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Time for a Miter Saw Upgrade! #2: It all begins with the research...

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Blog entry by PlanBWoodworks posted 01-18-2018 10:40 PM 1754 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: The beginning... Part 2 of Time for a Miter Saw Upgrade! series no next part

Like many of us, when I first got into procuring tools for my wood shop, I was heavily influenced by price over features and capability. I would do research before buying a tool, but at the time, I did not really understand what was important, or in a lot of cases, how the tool would actually be used in day to day work. My Ryobi 10” sliding miter saw was the very first tool that I bought, and I had NO idea what to look for. My research consisted of pricing and customer ratings of various saws and finding the best middle ground. Ryobi won out.

As I stated in the initial entry of this blog series, the Ryobi has been more than adequate. It has cut everything that I have asked it to. It makes straight 90’ crosscuts. After putting an 80 tooth Diablo blade on, the cuts were fantastic. As with all sliding miters, there was a small amount of slop when the blade was fully extended on its rails. Miter cuts for frames weren’t great. The biggest issue that I had was that bevel cuts were nearly impossible due to the ridiculous amount of force necessary to turn the bevel knob on the rear of the saw. I basically just stopped trying.

To be perfectly honest, was it NECESSARY to upgrade my miter saw? No. Not really. So why did I do it? Well, because I wanted to! I absolutely understand that top quality comes at a premium price. That being said, I also am very aware that quality tools can be had at prices that don’t require a second mortgage. I will no doubt be crucified for what I am about to say, but I think that $1,500 for a Festool Kapex for anyone who doesn’t earn their living through woodworking is insane! Would I take a Kapex if someone gave it to me? Absolutely. Then I would sell it and buy a cheaper, high quality miter saw and blow the remaining $1,000 on other stuff for my shop! I don’t hate Festool. I am actually contemplating purchasing a track saw and a Domino from them. I just think that the Kapex is ridiculously overpriced for a non-pro woodworker. Anyway, though I am slightly ashamed to admit it, I wanted to have a miter saw with a better pedigree.

I began scouring the interwebs and reading anything I could find on miter saws. In my head, I had already pretty much decided that the Bosch Glide 12” was the way to go. The vast majority of the reviews were overwhelmingly positive. There were some reviews that made claims of inaccuracies and lack of squareness, but those seemed to be the exceptions. The research that I did on other miter saws was really just a formality. One thing that I did not love was the lack of a laser as a standard feature, but I knew that Bosch sold an aftermarket add on. Also, I would have to order the Glide on line. They weren’t in stock anywhere locally. Despite all that, I absolutely thought that Bosch would be the winner.

The only other saw that I considered a real contender was the DWS780. I am a self admitted Dewalt fan boy. I have never had a Dewalt anything that did not perform at a very high level. I have a Dewalt table saw, planer, 2 routers, angle grinder…. The list just keeps going. Also, the DWS780 is the highest rated miter saw on Amazon. It’s cheaper than the Bosch Glide and the XPS shadow line system that is standard gets rave reviews. 3 drawbacks to the Dewalt that I found were the bevel controls were on the rear of the saw, the sheer size/footprint of the saw (although, this wasn’t a deal breaker as my miter saw station could handle the depth), and finally, there were some reviews that mentioned the aggressive striations on the saw’s tables. This saw was in stock locally, and I could actually inspect it before purchasing.

I reviewed other options such as the Hitachi which is very well reviewed and popular with many. This saw was in stock locally. In addition, I also looked a 10” and 12” offerings from Makita. Again, the Makita saws were all very highly reviewed, but again, I would have to order on line.

In the end, I decided that I would go and look at the Dewalt and Hitachi, and at least put hands on them before I ordered the Bosch. Both were in stock at my local Lowe’s, so off I went. I walked in, and the first thing that I noticed was a stack of boxes that were offering the Delta Cruzer. The Cruzer appeared to be a Bosch Glide clone. The glide arms were in a different configuration, but the idea was the same. In addition, the 12” Cruzer was on sale for $399. That was the cheapest of all saws that I was considering.

After looking over the Cruzer box (only the box as none of the saws were actually on display), I went over and looked at the Hitachi and Dewalt sliding miters. While I thought that the Hitachi was ok, I really liked the Dewalt. I didn’t think that the table striations were rough enough to actually complain about, I confirmed that it would fit fine in my miter saw station and I was very impressed with the shadow line lighting system. The fact that I could get it locally and not have to order it and be concerned about shipping damage was another BIG plus in the Dewalt’s favor. All the sudden, the Bosch was no longer the front runner.

