Decent mitre saw on a budget

brendainnjJune 26, 2010

Hello all, my DH is currently in the market for a mitre saw as we have to replace all the window mouldings in our house. Our budget is $100-$150. Is this reasonable? I know it won't be the "best" but anything will be better than the simple mitre box he has now. He dreads trimwork and usually we just hide it with curtains!

Thanks in advance!

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Fine Woodoworking, Fine Homebuilding, WOOD magazine, and JLC all have fairly regular reviews of miter saws. You can try their website or your local library.

Hitachi has, in the past, had some pretty good, moderately priced miter saws.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2010 at 12:24PM
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After 25 years of building furniture without a miter saw, I got into a job where it would be helpful. I ended up with a Hitachi that has worked well for me. It was about $100 from Amazon. This was before we had the big box stores in town.

It needed some fine adjustment of the fence right out of the box.

In the '70s, we used to say a decent stereo and a good set of speakers. The same holds true for a miter saw -- a decent saw and a good blade. A good carbide-tipped blade will probably set you back $50 or more, but will make a great difference in quality. I don't know where my OEM blade is, but I'd probably dig it out if I needed to frame out a dog house or something.

On the advice of a knowledgeable friend (he writes for one of the woodworking magazines), I got a compound miter. In retrospect, I think I have used that feature maybe twice. Even when I cut compound moldings, it worked better for me to put the molding on an angle and switch back and forth between 45 left and 45 right. Otherwise, with every cut, you have two odd angles to hit, and you have to hit them right.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2010 at 1:34PM
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The kind of blade and the care taken on each cut are as important or moreso than the brand of saw.

Many miter saws come equipped with a combination blade---which is a compromise. I use an 80 toothed blade for making trim cuts and the original blade for construction work.

That means your budget is a bit low. You could get a Delta 10" miter saw for about $100, but the 80 tooth blade will be another $80 or so.

Technique is as important. Using the 80 toothed blade will get you smooth cuts with little tear out. Unless the user cuts too fast. Too fast can cause the stock to move. That makes joints that will never be tight because the cuts are either stepped or beveled. Both problems make a joint have a gap.

Now, about the only time I use a mitered joint with trim is on outside corners. 99% of the inside corners I do are coped joints. That uses the miter saw to make the starting cut of the joint.

A coping saw and half round rasps and files then make the end fit the profile of the other piece of trim at a 90 degree angle.

Get a book on trim carpentry(at home improvement stores) and get better.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2010 at 6:29PM
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You can always use a Nobex saw.

They use good old arm power.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 2:01PM
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