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DIY Padawan
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55 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Okay, Forum Community NOOB here. :nerd:


I had originally posted my question in a previous (year+ old) discussion thread ... but it was suggested to me that I start my own new discussion thread/topic so as not to confuse any previous subjects/discussions.


I am just starting to get into wanting to do a lot of DIY projects - to begin with, strictly on a hobby/"let's-see-what-I-can-do" level. I am starting to compile a big ole' folder worth of ideas and plans for various hobby-level projects - from my first ambition to build a variation of a multi-purpose/modular workbench ... to building my own custom MAME Arcade Cabinet/Machine ... to various small items (wine rack, end table, DVD case, etc.) and other fun little projects.

So, being the newbie to the "craftsman" world (no Sears pun or reference intended), I am obviously excited to get started - while at the same time not wanting/being able to take out a second mortgage or sell bodily fluids in purchasing my (for all intents and purposes) first power tools. So, naturally, I've been checking out Harbor Freight power tools. (I am fortunate enough to live close to several store locations - having already visited a couple of them to check out the tools "in person" (vs only online or within their flyers)).


I'll be completely honest, money IS a factor right now. One of the power tools I am wanting to include as part of my "getting started" tool accumulation is a miter saw. So, in addition to researching various sources on/about miter saws (uses, static/sliding, brands, various retailers, craig's list, etc.), I've have been looking at the Harbor Freight 12" Sliding Compound Miter Saw.

12" Sliding Compound Miter Saw With Laser Guide - Chicago Electric Power Tools - Item#98194



As many of you more experienced craftsmen/women know, the various reviews on HF tools are mixed at best - some positive, some not so positive. So, given that I am a complete beginner to woodworking - though I do have a handful of initial projects in mind to begin with - some of which I may want to bevel cut some 4x4's - I am hoping to gain additional education, insight and advice with regard to what I've mentioned above.


THANK YOU in advance for your patience and consideration for this "mid-life dog" wanting/trying to learn some new tricks. :bangin:



TOM


P.S.
(I already have a Craftsman Router, so my other "want list" tool purchases will also include a CIRCULAR SAW and a JIG SAW).


P.S.S.
(The above-mentioned HF miter saw is going on sale next Friday (Black Friday 2012) for $119.00) ;)

:)
 

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JOATMON
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15,325 Posts
I just responded to your other thread....

But along the lines of power tools, new house, etc....

The compound miter is one of those tools that can actually replace 2-3 tools....I wish I had bought a slider instead of a fixed compound miter...it's a lot easier to drag a slider up the stairs vs a radial arm saw.

While I think the bad press on HF is not always justified...I think spending a few extra $$ on a good slider is money well spent.

With that said....your going to need other stuff as well....

Buy a good shop vac...2 1/2" hose....your going to get a lot of use out of is.

Cordless tools...with the holidays coming up....now is a good time to keep an eye out for a kit....you want to avoid having a hodge podge of cordless tools that use different batteries. Do a search on 18V cordless....it's been talked about a lot. Personally....I think the Ryobi is one of the better bangs for the buck.

keep us posted.
 

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Registered
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As for Harbor Freight, I bought a few things there, just to check their quality, and immediately swore off of them. I literally felt that I could have done just as well by burning the money that I spent with them. But that was probably 25 or 30 years ago. More recently, I have heard favorable reports of some of their products, so in fact recently bought a few things there myself, and am satisfied with my purchases. You just have to decide how critical the construction of a particular product may be to you, how much use it will get, etc., nd exercise good judgement.

In regard to a 12" compound miter saw, take a close look at the spec's, but, unless HF's special is really special, you may want to consider a 10", particularly with prudent spending in mind. You will of course need different types of blades, which could save you money down the road, simply by not having to duplicate 12" blades for this saw with 10" blades for a table saw, and frankly, in my opinion, 12" compounds are overhyped for a lot of average diy'ers. Again, look at the spec's though, because you are the only one who can correctly answer that part of it.
 

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JOATMON
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15,325 Posts
Allmost forgot.....

Sawblades.....The best saw in the world is worthless if you put a $5 blade on it. Spending $50 or more for a good carbide blade does not bother me in the least....and a good one can be sharpened a couple of times....at $15 a pop...makes the blade pretty cheap over the full life.
 

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DIY Padawan
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55 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
In regard to a 12" compound miter saw, take a close look at the spec's, but, unless HF's special is really special, you may want to consider a 10", particularly with prudent spending in mind. You will of course need different types of blades, which could save you money down the road, simply by not having to duplicate 12" blades for this saw with 10" blades for a table saw, and frankly, in my opinion, 12" compounds are overhyped for a lot of average diy'ers. Again, look at the spec's though, because you are the only one who can correctly answer that part of it.
I know it's not possible with most (if not all) 10' miter saws, but can most 10" miter saws cut a 4x4 at a straight/90 degree cut? I mean, I suppose simply using a circular saw for a straight (or even angled) cut to a 4x4 is probably the more practical (and economical) way to go ... but I'm just wondering.
 

