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Best compound miter saw

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Forum topic by LlamaMama posted 05-27-2020 03:58 PM 709 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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LlamaMama

3 posts in 45 days


05-27-2020 03:58 PM

Topic tags/keywords: compound miter saw accurate saw question miter saw

Hello Friends –
I am a woodworking woman in a monastery of 34 nuns, 450 acres of farm and woods and I am in charge of our carpentry shop. We make a lot of shelves, cabinets, farm stuff (gates, fences, small barns), picture frames and coffins. I am the coffin maker and it has been a privilege to create beautiful coffins from our own wood for beloved members of our community over the past twenty years.

I would like to replace the old radial arm saw in our shop with a new compound miter saw. The old r.a.s. is a Delta and it serves its purpose but it is very hard to achieve accuracy on any and all cuts, especially the angles of a traditionally “mummy” shaped coffin. I am looking for dial-in accuracy and the longest cross-cut capacity and of course a reasonable price tag. This saw would stay in the shop so weight or portability are not really issues.

I would appreciate any advice, recommendations and first-hand experience you all could offer, thanks!

Llama Mama


26 replies so far

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

3088 posts in 2574 days


#1 posted 05-27-2020 04:18 PM

My opinion is long crosscuts are best done with a Radial arm saw. Compound miter saw are great for cutting molding as in baseboard or tall crown molding. But they lack the stiffness for long cuts in thickwood. It’s a lot strain and force put on a blade that’s used in these type of saw. Negative rake or zero rake blades.
The Sliding compound miter saw I use is the Bosch glide it’s very accurate for small stuff as the wood gets larger the cut quality goes down.
Radial armsaw can still be found used just have to spend time looking. There’s even guys out there the like restoring and sell them. The other type of saw you might want to consider is sliding tablesaw.
Good Luck

-- Aj

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SMP

2131 posts in 682 days


#2 posted 05-27-2020 05:48 PM

I had an old craftsman RAS, and replaced it with a Dewalt DWS780 a few years ago. The only thing I really miss about my RAS was doing wide dados for shelving, etc. Other than that i hove no real regrets. It does take some tuning to dial in. If you go that route i can point you to a good video on dialing it in.

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LlamaMama

3 posts in 45 days


#3 posted 05-27-2020 05:59 PM

Thank you – both of you! I rely on the experience of others…

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EllenWoodHead

88 posts in 153 days


#4 posted 05-27-2020 08:00 PM

I like the Bosch GCM12SD a lot. 12” blade, dual bevel, and it has a different rail system that saves space. It costs around $600.

The DeWalt DWS779 costs less. Also 12”, double bevel, standard slide rails. ~ $400.

Both have pretty good dust collection. Both cut accurately, as long as you adjust them and keep them adjusted, which isn’t a big deal.

I use both (thanks to friends with workshops) and would choose the Bosch if I needed to save a few inches of space, DeWalt to save some money. Very nice saws, I wish I could have them all.

I think what you are doing is cool. Everyone needs a caring good-bye.

-- "wood" and "good" rhyme, but not "food"

View D4me's profile

D4me

6 posts in 45 days


#5 posted 05-27-2020 08:48 PM

LlamaMama – just put in new bearings and “tighten” things up. Those are fantastic machines but wear and tare happens to the best. So, just do some refurbishing and take the slop out. Since you run the carpentry shop you have the skills necessary to bring it up to snuff.

New bearings, tighten up the gibs, replace the guide rollers and maybe replace the guide rails.

Look at what’s moving (when it shouldn’t) and figure out how to stop it from doing so. It’s no more complex then that.

Everything is replaceable and adjustable on those old machines. Just determine what really needs to be done and do it and you will be up and running with a good machine “for ever”.

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D4me

6 posts in 45 days


#6 posted 05-27-2020 08:51 PM

LlamaMama – just put in new bearings and “tighten” things up. Those are fantastic machines but wear and tare happens to the best. So, just do some refurbishing and take the slop out. Since you run the carpentry shop you have the skills necessary to bring it up to snuff.

New bearings, tighten up the gibs, replace the guide rollers and maybe replace the guide rails.

Look at what’s moving (when it shouldn’t) and figure out how to stop it from doing so. It’s no more complex then that.

Everything is replaceable and adjustable on those old machines. Just determine what really needs to be done and do it and you will be up and running with a good machine “for ever”.

“Pinch Foot Coffins” are really very nice. I’ve built one about a foot long. Put candy in it during Halloween with the lid sticking up.

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Jim Finn

2836 posts in 3698 days


#7 posted 05-27-2020 09:54 PM

I find radial arm saws to be inaccurate. I have two sliders. A DeWalt 12” and a Bosch 12”. One is as good as the other. for the money I would go with DeWalt using a DeWalt blade.

