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Ridgid MS1290LZ Sliding Compound Miter Saw

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Review by ferstler posted 10-12-2008 05:38 PM 29433 views 0 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Ridgid MS1290LZ Sliding Compound Miter Saw Ridgid MS1290LZ Sliding Compound Miter Saw Ridgid MS1290LZ Sliding Compound Miter Saw Click the pictures to enlarge them

I am reasonably new to woodworking, if one can call getting into it seriously only four years ago as “new.” I will also note that it was four years ago that I retired from a 35-year career at a university library. Once I retired I told my wife that I wanted to get a few tools so that it would be easier to do home-improvement projects. One thing led to another and now I have a workshop full of tools.

My woodworking neophyte status notwithstanding, I am not new to reviewing products, because for many years I reviewed audio components for two different hobby magazines, wrote commentary essays for them, published four books on A/V, and did the technical editing work for the 2005 edition of The Encyclopedia of Recorded Sound. While not a pro-grade woodworker or carpenter by any means, I do have an ability to spot quality in consumer products.

Anyway, my first miter saw, purchased three years ago, was a little Ryobi unit that I paid $99 bucks for at Home Depot. I still have the thing and it works fine for rough-and-tumble projects. I used it (along with a number of other tools, of course) to build a ramp up to a pre-existing deck so that the disabled lady who owned the deck could drive her wheelchair into her back yard. I even know a contractor who owns one, because it is not as likely to be stolen out of his truck as a more upscale unit.

My second miter saw was a 10-inch slider made by GMC that I picked up at Lowe’s for $190. I do not want to bad mouth the item too seriously, but it did have problems. For example, at the notched zero degree point it was off about a degree and a half. Not good for precision work, but I suppose passable for carpentry. It also did not have a motor-brake feature, which was annoying as hell. In any case, I ended up giving the thing to a neighbor, who manages to get good use out of it.

My third miter saw was the one I am reviewing here: a Ridgid, 12-inch model MS1290LZ sliding compound model. (Made in China, the saw might be coated with lead-based paint, so I advise against chewing on any of its parts.) Many of you have probably noticed this saw when you visited Home Depot, because of its large table size and hefty, 70-pound weight. This is a large item and not a miter saw for users who are not serious about crosscutting, cutting angles, and cutting bevels. For some time this saw had Home Depot prices ranging from $595 down to $549. However, one day I dropped by and it was on sale for $499. I could not let that deal pass. At least that is what I told my wife.

My first two miter saws were mounted on a $100 Wolfcraft stand that had folding legs and two almost useless wheels. I ended up removing the top part of that stand and installing it on a shop-built stand made of 2×4s, with four 4-inch caster-style wheels on the leg bottoms. This is a heavy, sturdy, non-folding stand that can easily be rolled out onto the big deck adjacent to my small shop out in the back yard. It is perfect for the big Ridgid unit and handles the weight easily. (I can also shoehorn my small Ryobi folding jobsite saw under the stand for storage.) Ridgid also offers its own stand for the unit (a new version of this stand recently appeared), and it certainly looks adequate. I passed on getting that, opting for my shop-built version instead, because in my small shop I store my folding jobsite saw under the shop-built stand and the Ridgid version would not allow that to be done.

The MS1290LZ itself has some great features, most notably the ability to miter out to 62 degrees on either side. It can also bevel 45 degrees to either side, and the movement of the unit during set ups out to those angles is quite smooth. The bevel and miter scales are easy to read and the unit even has a special guide attached to the miter scale that offers settings for cutting crown moldings.

The upper parts of the fence are adjustable for width, which is a good thing, since the offset, belt-driven motor can still bump those sections on the left side when doing extreme miter or bevel cuts. Fortunately, those fence tops are easy to adjust. The sliding rails holding the saw assembly are plenty stiff and that assembly moves smoothly as one uses them for longer cuts. Speaking of long cuts, the 90-degree crosscutting ability of the unit is 13.5 inches. While not record breaking, this reach is certainly a bit above average for saws of this type.

