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Craftsman MiterMate Saw...Oops, I goofed again.

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Review by PASs posted 02-05-2011 07:34 PM 7260 views 0 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Craftsman MiterMate Saw...Oops, I goofed again. Craftsman MiterMate Saw...Oops, I goofed again. Craftsman MiterMate Saw...Oops, I goofed again. Click the pictures to enlarge them

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.

———————UPDATE———————
6 Feb,
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."




View PASs's profile

PASs

563 posts in 1756 days



17 comments so far

View cutmantom's profile

cutmantom

283 posts in 1693 days


#1 posted 02-05-2011 08:24 PM

I would try to return it

View PASs's profile

PASs

563 posts in 1756 days


#2 posted 02-05-2011 08:32 PM

Forgot to mention Popular Mechanics has a pretty good review comparing the MiterMate to a Standard Dewalt.
Wish I’d read it before shopping.

-- Pete, "It isn't broken, you just aren't using it right."

View Dusty56's profile

Dusty56

11659 posts in 2346 days


#3 posted 02-05-2011 09:10 PM

WOW , that’s a pretty scary miter saw. Talk about doing things backwards !

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View teejk's profile

teejk

1215 posts in 1342 days


#4 posted 02-05-2011 11:19 PM

It’s been several years since I bought any power tool with the Craftsman name on it (I learned the hard way after pitching a 1 1/2hp router into the trash with maybe 15 minutes of run-time and not much later did the same with a circular saw). Sad part is that a long time ago one could trust the label (they sold nice tools!).

Have they improved? Or do I stick to my rule about avoiding them like a plague?

btw, I have seen the newer Dewalt 735 miter saws and see that they don’t look to be as sturdy as the older ones. I was looking for a new one to leave in the garage rather than haul it back and forth from the shop. looks like I will continue my migration of new tools to Bosch.

View Carl Webster's profile

Carl Webster

82 posts in 1456 days


#5 posted 02-06-2011 12:14 AM

30 to 40 years ago I bought nothing but Craftsman tools. Back then they were all American manufactured. Now the only thing I will buy from Sears are Craftsman wrenches.

-- Carl in SC

View Dusty56's profile

Dusty56

11659 posts in 2346 days


#6 posted 02-06-2011 01:03 AM

I agree , screwdrivers and wrenches and not much more .

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View superstretch's profile

superstretch

1504 posts in 1351 days


#7 posted 02-06-2011 05:05 AM

I actually considered getting that exact saw in November.. Then I happened upon the Sears Black Friday leaked online and picked up the sliding, laser 10” CMS for 175 or so. While not having the same angle-measuring features, the stops on the saw are dead on, the laser hits the left side of the kerf dead on, and the back fence is dead on straight and 90 to the surface. I figure this is probably a fluke, but I love my saw.

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View SergioC's profile

SergioC

82 posts in 1325 days


#8 posted 02-06-2011 05:13 AM

Great to know, I thought the angle transfer idea would be worth taking a chance.

View Jack_T's profile

Jack_T

621 posts in 1689 days


#9 posted 02-06-2011 06:12 AM

I am wondering why does this saw warrant a rating of 3 stars. It sounds like this saw is terrible when compared to other saws.

-- Jack T, John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life."

View PASs's profile

PASs

563 posts in 1756 days


#10 posted 02-06-2011 09:34 AM

Jack_T, Appreciate the observation.
I rated it 3 because it can do what they advertise. I just failed to think through how it would work when I actually put a 10 foot piece of quarter round in it.
Since I wrote my post I’ve read a half dozen reviews on other sites (google “craftsman mitermate review”) and found them to be a similar vein, nice concept but beware the difficulty of the increased footprint required.
I’ll be packing it up tomorrow I think to talk with Sears about giving it back.
I’m very reluctant to buy something, use it, even a little, then take it back unless it is broken or doesn’t do what it advertises. Still debating.

-- Pete, "It isn't broken, you just aren't using it right."

View Jack_T's profile

Jack_T

621 posts in 1689 days


#11 posted 02-06-2011 08:02 PM

That’s just it Pete, it doesn’t. The only purpose for the laser is to line the cut up. If you line the cut up with the laser you cut the wood in the wrong place. I am sure they don’t advertise that the saw is inaccurate and will cut in the wrong place. Therefore, it doesn’t do what they advertise. In fairness to Craftsman maybe your saw laser is defective, by taking it back you provide them with the opportunity to correct the problem. You also effectively tell them you the consumer will not tolerate false advertising or poorly made tools.

-- Jack T, John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life."

View superstretch's profile

superstretch

1504 posts in 1351 days


#12 posted 02-06-2011 08:10 PM

Does the Mitermate have the stops on the end of the table so you can keep cutting and not have to measure?

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View PASs's profile

PASs

563 posts in 1756 days


#13 posted 02-07-2011 04:50 AM

Jack_T you are right, review updated accordingly, and the saw is back at Sears.

-- Pete, "It isn't broken, you just aren't using it right."

View PASs's profile

PASs

563 posts in 1756 days


#14 posted 02-07-2011 05:25 AM

I added a drawing of the footprint of the MiterMate using 10 foot long stock for inside and outside corners plus a regular miter saw footprint for cutting.
The base is a 10 by 20 foot rectangle the same size as the awning over my back patio.

-- Pete, "It isn't broken, you just aren't using it right."

View wannabe's profile

wannabe

10 posts in 1701 days


#15 posted 02-07-2011 10:20 PM

You’ll like the C12FDH. I had it until I sold it last year b/c I got a C10FSH slider. Got it at Lowe’s when they had one of the 15% off power tools events. It’s smooth, dead on and adjustable. Just change the blade though b/c it’s crap just like with every other miter saw you can buy. Powered through 4X4 pressure treated posts like nobody’s business. Ugly, but good. Enjoy!

-- There are no stupid questions, only stupid answers ~ Marshall Loeb

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