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Cheap Laser Arbor Guide

Everybody loves lasers, but sometimes they’re more of a gimmick than a useful guide. Miter saw laser guides help out a lot if the laser shows the edge of the blade — and they’re worse than nothing if the blade and laser aren’t aligned. If your miter saw isn’t fitted with a laser-site guide, chances are you can cheaply retrofit it with Harbor Freight’s laser arbor disc.

This laser disc fits next to the saw blade and projects a line on your workpiece where the edge of the saw blade will cut. The laser arbor guide activates at 500 RPM and uses three GP186 button-cell batteries. It measures 2″ in diameter by 5/16″ thick.

I spent $30 for an Irwin guide to find out it was 1/16″ off with no way to adjust it — but other people have reported good results with add-on laser miter guides. Fortunately, if this cheap-ass guide doesn’t work, you’re only out $13 — a hell of a lot less than a new miter saw with laser guide. Plus, if you wait, it goes on sale for $10 every now and again.

Laser Arbor Disc [Harbor Freight]
Street Pricing [Google Products]


14 Responses to Cheap-Ass Tools: Miter Saw Laser Guide

  1. George K. says:

    I’ve never handled the Irwin laser, please note that this is a guess at best…
    Is the case thick enough on the blade side to remove about 1/16 of material via a belt sander? This could give you the adjustment you need.

  2. Chuck says:

    Does it recommend a thin kerf blade? You can always add a 1/16th dado shim underneath it if you take off too much.

  3. George K. says:

    Good point Chuck…
    Now the real question. Which way is it off?!?! (cutting long or short)

  4. George K:

    It cuts to long. That is if I put the laser line on the mark, I get 1/16″ extra.

    Good idea removing some material from the blade side, I’ll have to check sometime if there’s enough material to make the adjustment.

  5. fred says:

    None of our miter saws have laser guides – nor have any of my finish carpenters been clamoring for them. We had been happy with some older Bosch saws and happier still with some newer Makitas. We are coming up on needing to replace a few (maybe 3-4) – and I was thinking of taking a look at the new Festool (if my accountant will allow it) but I’d be interested in hearing comments from those toolmongers who do put laser models to professional use.

  6. Ryan says:

    12″ Hitachi Chop saw with laser. I love the saw as a tool, however, the laser is off a bit(not sure how much) and it is barely visible when outside on a sunny day. I could do without it and I would not pay more for a saw with a laser.

  7. jeff immer says:

    i bought the harbour freight one it works nice but i find myself not really using as much as i thought however it does make miters easier if do not mark the entire board

  8. NotTheSharpestSpoon says:

    I use it mainly to line up the angle when transferring from a bevel angle tool onto the saw. Then I use the “blade to stock” method the place the cut. I never use the laser guide for actual cut placement. I guess I’m old school, just don’t trust these new fangled “lasers” as the young’uns call ’em.

  9. Shopmonger says:

    Lasers are great……………………….. But only in certain situations. On a miter saw they are great. it is amazing how useful they can be. I understand that is a production shop where guys have been using these for 10 years and they know each saw, lasers may not be needed or even wanted. But I have the Irwin oneand I love it for setting up mitered cuts.

  10. SteveDwsn says:

    I bought the Irwin for my miter saw. It is the best $30.00 tool in my shop. I am going to try it on my worm-drive. Mine cuts perfectly. If yours is off, I hope you are able to adjust, because the perfectly square cabinet you just made will not work in your out of square kitchen.

  11. Clyde says:

    I need a laser guide for my Ridgid 12″ Miter saw with a 1″ arbor.

  12. Ed says:

    I have both, the disk type that replaces the flange washer on my miter and radial arm saws, and the adjustable type that came with my Harbor Freight Tools Sliding Compound Miter saw.

    I rely on the disk type 100%. I can draw a line at any angle I need on the board and adjust the saw to cut dead on. You have to understand the laser line is going to show where the edge of the cut will be based on the left side of the blade (provided you have your laser mounted on the left side of the blade, as per the instructions).

    The adjustable type are a pain to get right and then they can come out of adjustment over time. I’ve had to replace the screws that lock the lasers down several times as I tend to put too much torque on them. I’m looking for a disk type that’ll work with the 1″ arbor on my HFT SCMS.

    I really enjoy not having to rely on a saw’s scale to get the correct miter. It’s much easier to align the saw to a line drawn on the board that I duplicate from the angle on a T-bevel, which is set according to the angle required at the work. And the best part . . . . no math!

  13. Paul says:

    The only really good laser is the Arbor Type mounted directly to the saw blade… And it is a GREAT tool. It never goes out of alignment and like a remote control is indispensable once you’ve used one. It shows the exact position of where the edge of the cut will be, and it makes calibrating your saw very easy. You scribe a 90 or 45 degree angle on a known square board and when the laser coincides with that mark it will cut ‘dead-nut-on” every time.

  14. Kerry Mangum says:

    I have had an Irwin laser on my miter saw for around 7 years and love it. I tested by placing a mark and then scored with the blade. It was dead on splitting the laser line. My laser has died and I’ll go try the one from Harbor Freight. I like the built in laser on my Skill saw. It realy helps keep a straighter line when free hand ripping a board.

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