This chick is buying a saw!! Decisions, decisions...could sure use the help.

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Forum topic by lovebassethounds posted 06-04-2014 06:57 PM 2639 views 0 times favorited 35 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 1453 days

06-04-2014 06:57 PM

Topic tags/keywords: miter saw saw sliding tools projects convenience indispensible learning question tip

Newbie lady DIYer here. I’m looking into buying a saw and need some advice. Hubby is NOT a handyman and has no interest in learning but what the hell! I’ll just do it myself! We never had anyone to teach us these skills but I think they are important and would like to learn and pass on some skills to my sons. I am on a limited budget but I do believe in buying smart, not just cheap so I’ve been doing some research. However all the research in the world doesn’t equal real world experience so this is where I hope you guys will chime in.

I hope to complete the following projects in order: shelving/loft for shed, small deck, framing in unfinished basement walls, crown molding eventually. Yes, I’ll probably watch a lot of youtube to accomplish this. Haha We have a circular saw somewhere but misplaced it in the move. Yeah, I’m a tad disorganized. I also have basic hand tools like a drill, wrenches, sockets, etc. I think my Dad might have a jigsaw I could borrow. I have a small compressor/brad nailer I won in a silent auction(never opened). I won’t be setting up an elaborate shop but I want convenience if possible. I also won’t be able to lift/wield very large pieces of wood by myself but on the flipside I’d prefer to not have to ask for help so I’m willing to set up tables, etc. (mobile or stationary) to help with this.

Based on all that, I’m wondering what I really really need. I want my projects to go smoothly and I know having the right tools makes the difference between being frustrated or enjoying the finished project. All the different saws (table, miter, jig, etc.) are a bit confusing to me as far as possible usage. One saw to do it all would be preferable although I know that’s probably not possible. I’m leaning towards purchasing a 12” dual compound miter saw. I’m just not sure if I’ll need the sliding feature or not. Any suggestions based on my proposed projects would be greatly appreciated. I don’t want to overbuy but at the same time, I like convenience and the ability to be able to do things myself. If you can think of any other “indispensible” tools that would be worth considering I’d love to hear it. Thanks so much for all your help!

35 replies so far

View todd4390's profile


136 posts in 1468 days

#1 posted 06-04-2014 07:03 PM

Based on the projects you mention above it sounds like you may be better served by a sliding compound miter saw, but if you are set on getting a table saw you could probably get by on a fairly inexpensive contractors saw.

View Gilgaron's profile


19 posts in 1586 days

#2 posted 06-04-2014 07:25 PM

I started with a sliding compound miter saw before I got a table saw. It will handle those projects and you won’t miss the table saw much until you decide you want to start ripping stock. It is, however, the worst of my tools at spewing dust everywhere so you’ll want to either work in the garage or get a good shop vac with HEPA filter and perhaps hang a box fan with furnace filter on the ceiling.

View JAAune's profile


1799 posts in 2317 days

#3 posted 06-04-2014 07:28 PM

Plus one on the miter saw. Most of the work you’ve described involves cross-cutting narrow pieces. A tablesaw isn’t the best for that.

The shelving is the only project mentioned that might be easier done with a table saw. Even then, it takes a good tablesaw setup to handle larger cuts on sheet goods. Since you don’t want to do heavy lifting, pushing 4’x8’ sheets across a saw sounds like a bad idea (actually, it is a TERRIBLE idea unless you have proper infeed/outfeed tables). You also might be able to just buy shelving material at the right width and simply cross-cut them to length.

For sheet good work, I’d suggest a couple saw horses with a sacrificial piece of plywood over them for a “workbench” that can be used to support plywood sheets as they are cut to size with a handheld circular saw. Either build a guide rail for your existing saw or buy a track saw.

-- See my work at and

View JayT's profile


5634 posts in 2212 days

#4 posted 06-04-2014 07:33 PM

Unless you plan to do very tall crown moldings, I would recommend getting a 10 inch sliding miter saw over a 12 inch. The sliding 10 incher will cut anything you need for the projects listed, be less expensive and easier to move. That will cover your crosscuts. Finding the circular saw and a simple edge guide would allow you to rip plywood and sheet goods easier and safer than a table saw.

As far as other tools, the best idea is usually to add them as you need them for a project. It is easy to spend a bunch of money on tools you think you need, only to find out a year later they’ve never been used.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View firefighterontheside's profile


18208 posts in 1857 days

#5 posted 06-04-2014 07:38 PM

I second the 10” slider. I have a 12” no slider, but when my dad needed a new saw I told him to get the Dewalt 10” slider. It can everything my 12” can do and more. The 12” sliders are huge and require a lot of room to use.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View MrRon's profile


4771 posts in 3244 days

#6 posted 06-04-2014 07:41 PM

I second the two saw horses and sacrificial plywood, but place a sheet of 1” styrofoam board on top of the plywood and let the styrofoam be sacrificial, not the plywood.