Over the next few days, I continued to research various saws. I would bounce back and forth. The glide was the clear choice. But wait, the laser that you can add on is not great according to a lot of reviews. The Dewalt was in the lead, but wait, it is SO big. IF I ever want to move my miter saw station…. Oh, look, the Makita LS1016L is really well reviewed. Maybe that is the option I should go with. Wait a minute, Makita has a newer version with forward facing rails. The Makita LS1019L is the newest and shiniest of them all!!! But wait, I read a review or 2 about misalignment issues…. But I wanted a 12” saw! The Makita LS1216L is the way to go. I read some stuff about the Cruzer, but as it was so new, very little info was out there. Most reviews were positive, but there were a couple of reviews regarding slop and misalignment.

On and on and on… A new front runner every day. It was getting to be less and less fun every day. I went in to the search for my new miter saw excited and eager, but now, I just wanted it over.

I have bored you long enough for today. In my next entry, I will take you through the final decision, initial unboxing and first impressions.

-- Why can’t I ever find my pencil???



12 comments so far

View lizardhead's profile

lizardhead

651 posts in 2809 days


#1 posted 01-19-2018 12:13 AM

Trying to be as kind as I can while still crucifing you, as you say, buying the best you can afford is why people drive Mercedes instead of Fords. I have the Festool and while I am not using it professionally, I do get professional results. And are not the results of a fine project worth the price? Festool has gone to extremes to eliminate the “CONS” of tools sold to the masses. Funny thing to me here is that DeWalt is the only tool in my arsenal that is nonexistent. Oops I take that back, I have a drawer full of worn out or broken drill bits.

-- Good, Better, Best--Never let it rest---Always make your Good be Better & your Better Best

View PlanBWoodworks's profile

PlanBWoodworks

120 posts in 450 days


#2 posted 01-19-2018 01:06 AM

I understand your point and don’t have any issue with your choice. I just choose a different mindset. I understand that many Kapex owners are fanatical believers in that product. I have not had an expansive amount of experience using the Kapex, however I have used one several times. PERSONALLY, I don’t believe that the added features and admittedly VAST improvement in dust collection justify an additional $1000 over another quality slider.

As far as your experience with Dewalt, your experience dictates your opinion. They have let you down, and that is why you have chosen to exclude them from your arsenal. Totally understandable. My experience with Dewalt has been different. I am yet to have any reason to hesitate in purchasing anything from them. Should that change, then I am sure that my opinion would as well. That being said, correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t motor burnout a pretty significant issue with the Kapex? Sometimes things sold to the “masses” are more reliable due to the far larger amount of feedback that those companies receive. It allows and requires those companies to address issues faster to protect their name. Otherwise, the masses will go somewhere else.

The main point that you make that I would like to rebut is your query, “Are not the results of a fine project worth the price?” I would respond with another question. Is it not possible to achieve fine results without spending $1,500 on a miter saw?

I am glad that you are pleased with your Kapex. I wish you years of enjoyment and happiness with it. That being said, the Kapex is not something that I am interested in for my shop.

-- Why can’t I ever find my pencil???

View lizardhead's profile

lizardhead

651 posts in 2809 days


#3 posted 01-19-2018 03:44 AM

That is surely a reasonable argument. Let me say one more thing toward my point. Forget the cost, if you were gifted a Kapex, and you could only keep it, junk it or trade even for another saw which would you do? Hey Plan B—- check out my 20 Mule Team project.

-- Good, Better, Best--Never let it rest---Always make your Good be Better & your Better Best

View lizardhead's profile

lizardhead

651 posts in 2809 days


#4 posted 01-19-2018 04:01 AM

I have purchased literally thousands of dollars in tools, as part of my job was purchasing tools for about 20 crews. Just for a bit of interest, my top picks are as follows.
Reciprocating saw—-Milwaukee
Hand held band saw—- Milwaukee
Sabre saw—-Bosch
Circular saw—-Mikita
4-1/2 ” angle grinder—-Hitachi
Cordless drill—-DeWalt (yeah I know) I use Milwaukee

-- Good, Better, Best--Never let it rest---Always make your Good be Better & your Better Best

View PlanBWoodworks's profile

PlanBWoodworks

120 posts in 450 days


#5 posted 01-19-2018 04:05 AM

Obviously, the only logical choice would be to junk it. Just kidding. Based upon the parameters hat you laid out, I would keep it. I don’t deny that the Kapex is the best miter saw available. However, I believe that it’s price is disproportionate to its additional features and capabilities. Priced at $800-$900, I could potentially justify it.

-- Why can’t I ever find my pencil???

View jimintx's profile

jimintx

766 posts in 1552 days


#6 posted 01-19-2018 04:28 AM

Gift me a Kapex, and I will sell it asap. “Brand new, in the box, and yours for only $1150!”

Recommending a Kapex as the miter saw choice to a person that is using a DeWalt DWE7480 Table Saw – when a table saw is arguably the heart of a woodshop – is really … questionable.

