Cheapo SCMS options...

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Forum topic by ubermick posted 02-08-2013 09:05 AM 1499 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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48 posts in 1929 days

02-08-2013 09:05 AM

Hiya folks. I’ve been a long time lurker getting a potload of great advice, and so wanted to ask one of the newbie type questions that I’m sure you’re all sick of answering.

I currently own a Ridgid 10” mitre saw, but am frustrated by it’s lack of reach, so plotting to pick myself up a sliding compound saw. (My table saw is a piece of junk, that I can’t for the LIFE of me square up properly. Then again, it was $129 at Sears five years ago…) I’m a FIRM believer in buying the right tool for the job once, since I’ve learned the hard way that cheap tools rack up the costs fairly quickly in the lumber and time wasted fighting with them, but also know that I don’t make my living off this, so top of the line certainly isn’t needed. But am under enforced budgetary constraints, thanks to She Who Must Be Obeyed. Essentially, I have $300-ish to spend.

Anyways, obviously I’d like a Dewalt – Home Creeper currently has the Dewalt DW718SP on sale for $399 (figure you can’t beat that for a 12” slider double-bevel) but it’s discontinued so only available in stores that have them in stock. (None within 100 miles of me). Would have been perfect, combined with a Harbor Freight coupon (which I lovingly FORCED my local store to accept, ahahaha.)

So started looking at Craftsman. Sears currently has a 10” slider on sale for $189.99, but based on the reviews, don’t think it’d be much better than the Harbor Freight equivalent that’s half the price. Then there’s Ryobi and Kobalt. I’d heard that Kobalt and Craftsman are basically the same, and I’ve NEVER had anything good from Ryobi.

So started looking at Craigslist. And after about a half hour of clicking on ads and shouting “WTF IS THIS PERSON THINKING?!” (why are people under the assumption you can buy a tool, use it for a year, let it sit in their garage for another year, and then try selling it saying “It sells new for $500, so the price is $400 FIRM) gave up on that.

Are there any other choices out there for a whipped beginner like myself? Or am I better served by just keeping my hands in my pockets, and getting something better?

-- Gaz. Irishman who lives in the San Francisco area, and tends to ruin more wood than he should.

27 replies so far

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile


932 posts in 2348 days

#1 posted 02-08-2013 09:16 AM

Well, alot of the bad reviews you read on the 10” slider are probalby honestly blade related issues, or people who have tried to use the tool as a professional tool without buying the professional tool… What is important in a slider is a good firm sliding mechanism, and good electronics. IF it’s out of square they can be adjusted, if the blade cuts like garbage get a new one. Honestly, not makign a living at it, your options are opened up on what you can get, because it will not have to perform six or seven days a week….

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2964 days

#2 posted 02-08-2013 09:42 AM

I have an old Delta CMS.
I, too, am frustrated by the lack of width capacity.
I have been torn between a 10” slider or a 12” CMS.
The sliders take a lot of space behind the saw for the rails (slide rods)

Other options are out there like Bosch’e glider, and Festool’s forward oriented rails, but they are professional tools with professional pricing plus a bit more tacked on for brand status and marketing image.

I am frustrated by lack of thickness capacity sometimes with my Delta 10” but I don’t want to bear the cost of the 12” blades either, especially since I already have several 10” blades.

I am leaning toward the Mikita with the hypoid drive. It is a 10” saw and refurbished at around the $400 price, but they also have the 12” CMS (no slide) for closer to $300.

View Tedstor's profile


1643 posts in 2626 days

#3 posted 02-08-2013 01:37 PM

I have a 7 1/4” Craftsman SCMS. I bought it a few months ago and am satisfied. However, I did have to make some improvements to get it to an acceptable level of accuracy. Had I bought the $350 Makita saw and had these issues, I’d have returned it.
But I’ve come to accept that if I buy a lower-end tool, I’m probably going to have to make several tweaks before putting it into service. However, in most every case, I’ve been able to get a lower-end tool to perform pretty well. But as said before, stock blades generally suck. This is true of most any brand, but especially true of value brands. You’ll also need to be prepared to check that the machine’s table and fence is square and even. Often times, the circular miter base is not on the same plane as the rest of the machine base. This causes a beveling effect. I had this issue on my craftsman, but I’ve seen it on more expensive saw too. Luckily, its pretty easy to fix. Fence’s on miter saws can also vary in terms of flat/sqaure. Many people add a sacrificial fence to improve accuracy, protect the workpiece, and to reduce tear-out.
I’m rambling, but the bottom line is that a lower-end tool might not be perfect out of the box. But they can often be tweaked into a near-perfect performer. You could always buy the craftsman and evaluate its performance (with a good blade). If it absolutely sucks you can simply return it. But you might find it to work fine as is, or only need minimal adjustments.

