The compound sliding miter saw leads the list of woodworking tools that have the ability to save a tradesman time in the execution of clean and accurate angled cuts for use in the home construction industry, intricate cabinet work and furniture construction. The compound sliding miter saw is the preferred tool over its less sophisticated family, the cut-off saw, also known as a chop saw.
When considering a 12” or a 10” compound sliding miter saw or any miter saw for that matter note that these numbers refer to the diameter of the cutting blade. The 12” model offers the advantages of increased cutting depth and crosscut. The 10” saw offers the advantages of lower weight and lower cost. Generally the 10” model will complete the majority of cuts so the 12” model will not be necessary.
Every manufacturer attempts to make their saw outshine its competitors with adding shiny bells and whistles but the features such as maximum width of the crosscut, maximum depth of cut, maximum height of cut and minimum blade runout are essential in the purchase of a new machine. The term runout in the previous section is a measure of how true the blade runs and is affected by the bearings on the blade shaft as well as the straightness of the blade. Another feature to consider is weight. Tradesmen generally avoid very heavy saws if they have to be lugged around from job to job, however a heavy compound sliding miter saw mounted permanently is a workshop in no problem at all.
A tradesman must make considerations as to the primary use of his compound sliding miter saw. If it will be used for dimensioning 2×4 framing lumber then most of the machines will be suitable, ensure however, that the machine has a strong motor along with soft start and electronic brake. A saw that has to execute intricate cuts into expensive and exotic woods would want to have all the high end features to augment his accuracy such as micro fine adjustment, digital LCD displays, accurate dual laser which indicates exactly where the blade width will remove the material.
Compound sliding miter saw adjustments involving the miter and bevel adjustments are critical factors which must be considered when examining the machine specifications. A high end compound saw will be able to bevel at least 45 degrees left and right and sometimes closer to 50 degrees bevel on each side. It should also miter each side to at least 50 degrees with some models reaching 60 degrees on one side and 50 degrees on the other.
Other features to consider for your saw are the number of positive stops or preset detents in the bevel and miter scales. The saw must also be able to cut close to the positive stop setting but not exactly on it. The locking mechanism for both the miter and bevel scales must be strong to ensure identical angles every cut.
The ability to effectively manage the dust that your saw will create is an added bonus. This feature becomes more critical when working in enclosed spaces as uncollected dust will not only compromise the health and safety of the compound miter saw operator, but others who will sharing the workspace space with the saw, not to mention the cleanup for which the operator of the saw will most certainly be responsible.
There are many factors to consider when choosing a compound sliding miter saw and in some cases we must make trade-offs of features vs. price to get the most suitable saw for our application.