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The perfect saw for my needs and space

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Review by ajw1978 posted 11-13-2014 09:17 PM 8365 views 0 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
The perfect saw for my needs and space The perfect saw for my needs and space No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

_First things first, my star rating reflects the saw’s use and value to me and my needs. So may be higher for me than it would be for you, and that’s perfectly fine. Also, the review is also coming from somebody still new to the hobby so may lack the technical details found in other reviews. You can get specs and more information at the Craftsman website

The “centerpiece” to my tool collection and budding attempt at a workshop comes after a long and frustrating two month search.

Background

Having gotten the bug to build new living room furniture, and seeing a neighbor working with a miter saw, I got the bug that I should get one to make my life a little easier—and somehow, the CEO was down with it. Spent a few weeks comparing and contrasting different models and was about to run out and by a 7 1/4-incher somewhere when my father caught wind of my plan and quickly set me straight and pointed me towards a saw that I would “grow into” instead of one that handled my current, minimal needs (smaller dimensional lumber).

Went out and looked at HD, Menard’s and Lowe’s. Really wanted to go for the Ridgid, but was well out of my price range. Thought about the Ryobi; looked at a Performax and even thought about the 12-inch dual-bevel at Harbor Freight but ultimately, settled on the 12-inch Craftsman, which was at the time on sale and I had a bunch of points to burn.

While at the store to pick it up, had a change of heart and got the 10-incher instead. Good price, good options. Everything was fine. Set it up and worked as it should. But on vacation the next week, swung by the outlet mall which had a refurb Ryobi for about $100 less than I paid. Knowing, from my research, that Craftsman and Ryobi have similar manufacturers, I grabbed the blue one, hauled it home and returned the black and red one.

Mistake.

Didn’t like anything about the Ryobi: the laser hardley worked; miter stops weren’t very accurate; blade was bad and changing it was impossible thanks to some stripped screws. So … that got sold on Craigslist and back to Sears to re-purchase the original saw. But, it was out of stock and on a lark, the MGR offered me the compact model at the same price, plus a bunch of discounts.

And the rest is history.

I love this saw. For my needs and abilities at this point, it is more than enough. Good cutting capacity—Cut a 2×12 with no issues and even some 4×4s sliced with ease. Because of my current “workbench” situation (repurposed heavy duty bar tables, stabilized and leveled), the miter stops are a bit difficult at times and thanks to a LJ.com suggestion to grab a digital angle gauge, some adjustments brought the blade nice and true. The laser is decent but, as with any lighting, its difficult to see outside (where I do most of my work), but there are creative ways to work shadows and shade to one’s advantage.

As for the “compact” nature of it, I’m not sure how accurate the term may be. It definitely feels a little bit smaller compared to the other two CSMS’s I brought home, but not by much. But being able to put it up against a wall, or in my case, a pillar on my deck, was a big selling point for me.

I know I don’t read a lot of good things anymore about Craftsman, especially when it comes to power tools—and I know most hard-core, serious woodworkers probably have something a little higher scale in their shops, but if you’re a beginner with limited space like myself, and are looking for a quality starter saw to grow into, this is a good choice.

Miscellaneous

  • Dust collection—Again, comparing to the other two models I tried, the dustbag on this thing actually does what it is designed to do, though you can still expect quite a bit of dust floating around. Attaching a shop vac hose helps, but you have to position it just right for it to work with the slider, especially when it’s up against a wall. Also, it helps if you pull the saw all the way forward before dropping the blade down and pushing through some wood. But again, that’s just a minor thing.
  • Blade—Comes with a stock 60T blade, which is nice compared to the 40T offered on the Ryobi and, I believe, the Craftsman standard slider. I can say with confidence that it easily handles aluminum (knowledge I gained from accidentally chopping off a chunk of the fence on day one; also, my father borrowed the saw—in a big day for my tool-owning career—to cut some aluminum trim for his house …. which resulted in him buying me a diablo as “thanks.”) Changing it is a little tricky, though, as the bolt holes on the blade cover are a bit of a pain to line up properly.
  • Hold down clamp—Doesn’t fit securely and can be a bit more of a nuisance than anything else. Only works on the left side of the saw, as the right-side spot for it gets in the way of the motor.

-- May the good Lord help me if I ever actually have a shop, garage or basement.




