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impound Miter Saws

TJie Space-Saving Alternative to a Radial A rni Saw wider stock (up to 12 in.) than you can on a chop saw. When working wide stock with most of these saws (the AEG is the exception), you first pull the cuttcrhcad forward above the stock, then plunge the blade down in the stock and push the blade back toward the fence. This way the blade can't "climb up" on the stock and jerk toward you uncontrollably as it can with a radial arm saw.

(There's another saw on the market that can make miter and bevel cuts: the Delta Sidekick Frame and Trim saw. Its cutterhead slides on two mils that fasten to a rotating turntable. You pull the blade through the workpicce like a radial arm saw—from back to front. The Sidekick's thickness cutting capacity is about 1 in. less than the other saws, and you have to slide workpicccs in from the side. Overall, its design and performance weren't what we've come to expect from Delta.)

To see how the chop saw versions of these sliding saws perform, and to compare the brands currently on the market, 1 tested the five models shown here.

I checked out the saws' safety features, adjustments and controls, and noted how comfortable they were to use. Then I made test cuts in 1-in. pine and 2-in.-thick oak (1 x/i in. thick for bevel cuts). While cutting, I tested dust collection with both manufacturer-supplied dust bags, and our shop's l&HP dust collector.

I found that all the saws cut fairly sm(x>thly and accurately. But each one has strengths and weaknesses. My observations appear later. Sec the chart on the next page for each saw's specifications and cutting capacities.

How They Measure Up

First I checked the alignment on the saws, since even the most prccisc saw won't cut straight if it isn't aligned properly. On a sliding compound miter saw, the blade must be perfectly square with both the fence and the flat turntable the stock sits on. Most of the saws were right-on straight from the box, though I did have to adjust the AEG.

To set the blade square to the turntable on all the saws, you simply adjust the 0° bevel stop. 'Ilic bladc-to-fcncc alignment works differently on different brands. On the AEG, all you do is turn an eccentric shaft with a hex key. On the Ryobi, you loosen four bolts under the turntable. And with the Makita, Scars and Hitachi, you loosen the fence-mounting bolts and move the fence to square it to the blade. I found these bolts must be tightened securely. While jostling a piece of heavy oak into position on the Makita, I pushed the left side fence almost in. out of iJtjuarc. Retightening solved the problem.

The fences on these saws are similar in design with a gap in the middle to allow the blade to turn and tilt for miter and bevel cuts. The Hitachi's fence gap is 7XA in.— more than double the gap on the others—which can be a problem if you work with short stock. I found the fence didn't adequately support workpicccs less than 10 in. long. To overcome this problem, Hitachi offers add-on plastic fcnccs ($14.28) you can slide to adjust the gap. The AEG comes standard with similar w<x>dcn fences held in place by metal clips, but both the wooden fences and the fixed metal fences are only lVi6 in. high, which doesn't give

A this Copco Electric Tools Inc. Three Shaws Cove New London, CT 06320 (800) 243-0870

Hitachi Power TooLs USA l td. 3950 Steve Reynolds Blvd. Norcross, GA 30093 (404) 925-1774

Makita USA Inc. 14930 Northam St. La Mirada, CA 90638 (714)522-8088

Ryobi America Corp. 1501 Pearman Dairy Rd. Anderson. SC 29625 (800) 323-4615

Sears Merchandise Group Craftsman Power Tools 1)3 181A. 3333 Beverly Rd. Hoffman Estatcs, IL 60179

Delta International Machincry Corp. 246 Alpha Dr. Pittsburgh, PA 15238 (412) 963-2400

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