Tool review: 10" Sliding Mitersaws
Nonsliding saws, though reliably accurate, lighter, and less expensive, lack the crosscut capacity of sliders-up to 50 percent less with 10" models and 33 percent less with 12" saws. On the other hand, 12" sliders provide an extra inch or so of vertical cut capacity (a bonus when cutting moldings standing against the fence), but crosscut about the same as 10" sliders, weigh up to 40 percent more, and cost another $100 to $200. If we've convinced you of the merits of a 10" slider, read on to find out which one gives you the most bang for your buck.
In a woodshop setting a mitersaw must deliver precise cuts for tight-fitting joinery. Fortunately, all of the tested sliders met the challenge, although most required some adjustments before they could make dead-on cuts. To ensure the saws could maintain that accuracy, we made loads of cuts, rocked them back and forth through their miter and bevel ranges, tossed them into the back of a pickup truck, and even whacked them a few times with a board to simulate wear. All held fast.
Count on miter settings for repeatable cuts
Each of the tested saws has miter detents for 0°, 15°, 22-1/2°, and 45° on the left and right sides. All but the one also have a stop at 31.6° on both sides for cutting crown molding lying flat. About half of the saws also have a 60° detent on one side. That's nice if you need it because you can't even make that cut on a tablesaw without a jig or miter-gauge upgrade.
For occasions when you need to tweak a miter setting by fractions of a degree--custom-cutting an out-of-square joint, for example--it pays to have a mitersaw with a detent override. This feature, found on about half the saws, lets you nudge the miter-angle setting ever so slightly without engaging the detent; then lock it securely in place. Two saws also incorporate a microadjuster (shown at right), enabling you to fine-tune a miter setting with mechanical precision.
All the saws tilt at least 45° to the left to make compound cuts, a combination of bevel and miter angles. And most tilt at least that much to the right. If you plan to make a lot of beveled or compound cuts, you'll appreciate the up-front bevel locks on some saws. The best bevel-action mitersaws have cylindrical scales, as shown in the right bottom photo, on the rear hub with wide spacing between lines, making them easier to read. For quick reference, all the saws have bevel stops at 0° and 45°, and most also have crown-molding stops or markings at 33.9°.
For those times when you cut tall or long stock, you'll appreciate the support from a good mitersaw fence and table. The best fences stand at least 4" high with top sections that slide out of the way for making bevel cuts. Conversely, some fences stand less than 2" and lack sufficient height to support workpieces twice that height. For these, attach an auxiliary plywood fence for maximum workpiece support.
For workpieces longer than 2', you'll like the added support of extensions, standard equipment on about half of the tested. All saws come with work-holding clamp; we prefer clamps that mount behind the fence and hold stock down against the table, rather than a horizontal clamp that holds stock against the fence.
Other factors to consider before getting a slider
- Power. Although all the saws cut through 4×4 treated pine with no difficulty, three bogged down when we crosscut 12"-wide, 1-3/4"-thick white oak.
- Cut capacities. We found no significant differences in crosscut capacities. However, when cutting stock standing on edge against the fence, the DeWalt (6") and Makita (5-1/4") have a 1/2" advantage over the rest of the field.
- Plunge, slide action. For safest operation look for a saw that plunges and slides with no hitches or stiffness.
- Cut quality. Makita's blade produced the best factory cuts out of the box, with no tear-out and only slight scoring marks. When we replaced all blades with a Freud 80-tooth crosscut model (#LU74R010), each saw produced nearly flawless cuts.
- Handle/power switch. Although we prefer a horizontal handle to a vertical one, the Bosch 4410 gives you the ability to choose with a handle that rotates 90°. Bosch's saws also feature dual thumbswitches, making them equally suited for left-handed or right-handed use.
- Lasers. The best cut-indicating lasers mount in front of the blade and shine down in clear, bright red for easy use; they're also simple to adjust.
- Dust collection. Hooking up a shop vacuum to all the tested saws greatly improved their dust collection, but nonstandard port sizes required adapters and duct tape to fit the hose to most saws.
- Depth-of-cut limits. You might not know it, but sliding mitersaws have a depth stop that you set to limit the depth of cut, as you'd do for cutting dadoes, rabbets, or half-laps with repeated cut-and-slide passes. The best saws let you set a stop and slide it aside for full-depth cuts, and then return to it quickly.
Slide your mitersaw dollars to these models
By the end of our testing, two dual-bevel saws had risen to the head of this class: the Bosch 4410 and the Makita LS1016L. Both models provide test-leading miter ranges from 60° right to 52° left with rock-solid detents. The Bosch has nine miter detents and five bevel stops. We like its microadjuster for fine-tuning miter angles and its included table extensions for extra support.
But the Makita edges past the Bosch with a soft-start motor and more miter detents (10) and bevel stops (7). It also has the smoothest sliding and plunging action in the test, the tallest fence (by 1/2"), and the only factory-supplied blade capable of making furniture-quality cuts. For all this, the LS1016L earns our Top Tool honor.
If you'd like to get a slider but can't spring for the Makita, consider Craftsman's 21237 for just $250, our Top Value. This saw has few amenities, but it's accurate when set up correctly, and, although slightly underpowered, it cuts acceptably with a slower feed rate.
Learn the results of our testing of the Bosch 4405 and 4410, Craftsman 21237 and 21201, DeWalt DW717, Hitachi C1-FSH, Jet JMS-10SCMS, Kobalt SM2505LW, Makita LS1016L, and Ryobi TSS100Lin the December 2010/January 2011 issue of WOOD magazine, or download the review.