Tool Review: New Digital Miter Gauge
In 2005, Colorado Springs, Colo., inventor Mario Salazar, along with his business partner (and wife) Tia, applied for and received a patent for a digital miter gauge. Salazar felt the world of woodworking needed to arrive in the 21st century, so he added digital technology to a miter gauge.
At the 2006 International Woodworking Machine & Furniture Supply Fair, Salazar’s digital instrument was displayed. The miter gauge caught the eye of a supplier to retailing giant Sears and the company’s Craftsman line of tools. The rest, as they say, is history.
Today, Sears offers a Craftsman Digital Miter Gauge. This gauge enables woodworkers to measure angles at a table saw in less than six seconds. This gauge is easy to use , although it can be a bit fussy , and has an accuracy of +/- 0.1Ã?Âº with readout between 50Ã?Âº to the left or 50Ã?Âº to the right of zero.
The digital head fits to a bar with three adjustable expansion points to achieve an accurate fit to a standard T-slot or non-T-slot miter slot. Also included is a 15″-long extruded-aluminum fence and a locking lever to hold the setup in place. The lock holds securely; I cannot move the angle once it’s tightened. The digital readout screen is a 2″ LCD, backlit screen that operates on two AAA batteries.
I found the digital setting for an angle cut to be rather difficult to nail down to the final tenth degree. The tool jumped from 22.4Ã?Âº to 22.6Ã?Âº, skipping past the 22.5Ã?Âº for which I was searching. Would cutting angles on my mouldings at 22.4Ã?Âº frustrate me? I think not. I’m not that meticulous. Before digital readout, I doubt I could have dialed in a specific angle any better. But, I’ll bet there are woodworkers out there who will spend an extra 10 minutes to arrive at an angle that’s dead-on. If that’s you, you may want to think a second before running out to make this purchase.
I did find this miter gauge to be easy to use when setting the blade tilt. What? That’s right, this gauge, with the addition of an included magnetic accessory bar, can be used to adjust blade tilt. Move over Wixey. Look out Tilt Box. This tool does double duty.
In the photo, the digital LCD readout is upside down. A simple tap of the power button and the readout flips so it’s easily legible.
Lower the blade height, snap the magnetic bar onto the gauge bar as well as against the blade while allowing the fence to rest on your tabletop. Then zero out the display. Next, read the angle as you tilt the blade to your needed angle. Each tenth-degree change in angle is marked by an audible click. Again the tool was a bit fussy, but by using the table saw wheel to make the adjustments, I was able to sneak up on the desired angle.
The Craftsman Digital Miter Gauge is available at Sears stores or online at sears.com for $80 (click here). It’s a complete package, but I’m not fond of aluminum fences, so I would chuck that fence in favor of a squarely milled piece of hardwood.