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Registered
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I also would avoid HF or Northern tool branded power tools like the pleage.
I started out about 10 years ago with A Ryobi 12" saw and it still works like new today. Since then I've bought a Hitichi 12" sliding, double bevel, digital readouts in all directions, with a lazer. Super saw but weighs twice as much so I still use the Ryobi almost every day.
They also sell a 10" slider that tha t's light, cheap and works fine.
 

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journeyman carpenter
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3,480 Posts
joes right those hitachis are great but really heavy.. the closest thing available now is the milwaukee...

quality wise though the top rated saw on the market is the bosch axial glide.. they have a 10" version coming out in the spring
 

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When I first started out I bought a 10" mitre saw and tryed to build something as simple as a deck. I took it back the same day and bought a 12".
A 10" might be fine for some light trim but just does not have the cutting capacty of a 12".
I bought my 12" slider for things like 2 X 12 rim joist, composit fashia boards, stair treads, laminite flooring. I can cut them in one pass and not have to flip to finish the cut and end up with a step.
 

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Tool Geek
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2,590 Posts
Hey Captain, Make sure you sign up for the Inside Track Club (ITC about $20 a year)
The 10" SCMS is on sale now for$80 but you can take it or wait for
the 12" SCMS to go on sale or use a 20% Off December coupon.
I like HFT but do not have any of their Saws because I still have
older DeWalt, Hitachi, and Bosch saws. For limited use I would not be afraid to buy an HFT Saw.
 

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World's Tallest Midget
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1,467 Posts
I'm no tool snob, but I've had poor luck with Harbor Freight stuff. I had a circular saw, and I still have a high speed buffer, and the electrics were garbage. The circular saw finally started smoking after somewhat limited use (and I don't abuse tools), and so it went into the garage sale pile (and yet, I still sleep well at night).

What I would do in your position is go yard-saling and pawn-shopping. You can get good stuff for cheap. I got my miter saw for $35 at my neighbor's yard sale, and it had a table with it. And that crappy HF circular saw was replaced by an old Craftsman which is made of honest-to-God metal (it was in a free pile, and works like new).
 

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OK I answered when it was at the other location before it got moved. So Big Jim or the mouse that roared when you move something take every thing with
you. This may have been my most profound answer ever (probably not, but it could have been) and it would have been missed. Now for the question go around and check out different saws and all the bells and whistles and figure out what you want your saw to do. then get the best saw your budget will allow, not just the cheapest. Take it from someone who has been there nothing is more frustrating than getting your tool home and finding out it won't do something you want it to do, but for a few bucks more you could have had one that would.:innocent:
 

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Honestly if I were in your shoes I would skip right over the SCMS at this time and save for a good one if you feel a need for it down the road.

What I would invest in looking at your proposed project list would be a good circular saw and table saw. You can accomplish the very same task and a lot more with both of those tools vs a SCMS. Or at least they'll be more versatile IMO. Personal suggestions on tools I would say a Skil SHD77M wormdrive and Rigid R4510, I own both and use them on a very frequent basis at home as well as for work.

Last words of advice:

Buy Once, Cry Once
 

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DIY Padawan
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55 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Hey Captain, Make sure you sign up for the Inside Track Club (ITC about $20 a year)
The 10" SCMS is on sale now for$80 but you can take it or wait for
the 12" SCMS to go on sale or use a 20% Off December coupon.
Not to discount anything anyone else has offered thus far - which I very much appreciate - HF's current (printable) online add with both a coupon for their 10" SCMS for $79.99 PLUS a 20% off coupon (which I don't see any restrictions for using for further discount against the advertised $79.99 - which would bring it to $63.99)

Now I KNOW saw another add just earlier today on the HF site advertising their 12" SCMS for $119 - which, adding the 20% discount coupon, would bring it to just under $96.


Lastly, in honor of those who have been advising me to steer clear of HF power tools, I did see an add for a 10" Hitachi Compound Miter Saw (non sliding) for $109.



Again, I'm not likely going to be doing any precision moulding cutting anytime soon ... so I'm just looking for the most bang-for-my-buck while I'm learning and working on initial projects - which, as far ahead as I can see at this moment, will mostly involve cutting 2x4's and probably some 4x4's.
 

