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Kimberly in Salt Lake wrote to us about a problem she’s having with a Chicago Electric miter saw. The head of the bolt that holds the blade on sheared off and Kimberly is looking to get it repaired.

The trouble is, Chicago Electric is one of the lower-end tools in the marketplace. They generally go for cheap and disposable, not serviceable. They don’t seem to have a website and the only brick-and-mortar storefronts I can think of that sell the brand are Harbor Freight and Auto Zone. If the tool doesn’t have any support numbers on it anywhere or you can’t find (or never had) the manual, you might try heading down to one of the stores and checking the labels on the Chicago Electric tools you find there for a service number.

Since it’s a miter saw you might try HF first. Check the box and the display model to find one. You might also ask the folks in the store where they recommend checking for contact info on the manufacturer, or if they might know how to get the unit serviced.

I don’t have firsthand knowledge on the Chicago Electric service policies myself. However, if any readers do, we’d appreciate any wisdom or assistance you can give.

10″ Compound Miter Saw [Harbor Freight]
Street Pricing [Google Products]


31 Responses to Reader Question: Miter Saw Troubles

  1. Brad Justinen says:

    Chicago Electric is a Harbor Fright house brand……in other words, it may as well say Harbor Freight on the saw. They may sell to some other small distributers, i.e. Auto Zone or Fred Meyer but that’s beside the point. Anyone who shops at HF knows that they have a pretty crappy return policy and warranties. They always try to sell you an extended warranty when you buy there products and can be a real pain in the butt with returns if you didn’t buy one.

    I am going to guess that you are out of luck. Even if you can get replacement parts, it probably won’t be worth the time or money.

    Harbor freight is a GREAT place to get cheap tools. You have to know what your are getting into though. A miter saw is probably the last thing I would ever buy at Harbor Freight. If you are looking for cheap power tools that will actually last, I have three words for you……………RYOBI, RYOBI, RYOBI.

    Do yourself a favor, give or throw the saw away and go buy this:


  2. PeterP says:

    Wait, while you where using it? That would rank up there in my “terrifying moments using power tools” list.

    It should be fairly simple to get an EZ-out, remove the bolt, take what’s left to a hardware store and find a replacement.

    I second Brad’s opinion, though. If its at all feasible, lose the Chicago Electric saw and get a quality brand. It’s more expensive. but less likely to remove digits…

  3. Joel Spangler says:

    I have one of these saws + its done well for me.. plenty of power, however I have the model with sliding rails… they bend around which keeps accuracy low.. wouldn’t use the saw on a fancy molding job, but its been a great saw for framing + just about any job I’ve thrown at it.

    As far as getting it serviced – can’t say that you’re going to have much luck getting it professionally done. Not sure how the bolt got sheared off, but if it took a hit + the end of the bolt just popped off, you could probably get one of those reverse drill bits + get the remaining part of the screw out.. then take what you got out to a local hardware store and find another screw. If it broke off while tightening a blade on, you probably had the threads mis-alinged and you probably won’t get the screw out… a machinist MIGHT be able to get drill the screw out + re-thread the hole (at a larger size), but I doubt it… if this is the case (broke off by brute force when tightening), you’re probably better off to get another saw.

  4. John says:

    I’d say get an ez-out and remove the stud of the bolt, and find the size/pitch and length of the bolt, then order one from McMaster-Carr

  5. BJN says:

    I wouldn’t go to a hardware store to look for a replacement bolt. The head shape is important (does it have a flange?), as would be the tensile strength of the bolt (something apparently not as important to Harbor Freight):


    Is the bolt reverse thread perchance? That would add another degree of difficulty finding a substitute bolt.

  6. Gary says:

    I know not everyone has the $ for good tools, but any powered saw is not something I’d cheap out on. Too many things can go wrong – resulting in an untimely trip to the ER.

