My Favorite Saw Blades

The right saw blade can make a cheap tool work great; the wrong saw blade can make a great tool run poorly.

This was illustrated to me when I was setting up my new table saw (more about it in next week’s post).  I thought, “I’ll use the stock blade that comes with the saw. It’ll be fine for awhile.” Nope. My new saw, that I had done tons of research on, saved up money for, and finally purchased, cut like crap.  There was a lot of vibration, chatter, and the cut was very rough.  Luckily, I also had a brand new blade of my preferred brand.  Once I dropped it in, the saw ran quieter, had less vibration, and my cuts were superior.  All from a single high quality saw blade.

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August 2015 Vlog

In this month’s Vlog:

  • An update on my Coconut Oil wood handle finish
  • 10 month Review of my Craftsman 10 inch Compact Sliding Compound Miter Saw
  • An overview of my “Paulk Total Station” multi-purpose workbench and the modifications I’ve made to it.

Craftsman 10 inch Compact Sliding Compound Miter Saw Review

I’m excited about this tool.  I did a lot of research debated models price points compared similar models and finally decided on this model.

It is the Craftsman 10″ Compact Sliding Miter Saw.  It’s a relatively new model. In fact, as of this post there are only 9 reviews on Sears’ websites.  I’ll add mine shortly.

Craftsman’s ‘standard’ 10 inch sliding compound miter saw has well over 300 reviews and carries about a ‘four star’ rating.  All nine who reviewed the compact model loved it.  I initially went looking for this standard model, when I found the newer compact model.

[Side Note:  shortly after I received my saw I went to Sears.  There I saw the “standard” 10″ sliding compound miter saw.  I was not impressed.  The compact model that I bought is a much better and higher quality tool.]

What makes it ‘compact’?

The catalog states this saw takes up 39% less space than the ‘standard’ model.  Other than that everything else is the practically the same.  (I’ve seen conflicting data on Craftsman/Sears’ website about crosscut capacity.  The standard model’s crosscut is always listed at 12″. The compact model varies from 11.5″ to 12.5″.  The box says 12.5″ so lets go with that.)

The difference is how the rails work.  On most sliding miter saws the saw head is fixed to the rails and the rails slide in and out from the back of the saw.  This makes the saw take up a lot of space.  Place this style to close to a wall and the wall will prevent the rails from fully functioning.  With this compact model the rails are fixed in place and the saw head moves along a carriage. This makes the saw always take up the same amount of space.

 

Out of the Box

I checked all of the adjustments and settings and found that everything was dead on out of the box.

10 inch Miter Saw Blade

Features
  • Single Bevel:  This means that the saw only leans to its left.  It still does up to 50-degree miters on both sides, but if you need to do compound angles you have to take into account how you position your piece.  More expensive dual-bevel saws tilt to the left and right speeding up production, but cost almost double.
  • Depth Stop for Dados:  This is a nice feature though I’m not sure how much I’ll actually use it.  There is a bar that flips in and out of the way of a screw to control depth.  I work with 3/4″ stock for the most part so I set it to cut 1/4 dados in 3/4″ stock.  (The saw does not accept dado stacks, but you can cut dados by cutting a series of grooves into the work piece.)
  • Laser Guide: This was dead on out of the box but is hard to see outdoors in full sunlight.  It is in front of the saw and protected by the shield.  There are two thumb screws to adjust it.  It is powered by the plug not batteries and has an on/off switch next to the trigger.
  • 12.5″ crosscut.  3.5″ material thickness.  This is at 90-degrees.
  • Adjustable wings: I’m not sure how far out the wings go.  I do know I set the flip up stop to 16″ with no issues.  This is a nice feature, but once I build a miter stand in my shop it won’t be used much
  • Rail Slide Lock:  This prevents the saw from sliding while in storage or transport.  It can be locked in place and used as a non-sliding chop saw.
What I Like:

The saw is accurate on all of it’s settings from the box.  I didn’t have to spend any time calibrating and fussing with settings.  The only parts I had to install were the handle that swings the miter bed, the dust bag, and the hold down clamp

The “fit and finish” is good.  It does not feel “cheap” but well built and “solid.”  The saw head moves smoothly along the rails.  The miter stops engage solidly.  The miter bed pivots firmly yet smoothly with no slop.  (How long this holds up is yet to be seen).  There is a nice spring loaded lever that locks the miter bed in place.  The bevel has a stop at zero, 45, and 33.9-degrees, all are positive so you can be confident that when it hits the stop it is where it needs to be.



I like how the laser is set up and how it adjusts.  It’s protected from accidental bumps by the blade guard.  It doesn’t need tools to adjust and being in front of the blade it won’t suffer from dust build up.

The rails slide smoothly without slop.  There is enough resistance that it doesn’t fly back and forth.

Compact 10 inch Sliding Compound Miter Saw

What I Don’t Like

Honestly there isn’t much that I don’t like, but nothing is perfect and there is always room for improvement.

The laser is hard to see in sunlight, so if the next version would beef that up a little that would be great.

The saw gets in it’s own way.  Depending on the cut you want to do you have to make sure the rail is not hitting the fence or the motor isn’t going to come down on the hold down clamp.

Functionally, the hold down clamp works just fine, but it is a time consuming process to adjust.  Something with a quick release would be a welcome improvement.

Dust collection with the bag is almost pointless.  Dust Collection with a Shop-Vac is OK.  I’ve notice that if you extend the arm all the way out, then pull the head down, then push the saw back into the work piece dust collection is better than when simply chopping.  I don’t make a huge deal of dust collection, I accept saw dust as a fact of woodworking.  If I can create less dust or remove it with a vacuum, great! If not I just setup outside.

The saw blade is pretty decent.  It is definitely not as good as my $70 Freud Industrial Blade that is in my table saw.  But that blade is 1/3 the price of this miter saw.  As of now I have no plans on upgrading the current blade until I wear it out.  When I does wear out I will replace it with a premium blade made for sliding miter saws (like this one).

Conclusion

It was money well spent.  I’m very happy.  I got a tool I could afford that is good quality.  My goal for all my tools is 1) never go into debt for a tool, I pay cash for all of them 2) buy the best value I can reasonably afford, and 3) when a tool fails or wears out replace it with a better model.  Hopefully this saw will last me many years and when it is worn out I’ll be able to replace it with a “professional grade” saw.  Until then I have no doubts I can produce professional quality stuff with this saw.

Video Review

For those of you more inclined to watching a review, here you go.

 

If you want to know more about what saw blades I recommend click here.

 

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