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7.62 07-20-2011 09:18 AM

Standard or Sliding Mitre Saw? Or table saw?
Hi. I am building a playset for my kids and am finally going to make a purchase I have been wanting to make for years: a POWERED SAW. There have been many projects in the past where I used a miter box or borrowed a circular saw where the results left much to be desired where accuracy was concerned. I decided that next time I had an excuse to buy a saw, I WOULD.

At first I was considering a table saw. I don’t have a lot of storage space, so I had been considering the DeWalt portable table saw. But then I noticed that I would not be able to cut a 4x4 in one pass, so then I started looking at miter saws. Seems to me that for everything short of ripping boards, the miter saw is king, especially for quick, accurate cuts (and one equipped with a laser seems to make it that much faster [i.e. no hunching over to ensure your cut will land where you think it will). I could have really used a miter saw during my last project, when I built a reloading bench (the only time a table saw would have been more useful is when I ripped the tabletop).

Anyway, I have been looking at sliding miter saws because they increase cross-cut capacity. The Hitachi I am looking at has a capacity of over 12”, while its non-sliding counterpart has a capacity of 8”. My main question is, how else will a sliding miter saw give me an advantage over a non-sliding dual bevel? I can see building a table, doing decking, laying wood floors, repairing porch railings, etc in the future (not certain but likely). Crown molding? Possibly. Baseboards? Definitely. We’re talking a difference of about $150 between the two though, so I want to make sure I get the right one. Also, weight of the equipment is no issue for me. These are the two I’m considering: =3107745&Ns=p_product_price|1&pl=1&currentURL=%2Fp l_Hitachi_4294857521%2B4294965731_4294937087_%3FNs %3Dp_product_price|1&facetInfo=Hitachi =1037899&Ns=p_product_price|1&pl=1&currentURL=%2Fp l_Hitachi_4294857521%2B4294965731_4294937087_%3FNs %3Dp_product_price|1&facetInfo=Hitachi

Then, of course, I could break it down further and ask how much a dual bevel miter saw will benefit me over a standard compound (moving away from $420 down to $140!!): d=1085791&Ns=p_product_price|1&pl=1&currentURL=%2F pl_Hitachi_4294857521%2B4294965731_4294937087_%3FN s%3Dp_product_price|1&facetInfo=Hitachi

My second big question is, is a miter saw really the best way to go? Sure, I’d have to flip a 4x4 to cut thru it on a 10” table saw (and then sand any unevenness out), but is a table saw the way to go since it can rip? One thing I can think of is that the miter cuts won’t be as accurate, and cross cuts not as smooth, both of which may drive me batty.

Thanks for any input and sorry for the book!

Jackofall1 07-20-2011 09:39 AM

A miter saw will be more versitile, but all saws have their limitations, a table saw long straight cuts can be achieved by using a guide and a circular saw. I guess the point is, there are short comings from the purchase of either.

Cutting 4 x 4 on a table saw is not a good idea, from a finish and a safety aspect.

A 12" compound slider (a good one is at least $750) and a good circular saw would be a great place to start.


Mr Chips 07-20-2011 09:46 AM

it really comes down to your anticipated needs. The slide, as you noted gives you greater crosscut capability, which is its main advantage over a standard "chop cut only" style. This is a huge advantage if you work with wider boards, but if you don't, the extra $$$ could be put toward a tablesaw as well.

For the projects you have planed, it sounds to me like a Miter should be your first priority

DexterII 07-20-2011 11:16 AM

In your first paragraph you mentioned having to borrow a circular saw, and, unless I missed it, didn't mention it again, so, unless you have already done so, that should be your first purchase. Table, radial arm, miter, and other saws are all great to have, but for this project, as well as most others, a circular saw is indispensible. That said, in regard to a table or miter saw, I agree on the miter saw. My table saw is one of the center pieces of my shop, and I can't imagine ever being without one, but every tool has it's limitations, and it would see limited use on the project that you described. And, as Mark alluded, a lot of the cuts that you will need to make would be down right dangerous; not the time to learn proper use and technique. So, again, the miter waw would be the way to go. Keep in mind that you will be cutting long stock, so you will need some way to safely support it, and if you have done your homework, now would be the time to buy a stand for it. If not, no problem; decide where you will set it up, on an existing deck, patio, or other area, and lay out some scrap pieces of lumber to support the ends of your stock, with the saw table and support pieces all on the same plane. Sounds like a fun project, so have fun, work safe, and work smart!

