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12" Sliding Compound Miter Saw with Laser Guide (#96698/98194)

07/19/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Hot Buys, Power Tools, Woodworking

Link: http://HarborFreightReviews.com

Electric Miter Saw
Item: 12" Sliding Compound Miter Saw with Laser Guide
Item number: 96698/98194
Retail price: $199.99
Target price: $129.99
Best price: $109.99 (with coupon)
Item Link

I was probably "the last kid on the block" to learn this, but the real reason many homeowners would find this type of saw valuable is for making simple right-angle cuts that are straight and true. Forget the complex, reverse-angle miter cuts, simply cutting a 2 x 4" or better yet a 4 x 4" quickly and cleanly makes this saw a great investment. And if you actually learn to miter, well, that's cool enough to impress even the spouse with your Harbor Freight purchase. In fact, s/he may have you adding crown molding throughout your home if you're able to master this skill.

The saw has plenty of power with a 15-amp motor that rips through stock up to 4" x 12-3/16" at 90° and 8-1/4" x 2-1/8" at 45°. The unit is light enough to move easily which means it really needs to be attached to a table through its four mounting holes to make it stable. We've only completed preliminary tests with this saw, but thus far it feels a bit more 'stiff' than expected and therefore requires some deliberate thought before cutting. Perhaps this is good considering that you're operating a 4,300 rpm 12" blade almost in your lap. (Hum, what would Dr. Freud have to say about this?) The dust bag is basically worthless, so keep the shop vac nearby.

Hint: Don't expect this miter saw to cut straight and true right out of the box. You have to carefully square it as described in the instructions--then, let'er rip.

The saw is noisy and several online reviewers have complained or expressed concerns about its durability. Others, however, report no problems after a couple of years' use. Our initial assessment is that it should suffice for home or limited small-shop use and therefore is a great investment (when bought at the target price or lower) if only for making simple cuts quickly and squarely. The one-year warranty should be more than sufficient to weed out any lemons that might be unloaded at the dock, and any professional carpenter that keeps a $109.99 (current best price with coupon) miter saw running for a year has gotten a very good deal.

FYI for the novice user: don't be intimidated by the "sliding compound" description. "Sliding" simply means that the saw blade is on a pair of rails that permits it to slide across the table easily cutting boards slightly over 12" wide (and 4" thick with a 12" blade), while the compound descriptor simply means that it can cut at multiple angles concurrently (i.e, angled and beveled at the same time). You probably won't use this last feature until you need complex miter cuts (never?), but the additional width gained by the "sliding" feature can be a lifesaver (e.g., can quickly and squarely cut a 4 x 12" board).

Bottom line: A good, acceptable-quality saw for most work around the home or small shop. Perhaps not really in the same league as the expensive big name miter saws, but then the price isn't either. A great (almost must-have) investment for the DIY homeowner.

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