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I love the latest innovation — and pro-quality tools — as much as the next guy. And I’ve certainly drooled a bit over Festool’s latest miter saw. But I can’t help but wonder: where do Toolmongers (pros and DIYers alike) draw the line regarding how much you’ll pay for a Miter saw?

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Festool’s new Kapex KS 120 looks like it’s going for $1,300. Bosch’s 5412L 12″ models cashs out at between $730 and $630. DeWalt’s 12″ double-bevel model runs $680. All of these seem like quality tools as far as durability goes, though they differ quite a bit in raw features.

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And, of course, the big-box shops stock a pile of DIYer models from $150 all the way down to well under $100.

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So here’s my question — well, my question(s):

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1. What do you do with your miter saw, and how often do you use it?

2. What features matter the most to you?

3. How much would you spend for the perfect miter saw?

 

23 Responses to Reader Question: Now Much Will You Pay For A Miter Saw?

  1. Kurt Schwind says:

    1) I love my miter saw and use it a decent amount. I’m a weekend warrior though, so it’s idle about 5 days a week.

    2) Clean cuts and allow for compound miter cuts.

    3) If I won the lottery, I might get the festool. Only because if I won the lottery, I’d be getting a slew of other festool tools and I wouldn’t want to break the set. 🙂

    Having said that, I love my hand-me-down. I think hand-me-down tools deserve a lot of street cred. I’m using a saw that my dad used. It’s a Craftsmen that’s older than I am and it works just fine. I’m sure that the stand I have it on is worth more than the saw itself. I’ve got some decent blades and I’ve never been disappointed with the cuts from it.

  2. fred says:

    We use miter saws a lot – somtimes setting up 3 on a jobsite.
    We currently have both Bosch and Makita. Most of my trim carpenters like the Makita’s better than the Bosch’s.

    I’d be tempted to try one of the Kapex saws – but the non-standard arbor (30mm) as well as the price – is a bit off-putting.

    We do a lot of hardwood trim work – and crown moldings. Having a large capaicity to handle big crowns is one feature we look for in a saw.
    Accuracy and stability is anothe telling point – we want a saw that can be st and will not wander. Dust collection while impotant (would expect Festool to be excellent in this area) is just a bit lower on my list – we do set up a bag -dust collection system on bigger jobsites.

    I think that what we now spend for our Makita saws is about right – might be tempted to go 25% higher – but not double or more (can buy 2 saws) – unless I could see some big productivity gain.

  3. PutnamEco says:

    1.I use miter saws for a lot of things, from bridging to crown molding, fine furniture to form work…. I use them just about everytime on on site, and very often in my home shop.

    2. Accuracy, repeatability, durability, and capacity.

    3. When they come out with the perfect saw, I’ll pay just about whatever they want for it.
    Because the perfect saw would never wear out, and would be the last miter saw I would HAVE to buy.

  4. Zathrus says:

    1) General cutting duties for anything that fits in the dang saw. I’m also a weekend warrior, but my projects vary a lot (not much use for a miter saw in cleaning and regrouting/caulking a shower, which is my current unending job), so I probably average once a month on it.

    2) Compound miter cuts. I’d say accuracy, but I haven’t done anything with it yet that demanded real accurate cuts (even 1/16 off has been fine). Clean cuts can pretty much always be fixed by using a better blade; accuracy is tougher.

    3) I’m a cheap ass, plus I don’t use it a ton, so I’ll go with ~$100. Which is how much I spent for my current Delta a few years ago when it was on sale at Lowes for Christmas.

    I have my miter saw semi-permanently mounted on my tool bench (I built my bench so that the top of the bench is flush with the miter saw, and has a 2×2 that can be used as a fence too). It’s removable with thumb screws, but I haven’t needed to move it yet. So the one feature on the Festool that really interests me is the sliding method — not having to have extra space behind the saw would be great; I don’t think I could put any other sliding compound miter saw on my bench as it is. But it’s not worth the $1200 premium, even with all the other features the Festool has.

  5. Andrew says:

    I use a 12″ Hitachi double compound, that I purchased reconditioned for about 1/3 of the cost of new, on toolmonger’s recommendation at reconditionedsales.com

    1) A few weekends a month for general home projects, just finished a bathroom/closet combination remodel in an 80 year old house and needed to restud the walls and put sisterboards on all the joyces.

    2) Compound cuts, stability, clean cut, easy blade change access,

    3) I’ll pretty much never buy new again after my experience with buying reconditioned tools. They’re so much cheaper and if you go to a reputable dealer they are just as good and backed up with a similar warranty. Given that, I wouldn’t pay more than $200.00 as I picked up the above for $154.00 and it works like a charm.