The unit came with a rotating-style, laser-aim device that screws against the blade. While I am sure that it works OK, I passed on installing it, because it is not something that would work well for me with the daytime outdoor work I usually do. In addition, it only turns on when the blade is spinning, which makes it awkward (and maybe even a bit dangerous) to adjust workpieces for accurate, laser-set-up cuts. I normally just move the blade edge into position just above the workpiece with the saw turned off and determine my cutting point by simple line of sight.

Speaking of the blade, the saw came with a carbide version that cuts decently. However, I replaced it with a Freud Industrial blade specifically designed for miter work, although I keep the Ridgid OEM blade on hand for cutting “chancy” materials.

The unit comes with a remarkably good hold-down clamp. Most competing versions require the user to wind and wind the clamp knob to get it into position. While the Ridgid has a clamp knob, too, it also has a quick-release feature that allows one to get it into position quickly before tightening the binder. This is a really good touch. The unit does not have side-mounted extensions for stabilizing longer boards. The MS1290LZ is so large and heavy that the company probably figured that most users would mount it on a stand that had its own outriggers.

The saw comes with a depth-of-cut adjustment cam mounted on the side, and although I have not used mine, I can see that it is easy to adjust and seems to be built with a reasonable degree of precision. The cam also doubles as the lock-down clamp when transporting the unit via the handle on top of the assembly. Note that with its 70-pound weight this saw is not in the same portability category as my little Ryobi unit, or most other miter saws, either. It is more of a shop miter saw (or deck miter saw in my case) than an easily transportable tool.

Most regular (non-sliding) miter saws manage dust routing fairly well. The location of the feed end of the dust port and the fact that the blade always sits in the same relation to the workpiece and the port allows for good dust routing. Things are different with sliding-type saws, because the dust-port entry has to be able to clear the workpiece when sliding cuts are done. As a consequence, sliders tend to scatter dust wildly during cuts.

I somewhat solved this problem by making some different length, two-inch wide, curve-sided “deflectors” out of thin metal sheeting. These vary in length and I can quickly remove or remove and replace them by means of a drilled hole and wing nut I installed in the bottom of the dust port entry. With the longest deflector installed I can cut 2×4, 2×6, 2×8, 2×10, and 2×12 boards without much dust scatter at all. For thicker boards I simply swap out to a shorter deflector. With thinner boards the long deflector still works pretty good. Of course, all bets are off when doing bevel cutting, and you have to be careful that a deflector that works OK at 90 degrees does not get skinned up when the blade is tilted over for bevelling.

Rather than just have dust spew out of the port in the back (or go into a bag that clogs up almost immediately) I have a 2.5-inch shop-vac hose running from the saw down to a fitting on my shop-built stand. I can connect a small, GMC dust-collector unit to that fitting via a 4-inch hose and it will blow the dust out into the grass-free, wooded lot that surrounds my workshop. (The cheap GMC, while not suitable as a shop-located dust collector, works fine in this context.)

The only other minor problem I encountered with the saw involved the flip-up bevel release lever on the back side. The fitting it snugged down against was not machined all that smooth, so the lever was a bit stiff to move. I partially dismanted the control and, using a file and an oil stone, managed to polish the contact surface to the point where the reassembled lever works very smoothly.

Overall, even though I am a relative newcomer to the hobby, as best I can tell this is a superb miter saw. It is not small enough and light enough to be a tossable, do-all jobsite tool, but for those who want a shop miter saw (or one that can be rolled out onto a deck), it is probably pretty much a state-of-the-art item.

Howard Ferstler




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ferstler

333 posts in 2206 days



14 comments so far

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CedarFreakCarl

594 posts in 2740 days


#1 posted 10-12-2008 11:02 PM

Great review. I’ve got this saw also and it has served me well. Thanks!

-- Carl Rast, Pelion, SC

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ferstler

333 posts in 2206 days


#2 posted 10-13-2008 01:59 AM

We agree on that one. Incidentally, the photo of the unit fairly clearly shows that dust scoop I mentioned in the review. Note how it tucks right up close to the lower blade guard. That particular scoop if sor wood 1.5 inches thick, when cut at 90 degrees.

