Ridgid - MS1250LZ (Rating: 4)

My wife and I bought a house two years ago, and planned to redo the kitchen pretty extensively. I grew up doing construction projects with my step-father and am able to do framing, drywall, finish work, electrical, and very basic plumbing on my own. We ended up tearing it down to the studs and starting from scratch, and did 99% of the project ourselves.

I realized before we started that I was going to need more power tools. I had a drill, jigsaw, circular saw, and hand tools, but had no space for a proper workshop in our previous apartments. I started looking for a miter saw and ended up buying the Ridgid MS1250LZ for ~$279 at Home Depot. The price was right (I couldn't get near a decent 12" miter saw for that price in any other brand), and I liked the way the saw felt in my hands. I'd also read positive reviews of Ridgid tools online.

I've now had the saw for two full years, and it has gotten a lot of use. After the initial framing work (cutting 2×4s), I've done the kitchen trim (window sills, baseboard, casing, cap, and crown molding) and several other minor projects. I have the saw set up down in the basement on one of the old base cabinets we tore out of the kitchen. It's heavy enough to be stable but light enough that I can bring it upstairs or outside onto the deck for projects. I'm very pleased with it.

Like many other people, I never installed the laser that came with the saw. From what I read, it's finicky to adjust and simply doesn't offer much of a benefit for all the trouble taken installing it. It only turns on when the blade spins up, which means you have to turn the saw on to position the workpiece. I prefer to leave the saw safely off, push the saw down lightly onto the wood, and sight to my line or mark by eye. I've never had a problem making accurate cuts that way.

I've replaced the blade twice, once with a Freud Diablo finish blade and once with a DeWalt finish blade that I got on sale. I find changing the blade irritating (not because it's particularly hard with the Ridgid, but simply because it takes time away from working), so I just leave a finish blade in the saw. I actually do the same for my circular saw.

I've found the angle and bevel adjustments on the saw to be both easy and accurate. There are positive stops for common angles (22.5, 45, etc), which is convenient. 95+% of the time I'm at 0 or 45 degrees, but it's nice to know the angle adjustments are accurate when I need them.

- The work clamp is very handy for holding work, and can be moved to either side of the blade VERY easily
- The table (machined aluminum) is stable but slick enough to easily reposition the wood
- 12" blade at a 10" price
- Decent (but unspectacular) included blade
- Heavy & stable
- Accurate miter angles

- The extension table on the left side of the blade (see the picture for what I'm talking about) is not quite flush (maybe 1/16" lower) than the rest of the table. It's not a big deal, but means that you have to be careful to hold the piece tight to the main table to avoid a tiny bevel on the end of the piece. There may be a way to shim it up, but I have not yet taken the time to do that.
- The saw isn't as lefty-friendly as it could be. The trigger is good (it runs the whole length of the handle so can be pressed equally well with either the left or right hand, but the safety lock is designed to be pressed by your right thumb. I am left handed, but work well with either hand for cutting. The problem is that when you're set up to make cuts with the long part of the workpiece on the right side of the blade (it happened very frequently during the trim work, for example), it would be natural to brace the workpiece with your right hand and cut with your left, but this is more awkward than it has to be with the Ridgid. Note that I've looked at other miter saws in stores and online and most if not all suffer from the same problem. Some are even worse than the Ridgid, such as Ryobi's saws that have a small trigger only pressable by the right index finger. The only ones I've found that are completely ambidextrous are Hitachi's, with the handle rotated 90 degrees to a pistol-like arrangement. This drawback isn't a deal-breaker, but it would be nice if the designers took into account the fact that not everyone holds the work on the left side of the blade.

Overall, I would most certainly buy the Ridgid again. I have since bought two other Ridgid tools and have been equally happy with them. The prices are good, but most importantly there's a level of quality there that's lacking in other cheap brands.