View Sandra's profile


7207 posts in 2076 days

#7 posted 06-04-2014 07:41 PM

+1 on 10” compound sliding miter saw. The sliding feature expands how much you can get done with the saw. 12” sounds like a bit of overkill to me for what you’re describing. I have a 10” and have never once wished I had 12”.

Buy the best you can afford. There are mixed reviews on the laser indicators. I don’t personally like them.
Buy a saw that you can use safely and that cuts with accuracy and repeatability.

And READ the instructions.

Good luck

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View ColonelTravis's profile


1773 posts in 1895 days

#8 posted 06-04-2014 07:52 PM

Get a good square or two or three. All theses saws ain’t gonna cut straight on their own. Combo square is hands-down the most used tool I own. The 6 inch I use more, but also have a 12. The 6 is a Starret, the 12 is an Empire. The Starret gives me warm fuzzies and is made better but both are square. A speed square might help you with a circ. saw

View b2rtch's profile


4861 posts in 3049 days

#9 posted 06-04-2014 08:01 PM

How much money do you have available?
The answer to this question will decide of your choices

-- Bert

View Ocelot's profile


1975 posts in 2639 days

#10 posted 06-04-2014 08:17 PM

+1 on the square.

I have a 6” PEC Tools (USA) double square, which I use constantly.

GarrettWade sells these “2nds”, which I believe are PEC.

However, I have an Empire (I believe) from Lowes or Home Depot which actually is pretty square and much less expensive, but if you get one, you neet to have it checked against a true precision square.


View paxorion's profile


1107 posts in 2046 days

#11 posted 06-04-2014 09:08 PM

It sounds like you are mainly interested in finish carpentry, which tells me a sliding compound miter saw is the right answer for you. They can get pricey, and usually the extra cost gets you a whole lot in terms of component construction and quality for the controls. I used to think with a “good enough for a DIYer” mentality, but only found myself frustrated way too often. That’s one of the reasons why I default to looking at Dewalt and Bosch as my starting point. They are the flagship brand from two of the biggest tool manufacturers. My more recent power tool acquisitions have been Dewalt products and they haven’t let me down.

Whatever miter saw you get, definitely augment it with a good circular saw and jigs to handle the longer rip cuts. Word of caution, I quickly out-grew frustrated with my first circular saw. Do yourself a favor and buy one with a cast shoe and lever-style locks to start with as they are far more user friendly.

-- paxorion

View TheFridge's profile


9484 posts in 1487 days

#12 posted 06-04-2014 10:02 PM

If you want to build some shelves, Home Depot and lowes and rip it down for you to the depth you want. If you want shelves 16” deep you can have them cut it and you’ll have 16”x8’ pieces which you can manage with a compound sliding miter saw.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View ras61's profile


92 posts in 1522 days

#13 posted 06-04-2014 10:13 PM

If you’re going to get a miter saw I’d also strongly recommend a good portable miter stand, and preferably one with wheels. If dust indoors is an issue a portable stand will allow you to quickly set up outside with good support left and right for long boards and stock. Dewalt often has deals where if you buy a saw they will include a stand for free. My local Lowes has had this promo for a while.

In addition to Bosch and DeWalt I’d also check out sliding miters from Makita and Milwaukee; I thought I read Milwaukee came out with a new line up not long ago that got some very good reviews.

Good luck!

-- "South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum" - James L. Petigru, 1860

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1325 posts in 1949 days

#14 posted 06-04-2014 11:10 PM

I am the realist here. Based on your to do list a good circular will do all you need except the crown. A slider is nice, but you don’t need it. I trimmed houses professionally for 10+ years with a 12” double compound miter saw. When I say trimmed, I mean cabinets, base, case, doors, crown, stairs, builtins, and mantels. Don’t get me wrong a slider is nice and I do have one now, but not a need as much as a convenience. It never leaves the shop due to weight and size.
having the motor mounted overhead is a major thing. This allows a full range of motion without the motor coming in contact with the material being cut.

if you are looking at a miter saw I highly recommend the dw716.

Once again I want to reiterate that all you need is a good circular saw for now. if you visit any random jobsite you will see a circular saw and a sawzall. These are the most abused tools on a job. You may find a miter saw on a trim site or a wood siding job, but rarely will you see it any where else.

View ras61's profile


92 posts in 1522 days

#15 posted 06-05-2014 12:18 AM

+1 what Shawn said. I have had the DW 715 (only single bevel) for years and have rarely wanted for more. If you’re on a budget the DW 715 is a fantastic tool, incredibly affordable, and if you do upgrade to a table saw one day will still be a “go to” tool you’ll always use. Lots of choices and lots of decisions, have fun with it.

-- "South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum" - James L. Petigru, 1860

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