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Miter Saw -- a woodworker's friend?

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Forum topic by Dan Corbin posted 07-01-2012 10:50 PM 3056 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Dan Corbin

57 posts in 880 days


07-01-2012 10:50 PM

Topic tags/keywords: jig question tablesaw miter saw sled

Or a pointless tool?

I’ve been seeing a bunch of tablesaw sleds posted in the projects of this site (my favorite thus far is the Miter Sled by sedcokid), and they look not only safer to use than a compound miter saw, but also a lot more versatile!

So, do any of you have a compound miter saw, and do you find it useful at all? Or should I rather invest my money into a better table saw and a few good sleds?

-- ~ Dan, North Carolina, http://www.facebook.com/torahanjyuu/


28 replies so far

View Loren's profile

Loren

7808 posts in 2365 days


#1 posted 07-01-2012 11:00 PM

For cutting mouldings they are great, both quicker to set
up cuts on than a table saw and easier to visualize and
eyeball cuts on. For making furniture though, you can
totally get by without one. The fancy big ones are
really carpentry tools designed for jobsite use where
their messiness isn’t a problem and their weight/versatility
balance is useful.

An argument can be made however that the table
saw is not really a furniture making machine however
and the band saw, jointer and planer are really where
it’s at. A small, accurate table saw comes in handy
for joinery and in relation to that a miter saw is useful
for crosscutting the larger boards a smaller table saw
doesn’t handle easily.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View Sawdust4Blood's profile

Sawdust4Blood

360 posts in 1739 days


#2 posted 07-01-2012 11:14 PM

As with all other tools it really depends on the kind of woodworking you do. For long moldings like trimming out the interior of a house, the miter saw is hard to beat. On the other hand, if you spend all your time making small jewelry boxes, you’d probably never want to use one in favor of a sled on the table saw. Mid to large size furniture projects are somewhere in between.

I had both but ended up selling the miter saw because a sled or precision gauge on the table saw was more accurate for the work I do. If I were a trim carpenter in the housing biz, I would have probably made the exact opposite choice

-- Greg, Severn MD

View AHuxley's profile

AHuxley

208 posts in 2039 days


#3 posted 07-01-2012 11:59 PM

I can’t imagine not having a CSMS or RAS at the front end of my shop. It is usually the first machine to touch most every piece of wood. First thing is to rough cut the boards to length then off to the milling triad (jointer, planer, TS). That all said one could easily cut to rough length with a circular saw and a speed square (or just freehand).

View Bobmedic's profile

Bobmedic

302 posts in 1519 days


#4 posted 07-02-2012 12:14 AM

They are two different tools with different applications. Some of those applications overlap. If you get a quality miter saw and tune it correctly they can produce very accurate cuts. Keep in mind if you plan on cross-cutting boards of significant length, the miter saw is best for that application. A miter saws accuracy is also determined by the operator. Sometimes people when cutting will introduce pressure one way or the other and the saw can deflect causing cuts to be off. Table saws and sleds take this deflection out of the equation because the sled is fixed in the miter slots and the blade doesn’t move. The same can be said of accuracy on the table saw too. A poorly made sled or a table saw that is set up improperly will be inaccurate as well. Quality sharp blades on either of them also play a huge role in accuracy. If you have to force the blade through the material or the material through the blade that is where deflection becomes an issue. Not to mention safety and cut quality. So to answer your question, hey are both useful tools and neither one of them cancels out the other. I have both and wouldn’t give up either one. As far as versatility I would say the table saw is much more versatile, especially fitted with the many shop made jigs available.

-- Save lives, ease suffering, reduce morbidity and mortality, stomp out pestilence and disease, postpone the inevitable, and fake compassion. The Paramedics Creed

View Dusty56's profile

Dusty56

11676 posts in 2405 days


#5 posted 07-02-2012 12:14 AM

CMS = COMPOUND MITER SAW , versus just a plain old “chop saw”
Big difference, and then again versus a table saw , I don’t think I would want to be setting up compound miters on the table saw very often , if at all. Different tool , different uses : )
I always rough cut my wood to length on my CMS because I don’t own a Radial Arm Saw , and don’t want to use a hand saw. The sled you’re asking about is a whole different animal and is used for precision work / smaller pieces.

