I got a chance to work with the HF 12” sliding miter saw again this weekend. I had the saw fairly well adjusted and decided to move on to other issues.
The laser included with this saw proved to be a big disappointment. I spent time adjusting it (not a very intuitive process) and tried using it. But, as many reviews of this saw have noted, it was just too dim! I don’t consider my shop all that brightly lit. In fact, I am in the process of redoing my shop and at the end of the list of “things to do” is to improve the lighting. But even with poor lighting, the laser was too dim to see easily. The laser isn’t located very conveniently, either. It collects dust from the blade and the slightest coating of dust on the laser lens tends to dim and scatter the light enough to make the laser totally useless. I finally just removed the damned thing.
I moved on to a few more trial cuts with a scrap 2X12. I quickly discovered that this saw must be solidly mounted. When I started my testing, I simply clamped the saw to the edge of a large table with folding legs that I use around the shop. The clamps held only the front mounting feet of the base casting. Although the castings are large and heavy, I noticed that the base casting would flex and lift the rear mounting feet off of the table. This was particularly true when the slides were extended to their full length for wide cuts. The extra slide length created a longer lever arm and even slight downward pressure would flex the base casting. This changed the geometry of the saw and caused the blade path to change. I had cuts that were straight but not square and even cuts that curved in the middle of the cut. Most of that ceased when I took a couple of big heavy screws and solidly mounted the rear of the saw. So, sometime in the near future, I have to construct a stand for this saw with a heavy inflexible base to mount the saw.
The blade that HF includes has been cricitized on many of the reviews and posts about this saw. Never being one to take someone else’s word about things, I decided to keep the original blade until it proved itself unusable. That didn’t take long. Tear out and smoothness of the cut were nothing to write home about but reasonable. But, even after I worked out the flexing issues mentioned above, I found that the cuts were sometimes not square and there would often be big semicircular gouges in the cut where the blade seemed to shift in the middle of a cut. Most commonly, this seemed to happen at the very beginning or end of a cut. It seemed like the blade was actually flexing during cuts!
I decided to try a new blade. The Diablo D1280X is highly recommended for ANY miter saw on the woodworking sites I visit. It was available at the local Home Depot and cost about $60 with tax. What a difference! Cuts were smooth but not polished and tearout was minimal as long as I didn’t rush the cuts. I didn’t see any more flexing issues and all cuts were smooth and true. I may have to get the D1080X for crosscuts on my table saw. This blade is just phenomenal!
Now I could do real work. I mentioned that I had a specific project in mind for this saw. In the process of rearranging my shop, I found that I had to make a new stand for my lathe in order to fit it in a new location. The wood I was going to use had been salvaged from a water bed that someone had thrown out years ago. These pieces were 2X10 pine and all were 60” to 92” long – just about impossible to crosscut on a table saw even with a sled. This was the reason I started looking at a sliding miter saw in the first place.
The most interesting thing about this wood (at least from the point of this blog) is that it was all stained a very dark color. This makes any tearout obvious. I made about 8 cuts to size up the pieces for my new lathe stand. Here is a picture of the best and worst cuts produced by this saw:
Now, make no mistake – I didn’t buy this saw to do construction work! I bought this saw to do fine woodworking. Looking at the picture above, I think you will have to agree that is going to be possible with this saw. That last bit of tearout may be fixed by using a sacrificial board on the fence and constructing a zero-clearance plate for the base. One of things I like about this saw’s design is that it should be very easy to make a zero-clearance insert for it. The two rulers in the base are held by 4 screws. The ledge that these sit on is exactly 1/4” deep so the ZC insert can be as simple as a 1/4” piece of plywood cut to the right size.
-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"