Howard Ferstler

View abeharre's profile

abeharre

1 post in 2442 days


#3 posted 10-16-2008 03:32 AM

Well said! Thanks for posting the review. I have also thoroughly enjoyed having one, and it has served me well through many different projects: framing walls, flooring, trim and some decking. My only complaint is the laser – it shines down exactly vertically, and as it sits right beside the blade, it’s actually about 1/8” off the cut line. For anything but rough cuts, I found it was far better to line the blade up by eye, rather than trust the red dots. Overall, a great saw, and you can’t beat the lifetime warranty.

I have also found the stand very handy. A very solid base to work from, it has slide out rollers for supporting long boards. When not in use, it can fold up with the saw attached, roll out of the way and stand verticaly, saving floor space. Having wheels also makes trucking the saw around a whole lot easier.

- Aaron

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ferstler

333 posts in 2206 days


#4 posted 10-20-2008 01:10 AM

Yeah, I really thought their stand was good. Actually, I think they have a new model now. The reason I did not use their stand, other than the cost, is that my home-built stand works just fine for the purpose I use it for.

And I also agree about the laser, Aaron, as I noted in my review. I could probably live with the off-center characteristic (which I guess all lasers of that rotational type exhibit), but my main beef is that in order to use it and get the wood aligned properly you have to have the blade spinning. While the lower guard prevents problems, the noise and spin tend to make it hard to carefully concentrate on the initial alignment work. I’ll continue to use the technique you outlined.

Howard Ferstler

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adam77

39 posts in 2163 days


#5 posted 11-21-2008 04:18 PM

That was a great review! I have the same saw and the ridgid stand with wheels. I just saw Home Depot will be selling this saw on black Friday for 350 dollars. That is a steal. Im kinda mad i paid 500 three months ago. They are also selling the cart for 99 Dollars.

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ferstler

333 posts in 2206 days


#6 posted 11-22-2008 12:40 AM

It was on sale for $400 when I purchased my sample. Some kind of weekend sale, or the like. I am hoping that HD will also have some other stuff on sale on “Black Friday.” I have a bunch of Ryobi hand tools and their nicad batteries are rapidly pooping out. Two of the five I own will not hold a charge more than a day. I want to upgrade to the litiium versions, but they still are somewhat too expensive. Let’s hope there is a sale.

Interestingly, the individual lithium batteris are about $90 and a lithium battery/charger combo is $120. That adds up to $210. However, you can opt instead to purchase a drill/flashlight “package” that also includes two lithium batteries and a charger for $180. That means that they are essentially giving you the drill, flashlight, and thirty bucks if you get that combo instead of a battery plus battey/charger package. What kind of nutty accountants are running that operation? A customer would have to be a jerk to get the individual items.

Howard Ferstler

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adam77

39 posts in 2163 days


#7 posted 11-22-2008 01:31 AM

You can see all the black friday sale items on the black friday website. Lowes, home Depot, Sears, etc. Last year i got a mini air compressor at Sears. I went at 5 in the morning and it was complete chaos, but most of the people were in the electonics section so i was in and out. You should check it out.

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Sheepman

25 posts in 2187 days


#8 posted 11-30-2008 03:30 AM

Well I guess I am going to be the one that is not Mr. Happy. I just bought this saw at HD on black friday fo349.00 less 10% for a coupon I had. Great deal price wise. I also have a 10” Makita LS1013FL that I was going to sell if I liked the Ridgid. I’m bringing it back tomorrow because of the extreme blade wobble when it first starts and it sounds like a bucket of nuts and bolts grinding when it runs. MY Makita sounds SO much better. Anyone else have this issue?

-- Carpenters make some of the finest firewood there is !

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ferstler

333 posts in 2206 days


#9 posted 12-02-2008 07:14 PM

Mine works fine, as I noted in the review. It may be that Ridgid (or the Chinese outfit that makes this item) cut some corners to save money with later production unts, which might explain the low-price involved with this sale. Just a guess, however. It is also possible that you just have a rare dud. At that price you might have been better of just exchanging the unit for another sample.

Two woodworking magazines have reviewed this saw, along with several competing models. One magazine specializes in fine woodworking, and their people are not particularly fond of miter saws in any form. The other magazine is more carpentry oriented, and in both cases the Ridgid did not have the kind of blatant defects you outline. You may, as I noted, just have gotten a dud.

