Craftsman - 126.32563 7.25" Sliding Miter Saw (Rating: 4)

I was on the fence between 3 and 4 stars. I ultimately went with four because, in the end, the saw meets my needs and expectations. But it took a bit of work to get it there

Tool Wood Handheld power drill Power tool Saw

I work out of a one-car garage which I share with lawn care tools and my kids bikes, scooter, etc. Oh, and there is also a snap-on rollbox and a motorcycle in there somewhere too :) That said, I have to get creative with how I store my woodworking stuff which includes five floor machines, workbench, etc. Granted, my bench and machines are not huge, industrial mammoths, but finding room is a challenge nonetheless.

My solution is to "park" the machines along the wall, and move them into the center of the garage when I need to use them. Of course, this requires me to move my motorcycle into the driveway in order to move the machine. Its can be a real PITA. And although my table saw is the best crosscutting machine I own, I hate going to the trouble of setting it up when I only need to crosscut a couple boards. So I decided to look for an alternate crosscutting machine that I could use in such cases. And no, handsaws weren't a viable option :)

I stumbled upon this 7 1/4" SCMS in my local Sears. I played around with the floor model and everything seemed to be of fairly nice quality. The sliding action was smooth and the miter/bevel adjustments were easy to set and held tight. I wasn't over the moon for the fence or hold down clamp, but the rest of the machine got my attention. A presumably accurate saw, that was lightweight, compact, and could be set-up without having to move a motorcycle?

At first the 7 1/4" blade was a bit of a turn-off, but the more I thought about, the more I liked the idea. Afterall 7 1/4" finish blades are way less expensive than 10" blades. And even this small saw still offers 9X2" cutting capacity. That will accomodate the vast majority of my cutting needs. After a bit of thought, this really seemed like the right machine for my needs. However, the price was $169, which isn't bad, but I didn't need the tool enough to spend that much on it. Plus, I wanted to read some reviews and think things over before I pulled the trigger.

A few weeks later I caught this saw for $115ish. And after some coupon codes and free shipping, I ordered it for $98. Within a few days, it arrived. It was nicely packaged, and comes 95% assembled. The only parts that had to be installed were the fence, hold down clamp, and blade.

So- I've been using this saw for a few weeks now. I'm pleased with the purchase and with the saw in general. However, there are three notable flaws; two of which I've corrected.

1- The fence is pathetic. I noticed in the store that the fence was saw short (even for a small saw) and not particularly robust. Granted, this saw was likely intended for joe schmore to chop an occasional baseboard, but the fence needed to be addressed before I could consider it usable. Not only is it puny, the fence on my machine was cupped and not square with the machine base. I corrected this by adding an auxillary fence made from 5/8 engineered hardwood flooring. In all honesty, I would have added the aux fence regardless of the original fence's condition, so this was not a catastrophic flaw. But definitely worth mentioning in a review.

2- The hold down clamp sucks. I mean, it holds material well enough, but the threads are SO fine. You have to turn it a million times to raise/lower it. I can't understand why this and so many other miter saws suffer from this? I can't understand how a coarse threaded system wouldn't be considered better? And I can't imagine it being any more expensive to manufacture.

3- Saving the worst for last: The circular/miter base portion of the saw table sat crooked within the machine's base. The left side was a 1/64ish proud, while the right side was 1/64 low. This might not sound so bad, but made a noticable difference in cut quality. This issue almost prompted me to return the saw, but I decided to try and fix it up. The fix was actually pretty easy. The machine base is connected to the miter base with a single 1/2" bolt. I separated the machine base from the miter base, then measured the miter base depth at several points around its circumference with a digital caliper. I then filed the high spots until it was pretty close to equal all the way around.I then smoothed everything with some 220g. Reassembled and viola`, it was perfect. Took 25-30 minutes.
I wouldn't blame someone for retuning a saw with this issue, but I'm glad I didn't.

4- Yeah, I said there were three flaws, but I should also mention dust collection. It sucks on this saw. But it also sucks on every other miter saw I've ever tried, so I'll call this a flaw on technicality.

So with the bad out of the way, I should mention the good.
- Power. Its only 9 amps, but given its relatively small capacity, its plenty.

- Accuracy. I did have to fiddle with the stops, but its an accurate machine.Easy to set-up and settings hold tight.

- Ambidexterous on/off switch. This wasn't a selling point for me, but it should have been. Sometimes it makes sense to make a cut "off-handed". Usually an awkward process on a right handed saw, but not on this one. I really like the feature.

- Laser. I always found this feature a bit gimmicky on any type of machine, but it actually works pretty well on this model. And unlike my old miter saw which took batteries, this laser is wired into the machine's AC supply.

- Size. It has a pretty small footprint and weighs (i'm guessing) 15 lbs. This saw will obviously be too small for some/most woodworkers. But for my needs, its great. I can set it up anywhere which is nice since I often work outdoors when possible, and easily store it when I'm done.

-Blade. I never bothered installing the stock blade since they always suck. I found a 7.25 CMT 40T at a great price and installed that instead. The CMT works great, but I can't comment on the stock blade. I hung on to it for any rough cutting I'll enevitably need to do in the future.

Bottom line is this was a good find for me. And the price was right. I did have to go to some trouble to get it into proper working order, but nothing too painful. Anyway, I hope this review helps.