Next, I evaluated how easily and smoothly each saw’s sliding and pivoting cutting action worked, as even the most precise, powerful saw isn’t worth a darn if it’s a bear to cut with. The sliding action of the Festool, Makita and Metabo felt extremely silky and precise, although the Metabo’s pivoting action was stiff and a bit clunky.
The Hitachi was also a smooth operator, but it required a bit more effort to slide through the cut. The Bosch 4410L had a very smooth sliding feel, but I felt as if the workpiece was too far away from my control of the cut. The slides on the Craftsman were very rough and required some adjustment before sliding smoothly. The auto-retracting blade guards worked well on all the saws, and I particularly like the Bosch and Craftsman guards that feature small wheels on their leading edges to prevent the guard from hanging up large workpieces.
Angle Setting Ease
Bosch . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Craftsman . . . . . . . . . 2
Hitachi . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Makita . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Metabo . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Festool . . . . . . . . . . . 5
A good sliding miter saw should be easy to set for all manner of miter, bevel and compound angle cuts, then reset for square cuts quickly and accurately. Five of the six saws have controls at the front of the saw for locking in miter angles and a lever or knob around the back that secures the saw’s bevel angle — a simple and effective arrangement. In contrast, the Bosch features front-mounted miter and bevel controls. It’s a clever idea, but I found the controls fussy to use. Both the bevel setting and miter “micro adjust” mechanisms require so many steps to implement, it reminded me of the hokey-pokey (you pull your lever up, you slide the big knob back…). The Craftsman also has a micro-adjuster for setting precise miter angles, which I liked and found easy to use.
All miter saws have built-in stops at commonly used angles (0°, 22.5°, 45°, etc.), and most models use a lever mechanism to lock angles positively. The Metabo’s spring-loaded miter angle stops felt a little loose, as did the Bosch’s. Both had to be set gingerly. In contrast, the Festool’s miter stop lever was a bit stiff to operate, but it locked rock solid and dead-on. When setting miter angles on the Craftsman, its table was hard to rotate and made a grinding noise I couldn’t eliminate. I liked the large miter compass scales on the Makita, Festool and Craftsman saws, which made it easier to set odd angles precisely. The location of the Makita’s scale at the far right of its table took some getting used to; it’s not as convenient as it is on the other saws. I also prefer the printed scales to the cast-metal scales on the Bosch and Metabo sliders.
All the saws in the group have bevel stops at 0° and 45° right and left, and the Craftsman and Bosch also feature 33.9° stops for crown molding. The Festool’s the easiest saw to set for bevel angles: After releasing an easy-to-access top lever and turning a knob to set the bevel range (45° left only, 45° either way, or 47° either way), rotate the end of the right-hand slide bar to tilt the saw to the desired angle. The Kapex’s large bevel scale lets you set fine angles with much greater precision than on the other saws in this group.