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81 slide compound miter saws


This article is from the Woodworking FAQ Collection 3, by multiple authors.

81 slide compound miter saws

From: jschafer@purch.Columbia.NCR.COM
Date: 11 Feb 92 20:40:47 GMT

There's been a lot of discussion lately on the value of com-
pound miter saws and sliding compound miter saws. I am
re-posting the following description of my Hitachi. BTW,
I've had it about 18 months now and I still love it.

(start re-post)

I have a Hitachi 8.5" compound miter saw and I absolutely
love it. I paid about $475 for it from Tools On Sale about 9
months ago. Look in the back of Fine Woodworking and all the
major tool ads list this saw and the price.

I previously owned a Sears 10" compound miter saw that I com-
pletely wore out building my house. It was OK while it
lasted, but $230 is a little high for a disposable tool.
First a screw came out of the complicated and cumbersome piv-
oting fence mechanism and it didn't move like it was supposed
to. I ended up cutting into the cast aluminum (?) fence with
an $80 Freud blade! Somehow the blade survived. The fence
must have been relatively soft. A few months later, the mo-
tor started to progressively hum louder and louder. I guess
a bearing was failing. Anyway, I waited until the 365th day
since I bought it, carried it back to Sears and asked for a
full refund. The department manager didn't blink an eye and
coughed up all the cash. I was astounded. I'll swear by
Craftsman hand tools, but I'll never buy another Sears power

Anyway, back to the Hitachi. The saw head is mounted on two
large (1" diameter ? ) tubes and slides very smoothly. It
will easily crosscut a 2X12, and I build a lot of docks and
decks so this is perfect for me. But the great thing is, if
you are careful, you can easily and accurately cross cut a
24" wide panel. Just plunge in and cut the 12" closest to
the fence then flip the panel over, line up the kerf with the
saw blade, and make a second pass. This is the ultimate way
to cross cut panels for cabinet work. Standard base cabinets
are 24" deep.

Of course, a radial arm saw can do the same thing, maybe even
a little wider, but this thing is sooo portable. It weighs
about 38 pounds (my sears saw was 55 pounds, a huge differ-
ence at the end of a long day). It has enough weight to be
stable, but you can easily move it from room to room. And a
RAS seems a little dangerous to me. The blade is pulled to-
wards you and the spinning action can make it move faster
than you've planned. With the Hitachi, you push the blade
away from you on the cut. True, a RAS has a lot more versa-
tility. You can rip, dado, rabbet, shape, mold, sand, pin
route, and bake bread :), but I think most of these jobs are
really accomplished better on a different machine. You have
lots of set-up time, expensive accessories, and you still
compromise your capabilities. And some things can be down
right scary with a RAS.

One poster said he only had to make a bevel cut a couple of
times in several years. I use this feature all the time. I
use it on decks (I do a lot of 45 degree angles on my decks)
and I use it a lot in the trim work I do. After having this
capability, I would be lost without it.

This saw is durable. One day I took my spouse with me when I
needed to finish up a quick job. I unloaded my tools from my
truck and got to work. After 15 minutes, she got bored and
wanted to take the truck to the store for a soda. I was busy
and didn't realize the Hitachi saw was on the ground right
behind the truck. She didn't see it either. She backed up
right onto the saw. Luckily, the tire rolled up and onto the
horizontal part of the table and then it forced the saw head
over into the 45 degree bevel position. I screamed as if
she'd run over our my mother. But this tool was absolutely
undamaged! It wasn't even out of alignment. It was a

The one thing I wish it would do is cross cut a 4x4 post. I
can get the post under the blade (barely) by pulling the saw
head away from the fence, but the 8.5" blade is only big
enough to cut through 95% of the post. It's so close it's
frustrating. But the arbor bottoms out leaving about 1/8th
inch of stock uncut. Sometimes I rotate the post 180 degrees
and finish the cut but it's not convenient.

I don't work for, or have any relationship with Hitachi. I
just love this tool (obviously). Sorry this turned out so
long. So long.


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