by Christopher Schwarz
When sliding miter saws first hit the market, they could cost as much as a decent table saw. So I was shocked when I saw the price tags on the new line of miter saws by Craftsman (starting at less than $200).
Surely they must be terrible, inaccurate and shoddily made.
So I bought one that is ideal for making furniture: The 10″ compact slide miter saw (model No. 137.407530), which was $229 on that particular Saturday (watch for sales). I have a small shop, so I wanted a saw that had a small footprint but lots of cutting capacity.
The saw is remarkable for its price. It has a few compromises and bits I don’t like, but overall it’s affordable, accurate and well worth owning.
The 10″ sliding saw can handle a 2×12 (and then some) and a 4×4. The maximum crosscut I could make on 4/4 stock was 13-1⁄2″. That’s fantastic. The saw is no wuss – it plowed through white oak with little complaint. And it can make dead 90° crosscuts once you tune it up. Plus, it can make compound cuts (the head tips only to the right), which is nice, though it’s not a feature often called for in the furniture shop.
So what are my complaints? Most are minor. The throat insert on the table is silly. It won’t close up to even close to zero-clearance (7⁄16″ is the smallest aperture allowed) so there is always going to be chipping on the underside of your piece. That will have to be replaced to do clean work.
Setting up the saw takes a little time. The fence was out of square and the blade wasn’t plumb. This is fixed with a hex key and two box wrenches and takes about 45 minutes. And the laser needed to be aligned.
The saw is a bit unbalanced because of its compact design. You won’t notice this until you pull the saw carriage forward to make a big crosscut. The saw includes a little foot to keep the front from tipping, but it doesn’t help if the foot is off your workbench.
The last niggle: The dust collection isn’t great. But it rarely is on any miter saw.
After using the machine for a bit, I became quite attached to the saw’s laser, despite the fact that I don’t like gizmos. I wouldn’t use the laser for a finished-length cut, but for breaking down stock, it speeds you up.
One last really nice detail: The extension tables include a flip-up stop so you can make repetitive crosscuts to the same length. Every saw should have this feature.
All in all, this is a surprising saw for $229. It cuts as well as saws costing twice as much, it’s lightweight and it doesn’t skimp on features you need (including a lever lock to hold your angles between detents and a depth stop for making dados in the field). Recommended. PWM