Miter saws are an essential tool for both professionals and DIY enthusiasts. Among the many options available, Harbor Freight’s Chicago Electric 10-Inch Sliding Compound Miter Saw catches the eye with its affordable price. However, the question remains: Can it compete with other heavy-duty products? Let’s delve into its features and find out if it’s worth your investment.
The Features and Functions
Selecting the right compound miter saw can be a challenging task, especially when considering the sliding feature. Therefore, it’s crucial to understand what the Chicago Electric 10-Inch Sliding Compound Miter Saw offers. Let’s start with the basics, such as its color. Unlike other tools, this saw features the now-familiar maroon color associated with Chicago Electric. Surprisingly, the trigger is yellow, which is a pleasant change, making it more visually appealing and user-friendly.
Performance and Adjustments
When using the saw, one can immediately notice a slight resistance while pulling the handle down. However, it’s important to note that the handle lacks rubber grips or coatings. Fortunately, there is a manual adjustment set screw for tension modification, albeit requiring an Allen key that is not included with the saw. Adjusting the tension can smooth out the arm’s movement on the material. Additionally, the saw comes with replaceable brushes and a blade changing tool. Although, it’s worth mentioning that an Allen key is not included.
There are also adjustment screws for depth limitation and maximum depth settings. The default settings work fine, preventing the carbide saw blade from contacting the base. However, it’s advisable to keep an eye on the tension adjustment as the spring may relax over time.
Durability and Maintenance
The saw’s wiring runs along the slide mechanism and out the back. One notable point of friction occurs where the wire meets the first plastic guide. Continued use can cause the wire to fray and potentially penetrate the insulation. This issue should be addressed to prevent any electrical hazards.
In terms of the cutting angle, the saw performs well at the 90-degree and 45-degree notches. The bevel cut is also accurate. However, the bi-metal protrusions on the saw provide minimal support and are non-adjustable. Removing them may lead to increased compactness when storing the saw. The slide mechanism utilizes dual linear bearings, although the motion may feel rougher compared to other systems, especially with the buildup of dirt and debris.
Cutting Capacity and Bevel Adjustments
It’s important to note that the maximum cutting capacity for the slide is 10-3/4″. Despite claims of a 12-3/16″ cutting capacity, this measurement assumes a piece of wood only 1/8″ high and with the rear plastic bumper removed. The rear fence is approximately 2 inches high, requiring a flat top cut or a temporary fence for smaller crown moldings.
Bevel adjustments on the rear of the saw can be slightly challenging due to the lack of active stops. The embossed bevel miter gauge can be misleading, as it appears to exceed 45 degrees but does not. Adjusting the bevel gauge pointer with a Phillips screwdriver ensures accurate angles. It’s worth mentioning that holding the saw in place while adjusting the locking lever for different angles can be inconvenient. The bevel gauge only offers measurements in 5-degree increments, making it difficult to achieve precise angles such as 22.5 degrees.
Performance and Conclusion
The saw’s rough sound while running might raise concerns about its durability. This issue could be attributed to the bearings, which may remain rough for the lifespan of the tool. However, it does not seem to affect performance, as the cuts produced are straight and accurate. Our evaluation of the 90-degree and 45-degree cuts revealed satisfactory results, indicating that the saw is set up properly to provide precise cuts for gauge lumber and trim.
In conclusion, while the Chicago Electric 10-Inch Sliding Compound Miter Saw offers an enticing price point, it is crucial to approach it with caution. For those who require a reliable and durable tool for extensive work or business projects, this saw may not be the best choice. However, if you are a sporadic user or seeking a one-time tool for a specific project, the saw’s low price, which sometimes drops to $85, can be tempting. Therefore, we rate the Harbor Freight Chicago Electric 10-Inch Sliding Compound Miter Saw a 5/10 for performance and a 7/10 for value. However, it quickly jumps to a 10/10 if you manage to purchase it at the lowest advertised price.