid gamble.

Time will tell I guess as to whether this is the end of the story. I'm now wondering whether whoever bought this in the first place perhaps discovered early on that it wasn't cutting straight and cursing Argos, shoved it in a corner to gather dust. And then 10 years later they realised that it was never fix itself and got rid.

Lucky me!


Oh.... and these are the other things I managed to pick up last weekend. What a find! I'm almost through reading the one on the right and can report back that it's a wonderfully written magazine. There are stories and old photos of the old pioneering days covering events and characters of the 1800s. Everything is embellished and dramatic (and in some cases, just plain false), but I think it has a lovely old-time charm to it. As you know, I love this sort of shit! ;-)

Both magazines were published in the 1965 in America. I've no idea how they managed to wing their way over to me, but I am eternally grateful. ;-)

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