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ajw1978

165 posts in 1327 days



14 comments so far

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Surfside

3389 posts in 2079 days


#1 posted 11-13-2014 10:00 PM

This is a very detailed review. I think it’s a good saw.

-- "someone has to be wounded for others to be saved, someone has to sacrifice for others to feel happiness, someone has to die so others could live"

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Tedstor

1643 posts in 2539 days


#2 posted 11-13-2014 11:34 PM

Great review.

I actually have the Craftsman 7 1/4” CSMS that I ‘think’ you almost bought. It’ll handle 95% of my x-cutting needs with a cheaper circular saw blade. Its light and easily portable. But I also have a table saw and bandsaw to cut bigger stuff if necessary. If I didn’t have larger machines, I’d definitely gone with the 10”.

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MrRon

4632 posts in 3149 days


#3 posted 11-14-2014 05:45 PM

Despite the negative reviews about Craftsman tools, I wish you a lot of luck.

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ajw1978

165 posts in 1327 days


#4 posted 11-14-2014 11:29 PM

Thanks. I’m finding most of my issues with Craftsman so far are the inability to find the remaining American-made items and abhorrent customer service and online experience.

-- May the good Lord help me if I ever actually have a shop, garage or basement.

View muleskinner's profile

muleskinner

896 posts in 2343 days


#5 posted 11-15-2014 06:33 AM

I’ll grant that there’s some pretty crappy Craftsman products but they’ve all got to be taken on there own merit. I know people like to dismiss the entire brand but some of their products are as good as the other consumer brands. I have a couple of Craftsman routers of recent vintage that are perfectly capable medium duty routers. Other brands have their dogs too. The worst POS table saw I’ve used had a Delta label on it. More useless than any Craftsman TS I ever saw.

-- Visualize whirled peas

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ajw1978

165 posts in 1327 days


#6 posted 11-15-2014 06:38 AM

Very true. As “light” as I use my power tools, the price is right and the return on investment is good enough. Hand tools, I’ve stuck with Craftsman mainly because I end up with a boatload of rewards points, so I’ve managed to fill the basics of my tool box (hammers, screwdrivers, pliers, wreches, etc) with the Made in the USA stuff. I’ve also had some good luck with Harbor Freight items for lower-level stuff. The $15 reciprocating saw gets the job done on the occasion I need it and I even wound up jumping on a $20 jigsaw from Aldi that, with a couple of Bosch blades, is just as good as the Milwaukee I had on long-term loan from a friend. I think once I’ve got the basics covered, I might start merging brands.

-- May the good Lord help me if I ever actually have a shop, garage or basement.

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Tedstor

1643 posts in 2539 days


#7 posted 11-15-2014 03:46 PM

I think there are many gems among the Craftsman line. Yes, there are some turds too. But in too many cases, I think people judge Craftsman under the same lens that they might judge Makita or Milwaukee. Not really a fair comparison. Craftsman is a value line. Its intended for light/occasional use by harry homeowner. In most cases, Craftsman products serve that market segment VERY well.
Serious amateurs and professionals bemoan craftsman products because they don’t live-up to their needs. Well duhhhh…..they weren’t designed to. I worked as a professional car mechanic for 5 years. I broke 2-3 Craftsman 10mm sockets in the first 18-24 months, as I used that socket to remove/install ~100 10mm fasteners everyday with a cordless impact wrench. I eventually bought a set of snap-on sockets (to include a 10mm) and never broke another socket from then on. I also paid a king’s ransom for that snap-on set.
That said, professionals and serious amateurs crap all over Craftsman…..and that reputation has obviously influenced the rest of the tool buying market, to include harry homeowner.
To be clear, I too have been burned by a bad craftsman power tool. I bought a cordless drill that sucked from day one. I could have returned it for a refund, but waited too long and the refund window had closed. And many other people have a craftsman horror story. But craftsman has also sold eleventy-gagillion tools over the past 20 years alone. The law of averages dictates there will be some tales of disappointment. If Makita sold even 5% as many tools as craftsman (and they haven’t)......there would probably be a mentionable list of PO’d customers too.
But that cordless drill aside, the other 10 or so Craftsman power tools I’ve purchased have served their intended purpose in my shop VERY well.
The Nextec drill and driver have been solid and were bought for a song.
I also bought a Craftsman biscuit joiner that gets occasional use and was WAY less expensive than competing models. I’m glad I had the option of buying a ‘pretty good’ Craftsman for $95, rather than a ‘really good’ $250 Porter Cable. I simply didn’t need THAT much additional quality in a biscuit joiner that would barely see the light of day.