    I’m also wondering if the bolt is reverse threaded. The two other times I’ve heard about something like this the person didn’t have a manual and snapped the head off by turning in the wrong direction.

    You could probably find a decent vintage manual miter box and saw for what you paid for this. If you’re not cutting a lot of thick material and the saw is sharp, they work quite well. I’ve got an old Miller Falls I use a lot.

  7. Barri says:

    Good luck getting a reverse threaded bolt that has sheard off out with any removle tools. These tools only work with a standard Lefty losey, righty tighty nuts and bolts. Your best bet is to try and cut a slot into the bolt and remove with a screw driver.

  8. Roy says:

    If Kimberly has the saw linked to in this story at Harbor Freight , a manual is listed in the sale url. The phone number for support is listed in the manual, so is the spindle bolt, item 58 in the breakdown. It is reverse threaded. Good Luck.

  9. Mike47 says:

    As a follow-up to what Barrie said, if the bolt is left-hand thread, drilling a hole in it with normal right-hand twist drill will tend to back it out. Also, a tapered reamer will sometimes work well as an easy-out on a left-hand thread. May need to use a product like Kroil or WD-40 to help move it along.

  10. MR P says:

    remove the broken bolt with one of these http://www.boltmasterusa.com/
    and buy the bolt you need on http://www.mcmaster.com

  11. fred says:

    @ Mr P

    Nice link to what look like nice extractors.
    Staring my first business as a plumber – we’ve used the Ridgid variety for many years – but use Cobalt drill bits (with LH bits usually the first choice – but RH bits sometimes working on reverse – thread


    I agree, however with other comments that finding a flanged metric – reverse threaded bolt might be well nigh impossible – and having one machined – much too expensive. I think that I’d scrap the saw.

  12. Aboxman says:

    Actually, HF has a pretty good parts department. If you can find the correct HF model number (which is not always the # on the tool) you should be able to find the manual on HF’s site. With that you should be able to find the part number. Then see http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/cs.taf If you can’t find the model number their people are usually pretty good at finding the information for you. Actually, I’ve had better luck with HF’s part department than some of the BIG names.

  13. Bill says:

    I agree with Aboxman, if you have the paper “manual” it has an exploded parts diagram/list that HF phone service can use to replace your part. Do maybe try to get it out first though.

  14. Scott says:

    Getting the right bolt will be the biggest hurdle. I’d buy two.

    I have no idea how Kim’s broke. I discovered the blade retaining bolt on my saw was left-hand thread “the hard way”. It didn’t break but it was the worse for wear.

    I bought two. I’ll remember its left-hand thread next time I replace the blade. But I am not the only one who uses the saw. Taped the bolt under the saw’s base so I know where it is when the time comes.

  15. HANK says:

    Can’t address the bolt issue, but can address the 10in Miter Saw issue. If you use your miter saw much, you should get the 12in. model. Owning a 10in. quickly shows you it’s limits.

    I have owned a Dewalt 12 compound miter for as long as they have had them out and am delighted. Used a 10in some and don’t like it’s limits. I am not a giant fan of DeWalt the way I used to be, but getting a 12 in. is worth the money.

  16. bob says:

    Lisle makes/made an in an out that was a straight-ribbed spline; works fine on reverse thread bolts.

  17. Chris W says:

    My Chicago Electric recip saw stopped working yesterday. It gave off a big cloud of nasty smoke in its death throes. We have a saying in the electronics repair business. Things stop working when all the smoke leaks out of them. The smoke is what made them work.

  18. Dave H says:

    I too have had good luck with the HF power tools. The key is keeping the printed instruction booklet with the part numbers. You can get the parts easily with that info and as stated above, the PDF books are available right on their website.

  19. Gough says:

    On the economics of cheap saws: I found out the cost of an easily mis-aligned saw fence and the resulting kickback- $1800. And that was for a relatively small nick on the tip of my finger. For some tool, it’s worth it to pay a little more.

