Is the general consensus that chop saws are accurate enough to cut 45
degree angles on large picture frames or jewlery boxes or six sided
boxes, etc? Or are they prettry much religated to people doing
construction work, who normally are not as concerned about 100%
I do not own one but I can see where, if they were accurate, they
would be helpful in making the things mentioned.
Also are they as accurate as a radial-arm saw, or more accurate? If a
person had the room why would they but a chop saw when they could buy
a radial arm saw, which does about the same thing as a chop saw and
more. Portability would be the only advantage that I can think of.
On Wed, 19 Aug 2009 09:28:52 -0700 (PDT), RJDurkee
Plain (non-slider) chop saws are the most accurate and least likely to
get out of tune. Also, making a second light cut will give a cleaner
cut. A sharp quality blade makes a difference. Clear sawdust off
fence and table. I noticed accuracy differences between brands. A
picture-frame "guillotine slicer" will improve the final cut even
more. Radial-arm saws are not known for accuracy.
I have never owned a higher end power miter saw- I have a basic non-
sliding 10" Delta CMS that is accurate enough for mitering molding for
trim work that's going to be painted. I have found that it is not
accurate enough for doing pictureframes or jewelry boxes. I use shop
built sleds on my table saw to make very accurate miter cuts- one sled
for edge miters and one for end miters, such as on picture frame
stock. Hope this helps.
Bingo ... if the OP's miter saw is not up to the needed accuracy, then
the absolute best thing is a well made table saw sled for miters,
particularly if you sequence adjacent cuts to take advantage of
complementary angles, which can mitigate any error due inherent
inaccuracies in the wood components of the sled. Something similar to this:
My personal opinion on cross cut sleds is to make them about 1/5th the
size and weight of most of the versions I see out there. I think as
long as it has a front to back big enough for a 12" wide board it is
enough. Yes a big sled for plywood is fine but I find nothing sweeter
than a nice lite sled and doing some precision cuts with a very lite
hand and it sliding like glass.
I agree with Dale. Typically fine furniture is better done on the
table saw with a good cross cutting setup of some sort. I have seen
very fine finish carpentry done with miter saws. Probably as nice or
better than some furniture I have built but in general the TS is a
The mitersaw is probably one of those tools that has a wide range of
quality and you can pretty much go by the brand. Bosch and Hitachi
highend sliders or not are probably considered the best. Milwauke
(sp?) and Makita can hold their own. Dewalts are pretty good and will
take the abuse of a construction site and hold up OK.
Like anything, with patience you can probably use the crappiest tool
and do fine work, but the ideal is to use a well tuner TS for fine
This, is all of course opinion.
They can be tuned up to be very precise, at least quality saws with
good bearings and using a good blade. But the real plus is the
ability to sneak up on the exact length and angle you need, since you
can remove just a whisker if you need to. Often the fixed stops make
it hard to make tiny angle adjustment near one of the stops, but this
is easily solved by using a thin shim behind the piece to make tiny
For picture frames, it's hard to beat a guillotine miter trimmer, but
it's a specialized tool. A chop saw is handy for many things.
All the things you mention can be done on a table saw too, especially
with a few simple jigs. It comes down to what other types of projects
and work you think you will be doing.
In general, IMO, I would venture that good chop saws tend to be more
precise than good radial arm saws, at least over time. RA saws have
longer travel, and more mass is being supported and moved. There are
more parts to flex and get sloppy. If you keep them tuned up they can
be quite precise, but I think they go out of adjustment faster. But
they are more versatile. You pick your trade-offs and pay your money.
On Wed, 19 Aug 2009 09:28:52 -0700 (PDT), RJDurkee
I trim homes for a living and cut all of my miters on the table saw. I
learned from an old school guy and it just seems easier for me.
I see a lot of guys cutting their trim with a miter saw, and I've done
it on a door or two on a basement job or remod but the table saw
produces better results for me. I guess I'm the old school guy
The thing about a radial arm saw is that it's incredibly versatile but it's
also high maintenance. You can easily and safely do cuts on it that are
downright _scary_ on any other kind of saw if they can be done at all. But
on mine I dread moving the arm because I know I'm going to be in for some
fiddling before I have it set where I want it, and more fiddling to get it
back to square. And _every_ time I use it I have to do a test cut to make
sure it's still square--bumping the arm can easily throw it out of
alignment, and it's easy to bump the arm without noticing.
On paper a RAS looks like a more versatile SCMS, in practice they are very
different tools. You are correct that a RAS can do any cut an SCMS can do
but you're going to be tearing your hair out after a while getting it
adjusted to do those cuts.
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