|Review by PASs||posted 02-05-2011 07:34 PM||10150 views||0 times favorited||17 comments|
Update to this review at the bottom labeled “UPDATE”
Yet another $225 mistake, and the reason I KNOW when I buy something without thinking about it for about a month that I’ll probably goof.
I just do a little work around my house, but my loving wife lets me buy nice tools. We figure the cost of a tool is less than hiring someone to do the work.
I’d been looking at miter saws for a while; I have two radial arm saws in the shop, but it’s a pain to run back and forth from the shop to the house…you know the drill.
I’m doing some trim work around the house and was talking about getting a miter box and hand sawing everything (a bad idea for me to hand tool anything). So the wife (who knows this) said go and get a good miter saw. The ones i wanted were all over $300 bucks and I wasn’t happy about a twice a month tool for that much money. So I wandered over to Sears to compare the brands and prices against Home Depot, Lowes, and Woodcraft.
Sales rep met me just inside the tool department and asked if he could help. I told him I was just browsing the miter saws and he said “you need to watch this video”. They had a demo of the new MiterMate on the TV. It looked like just what I wanted, something to get the measurements right without a lot of hassle. And it had a laser guide, something I felt was critical considering my lack of measuring skills (measure 6 times, still get it wrong.)
The price seems more in line with what I wanted to pay, was certainly comparable with other similar sized saws, and I’m comfortable with Craftsman’s cost vs quality. Got it home opened it up, and started reading the owner’s manual.
On the positive side. It comes with an angle measuring tool to automatically lock in around the corner you are cutting. Put the tool against the corner, inside or outside corners, adjust the two arms, lock the tool, and walk to the saw. Put the tool into the kerf hole (it’s larger than the blade, so there is NO zero clearance for this saw) loosen BOTH the fences, adjust the fences against the tool, lock the fences, put the wood in and cut. Pretty simple. Worked like a charm.
The bad things.
BAM!!! First thing…the laser ISN’T a “where it aims is where you will cut”, it aims to the left of the blade. No, not the left edge of the cut…it aims about 3/32 of an inch to the left of the cut. The insert in the manual says it’s factory set to aim to the left of the cut, NOT the left edge of the kerf, where I’d expect a laser guide to aim. I tried to adjust it, but since it’s mounted on the arbor to the left of the blade there is a parallax factor, so adjusting the bean to the kerf results in an angled projection that is only good for one thickness. You can adjust the beam, but you would have to do it for each thickness every time.
To me this is just a waste of a laser guide. My eyes don’t know the difference between 3/32 and 1/8 inch, so I ended up using the laser to rough position, then brought the saw down to see where it would actually cut. And true to form I would have to slide the work piece right or left a little.
Second thing. My fault for not thinking through the actual operation of a miter saw with adjustable fences. EVERYTHING about setting up and making a cut is now reversed.
You don’t adjust the saw to the angle of cut.
You adjust the wood to the saw.
Here it comes…YOU CAN’T USE A MITER STAND WITH THIS SAW.
The saw doesn’t turn. So if you are making an outside angle you have BOTH fences set to about 45 degrees, for quarter round or baseboard that would put the fences making a “V” shape pointing toward you for an outside angle and for an inside angle the “V” would be pointing away from you.
Soooo the wood, as long a piece as your cutting, has to angle out and back from the saw toward you or away from you. So instead of a miter stand, you have to have an area that points in whatever direction the cut will be as long as the piece of wood you’re cutting.
I ended up twisting the saw to the right or left to make the cut.
If I was going to use this set up in the garage with a miter table I’d have to mount the saw on a turntable or else only make cuts out in the driveway.
In summary, I should have gotten a better quality standard miter saw and just spent more time measuring the angles.
I would recommend the saw to someone provided they understand the (severe) limitations imposed by the adjustable fences, and that the laser is pretty much useless.
Lesson learned, until the next “too cool to be true” impulse mistake.
I took the saw back to Sears this morning.
It rained yesterday and despite a 10 by 20 foot awning over the back patio I couldn’t work without picking the saw up and twisting it around to make cuts. So I didn’t work. That was the straw that broke the miter saw’s back.
The folks at Sears were very understanding and supportive of the problem.
I won’t mention that the woodworkers in the store pretty much said they don’t buy craftsman for their power tools.
So I dropped the rating based on an inability to use it under rather mildly bad conditions.
And…I went back by Woodcraft, then Home Depot, then Lowes checking all the saws out again.
Ended up a Lowes getting the Hitachi C12FDH.
Looks like a cross between an alien and a nike tennis shoe. But they were sold out at two stores and down to one at the last store. It was the only saw they were sold out of like that.
I figure that says something for the saw.
Will unpack it tomorrow and try it out.
Will review after that.
-- Pete, "It isn't broken, you just aren't using it right."