-- Jim, Houston, TX

View r33tc0w's profile

r33tc0w

146 posts in 452 days


#7 posted 01-19-2018 05:09 AM

Just picked up a 12” Skil 3821, factory refurbished for $170 from CPO outlets. My first miter saw! I’ll let you know how that fairs tomorrow as I build my shed with it :D

-- Matthew 13:53-58

View PlanBWoodworks's profile

PlanBWoodworks

120 posts in 450 days


#8 posted 01-19-2018 06:57 PM

Hi Jim, Thanks for reading my blog post. I just wanted to let you know that when I purchased my Dewalt 7480, I knew absolutely nothing about what I really needed as far as a table saw for a wood shop. In fact, I make reference to that very issue at the beginning of my most recent blog entry. If I had that knowledge at the beginning of this journey, I certainly would have chosen differently.

That being said, I absolutely am blown away by how well my table saw has performed when it has been asked to do far more than any bench top contractor saw should be expected to do. In addition, the fun that I have had in modifying it and it’s stand/tables has more than made up for any consternation that I have felt due to its lack of capabilities.

Also, I am actually very glad that I chose this table saw as a starter model for another reason. I see posts in CL all the time with high end woodworking equipment for sale at low prices due to “I bought this and never really got into woodworking…”. When I first started purchasing tools, it was for project specific things. I had no idea I was going to become obsessed with woodworking. Had I gone out and blown $5000 on a shop set up and then lost interest, then what? Sell it all at a loss? No thanks.

I’m sorry that you think giving me advice is “questionable.” Feel free to refrain from doing so in the future. I hope that you get many years of enjoyment and happiness from this and your shop full of premium ship equipment. I am content to learn daily and make wiser choices as I grow.

Thanks!

-- Why can’t I ever find my pencil???

View PlanBWoodworks's profile

PlanBWoodworks

120 posts in 450 days


#9 posted 01-19-2018 07:01 PM

R33- Good for you! I hope it works well. I had a Skil jigsaw that absolutely refused to die. I dropped it a million times, but it kept right on ticking. I actually ended up gifting it and a few other of my since upgraded tools to someone who thought they might want to give woodworking a shot.

-- Why can’t I ever find my pencil???

View jimintx's profile

jimintx

766 posts in 1552 days


#10 posted 01-19-2018 07:42 PM

PlanB, the snide nature of your out was not missed, so let me just say that you didn’t understand the comment. I support your approach whole-heartedly. And in fact, I had a Dewalt TS for a long time, and I know how useful it was. The guy I sold it to was a home remodel by trade, and he was super happy that I was finished using it.

It certainly is not questionable to give you advice – after all, that is why most of us go to the web seeking input, and thats what you did. My point was that I did not think it was all that useful to advise you in a way that pointed at the ca. $1,500 miter saw from Festool.

So – if i had that wrong, and you were looking for justification to get the Kapex, then by all means let me give that to you as well: Go buy it straight away, enjoy the pride of owning it, and never look back.

Without a doubt I am full guilty of over-spending on a lot of stuff, not just tools.

.

-- Jim, Houston, TX

View djak's profile

djak

14 posts in 2318 days


#11 posted 01-20-2018 11:58 AM

PlanB: Like you I was in the market for a new Miter Saw and like you I really did not need one, my Porter Cable worked just fine. Several years ago, I saw the Bosch Glide MS and was impressed. So, when I decided to get a new MS, I first turned to the Bosch. It is an impressive MS. I also looked at the DeWalt, Hitichi and Makita.

Unfortunately, no matter which MS I decided on, I would have to rebuild my MS Station. After weeks of research, I came to the conclusion I did not like the extra width that would be needed to accommodate the slide mechanism of all the MS except the Bosch.

I decided on the Bosch and was able to get it from Home Depot. I had a 12 free financing offer, so the decision to by the Bosch was easy.

With the MS Station rebuild to accommodate the Bosch, I am very pleased with my decision.

Dave from NH

-- Dave - NH

View JimDaddyO's profile

JimDaddyO

543 posts in 3047 days


#12 posted 01-20-2018 12:13 PM

I have the 12” Bosch Glide Mitre saw and I really like it, but make no mistake, this is a heavy saw. Not something I would want to lug to a job site every day. In my case it is a shop only saw, so the weight (about 70 lbs) is not much of an issue. I did a few mods to it (see my YT channel) to make it perform a bit better. I also have another blade for it that a friend gave me to put on it. It has to be sharpened yet, but he has the same saw and says it makes a world of difference over the stock blade. Bottom line is….Would I get the same saw again? Yes, it is more saw than I will ever need.

-- my blog: http://watertoneworkshop.blogspot.ca/ my You Tube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCA5AretE3xPoVDV61AxUdUA?view_as=subscriber

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