View Rick's profile

Rick

8899 posts in 2939 days


#8 posted 11-16-2014 09:36 AM

Very nice in depth Review. That’s some pretty heavy cutting capacity for a 10” Mitre Saw! Glad you put that in there. Thanks!

Rick

-- I Take My Kids Everywhere! The Problem Is, They Keep Finding Their Way Back Home! (Rick, Ontario, Canada)

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Peter

2 posts in 1194 days


#9 posted 11-16-2014 10:02 AM

I bought a Second hand Black and Decker bandsaw off eBay UK. It did not come with a manual / user guide and my initial thought Google would provide didnt turn out. As an avid You Tuber I came across a guy showing how to set up his Craftsman bandsaw. Got it in one, same bandsaw, different Badge. B& D now rebranded DeWalt in UK. The UK has a huge specialist magazine provison and it pays to ignore the brandname and compare the photo and specs. in the many pages of adverts in the various mags. Time after time rebadged benchtop tools are on sale at wildy different prices. The more prestigious the brand or the supplier the higher the price, so it maybe thay the guy who gets much better results from his Acme De Lux is actually using the same saw in every respect apart from the badge or on occaisions paint job. . Might be worth a thought. Please Please dont let there be an Acme De Lux brand in the States. Extradition and time in State Penitentiary a no no at my age.

-- moggsy5744

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doitforfun

199 posts in 1514 days


#10 posted 11-16-2014 03:16 PM

I used to have a craftsman drill that had a very handy design feature I haven’t seen much lately: a bit holder. As silly as that minor thing was, it was the most useful thing ever. I think their new ones come with it too. The little things matter sometimes.

-- Brian in Wantagh, NY

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mandatory66

202 posts in 2037 days


#11 posted 11-16-2014 10:25 PM

The old Craftsman tools seem to be as good as any, I am still using a 3/8 drill that I purchased in 1965 for $9.00. I still have a 1/2 inch drill & jig saw that are 31 years old & still in use. The import trade & plastic has change it all. I agree that the new stuff is made to a price point and specific market, which may not be all all bad.

View ajw1978's profile

ajw1978

165 posts in 1327 days


#12 posted 11-16-2014 11:57 PM

I know in digging through my mother’s basement and stumbling on tools my father left behind when they divorced, and by some of the tools in the basements of my grandfathers, there is a noticeable difference in materials. How much that relates to quality, I have no clue. But I’m impressed at how durable those old tools are—especially Opa’s late-60s table saw, which cut beautifully with a new blade. But as mandatory 66 said, and others have alluded to; Craftsman tools are geared toward a specific genre of tool buyers: beginners and light DIYers, IMHO. For now, they do the trick. Were I a daily tool user, with more of an actual shop then a bunch of storage tubs in the closet, and knew what I was doing—not to mention a little better-off financially—I’d probably go with Ridgid. In fact, I’m already drooling over a refurb drill/driver/saw package at Direct Tools Outlet. The warranty intrigues me. But for now, I’m going to go with the best price combined with lasting ability. I figure, if I get five years out of what I have (taking into account the myriad errors that come from being a novice), I’ll be in good shape.

-- May the good Lord help me if I ever actually have a shop, garage or basement.

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mandatory66

202 posts in 2037 days


#13 posted 11-17-2014 04:51 AM

AJW
Buy the best you can afford and put them to work,learn the needed skills and start building something. The satisfaction is in the creation and the tools are only a means to get there. You don’t need expensive fancy tools, get a some hand tools as well,an old stanley plane & a hand saw.

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ajw1978

165 posts in 1327 days


#14 posted 11-17-2014 07:47 PM

I guess I’m on the right path because I actually spent part of the morning looking at planes and hand saws as I filled out my Christmas wish list. Going to check out a lot of garage/rummage/estate sales once Wisconsin thaws and everybody crawls out of their bunkers and see what I can find in terms of second-hand hand tools in the spring. But for now, just working on upgrading my box with the basics: proper hammer, mallet, small hack saw, proper screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers …. the basics for minor repairs around the house. And when the sun returns, it’s game on again.

-- May the good Lord help me if I ever actually have a shop, garage or basement.

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