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Tool Geek
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Check with HFT on the use of Discount coupons.
It is not completely clear but it it has been my understanding
that a 20% coupon cannot be used on top of other discounts.
e.g. When ordering an item with an online coupon there is only
one place to enter a coupon for single itms
 

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Registered
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Whatever you decide on, check Craigslist first.

I got a gently used milwaukee 6955-20 for $350 on craigslist (retail like 600+?). I'm also glad I went overboard with the model choice as we ended up buying crown moulding that was 7 1/4 inch tall with a 3 1/4 protrusion that would have been impossible to cut easily with a smaller blade/no slide.
 

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DIY Padawan
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Discussion Starter #16
Check with HFT on the use of Discount coupons.
It is not completely clear but it it has been my understanding
that a 20% coupon cannot be used on top of other discounts.
e.g. When ordering an item with an online coupon there is only
one place to enter a coupon for single itms
You may be right ... though I could have sworn I've seen comments from others about using a discount coupon in store on top of an advertised discount. I suppose I can give it a shot and find out for myself (and then report back) ;)

As I mentioned, I live within 15-20 min of three HF stores ... and I work within 10 min of another.
 

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DIY Padawan
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Discussion Starter #17
Just to follow-up and re-clarify some points ...

I am very much a beginner ... so my initial projects will be building a sturdy workbench along most the length of one side of my garage - likely to include a miter saw station toward one end (something along the lines of a customized version along the basic premise of this workbench project.

Honestly, I do not see myself cutting a whole lot of molding right off the bat (or in the foreseeable future) - though I will likely try my hand at some entry level small furniture builds (i.e. end table, bookshelf, wine rack) ... while also working on some other fun diy projects such as a DIY Arcade MAME Cabinet/Game System.


And while this may seem kind of goofy to some of you more serious and accomplished DIY'ers out there, I also have an eye toward trying to work on some fun "prop replica" projects - such as some of the (in my opinion) cool things that can be made with/using MDF --> SEE HERE FOR WHAT I MEAN :thumbup1:



So, my initial thought process is to use this initial "beginner" time period to begin to accumulate some of the primary (entry-level) power tools I believe I will be using most - i.e. circular saw, jig saw, miter saw ... with an eyeball toward soonafter picking up various other/ancillary woodworking tools - i.e. table saw, band saw (maybe), drill press, sander(s), polishers, etc. ... and taking the time to LEARN to use/utilize these tools correctly and proficiently.

Assuming/Hoping that I keep at it and eventually become (dare I say) skilled at various woodworking tasks and methods, I figure then I can/will begin the process of working toward investing in higher quality power tools . . . . that is, assuming any of the Harbor Freight tools I may purchase are either underperforming or crap out on my altogether. ;)



Am I loco in my thought process here - from a "bang for my buck + beginner learning process" plan of action standpoint ?? :bangin:
 

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In a little over my head
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1,165 Posts
I have heard some good reports on the HF miter saws. However, I have NO personal good experiences with HF tools. Routers, impact drivers, impact wrenches, grinders, drills. They work. But in comparison to anything else, they perform poorly. The problem with using cheap tools when you are learning is that you will have trouble knowing if your problems stem from inexperience or
inaccurate tools. So you become frustrated.

IMO, don't buy cheap tools.
 

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DIY Padawan
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55 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Well, many of you will be happy to know that I have decided NOT to give in to the VERY STRONG "buy it cuz it's inexpensive" urge and buy my power tools at Harbor Freight. The trade-off, of course, is that now it will take me a while longer to save-up for even the initial power-tools that I really want to have ... especially now if I am going to go the "quality" route.

Not to discount any of the insight and advice that any of you have (thankfully) provided to/for me .... but the proverbial "nail in the coffin" was the added advice/insight from none other than my fiancee' - who told me of the various power tools she remembers (in her younger years) her uncle purchasing at/through Harbor Freight ... most of which (more times than not) malfunctioned or broke not long thereafter.

So, after much contemplation, I decided that ALL of that advice and warning was simply more powerful than my underlying urge to run over to HF this past Black Friday and spend my virtually non-existent discretionary funds on a HF 12" SCMS, circular saw and/or jig saw - and instead focus on researching/picking up one QUALITY tool at a time ... over a period of time.

Admittedly, I'm a little disappointed about having to further protract the process - but I also know that you are ALL correct and that not "settling" for lesser tools is the right thing to do) :)



THANK YOU ALL for taking the time to provide your insight and advice to this newcomer to the DIY'er level woodworking world. :thumbup:




TOM
 

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Hey Cap't instead of giving up let me make a couple suggestions, watch the want adds with the economy being what it is there are a lot of people selling their tools. Check the local pawnshops for quality tools. Check local tool places and big box stores for re-conditioned tools, a lot cheaper and most carry new tool warranties.:thumbup:
 
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