Every Craftsman has a favorite power tool, mine would have to be the Miter Saw (aka. Chop Saw). It is a versatile tool that can be used on an enormous range of projects and properly maintained it will last for a life time. In this article i would like to discus safety measures and which affordable Miter Saw i use and the reasons why.
First, safety. This is potentially one of the most dangerous tools in any shop, with approximately 400,000 ER visits per year caused by power tools, the two on the leader board are the Table Saw and Miter Saw. Don't let this scare you, when used properly with safe practices, the risk of bodily harm drops dramatically. Be sure to use Osha approved Safety Glasses, Gloves and Hearing Protection when operating any power tool to lower your chance of an injury. Most accidents with the Miter Saw happen due to poor hand placement and dull blades, so do yourself a favor and keep your fingers well out of blade range, this includes when guiding your board under the blade. Even if the blade is not running, as long as the power remains plugged in there is still risk of injury, i have seen far too many craftsmen get cut or worse because they became careless. If you fear your blade is becoming dull, its cheaper to replace it than it is to replace a finger! You can tell a blade is becoming dull if you find it is difficult to make a clean cut through your wood and/or if your blade starts to leave black burn marks on your materials after a cut.
Now that i have scared you, lets lighten the mood a bit. I have used Miter Saws as long as i can remember. As a young boy my Father would mark the wood where i needed to cut and remind me to always cut on the outside of the line because the blade eats up 1/8th inch of space. He taught me to slow down and do it right, something i look forward to teaching my kids as they grow older. These days too many kids (and adults) are too focused on electronics and video games instead of learning valuable skills such as Wood Working, Home Improvement and Basic Mechanics. Maybe if we turn off the TV and Phones and teach our children to pick up a Hammer, Use a Miter Saw or Build a new back Deck then there is still hope.
While i have owned and used many brands of Miter Saw there is one in particular that i absolutely love. The 10" Craftsmen Sliding Miter Saw (link below), it has every feature you could ever want from a rotating base and head to an extendable base, even a laser guide so you can hit your mark every time. Most importantly, its reliable and affordable with a reputable company backing their product. I can cut fine delicate pieces or 4 x 12's with ease. Mine is 3 years old now and while some that I've owned in the past were dead and gone by now, this one still runs like its new out of the box which is amazing considering how much i use it! Unfortunately, they no longer make my model, however i have taken it upon myself to seem out a fellow craftsmen who has a different brand with the same features and a 12" blade. I was able to run some tests with his and discovered it to be a very capable and strong tool (i mean, i could use another one... right?)
If you are looking for that all around workhorse tool for your business or weekend projects, it is this craftsmen's opinion that a Miter Saw is an absolute must have. Just remember... Slow down and do it right.
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