7.62 07-20-2011 11:50 AM

Thanks for the responses so far.

Dexter, the only reason I borrowed the circular saw is b/c is was all my friend had. It's not so easy to borrow someone's table saw either. What can a circular saw do that a table saw can't (besides being more portable). I'm no expert, but after my experience using one, I find that their only real use is less accurate rough work, or convenience work when a table saw won't fit. If you were building a table, would you use a circular saw to rip the table top, or a table saw? Would you use a circular saw or a miter saw to cut the legs and supports to proper lengths and angles? Etc.

What info am I missing about the circular that should make it my first saw? I have read that several times...that a circular should be a person's first saw. i don't get it. Seems to me it is the most dangerous saw of the three.

Yes...a proper stand for the miter saw would be in order.

BigJim 07-20-2011 11:51 AM

I agree a compound miter saw would be the first one to buy for what you are doing. As for a circular saw, I may use one once a year if that. Go with a good brand name miter saw like Makita, Dewalt etc. Hitachi is a good one but the one with all the digital stuff I don't like because of the play it has in the side ways motion of the blade when fully extended.

I have the Dewalt 708 and I would put it up against any saw out there and I have had many different miter saws over the years. The Dewalt 718 is a little lighter saw and I can't say how it will preform as I have never used that saw.

As for a table saw, I couldn't do without mine as it too is the center of my shop. I also use a saber saw a lot, Bosch is a good one. I don't use a bandsaw much at all. I got carried away here so I will shut up.

7.62 07-20-2011 12:13 PM

The Dewalt 708 is discontinued, so no go. I have heard it said many times that the newer Dewalts are all brute, no finesse (less accuracy). I have read many good things about Hitachi, especially the older C10FSH (which they still make, I just can't afford it). I played with the Hitachi C12RSH last night at the store and didn't notice any play, but I will be sure to check again before actually biting the bullet. As for all that digital stuff, it's just a's not like the saw itself is made out of 1's and 0's or is controlled digitally, etc! :)

DexterII 07-20-2011 12:16 PM

7.62, it goes back to what I said previously; every tool has its' limitations. Would I, or others here, cut a table on a table saw? Possibly, depending on the size of it, but that is because we have adequate extensions, etc., and even so, yes, I would probably still cut it with a circular saw. Would you do that on a "standard" table saw, set up just as you get it from a big box? Not very safely, in my opinion. Would I use my circular saw to cut table legs to shape or length? No; I would use my table or miter saw. Different type tasks. Look at your play set, and think of the steps. Can you safely cut 6x6 posts to length on a table saw? Not safely, in my opinion. Can you cut them on a miter saw? Most certainly. While you have someone help you carry it over to your saw station, wiggle it around to get it squared up, cut it, and carry it back, I will pick up my circular saw and speed square, and be done. Assuming that you will have some manner of deck, how will you cut the ends straight? With a miter saw! No problem! Now, glance over the fence, and look at what I just did. I quickly cut all of my boards a bit long, before nailing them in place, then snapped a line or laid out a straighedge, and cut all of the ends at one time, with my circular saw. See how the one precut on a miter saw has some minor wandering on the ends? Mine is straight. Obviously kidding you a bit, but all in good nature, I assure you. Just pointing out that while a table saw or miter saw can look a whole lot faster on the front end, you need to look at the potential of each tool, and weight their features and benefits. Personally, I'd go for both the circular saw and miter saw right now. She'll never notice it, once she see how happy the kids are with the neat playset that dad built.

7.62 07-20-2011 12:49 PM

OK Dex...thanks for engaging me. I'm a newb and I need it. Though I really ought to be working now! Anyway, I didn't know a circular saw could cut a 6x6 without having to roll the board. Did you nail them together and have to roll them in your scenario? If so, how are you ensuring an even cut, and how are you quickly nailing them together evenly? And why do my miter-cut ends have wandering? I'm confused. Also, in the playset I am building, there is little to no scrap. The "scrap" will be utilized at its current length from a proper cut, so there is no room for me to cut a little long and then cut to the proper length. First cut needs to be accurate. No waste.

