Tuesday, April 13, 2010

WIWW: Miter Saw Recommendations and Use Pt. 1

During our nightstand build I will be recommending that you use a Miter Saw. The miter saw is a versatile tool that every woodworker/ DIYer should have in their shop. I highly recommend using a sliding miter saw. A sliding miter saw gives increased flexibility in that you can crosscut wider boards, typically boards up to 12”. Miter saws can differ in price dramatically you can spend anywhere from $89 on a low end 10” miter saw all the way up to the ultimate (insert high end car/purse/jewelry here i.e. Mercedes/Coach/Harry Winston) of tools a Festool Kapex KS-120 MSRP $1399. If a Festool Rep is reading this I will be more than happy to do a review for you if you would like to send me one. I promise I will send it back. As you can see there is a wide range of pricing.

There are also different sizes of miter saws, however the most common sizes are 10” and 12”. For the majority of users 10” is plenty, if you can afford it you will not go wrong with a 12” Miter Saw. I personally have purchased a Ryobi TSS100L which retails for around $199. This is a 10” Sliding Miter saw.

I am extremely happy with the saw in use and function. The one thing I don’t like about the saw is the factory blade it comes with. I suggest you upgrade blades as soon as you can. I did notice a bit of tear out from the factory blade. I am going to swap it out with a DeWalt 60 tooth blade. I will go into the difference in blades in a later post. Just know that a 60 tooth blade should give you a much cleaner cut with little to no tear out.

Now in choosing your own saw you need to read as many reviews as you can to have a comfort level with what you will buy. Ryobi, DeWalt, Craftsman in my opinion make good saws. I chose the Ryobi because the price was right. When you go and look at the saws touch as many of them as you can, keep weight and features in mind to decide if the price difference is worth the money to you. If you are like me I have limited space in my shop and weight is a big factor as I am constantly moving the saw around.

One thing the Ryobi doesn’t have is a double bevel feature which allows the saw to tilt left and right. I didn’t see the need for the double bevel as you can overcome that with the orientation of the wood. Most saws come with laser guides, some are attached to the blade arbor and some are attached behind the blade like the Ryobi and take a little adjustment to get an accurate laser beam on the wood. I may be a little old school but I don’t totally ever trust the lasers. I know they are supposed to be accurate but I always check the cut against my cut line.

One thing to look at is how much the blade moves when you push on it from the side. If it is very loose you can get deflection in your cut that will cause it to not be 90 degrees. Some of that could be from a loose bolt holding the blade so make sure to check that before dismissing a particular saw. You will also want to see how much slop (how much does the saw move side to side) there is when pulling the blade down to the table and if you are looking at a sliding miter saw also look at the slop when sliding the saw front to back. You want everything to be firm but not hard to move. Most every saw I have used has some movement you are looking for excess movement. Now keep in mind that 90% of the time you will need to do a little tuning of the saw out of the box. I will go into this in the second edition of the post. Feel free to give your input if you have a miter saw. I always believe the more information the better.

Coming in Part 2 – Using and Tuning the Miter Saw and Safety.


Crosscut: Cutting a board across the width of the board.

Tear Out: Splintering of the wood at the point of the cut.

Have a Great Day!


  1. A more expensive (~$700) choice (with dual bevel) of 10" sliding miter saw is the Bosch 4410L

  2. Anonymous: That is a good one as well. Bosch does make excellent tools. Thanks for adding that to the list.



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