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What to look for in a slide compound miter saw

QuestionI need a slide compound miter saw for my workshop, but there are a lot of saws on the market and it's hard to decide between them. What specifically should I look for as I shop for a slide compound miter saw?

AnswerIt's amazing what you can accomplish with a slide compound miter saw—you definitely want to shop this carefully so you get a tool that will do what you need it to do.

Before you purchase one, consider all the factors. If the supply houses, retail outlets, or tool outlets in your area have workshops where you can actually test products, then take advantage of the situation. There's nothing like actually getting the tool in hand for a "test drive." As you run the saw through its paces, ask yourself, "What do I expect in this saw?" As you answer this question, I suggest you consider the following:

Looks—Do looks really matter? Are you planning to enter a beauty contest with this saw in hand?

Color—If you lose tools, the color should definitely be a big factor. A bright color will stand out on the jobsite and in your workshop.

Weight—Will you be moving the saw around the shop or from job site to job site? Even a slight weight reduction from one unit to another can make a difference.

Size—How much space do you have for storage or to work in?

Type of blade—You really want to purchase the correct blade for your particular project, so this really won't make any difference.

Blade size—Consider how you will be using the tool. If you plan to cut thick material, such as 4x stock, then look for a saw with a larger blade.

More amps—Consider, consider, consider, especially if you cut a lot of green lumber!

Compound or dual compound— If you work with a lot of crown molding, then consider a dual compound saw.

Number of support rails—Not important; don't lose any sleep over this feature.

Accessories packaged with unit—Accessories are worth considering, but don't let them determine your purchasing decision.

Availability of accessories—In most cases you won't use them, so don't worry if they're available or not.

Functions—Does this saw have everything you're looking for?

Ease of operation—Be sure to check it out before purchasing; nothing beats a hands-on test.

Ease of transport—Consider a folding miter table with wheels.

Cost—This shouldn't be a factor until you've gone through the entire list above.

With all the slide compound miter saws currently on the market, it can be difficult to sort it all out. You may want to research saws on the internet first to determine which saws to focus in on for further research and hands-on testing.

Good luck on your purchase!

Copyright © 1997 & 2008 LAF/C.R.S., Inc. All rights reserved. The previous article,
in whole or in part, appeared in the November 1997 issue of Building & Remodeling News.



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