  6. fred says:

    When I wrote my earlier comment, I hadn’t seen PutnamEco’s thought:

    “When they come out with the perfect saw, I’ll pay just about whatever they want for it.
    Because the perfect saw would never wear out, and would be the last miter saw I would HAVE to buy.”

    While I like to think about perfection – I’ve never seen it – or anything that lasts forever on a jobsite. Perfection would also imply that the saw manufacturer anticipated all future needs and changes that might be required of the saw (who knows maybe titanium trim will replace oak in the furure and we’ll need a saw to miter it.)

    I still like to think about balancing performance against cost – and make sure that I can recover the cost of tools from what I can earn from our jobs. I don’t buy cheap tools to squeeze out some additional quick bucks – because 30+ years of experience in building a business and acquiring others – tells me that this isn’t a good long-term strategy. In today’s market, spending about $650 on a miter saw that does most of what is possible to do and does it pretty darn well – is OK with me. After it’s serviced several times and finally comes to the end of its usefull life, I can’t complain – and try to buy something of similar or better quality at a fair price. That’s how we purchased Boschs to replace older Hitachi’s and then Makitas to replace older Boschs

  7. Blair says:

    For simple casing, base, crown, etc. jobs I have found that the DeWalt 705 does just about everything I need it to.

    As long as you treat the saws properly(don’t pick it up by the “handle”), and quick check for zero, most jobs can be taken care of.

    Bigger jobs we’ll set up another miter saw, or even bring in the digital arm if necessary.

    For me, I can’t see ever putting over 1K in a miter saw, but that’s just me, others might have a need for something like that.

  8. toolgEEk says:

    Not knowing much about miter saws, what features make it a good miter saw? Are the sliding miters worth the extra money? Do the sliding miters lose their accuracy as the slider wears out, or do they not really wear out too often?

    A trip to Home Depot shows me that their expensive miter saw is a Milwaukee 6955-20H
    http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10051&langId=-1&catalogId=10053&productId=100645487&N=10000003+90401
    Which rings up to a whopping $700.

    While the Ridgid MS1290LZA is only $450
    http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10051&langId=-1&catalogId=10053&productId=100618247&N=10000003+90401

    Do I really need the dual bevel feature of the high end saws? I know someone will say that it depends on the application, but what I want is feedback on what type of situations would be best for each type of saw. This way I can predict if I am purchasing enough saw.

    Another silly question would be if Home Depot is even a decent place to shop for a good miter saw?

    I was actually going to submit a user question to Toolmonger asking what a good miter saw would be, so I am pleased that this topic came up.

  9. Mike says:

    Anybody seen the new Milwakee miter saws? I’ve seen them in the just under $1000 range on amazon. I’d love to have one like it but I can’t justify the $200 craftsman let alone one of those monstrosities.

  10. Ryan says:

    Same story as Andrew here, except I bought the hitachi new at Lowe’s for around $200 on sale. I sometimes wish I had the sliding option but it is a luxury. The saw has worked wonderfully.

  11. Maureen says:

    1) I use my miter saw almost every time I’m in the shop, to cut down small pieces of wood. My miter saw is a 10 inch blade, Craftsman. Paid $200 for it, it works for what I use it for.

    2) I like the laser on my Craftsman, although it did unfortunately need calibrated at first. I also like the fact that it doesn’t have a lever you have to pull in order to lower the saw, such as the one on some Bosch tools. I wish it would slide, but I can’t get a slide miter saw from a decent company for my price range.

    3) For the absolute perfect miter saw, and assuming I could sell my current Craftsman for about $150 or so, I would pay $400. That’s also assuming it wouldn’t break soon. I’m cheap, but I’m also in school…

    I’ve spent some significant time with miter saws. From my experience, the best tools have been: Bosch, Milwaukee, and Craftsman (with Craftsman, always, you get what you pay for. You have to assume you’re not going to get as good of a tool if you’re not paying that much for it. If that’s not a problem for you, Craftsman tools are amazing.)

    I’ve had some trouble with Hitachi and some Makita models, for miter saws. Rigid’s dust collection system is horrible, and so is Hitachi’s. Hitachi is too heavy and not durable enough. It’s likely to break at a job site and includes too much unnecessary plastic. In almost all of the models, it’s unnecessarily large, and adds too much weight. The steel frame is not joined, but one single piece, and creates a huge problem if you ever need to change out your motor housing.

    If you’re a DIYer, I would always recommend the Skil brand, if you want something higher quality than Craftsman. Bosch can get expensive but really, it’ll last longer than your other tools and it’s extremely good quality. Bosch is more for professional jobs than for DIYers, though, because of the price problem.