Incidentally, I just found my old sales receipt and the price I said I paid in an earlier comment was not $400. It was $500. Well, the thing had a list price of $595 when it first appeared and later it went down to $549. So at least I got a fairly decent discount.

Howard Ferstler

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mrsawdust

48 posts in 2253 days


#10 posted 12-02-2008 07:26 PM

very nice review and a very nice saw. unfortunately, i just bought another brand ( which i am VERY happy with) but. having just left home depot i saw a sale sign on the same rigid saw for $350 !. i think i’m sick. good luck with it. i think you’ll be well satisfied.
mike

-- mrsawdust, pittsburgh,pa.

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Sheepman

25 posts in 2187 days


#11 posted 01-13-2009 03:30 PM

Home Depot did locate another saw in the area for me shortly after I had written for my first comment. This saw is much better than the first one. What attracted me first to this saw was the size of the fence, its massive for a miter saw, my Makita LS1013 had far to small of one. The Ridgid was not really that far out of square for coming out of a box, within a half hour is was dead on the money. Much easier to setup compared to the Makita. I hace to admit when cutting crown moulding etc it is a little intimidating with that 12” blade in front of you comapred to the 10” but after a while you are comfortable with it. Dust collection is horrible even with a vac on it. For the $317.00 I spent for it, and selling my Makita for $400.oo I can’t complain very much. With the 12” I do have more versatality when cutting bigger framing material and I do think it is more soliid when doing this type work. I was always always a little apprehensive cutting bigger stock on my Makita do to the scimmpy nature of the fence on that saw.

-- Carpenters make some of the finest firewood there is !

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Moron

4666 posts in 2580 days


#12 posted 01-13-2009 04:17 PM

With the exception of the Festool sliding miter saw, I think that all miter saws, dust collection engineering could use vast improvement. they all suck…....pardon the pun.

A friend of mine has the ridgid MS and is happy with it. He’s had it some time now and uses it a lot. That said I gotta add.

I think a lot of reviews are done too quickly in that we buy a tool and love it, totally happy with it and a month goes by and the problems start. I bought a Bosche (?spelling) laminate router. The little one handers, variable speed and got it home…............totally impressed. A month later and a few hundred miles of routing and I now think…...........”what a waste of money”. Stupid me should have bought the one that I originally bought 10 years ago that worked flawlessly (except for the fact that I dropped it and broke it) but nooooooo, I thought I’ld save 50 bucks. The new one slips so I tighten the little bolt on the cam…....and it slips.

had I written the review on day 5, I would have raved about it. Now I look at and curse it.

I quite like my DeWalt 12” sliding compound saw. Its been so abused, dropped, tipped, torqued….....its cut literally thousands of joints/miters, timber and its still working flawlessly.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

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ferstler

333 posts in 2206 days


#13 posted 01-13-2009 10:23 PM

I am going to install a third photo of the saw. If you look closely at the new shot you can see the “scoop” that I installed to capture dust better. It is sheet metal, with the side edges curved upward slightly. The thing tapers at the attachment end and it is held in place by a wing nut running through a hole I drilled in the dust port.

This scoop extends downward just enough to barely clear a 1.5-inch thick piece of wood. If you are cutting thicker wood or using the bevel feature you would have to remove it. I have a second scoop that is shorter and I use it for those situations. As noted, the scoops are easy to remove and replace, thanks to the wing-nut attachment feature.

If you simply “chop” cut with the saw the scoop still lets some dust get past the port. However, if you do a “sliding” cut the bottom of the scoop just passes over the workpiece closely as the blade cuts and the dust is almost completely ramped up into the dust port area where my dust-collecting hookup sucks it happily away. The saw stays almost dust free when doing cuts this way with the scoop.

Howard Ferstler

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Steve1376

28 posts in 2336 days


#14 posted 11-14-2011 10:00 PM

Just recently decided to up size from my 10” Dewalt, found this saw on sale at HD for $396.00, could not pass that puppy up, normal pricing at $569.00. Absolutely love this saw the saw blade that came with it is not half bad.

-- Steve Phelps

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