Compound Miter Saw

I am having a house built but have decided to leave some of the finishing work for myself. I will be adding crown molding and built-in bookcases.
I belive I need a compound miter saw and a friend has and recommends a DEWALT 12" Double-Bevel Sliding Compound Miter saw. Based on what I've been quoted to have these things done for me I figure I can buy some pretty good tools and still come out thousands of dollars ahead and keep the tools!
Any opinions on this? Is this the tool I need? Any brand/model recommendations?
Thanks.
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Bob wrote:

I would agree that given you can complete the work to your own satisfaction (which is the *clincher*) you could save a substantial sum doing the work yourself and come out with a nice collection of tools at the end.
That said, I would also have to say that craftsmen experienced in the trade (working daily) spend a lifetime mastering the installation, therefore making it profitable, of intricate trim details such as crown molding. The variables are endless that can make crown installation a real chore and downright nasty. It can be, by far, one of the most time consuming, and difficult, finish details in a project to do right and well.
As for the built-ins, those too have several issues associated but if you are a semi-experience woodworker it could be an enjoyable project for you to take on yourself. Other details like casing doors and installing base are more manageable yet also have several tricks and can have stumbling points.
The *clincher* I mentioned earlier is the real issue and also the one you should focus on most. There is no doubt you can get these elements "up there" but the real issue is will you torment yourself endlessly for the rest of your days looking at the trim "you could have gotten tighter". Or the casing "you could have gotten better", and so on. Simply remember you will have to look at these elements daily for as long as you live in the house. Some added expense in construction is often quickly offset by a clear conscience and peace of mind while you enjoy your new home after move-in. The simple fact is that if you are trying this for the first time you _will_ come out with a less than perfect end result. The main question is, will the cost savings offset your dissatisfaction with your own work enough to allow you to enjoy it. Some can say "ya, it aint the best, but I saved 800 bucks so I can live with it". Others will live a life of misery and self loathing, tormenting themselves daily staring at the trim they so wished they had just had done by a professional. Two extremes.
As for the tools themselves, if there is a lot of crown and trim involved a dual bevel slider would definitely be handy though it most definitely would be possible with a single bevel slider. Personally I would not opt out of a slider for any cost as they are so handy for numerous other tasks. For cross cuts up to 10" or so you can use your slider instead of a table saw or circular saw with a fence. You will also need several associate tools, a nailer and compressor (unless you are a masochist), coping saw, a good block plane, rasps, files, ladders, planks, and so on. The built-in's build even further, table saw, circular saw, fences, long level, router, router bits, dado blades (or router with a fence), possibly a jointer, sanders of all sorts, finishing tools, and so on.
Lastly, you had better plan on buying at least 1/3 to 1/2 more material than you think you need as you will surely muck up several pieces of crown learning to cope and need to do them over and so on. But even with that you may still come out ahead and will have the tools to boot.
Just my $.02, Mark
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Mark,
Thanks for all the good advice. I think I am someone who can look at the finished job and say (to myself) "Ya. it ain't perfect work but it's *my* work!" Paint and putty can probably hide the minor sins.
You do make me think twice when you mention all the *other* tools I will need. I do already have some of them but not many.
As to making mistakes -- a friend said I should buy some cheaper, almost scrap, wood to experiment with the trickier cuts and not do the real cut on the real (expensive) molding until I get it right on the cheap stuff.
Bob
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I just wanted to chime in with... never trust paint to hide anything.
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Chuckle Now there's a man who knows what he's talking about.

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I have this saw at home, bought basically the same way (to tackle some jobs that I didn't feel the need to pay for). it's a very good saw, very powerful, but also rather heavy and hard to move. I bought a Trac- Rack stand for it, which is worth it's weight in gold. But, a 12" saw is overkill for moulding, makes it harder to move around and handle smoothly. If I were doing it again, I'd probably stick with the 10". I bought the extra width to cut a small handful of boards, and ever so slightly regret it now.

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I use a Makita 10" myself--DIY homeowner/hobby woodworker. I have seen a few comparisons and the Bosch gets the highest review, followed by the Makita. A 10" can pretty much do everything a 12" can, but weighs less. Forget about paying for lasers, they do not get you anything. Also invest in a good table/rack for it. I use mine on a Rousseau 2875XL, which works just great if you live at the job site or use it in a workshop.
One final thing to consider in the DIY/hire-it-out equation: this stuff can be dangerous.
Cheers, Shawn
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Rima Neas wrote:

We currently run a Bosch 5412L (search amazon for 5412L) on a Delta 50-155 stand. We have used many stands over the years, Dewalt, Trac-Rac, Stablemate style, and a couple others. The Delta slaughters them all if you are moving your saw alone, daily. I move the 12" saw on that stand, up stairs, down, into the trailer, and out, across grass, gravel, dirt, alone, in minutes. It is one of the best combo's I have ever used.
For about 8 years, on the same stand, I ran the Bosh 3915 which is the a direct drive, single bevel, 10" slider and was extremely happy with it. I only sold it (to an employee hounding me to buy it) when the 12" came out with a LOT of improvments over the older model I had. Buying a new 10" I would not hesitate for a moment to spend the extra 90 bucks for the 10" dual bevel version (4410L). The dual bevel is very handy working with long stock and for tweaking crown. Additionally it has upfront controls, and all the new features of the 12".
As for lasers, while I wouldnt pay extra for them, they are very handy for quick cuts that need only 1/32" or so accuracy. For highly accurate cuts they are uselss. One thing that would be handy though would be a double laser (both sides of the blade) which I think PC is the only one to offer but I havent looked much lately.
To the OP, I wouldnt even tackle this project if you werent ready to buy some serious associated tools. It is just inevitable. It may not be all in the list but it will be some. And as you said, buying some el-cheapo paint grade crown and trying to crown a couple corners wouldnt be a bad idea. Hell, just go to your local rental shop, rent a compound miter saw, compressor, and finish nailer, for a month (250-350 bucks or less) and buy 2-3 sticks of crown and waste it trying to crown a few corners. It will be a cheap investment to find out if its something you want to try on a larger scale.
Mark
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Thats a lot of saw for a couple hundred cuts
do you need 12? and sliding?
well maybe you do so hit sears see what they have see what the other stores have in a lower end model
you buy that and then you will never need all of its function again
I dont know where your at but there are lots of people that sell old tools If I was you I would look in your newspaper see if you can find a table saw that can hold a straight line
or get a benchtop one for $100
get a small decent circular saw dont worry about the laser guides worry about the play in the saw
and a coping saw and a decent block plane
the idea is you dont want to fill up your garage with dust collectors especially ones that cost as much as a decent lawn mower or cheap tractor
save your money for beer and get a cheap brand good quality chopsaw

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