  12. Old Donn says:

    Have a 10″ Milwaukee compound with an Irwin bolt-on laser guide fastened to a Craftsman portable table. Total for all was about $300. I got it at the local power tool store during their “we pay the sales tax” sale. While a few more bells & whistles would be nice, this one does everything an amateur like me needs. The Festool? Way outta my league.

  13. Kris says:

    I have a 10″ Hitachi compound that I got from Costco ~7 years ago. I think I paid ~$125 for it.

    1. I use it a few times a month for around the house projects. I sometimes will take it with me to cut baseboard if I’m helping family or friends do painting.

    2. Dust control, ease of use and setup, accuracy, cut width.

    3. When I get a new one, it’s going to be a slider and will stay on site. I’ll keep the Hitachi for road trips. All things being equal I’d love to have a Kapex but would find it hard to justify the $$$. If I was buying one today I’d probably go with a 10″ $450-$500 Bosch or Milwaukee.

    I have to agree with Kurt about winning Lottery = Festool madness, along with Powermatic madness, and building a shop to rival Norm’s.

  14. Michael says:

    I am a pro furniture maker, and I work in a co-op shop. Consequently, I have multiple chop-saws available to me for use (2 makita’s, which I like, and a giant Milwaukee) as well as a monster radial armsaw.

    1) I use it daily. But never for really accurate stuff. I am lucky enough to have a 11′ sliding Altendorf table saw available to me. So, I really only use the chopsaw when I need to quickly rough cut something to size. If I need really accurate repeatable cuts I will always use the slider. With that said, sometimes I’ll use the chop for adding some crown moulding or something like that, simply cause it make the math a bit easier to follow. In that case I am really glad to have the Makita, which kicks arse. They have been good to me.

    2) Ease of adjustability. I hate the ones that don’t really lock down on the angle when set. For me it needs to be a compound slider.

    3) I am inclined to say that the price of the tool is less important that the quality. I try to get the best tool possible, and then use it enough to make it pay for itself. Haven’t used the Kapex yet, so I cant say. But I know this- My festool router and saw payed for themselves the first day I bought them. They saved me so much time on these last 2 jobs that I would easily count them as the cheapest tools I have purchased lately.

  15. Zathrus says:

    toolgeek — Frankly, the answers do depend on what you’re doing with it.

    First off, you want a compound miter saw (cut can be adjusted in two dimensions at the same time — vertically and horizontally). If you don’t need compound cuts, then just buy a $5 manual miter box. Or just use a properly setup circular saw.

    As for 10″ vs 12″ or sliding vs non-sliding — it’s entirely dependent on how big of pieces you need to cut, and how portable it needs to be.

    A 10″ non-sliding saw can easily cut 2×4’s at any angle and just barely cut 2×6’s at 90 degrees. Any bigger and you’ll have to do multiple cuts, which is often difficult (especially if you’re doing angles).

    A 12″ non-sliding can do 2×6’s at any angle or 2×8’s straight.

    Sliding miter saws vary in their capacity, but in general a 10″ should be able to do a 12″ cut straight or 8″ angled. A 12″ might be up to 16-18″ straight and 12″ angled.

    As for single (can only do bevel cuts in one direction, usually to the right) vs double bevel (can do bevel cuts to left or right) — if you never have to do multiple cuts then the only advantage of a double bevel is to make things easier on you; there’s nothing you can do with the double that you can’t do with the single — you’ll just have to flip the board around more with the single to get the right cut. If you’re doing multiple cuts for whatever reason, then double bevel may be the difference between being able to do the cut and not — but, honestly, if this is a concern, shouldn’t you be using a table saw instead?

    If you need portability, then look at the weight and other features like built-in extensions (not so important for a fixed installation).

    Lasers are nice, but if they’re not adjustable then they’re probably worthless before long. Detents/stops are useful.

    I’m sure the pros here could give a better idea of what features are really important.

  16. Michael W. says:

    I use my miter saw every weekday for work (and most weekends in my workshop). I make custom furniture and do a lot of trim carpentry.

    I waited until I could get a Bosch 3915 10″ sliding compound on sale (just under $400). I haven’t regretted my purchase. It’s a very rugged unit. It’s very accurate and I can quickly change and set angles. I’ve never needed a 12″ slider, the 10″ has been enough for me.

    I felt that $400 was what I could afford for that particular tool.

    I won’t buy Festools. Too expensive. A tool, for me, has a certain cut-off point. I don’t buy them for fun. The tools price has to be justified by it’s ability to make me more money by either being more efficient, or by doing something that no other tool can do (that I need done). The Festool saw is going for what I intend to buy a cabinet table saw for. I view them as I do the SawStop line, expensive tools meant for someone else.

