The Bosch GCM12SD Axial Glide Miter Saw has been the white whale to my Ahab for over two years now. Since I first caught a glimpse of the prototype in the bowels of the Bosch engineering lab, it taunted me. From a nondescript bench it laughed at my advances while Bosch madman Jason fueled my insanity by playing Vanna White to its bounty of features. The first time I witnessed the hinged arms move I belched out an expletive and sealed my irrational obsession with a Wayne’s World moment — “It will be mine. Oh yes; it will be mine.” Now, it’s in for testing at the Toolmonger shop and we can show you in great detail why this thing is sweetness on a swivel.
After the better part of five years, there aren’t many tools that make their way into the shop that make me positively giddy, but the dual-axial Bosch glide saw is one of them. When I got the giant blue box back to the shop it was a happy day.
With all the packing removed, I got a good look at what the blue and red team has been crafting back in their lab of doom. The hardware specs are impressive. The heart of the saw is a 3 hp 15 motor that spins a 12” blade at around 3,800 rpm. But as cool as that is, it’s not the real star of the show.
The reason tool writers are getting hot under the collar about this saw are the two hinged arms that ride on 12 sealed bearings (circled in red). The upper arm folds in the vertical plane and the other arm folds in the horizontal plane to lock the motor into one, smooth glide path that moves from front to back.
When not deployed, the mechanism folds up to a compact structure at the back of the table in what I can only call an elegant manner. Not only does it not suck up real estate that might otherwise be used in a different manner in the shop — it stays out of its own way inside a column only five inches wide.
Some of the most common comments we hear from folks who haven’t actually had their hands on one is that the ball bearing system will gunk up, or the arms will come out of alignment or flat-out fail one day. After inspecting the hardware, we seriously doubt it. These aren’t flimsy arms, and the lab rats at Bosch took care to install the bearing system with sawdust gunk in mind. These aren’t thin-walled pieces of plastic rotating on craptacular axles. The arms are solid and the bearings and pins have such a smooth fit you forget they’re there most of the time.
To get an idea of the scale, here’s the current 10” compound miter saw pulling duty in the shop next to the GCM12SD. The Bosch is larger almost all the way around, and of course the Task Force is not a sliding saw. However, it’s clear the Bosch is playing in a different league. And even with the size difference the Bosch isn’t that much deeper and it covers double the cut of the Task Force.
The base is about 26 inches wide with the supports in the closed position.
A flick of the red lever right under the front of each support will pop the friction lock and allow the extensions on either side to extend to a 42” wingspan.
A long base isn’t much good without a fence, so that too features an extension trick similar to the base. A red friction lock release lets the fence feed out on either side to the same length as the base extension.
The throat measures 19 1/2” to the front of the miter adjustment knob and boasts 13 3/4” of serviceable cutting area from the fence.
To lock the glide motion out, push the arm as far back as it will go and flip the red lever on the left side of the arm. This will effectively render it a chop saw.
Unfortunately, the bench in the shop was built for a smaller sized saw altogether. A quick cut with the very saw the future base would support got the required 26 inches needed to support the contractor saw.
I was a little worried that the Bosch would just be too damn big to go in the slot available, even if the feet fit on the bench — but it turned out to be a non-issue. Full range of motion on either side was clear by a few inches.
Tilting on the vertical axis wasn’t a problem, either.
After a week of almost constant operation, it’s been an absolute joy to have in the shop. The friction adjustable glide is silky smooth. It lets users get any amount of resistance they need to feel good about the cut, and each cut in any mode feels rock solid. The extensions make chopping up 8’ stock less painful than ever before with little tipping on this end or that, and the brute of a motor makes certain the power comes on strong and stays that way through the entire cut at any angle or depth. We were impressed.
The only thing we have to pick on is the guide wheel on the blade guard. Both the wheels and the guard are plastic and tend to rattle when moving the guard or coming off power. I must also point out that complaining about them is rather like bitching about the lack of cup holders in a Lamborghini — no one cares.
Assemble most of these features on another saw and you’d have a great rig. Put together the same package and integrate the glide system with its chunky axles and a sealed bearings, and you have something that is the beginning of a redesign for the rest of the industry.
The Bosch GCM12SD axial glide miter saw is, no matter the gossip about “breakthroughs” and (shiver) “game changers,” just a saw. It will undergo long-term testing, get a little dirty, and then, like most of the other tools that come through here, be donated or sent to a charity or worthy individual in need. That said, in the time between this day and that, I plan to cut the ever loving $&%! out of everything I can run through it. It really is one of those rare tools that lives up to the hype.
Be prepared for a hit if you plan to land the white whale for yourself, though. At $700-$800 retail, it’s a good bet many will choose cheaper waters. When it finally leaves our shop you can bet we won’t be able to post the green to land another one, either — just saying.