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Miter saw recommendations

Posted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 2:44 pm
by VanTry2DIY
Hi all,

After spending entirely too much time trying to get our borrowed Harbor Freight special Chicago Electric 10" miter saw's fence to cut a perfect square (and stay there), my wife and I have resigned to upgrading to a better quality saw.

It will be used for cutting 3/4" hardwood flooring into a herringbone pattern, so precision is our top priority--we don't see any benefit from lasers or other doodads. What's the least expensive saw that could be set up to cut 14" long planks and KEEP cutting only that length?

Re: Miter saw recommendations

Posted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 3:38 pm
by Shannon
prices vary all over so that is hard to say for your area. Stay with a quality saw brand like Dewalt,Milwaukee,Mikita,Bosch. The less moving parts the better the accuracy IMO. So for what you are doing I would get a standard mitre saw, if you want a more versatile saw you could go to a sliding compound mitre saw.
When setting it up to repeat cuts over and over like what you are doing I would build a jig you could screw on to the saw and repeat cuts over and over. Most saws will have some holes in fence to allow securing a jig to the saw. What for build up of dust on the "fence stop " area of the jig ,this will throw out the lengths over time .

Re: Miter saw recommendations

Posted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 3:40 pm
by Shannon
Another note here would be that most saws will not cut perfect right outa the box and will need some fine tuning. Herring bone design is very un forgiving so you need these as perfect as you can ...seems you have relised that already.

Re: Miter saw recommendations

Posted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 10:30 pm
by A. Spruce
I agree with everything that Shannon has said, stick to a trusted name brand AND check it before you start into your project. It would also be a good idea to invest in a good quality square to check the accuracy of whatever saw you buy. Something along the lines of this would do the trick and it's budget friendly.

Re: Miter saw recommendations

Posted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 2:27 pm
by VanTry2DIY
Shannon wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 3:38 pm
prices vary all over so that is hard to say for your area. Stay with a quality saw brand like Dewalt,Milwaukee,Mikita,Bosch. The less moving parts the better the accuracy IMO. So for what you are doing I would get a standard mitre saw, if you want a more versatile saw you could go to a sliding compound mitre saw.
When setting it up to repeat cuts over and over like what you are doing I would build a jig you could screw on to the saw and repeat cuts over and over. Most saws will have some holes in fence to allow securing a jig to the saw. What for build up of dust on the "fence stop " area of the jig ,this will throw out the lengths over time .
Shannon wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 3:40 pm
Another note here would be that most saws will not cut perfect right outa the box and will need some fine tuning. Herring bone design is very un forgiving so you need these as perfect as you can ...seems you have relised that already.
I appreciate the excellent advice and will pull together a comparison on those four brands--the trouble these days seems to be finding a saw that isn't double-bevel, sliding, laser-sighted, jet-powered, etc 8-) Luckily we didn't get too carried away laying boards so will only have to pull up a dozen or so which can likely be re-cut and used in the pattern's border.

Is there any video on your channel covering setup of a miter saw/jig? I realize this is a pretty specialized application but would love to know your methodology when doing so.
A. Spruce wrote:
Mon Sep 09, 2019 10:30 pm
I agree with everything that Shannon has said, stick to a trusted name brand AND check it before you start into your project. It would also be a good idea to invest in a good quality square to check the accuracy of whatever saw you buy. Something along the lines of this would do the trick and it's budget friendly.
Thanks as always for the good input--you answered my next question. I will order a machinist's square as I've noticed the rafter square we have been using (also from Harbor Freight) has a visible curve to it. Surprisingly, it has a lifetime warranty. If only they could refund the time spent!

Re: Miter saw recommendations

Posted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 2:46 pm
by DanM
Personally I would get a sliding saw, even if you don't need it for this project it adds so much versatility to the mitre saw for the price. It gives you a massive increase to the size of wood you can cut. A long time ago I had a Dewalt 10" non-sliding saw and it couldn't cut all the way through a 2x8 (which is 7 1/4" actual) on a straight cut, and could barely get through a 2x6 if you're cutting on a 45. On my sliding saw (10") I can cut 14" joists. It may not matter now, but a quality sliding saw will last you a really long time and you don't need to upgrade it. If a project comes up in the future like a deck where you want to cut 2x10's or 2x12's you're all set, or if you want to do bigger pieces of crown molding or other wide trim.

Most of that other stuff like lasers is a waste of money IMHO. Double-bevel is nice but it's mostly a convenience thing, you can do pretty much anything with a single-bevel saw you just have to flip your boards around sometimes.

One other recommendation for your project that hasn't been mentioned is buying a good quality blade with a high tooth count. For doing hardwood flooring (or other finish work) you generally want a fine finish blade with 80+ teeth. Most saws will come with a general purpose 40 tooth blade which can tear and shred the edges of a cut a little bit.

Re: Miter saw recommendations

Posted: Tue Sep 10, 2019 2:47 pm
by A. Spruce
I think its called a tri-square, it doesn't have to be anything fancy, just a good quality one that is square and will hold it's squareness over time. I think the one I have is a Stanley, wood and brass handle with steel rule.

Re: Miter saw recommendations

Posted: Wed Sep 11, 2019 10:07 am
by VanTry2DIY
DanM wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 2:46 pm
Personally I would get a sliding saw, even if you don't need it for this project it adds so much versatility to the mitre saw for the price. It gives you a massive increase to the size of wood you can cut. A long time ago I had a Dewalt 10" non-sliding saw and it couldn't cut all the way through a 2x8 (which is 7 1/4" actual) on a straight cut, and could barely get through a 2x6 if you're cutting on a 45. On my sliding saw (10") I can cut 14" joists. It may not matter now, but a quality sliding saw will last you a really long time and you don't need to upgrade it. If a project comes up in the future like a deck where you want to cut 2x10's or 2x12's you're all set, or if you want to do bigger pieces of crown molding or other wide trim.

Most of that other stuff like lasers is a waste of money IMHO. Double-bevel is nice but it's mostly a convenience thing, you can do pretty much anything with a single-bevel saw you just have to flip your boards around sometimes.

One other recommendation for your project that hasn't been mentioned is buying a good quality blade with a high tooth count. For doing hardwood flooring (or other finish work) you generally want a fine finish blade with 80+ teeth. Most saws will come with a general purpose 40 tooth blade which can tear and shred the edges of a cut a little bit.
Thanks Dan, I am also a big fan of future-proofing. After some research I've gone with the Dewalt DWS779, a sliding double-bevel 12" with no extra frills. I'll grab a fine tooth blade to throw on when it gets here.