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 2944 days

#4 posted 02-08-2013 01:57 PM

I would definitely stay away from the Ryobi miter saws. I have the Ryobi SCMS and it’s a piece of junk. One of the first purchases I made as a budding woodworker and it got the job done, but just not well. I recently replaced it with a Dewalt.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View bondogaposis's profile


4715 posts in 2344 days

#5 posted 02-08-2013 02:01 PM

I would take your $300 and put it toward a table saw before I would buy a SCMS. Look on Craigslist for and older Craftsman 113 series saw. Then buy an after market fence and you will be better served w/ a much more versatile tool. I see these saws all of the time in the $150 to $200 range. Then sell your current table saw and maybe you’ll have some $ to put toward a SCMS.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 2944 days

#6 posted 02-08-2013 02:05 PM

Yes, +1 to what bondo just said. I use my TS ten times more than the miter saw. If you have a really nice miter guage to go with it, your miter saw will collect dust until it’s time to do some trim work around the house.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View BentheViking's profile


1782 posts in 2557 days

#7 posted 02-08-2013 02:29 PM

I have the craftsman you referred to and had gone back and forth between that and the kobalt, but I ended up getting the craftsman with some extra deals for like $160. It has worked well for all that I’ve been doing since I got it.

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3151 days

#8 posted 02-08-2013 02:34 PM

+10 on Bondo’s recommendation. Improve your TS and use a miter sled. Your need for an expensive SCMS will evaporate.

-- jay,

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3641 days

#9 posted 02-08-2013 02:39 PM

I had the dewalt 12” slider.

took up bench space and was much louder than my TS.

ended up selling it, and simply use my TS (as I’ve always done)

just use that $$, sell your MS, sell your TS and combine those into getting a decent TS that can be properly squared and tuned.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3641 days

#10 posted 02-08-2013 02:40 PM

unless you are doing trim work, or working on really really long pieces all day long, I find the MS to be an unnecessary tool in the home shop.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View helluvawreck's profile


31019 posts in 2860 days

#11 posted 02-08-2013 03:25 PM

Not only will a decent table saw do the simple things like crosscutting it will do a whole host of other things as well.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Matt Przybylski's profile

Matt Przybylski

546 posts in 2371 days

#12 posted 02-08-2013 03:40 PM

I prefer breaking down long boards with my miter saw rather than dragging them along at the TS with supports so I recently purchased the Hitachi C12RSH. You’ll find extremely favorable reviews for this saw here and all over the web. Lowes has it for $399 and you can get the 10% movers coupon at the post office to drop it some more. It has a very good laser system that’s super easy to adjust but the kicker for me is the sliders and how they don’t eat up wall space behind the saw. Do a search for it and you’ll see what I mean.

-- Matt, Arizona,

View ubermick's profile


48 posts in 1929 days

#13 posted 02-08-2013 03:54 PM

Cheers for all the replies, lads. Much appreciated, and solid advice as always.

One of the issues I face is that I really don’t have much of a shop. I do my work in the garage, which normally has my wife’s car in it (what kind of lunatic thinks a garage is for storing cars?! It’s for storing TOOLS!) and space is very much at a premium. Even my wee table saw has to be lugged away when not in use, and stored in a (substantial) crawlspace off the garage. (And the door is 2 feet above the ground). So a solid cast iron tool, while I KNOW would be amazing, just isn’t an option for me right now. If there were a better portable solution, I’d be all over it. (Which is why I was thinking CSMS).

The other side issue is that my spring project is ripping out a deck in our backyard, and replacing it. So a SCMS is “sellable” to the wife, whereas a table saw isn’t. But wow, after doing some reading on those Craftsman 113 saws, I wouldn’t say no to getting my paws on one!

Matt, that saw is actually one of the ones I’ve been looking at. I’m lucky in that my local Lowes does accept the 20% Harbor Freight coupons (although the store is an hour away from me) so I could snag that for $320 plus tax (the joys of California… that tax is another 10%). Looks like a great saw, but in all the reviews I’ve read, one thing that people seem to list as a negative is that the saw is a monster – so gets me back to my portability/space issue. (Been eyeing the Dewalt 10” DW717, but Lowes or Home Doucheo doesn’t stock it, so eliminates my ability to use said coupon)

-- Gaz. Irishman who lives in the San Francisco area, and tends to ruin more wood than he should.

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2964 days

#14 posted 02-08-2013 03:58 PM

I have a nice sled and an Incra miter gauge for my TS.
I’m sorry, but I just do not understand folks who think either of these is better than a miter saw.
I use my miter saw for all crosscuts except for the ones that are too wide for its capacity.

Nothing against the table saw for ripping and dadoes and all the other things it does well, but I just find my old Delta miter saw faster, more accurate, and less of a hassle; but like I said earlier, limited in width.

For what it’s worth, even the 7 1/4” sliding miter saws can handle twice the width of a standard 10” CMS; about 12” vs 6” crosscut. You might not be too happy with it for thick cuts, they won’t cit a 4×4, for instance.

View Loren's profile


10371 posts in 3641 days

#15 posted 02-08-2013 04:14 PM

A big thing to look out for is plastic detents for the angles –
they won’t hold up. Better designs use cast metal detents
and the part that locks into them made of metal too.

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