  20. flarney says:

    I’ve found the “quality” tool makers don’t stock even consumable parts for long. I’ve got a Delta chop saw whose drive belt wore out. They don’t stock the part any more. They don’t stock the motor brushes either. If I’d bought a cheaper saw the cost/use would have been less. I keep tools for a long time because I maintain them but I’ve been left in the lurch one too many times by the name brand guys who don’t keep parts available. As long as it does the job get the cheapest tool you can find that works.

  21. Gough says:


    Since DeWalt bought Delta/Porter-Cable, they’ve been dropping parts and accessories like crazy. I was after some motor brushes and finally went to my local automotive electrical specialist and asked to looked through their selection of brushes. Sure enough, there were identical brushes from some alternator or some such.

  22. flarney says:

    Thanks Gough,

    I will give it a shot. I had a similar experience with 3M dust mask. You had to buy a different housing for each type of cartridge [ a scam in itself] , then they stopped making the the cartridges. A North dealer took the mask in exchange for one of his after I bought a bunch of cartridges for the new one. We were both happy.

  23. Brad Justinen says:

    @ flarney

    I have the same Delta miter saw. Ereplacementparts.com has the best selection I’ve ever seen. They have exploded parts diagrams for just about 90 percent of the tools out there.

    Here’s a link to the parts you need:

    They have the belt and brushes in stock.

  24. flarney says:

    Thanks Brad Justinen

    Gotta love this site. Seems my two saws are so old they don’t register, nothing for 34-079 or 36-220 showed but some parts for other machines look very likely to be compatable [I hope]. Ordered a belt and now keeping an eye out for the brushes. I will make sawdust again.

  25. Bubba says:

    Harbor Freight and Chicago Electric.

    I have heard that Chicago Electric reconditons tools. Do they recondition to a lesser standard? For instance, Take the bones of a Dewalt saw and recondition it to Chicago Electric standards and sell it as new? Any body have any comments?

  26. Coach James says:

    I never heard this. Where did you hear about this? Which parts of a Dewalt do they supposedly use?

  27. Doug says:

    On getting the bolt out. Find a good welder who may be able to weld a nut onto what remains of the bolt through the hole in the nut. A trick that has gotten many out of a bind many times.

    I have the Lisle outs bob mentioned. While they are worth a try, but when you exam them they are really designed to remove right hand thread bolts. With a little patience, and finesse you may coax them to bite well enough to remove a left handd thread bolt. I just never tried it. I believe the easy out brand does make tools to remove left hand thread bolts

  28. Larry says:

    I will not sugar coat this, it is a left handed bolt. The way it was sheared off was you tightened it instead of loosening it! Good news, most if not all of the 10″ miter saws made by Chicago Electric tools are the same Hex Head Bolt. If you call 1-800-444-3353 you can either order a new one and wait for it to come or you can ask them to see if they have this saw in their warehouse and can possibly cannibalize it for you to get it sooner. As for the shaft of the bolt if you removed the spacer & flange there should be enough of the shaft sticking out to possibly try what I did: I took my grinding tool and cut a deep slot in the broken shaft, stuck a flat head screwdriver in the slot, clamped the screwdriver with a pair of vise grips, sprayed the heck out of it with PB Blaster, waited a couple of hours, turned it the correct way and wallah, I got the broken shaft out. Best of Luck!

  29. Delmar says:

    Ya can find a like bolt at a dewalt service center. oem 145344-01 M8 miter saw replacement bolt. The bolt is the exact copy of the HF miter I have for only $1.09

  30. Eric says:

    The prices on the Chicago Electric miter saws seem to fluxuate alot on the Harbor Freight site. I see prices / coupon codes that get them down to the $120 range – such as http://www.mitersaws.co/miter-saw-coupons.php. makes me think that replacement parts may be a tough find.

  31. Ron says:

    Got the motor off my mieter saw and can’t get it and the cover back together. What do I do?

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