$20 Miter Saw and Vacuum Upgrade

image-2016-12-10-2404I stopped by the Habitat for Humanity ReStore this week, and I spotted a 10″ Ryobi miter saw for $20. Even though I don’t really need another saw like this, I couldn’t pass it up for that price. Besides, concepts like need and want get very blurred when it comes to power tools – at least in my case.

The saw ran fine, but it was a little rusty and it stuck when I tried to adjust the miter angle. Letting WD-40 soaking in overnight resolved that, and now it works smoothly.

I decided I wanted this to be my “portable” chop saw. The large one I have in my shop is built into a cabinet, and the other smaller one at the beach is fastened down to a work cart. I like both of these the way they are, but occasionally I need to pull the one off the cart to take it with me somewhere. I also decided I wanted good dust control – and I didn’t want to spend a lot of money to get it.

Adding Vacuum

I started off by adding a power take-off cord that would run a vacuum when the saw was running. The handle opened up easily to give me access to the switch and wiring.


Before I go further you get this disclaimer: If you don’t know about electrical wiring, don’t do this. You can get injured. Attempt it at your own risk. Be safe.

The black power wire came into the switch and went out to two wires – one red and one gray.


I used my voltage probe to verify the red one was the saw power. It was connected to the “NO” part of the switch – normally open. The gray one was on the “NC” – normally closed – terminal, so I assume it’s for the motor brake.

I spliced the new take-off power cord into the red wire, and also the white neutral wire. Both the saw and the vacuum have no ground prong / wire, so I left it unattached. This is typical for double-insulated tools.


There wasn’t enough space under the strain relief for the additional cord, so I put two zip-ties around both cords inside the handle. I put everything back in place and zip-tied the cords together on the outside as well.


I plugged in the vacuum and everything worked fine. The suction worked pretty well, pulling 80% of the dust in.

 I wanted to take care of as much dust as possible, so I added some additional “shields” using an empty plastic vinegar bottle.

After about an hour of cutting and testing, I came up with a lower shield to direct dust a bit toward the center, plus some side extension ones to create more vacuum draw around the blade.

Other than the dust that drops out of the bottom slot in the table, almost everything is captured. I’m really only concerned about airborne dust since it’s what causes the biggest mess and is really not good to breathe in.

Finally, I added a couple of points where I could connect a cloth shroud for additional dust capture.


I can cut a piece of cloth, drape it over the top the saw (behind the blade guard) and hold it down with the fender washers and wingnuts on each side.

Time and Money

As I said, the saw cost $20. I already had the extension cord end, but it would have cost about $3 for the connector. I also put a new Avanti 60-tooth crosscut blade on the saw, which cost $10. It’s not the best blade I could buy, but it’s fine for framing and general remodeling – and hitting the occasional nail. 

I’ll call the total $35.

I spent about 4 hours on this, most of it fiddling with the shields to get them to work really well.

I think it was worth the effort, and over time it will get a lot of use. If not, it’s a nice little saw I can give to someone who needs one.


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