    I’m also not averse to buying a used tool (Craigslist!). I just bought a pre-owned, but never used, Rigid Jointer for $200. They retail for $399 (which is what I expected to pay). Buying used is an excellent option, but one in which the buyer has much more responsibility to make sure the tool is in good order. There’s a lot of weekend warriors who buy tools for a project and sell them after they gather dust in their garage (just as there are tons of guys who decide to get into carpentry full time, buy a ton of tools and then move on). I probably wouldn’t buy a tool from a large carpentry company because I’ve worked in them and see how company tools get abused.

  17. Eli says:

    1. What do you do with your miter saw, and how often do you use it?
    Framing to finish, every day

    2. What features matter the most to you?
    Accuracy, cleanliness, ease of use, customer support. Specifically to this saw, dust collection, the LASERS!, the hold down clamp.

    3. How much would you spend for the perfect miter saw?
    I’d be embarrassed to say here. It’s plenty of information to say I bought the Kapex, it’s EVEN MORE expensive here in Australia, and I bought a package, that came with an MFT800 table, crown stops, and extension wings.

    I wouldn’t trade this saw for two of the next most expensive. To be fair, the price of all tools here is much higher in AU than US, so it’s not that hard to talk myself up to the most expensive. I buy mostly Festool, and I think the extra expense is well worth it. These tools are consistently more accurate than other tools, so the time I used to spend fixing the job, I can spend making it that much better.

    My dealer can have a replacement tool to me the same day in most cases. I can demo a tool I need but don’t own for a week or two in most cases. All the tools are 30 days no questions full refund. All their tools have a three year warranty. The tools work as an integrated system, all with dust collection. I work in people’s homes and when my tools are at home I like to share the fun with my kids. Dust collection helps insure the safety of everyone.

  18. ShopMonger says:

    Way cool,, and way took expensive unless it cuts and dimensions the wood itself, no way no how. You can get the functionality for way less and buy 4 other tools….

  19. someonesdad says:

    It looks way overpriced to me…

    I bought my Hitachi sliding compound miter saw nearly 20 years ago after talking to a carpenter who had one and swore by it. I paid $380 for it at the local dealer. On a Workmate table, it’s wonderful for working on 2 by lumber. When we added on to the house, I used it for the trim work and it was mandatory, as none of the walls were at 90 degrees. My wife is also very fond of it and cuts pine cones, PVC pipe, and lumber with the best of them. I’ve also used it to cut aluminum, carefully of course.

  20. Paul-Marcel says:

    1. I’m a hobbyist who usually gets 20 hours in the shop a week for projects and remodeling. I use my Makita SCMS regularly.

    2. Repeatable cuts, precision in setting and holding angles. Portability is less important for me, but space is.

    3. If I didn’t already have the Makita (to me, the best after the Kapex), I would already have the Kapex. For precision settings, holding angles, repeatability, etc., it’s fantastic. Couple that with a smaller footprint (and portability if that mattered more to me) and especially dust collection. When I do a lot of work on a project over a weekend, all the dust in the shop is from the SCMS since the rest of the tools are primarily Festool.

    Several pro contractors I’ve talked to also may the dust collection alone pays for itself after 1-2 jobs since you can imagine a customer’s wife not being too pleased with all the dust in the house after a crown molding or finish carpentry job. If I were to start remodeling part-time for a business, I’d certainly order one.

    I’ll also second Michael’s comment. I recently got a Festool router when the switch on my Bosch failed (and since fixed under warranty… slooowly). The Bosch is a popular and good router, but there is absolutely no comparison even with dust collection aside…

  21. Brett says:

    I have owned dewalt makita hitachi saws over the last thirty years, I due custom kitchens for a living and purchased a festool kapex 6 months ago.I wish i had bought it 5 years ago when it came out.Yeah it is a lot of money ,but i am a better craftsmen when using it. so much cleaner then my dewalt or makita and the cut is outstanding. Durability ? I have not owned it long enough yet,but if it is like my festool drills then I will be more then satisfied. I have a five year old t drill and the batteries are as good as new, dewalt panasonic bosch, lasted 3 years at best.

  22. Karly says:

    Same story as Andrew here, except I bought the hitachi new at Lowe’s for around $200 on sale. I sometimes wish I had the sliding option but it is a luxury. The saw has worked wonderfully.

  23. Nick Tran says:

    I use my miter saw every weekday for work. I make custom furniture and do a lot of trim carpentry. I sometimes wish I had the sliding option but it is a luxury.

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