-- No PHD just a DD214 Lubbock Texas

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Lazyman

5446 posts in 2164 days


#8 posted 05-27-2020 10:19 PM

What is the widest width you need to be able to cut? I think that maximum on the Dewalt 12” is around 14” on 2-by lumber at 90° to the fence and only 10” at 45°. Perhaps 15” on 3/4” thick? Most of the plans I’ve seen for toe pincher coffins call for 18” sides but perhaps you are making them a little shallower or cutting the boards to length before edge joining them? If you need to go wider than about 14”, tuning up your RAS might be the way to go.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View tvrgeek's profile

tvrgeek

989 posts in 2426 days


#9 posted 05-27-2020 10:37 PM

My Ridgid is purely a carpenter tool. Not a cabinet tool. From the reviews, filtering them to the ones where they may actually have used the tool, Makita and Bosch are top performers, but folks still flock to DeWalt anything. Every DeWalt tool I have I consider junk, not much better than Harbor Freight.

Small stuff, I use my Lyon miter trimmer if I need real accuracy. I use sleds on my table saw, but neither works well if it is a 16 foot bit of crown molding. I was able to tune the Ridgid to be close to square, but still get curved compound cuts. I have not bought the best blade for it which looks like the Ammana. Full width, low hook. The Diablo 80 tooth thin kerf is not it. A int I was given is for compound, make a gig so yo are only doing a miter and the work is held for the compound angle. Next crown molding I will be doing that. I guess the manufactures don’t try to make them accurate as buildings are not square anyway. I stil have to resort to my circ saw and track if I need to crosscut something too clumsy ot large for either TS or Miter. One can do extreemly well with a track saw?

I had the ubiquitous Craftsman RAS for decades. I sold it when I bought the table saw but had I known how bad miter saws are, I might have kept it. I just had no room. It was quite scary to use for about anything but a crosscut.

FWIT I would not give a nickel for a DeWalt blade. CMT, Ammana, Freud, Ridge Carbide. The blade does the work, the saw just holds it.

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

3190 posts in 2271 days


#10 posted 05-27-2020 11:42 PM

Llama Mama

Welcome to LumberJocks!

Cool background story. Will bend over backwards to help wood working nuns, who wouldn’t? :-)

IMHO – If you like and know how to safely use your radial arm saw, and the problem is simply a worn out tool; can buy another high quality Radial Arm Saw from the The Original Saw Company:
https://originalsaw.com/radialarmsaws/
They even produce massive 16 & 20” models commonly used in timber frame/log home construction. Despite many opinions to contrary, there is place in most commercial shops for radial arm saw. They are not cheap, but the best is never cheap.

+1 12” miter saw does not have cut capacity for adult sized toe kicker coffin.

Selling my 12” Dewalt 790 radial arm saw due to lack of space in downsize move was very sad day in my shop. It was more accurate and larger cut capacity than any sliding miter saw I attempted to replace it with. Only a non-sliding miter saw was able to repeat same accuracy delivered by well made and tuned up radial arm saw.

Best Luck!

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

6949 posts in 3971 days


#11 posted 05-28-2020 12:03 AM

A woodworking nun……!!! That’s a first for me….lol….:)

-- " There's a better way.....find it"...... Thomas Edison.

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downsizing

12 posts in 58 days


#12 posted 05-28-2020 12:09 AM

I used to have an old 8” Delta radial arm saw. It was sold as a beater. But I found a book somewhere that went through all the adjustments and followed that. Everything can be set to proper clearances and that made it like new. So I would guess your old Delta can also be adjusted back to perfect.

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CaptainKlutz

3190 posts in 2271 days


#13 posted 05-28-2020 12:34 AM

But I found a book somewhere that went through all the adjustments and followed that. Everything can be set to proper clearances and that made it like new.
- downsizing

Which book are you referring too?
The 'How to Master the Radial Saw' by Mr Sawdust - Wallace Kunkel, or the 'Fine tuning your radial arm saw' by Jon Eakes that was sold by Lee Valley in late 80’s?
Both are still available. :-)

IMHO – If you own a radial arm saw, and have never read one of these; your missing out.

Cheers!

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

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downsizing

12 posts in 58 days


#14 posted 05-28-2020 01:24 AM

It think it was the Mr Sawdust book. Painstaking step by step directions on everything. I do most mechanical stuff by seat of the pants but this was an eye opener, laying out the necessary sequence of steps to getting the saw set up.

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CWWoodworking

800 posts in 955 days


#15 posted 05-28-2020 01:51 AM

You may want to look into vertical panel saw. Any panels over 10”, I cross cut on panel saw.

Extremely safe and easy to use. Can also be used for a ton of things.

The downside is money. They will start at 3x the better sliding miter saws.

They won’t replace a miter saw, but may work for what you need.

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