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January 16, 2007

Compound Miter Saws

Hi Mag,

I purchased a Craftsman 10-inch sliding compound miter saw with laser but the slide was off by almost 1/8-inch and I had to return it.  I have been disappointed with Craftsman's quality control in the past but the price was right ($250) and the features were attractive. I mostly build bird houses and feeders with various angles following my mood.

Because I struggle so much cutting angles and bevels with the table saw, I think that this kind of tool could be my best friend. I researched and read so many reviews that I am now more perplexed than ever. I mostly read about Bosch, Makita, Hitachi, and DeWalt. What do you think? Your advice would be very much appreciated.

Best regards,

Lucie Boisvert Crocker

Hi Lucie,

I'm with you on the glories of sliding compound mitre saws.  I always turn to Taunton's Annual Tool Guide for big-ticket tool purchases.   The 2007 edition is available now.  It has a great article about choosing a miter saw.  Let me sum up:

Bosch_10inch_compound_miter The Editor's Choice (which also happened to be the Readers' Choice) was the Bosch 4410L.  They loved it for it's 4-position grip, which makes it easy to use with either hand.  The controls are conveniently located up front and it has a nice big workpiece clamp that positions really easily.  The saw also has a microadjustment knob for fine-tuning a cut 2 degrees on either side of a pre-set stop (called a 'detent').  Complaints: the laser was too blurry to allow for accurate cutting (whereas a pencil line never lies!) and the miter scale seemed a bit imprecise to the testers.  The Bosch retails for twice what you paid for the Craftsman, but you're worth it!

Milwaukee_10inch_compound_miter The Best Value choice was Milwaukee's 6497-6 (single bevel), and it retails at about $430.  The Milwaukee also comes with one of the best warranties in the business (5 years). 

Personally, I really love my old DeWALT 10-inch slider.  It's accurate, trustworthy and the detents are bang-on.  Choosing from any one of these three brands would probably make you and your birds very happy.

Hope that helps.  Have fun.

Mag

Comments

Jacob Kennedy

Any advice for squaring a compound mitre saw? Every time I get it exactly right and then give the screw one more twist to tighten it up the blinking thing gets out of square again. It's not so bad for 2x4s but when I'm doing frames, chair rails or crowns, the 45s don't match up and I'm into caulking hell to fill the gaps. It's impossible to fake a 90 out of a pair of poor 45s...

Blake Keithley

Regarding miter saws I would go with Makita and they have three saws that stand out.

The LS1013FL is a 10in dual compound slider. It was the best in class for years untill the Bosch came out. It still is easier to use. The advantage to the Makita. Bosch and Hitachi lies in the rail systems.

With the Makita you have the two parallel rails that both have linear ball bearings and the saw is mounted to a giant C clamp type affair. This creates a tripod which is inherrently more stable than just two rods placed verticaly. The dual linear ball bearings make the slide action as smooth as glass.

The other advantage is that the rails store underneath the table. This way they don't get knocked out of square in transport from job site to jobsite.

The table is machined from one piece of material so it is absolutely flat.

The 12in version of this saw is the LS1214FL. This gives you a little extra cutting capacity.

Makita went back to the drawing table and improved an old saw the LSO711 with the new LSO714. This dual compound saw will take a blade up to 7 1/2". It also has two sets of slides(Slides on the table and another set on the head or four rails) to give you maximum cutting length) (2x12@90deg/2x8@45deg, unsure on the dual compound cut)

It is considerably lighter in weight and is more compact. If your primary job is trim or you want a more compact unit with reduced blade costs then it is a great choice. Plus it's just sexy.

Keep in mind that what is actually doing the cutting is the blade.

These saws are put out to meet price points and most are put out with cheap blades. Makita's stock blades are made by Tenyru and are decent. Bosch puts decent blades on their saws.

But if you really want a great cut and let your saw perform, then you have to invest in a good blade. A Canadian company called FS Tool makes the best blades on the market.

They have a 80 tooth miter joint blade that will improce your cuts dramaticaly.

The differences are first in the plate.

When it is made two hydraulic rollers engage the plate on the table and press it as it is turned. This adds tension to the blade and is called roller tensioning. FS Tool blades are triple roller tensioned. The blade simply will not deflect under any circumstance.

Now the stock blades on most saws are so cheap that you can grab them by the edges and literaly bend them. That's exactly what they do when you miter or compound miter in heavier stock. They bend or "deflect" Thats one reason peoples miters do not match up.

The other is tooth grind. FS Tool's blade have heavy duty carbides with whats known as Triple Chip Grind on the tooth. This is a very smooth cutting tooth shape.

But the best blade will not be able to overcome a bad saw.

Craftsmen does not make their own tools. They subcontract to companies like Black and Decker, Skill Bosch and TTI. TTI has several tool holdings including Ryobi, Ridgid and Metabo.

My experience with Ryobi miter saws is that they arent worth their weight in scrap. You have to watch out for them and their clones in other brands.

Its sad because they used to make a nice slider and some interesting wood working tools. TTI then made it a low budget line.

Their BT3000 table saw is the best little table saw you can buy for the dollar. Go figure.

One thing you want to check is how the blade mounts. The old Dewalt 12in had a flange that did not go thru to mate on the shaft. The only thing that held it on was the tension on the bolt pressuring the face of the blade.

It was inherrently wobbly and sometimes the blade would even come off the saw. Toss a cheap blade on there and it couldn't cut a straight line.

A good mounting flange will key on at least one and prefferably two sides so there is solid contact and no wobble.

If you do a lot of picture frame work then one thing that would be a good investment is a miter trimer. Essentialy this is a horizontal paper cutter that shaves 1/16th of an inch off a cut miter making both sides of the corner perfectly square.

Hope this helps

Ivan

Hi, my name is disman-kl, i like your site and i ll be back ;)

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