Jackofall1 07-20-2011 01:04 PM

I think what Dex was saying is, a circular saw is invaluable, you can safely cut a 6 x 6 with a circular but you would have to roll it, but by transfering the cut line around the post with a speed square you should be able to do a fairly accurate cut.

Maybe your experience with a circular saw was limited to an inexpensive saw and blade, a good circular saw, with the right blade, an experienced hand and a guide can yeild accurate cuts, no its not a table saw, but it sure can come close.


DexterII 07-20-2011 01:12 PM


Originally Posted by 7.62 (Post 690077)
I didn't know a circular saw could cut a 6x6 without having to roll the board.

Yes, I will "roll the board" to cut all the way through, but cut one side, make a couple of quick pencil marks if you need to, flip it over, and cut the other side. Still plenty close enough for something like that, in my opinion, as trying to get it squared up pefect on a miter saw.


Originally Posted by 7.62 (Post 690077)
And why do my miter-cut ends have wandering?

Maybe wandering isn't the right word, but some of the boards will have a crown to them, so are the ends all going to line up exactly when laid side by side? Maybe, or maybe not. If you have one end that is maybe a degree or so off, because of the way it sat on the saw, it can show on close inspection. I just find it easier on some things to focus on one end, let the other run wild, and cut the wild end once everything is in place. Different people have different opinions and techniques, so not saying that my way is the right way, but it's at least one perspective.


Originally Posted by 7.62 (Post 690077)
Also, in the playset I am building, there is little to no scrap. The "scrap" will be utilized at its current length from a proper cut, so there is no room for me to cut a little long and then cut to the proper length. First cut needs to be accurate. No waste.

As for scrap, you honestly don't need any more than maybe 1/4" or so; not much more than a kerf, but it gives you room to make sure it is strraight. Going back to the table that you used as an example earlier; again, several ways to go about it, and my ways are not necessarily right, but the way that I would do it is to start with slightly longer pieces than what is needded, and forcus on getting them tightly fitted together. After that is done, I would cut the ends to length, to ensure that I have long straight ends, as opposed to one of the pieces sticking out 1/16".

iamrfixit 07-20-2011 01:41 PM

You might underestimate the difficulty in cutting large heavy pieces such as a 4X, a 6X or even a long 2x4 on a stationary machine. Sliding a large, heavy timber through a table saw to make a crosscut is not a safe operation, especially on a $400 home center saw. If you want to spend $2000+ and get a heavy, powerful machine with side extensions and a large outfeed table it could be a bit safer but is still not the best choice.

Even my 12" miter saw can't cut a 6X6 in one pass, and getting a large heavy timber loaded onto the machine and lined up perfectly can be difficult. You could easily spend $1000 on a quality miter saw and a stand heavy enough to even hold up a 6X and still you may not be able to make the cut in one pass.

For $150 you could buy a good circular saw and a speed square. Sure you are going to have to roll it over and make a second cut, but with a little practice using your speed square as a cutting guide you will be cutting a 6x6 off perfectly in no time. It will be quicker, less work and possibly safer.

Mr Chips 07-20-2011 01:49 PM


Originally Posted by iamrfixit (Post 690121)
You could easily spend $1000 on a quality miter saw and a stand heavy enough to even hold up a 6X and still you may not be able to make the cut in one pass.

Or you could just get one of these

7.62 07-20-2011 02:10 PM

Thanks again for all the discussion...this is very helpful. I don't have time to type a bunch now, but what is meant by using a speed square as a guide for circular saw cuts? As a literal, physical edge to rest the saw guide against, or just to pencil the lines and cut accordingly? Sorry for the dumb would be obvious to me to just pencil the lines in w/ a square, but you never know!

DexterII 07-20-2011 02:55 PM

Yes, you hold the speed square against the stock that you are cutting, and use it as a guide, against which to run the table on your saw. Once you have made the first cut, you can use the square and pencil to transer the mark to the opposite side. Try it on some scrap first, but it's an easy technique to pick up.

And, as a Wednesday special for joining the forum, you are entitled to one bonus, unsolicited piece of information. When cutting multiple boards to the same length, it is faster and easier to take the measurement from the end of the board to the square, so that you can simply extend your tape measure, lay the square in place, and cut; no need to mark anything.

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