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

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

1731 posts in 1639 days


#6 posted 07-02-2012 12:19 AM

I use my compound sliding miter saw for all crosscuts and only rip on my table saw. I am making small crafty items.

-- In God We Trust

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

602 posts in 916 days


#7 posted 07-02-2012 12:29 AM

Like others have said, a CMS is hard to beat when you have lots of molding work to do. I bought mine for just that purpose many, many years ago (way before the sliding ones came out).. was putting down tile in a 3000sq.ft. house and had to redo all the base moldings. Lots of odd angles, sunken floors, etc.. just what a CMS was made for and 1000 times easier than if I had tried using a table saw or even a RAS. Since then, I’ve found dozens of other uses for it. They are quite versatile and a great addition to most shops.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112486 posts in 2295 days


#8 posted 07-02-2012 12:30 AM

I use my sliding miter all the time but unless you have a very high end miter saw the table saw with the jig you gave a link to (from woodsmith Magazine)is much more accurate than most miter saws at least for molding.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View Sawkerf's profile

Sawkerf

1730 posts in 1786 days


#9 posted 07-02-2012 12:43 AM

My SCMS is the second most used tool in my shop. Third most if I include the DC.

-- Adversity doesn't build character...................it reveals it.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile

Beginningwoodworker

13347 posts in 2390 days


#10 posted 07-02-2012 01:24 AM

I own a miter saw and RAS, and I wont get rid of nethier one!

-- CJIII Future cabinetmaker

View Dusty56's profile

Dusty56

11676 posts in 2405 days


#11 posted 07-02-2012 01:49 AM

”......unless you have a very high end miter saw the table saw with the jig you gave a link to (from woodsmith Magazine)is much more accurate than most miter saws at least for molding.”
How are you going to make a compound miter cut on a 12’ length of moulding on that table saw jig ???
That jig appears to be strictly for 45 degree cuts on short and narrow pieces of wood. Majority of mouldings cut on the CMS are at least 3 1/2” high , just for starters.
http://www.woodsmithshop.com/download/511/table-saw-miter-sled.pdf

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

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

4311 posts in 1046 days


#12 posted 07-02-2012 02:22 AM

If you ever frame a house…. Or trim a house…. A SCMS will be your best friend…

Set it up with an 80 tooth 10” blade, dial in and tightly lock in your 90 deg. Setting and with a sacrificial fence to back up you cuts…. You can make cuts so smooth they shine.

I love my TS ….. But I’m not putting anything 10’ long on it.

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

4311 posts in 1046 days


#13 posted 07-02-2012 02:23 AM

If you ever frame a house…. Or trim a house…. A SCMS will be your best friend…

Set it up with an 80 tooth 10” blade, dial in and tightly lock in your 90 deg. Setting and with a sacrificial fence to back up your cuts…. You can make cuts so smooth they shine.

I love my TS ….. But I’m not putting anything 10’ long on it.

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

View MonteCristo's profile

MonteCristo

2098 posts in 906 days


#14 posted 07-02-2012 02:54 AM

I pretty much agree with Loren’s reply and would add that, if you can choke down the price, a tablesaw with an attached sliding table will blow the doors off any miter saw and is a significant step up from a sled. But don’t get a cheap add-on slider like that crappy one Delta (used to ?) sells. I had one of those and it was always out of adjustment.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View live4ever's profile

live4ever

983 posts in 1728 days


#15 posted 07-02-2012 07:01 AM

They serve different but overlapping purposes. For a long time, I didn’t have a SCMS. The TS with a good miter gauge and/or sled can handle most common woodworking crosscutting tasks. But it can be a pain to get the sled out when you need to make a quick crosscut to length on a 6’ or longer workpiece.

As others have pointed out, when it came time to do some trim work in my home and build a deck, there was no substitute for a chop saw.

As with all things in woodworking, there is usually more than one way to skin a cat. But some ways are more efficient, yield higher quality results, or are safer, for a given task.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

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