Dewalt miter saw with an unlock symbol.

How to Unlock Dewalt Miter Saw (EASY!)

So you just got a new Dewalt miter saw! Before using it, you must learn all the essential features it has to offer. The first and most important step is learning how to unlock the miter saw!

Dewalt has a variety of different miter saws that include: double bevel, single bevel, sliding, compound, and basic. Each model of Dewalt miter saws have different features that require you to unlock. With that being said, all models are the same when it comes to unlocking the miter saw head.

Now we will go over all the different unlocking mechanisms that your Dewalt miter saw may have!

Below is a picture that contains key parts of the Dewalt miter saw that will be useful throughout this article!

Dewalt miter saw multiple angles with every part labeled.

How to unlock Dewalt miter saw

When unlocking your dewalt miter saw, first disconnect the saw from power source. Push the head of the saw down to release tension. While holding the head down, pull the locking pin out and release the head. When standing behind the saw, the locking pin will be located on right side.

Unlock miter saw head

The head of a miter saw is the where the blade is located that also has the trigger handle. I have also heard this referred to as the arm. If you bought your saw new, this will come in a locked position.

Dewalt miter saw with square around the head of saw.
Head of Dewalt miter saw

First and foremost, it is essential to make sure the saw is unplugged from the power source!

Unplugging the saw from the wall outlet.

Once the saw is unplugged you can move on to the next step of unlocking your miter saw. Next, you must put some pressure down through the head of the saw to release the tension. While holding the head of the saw down, pull the locking pin out.

Dewalt miter saw with the head unlocking pin circled.
Locking pin

Once the locking pin has been released, the head will unlock and you can raise it to the highest position. Newer models actually have a lifting handle Dewalt recommends that you use to lift the head. Older models this handle is not present, and you will have to use the operating handle.

Dewalt miter saw with head unlocked.
Unlocked Dewalt miter saw

Now with your Dewalt miter saw unlocked and ready to use, there are a couple other features that can move and lock. These are important when it comes to making different types of cuts.

Unlocking the miter latch

The miter latch adjustment will allow you to pivot the base of the saw, from left to right, so you can make angle cuts. This is what makes a miter saw unique and is very important. It allows you to quickly move from straight cuts to angled cuts in a matter of seconds.

Dewalt miter saw showing the miter latch and how when unlocked direction the saw can move.

The miter latch and lock is located on the front of the saw. Push the miter latch button down and this will allow you to rotate the base of the saw.

Once you have the base in the position that you want it in, you can now press the lock handle to ensure it stays in that position.

Dewalt miter saw with miter latch and miter lock handle labeled.
A. Miter Latch; B. Miter lock handle

In older models of dewalt miter saw you may see a knob as opposed to the latch. If this pertains to your saw, there will be some key differences. First, you will have to unscrew the knob. Then you can press the latch button down so you can adjust the angle of the base. Once you have the desired angle release the button and then tighten the knob.

Miter knob found on older models of Dewalt miter saws.

Unlocking the bevel knob

The bevel knob controls the angle of the head and blade of the saw. By adjusting the bevel lock you can change the blades angle to cut wood at a sharp angle. You will often see these cuts used for trim work in a house.

Piece of wood showing the angle of a bevel cut.
Bevel cut

The bevel knob is located on the back of your saw. It is a large three prong knob.

Make sure you have one hand on the head of the saw and another hand on the bevel knob. To adjust the bevel angle rotate the knob counterclockwise. Then with your other hand you can control the angle of the saws head/blade. There will be a measurement for the angle located on the saw that will help you find your desired angle.

Dewalt miter saw with the bevel knob and bevel angle measurement labeled.
A. Bevel knob; B. Bevel angle measurement

Once you have found your desired angle, you can turn the bevel knob clockwise to lock it in place.

Dewalt miter saw set to a 45 degree bevel angle.
Bevel angle

Depending on the angle that you have set, you may find that you have to adjust and or remove the fence of the saw. You can find out how to do this in the next section!

Unlocking the fence adjustment knob

The fence of the miter saw is made of aluminum and can be found on either side of the blade. They run perpendicular to the blade. They are very important because they allow you to put the wood you are cutting against a flat and solid surface.

Dewalt miter saw with 2 fences circled.

On most Dewalt miter saws the fence is adjustable. This is important for a couple of reasons including: if you need to cut and stabilize a longer piece of wood or if you need to make a bevel cut, you can slide the fence out of the way. There are two fence adjustment knobs that are located just behind each fence.

Know found on back of each fence that is used to adjust fences.
Fence adjustment knob

Determine if one or both fences need to be adjusted in your case. Once you have made that decision, turn the knob(s) counterclockwise to loosen. Once the knobs are loose, you will be able to slide the fence out away from the saw. Once you have the desired length tighten the knobs by turning them clockwise.

If you are adjusting the fence to make a bevel cut, it is very important to check the blades clearance! WITH THE SAW NOT RUNNING, move the head of the saw down to make sure the blade does not hit the fence!

Sliding unlock

Some Dewalt miter saws have the ability to slide back and forth, which allows you to make wider cuts. Saws that have this feature will have two metal tubes running in the back of the saw.

Dewalt miter saw with metal tubing labeled on saws that have a sliding mechanism.
Dewalt miter saw sliding feature

There is a small knurled knob located on the back of the saw on top of the metal casing around the sliding tubes. To unlock this knob turn it counterclockwise, this will allow the saw to slide while making cuts.

Small know on back of saw that allows you to unlock sliding mechanism.

If you are not making wider cuts and do not need this sliding feature, it is very important to make sure this knob is locked in place. That way the blade will not slide while cutting.

Adjusting the depth screw

While this is not technically an “unlocking mechanism” I felt it was important to include. This system allows you to control the depth that the saw will cut. This is important if you are trying to cut notches in wood or do not want to make a full depth cut.

This system is located on the right side of the saw (if you are standing in front of the saw) just under the blade. The system is made up of: A) depth stop lever, B) adjustment screw, C) wing nut.

Dewalt miter saw with depth stop lever, adjustment screw and wing nut labeled.
A. Depth stop lever; B. adjustment screw; C. wing nut

If you want to make full depth cuts, YOU DO NOT NEED TO ADJUST THIS SYSTEM AT ALL! If you do need to adjust the depth of the cut continue on.

First, you should flip the depth stop lever towards you. Then rotate the depth adjustment screw counterclockwise to loosen. This take some practice runs (WITH THE SAW OFF) to find the desired depth that you want.

Dewalt miter saw with arrow showing direction to loosen the depth stop level and adjustment screw.
Rotate depth stop lever and loosen adjustment screw

Once you have found the desired depth you can lock that in place by tightening (turning clockwise) the wing nut.

Here is a video that reviewed the process very well:

If you have any questions in regards to your Dewalt miter saw, I recommend referring to your owners manual.


  • Unlock miter saw head
  • Unlock the miter latch
  • Unlock the bevel knob
  • Adjust the fence knob
  • Sliding unlock
  • Adjust the depth screw

Did this help you manage your Dewalt miter saw? If so, please let us know in the comments.

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