Buying a used miter/chop saw?

So I am looking at getting a Miter/chop saw for some of the upcoming projects I have planed around the house. It’s not something I will use every day and it is not something I will use to make my living. From the research I have done I want a 12" blade but i don’t think i will get enough use out of it to justify buying one that slides, and I should be able to get away with a single bevel.

I was planning on spending around $200 dollars or so, but have noticed the pawn shops near me, as well as craigslist have a ton of used saws for what appear to be really good prices. Is there anything I should be wary about when buying one used? there 's a Dewalt DW705 that I could pick up for around 80 bucks and appears to be in pretty good shape. Opinions and Advice?

I’ve been using a Hitachi C12FDH 12" dual bevel miter saw for the last 5 years, and it’s worked great for me. I bought it on sale for $200, while Lowe’s was running a promotion for a free brad nailer with purchase of the saw at the same time Hitachi was running a free 5" orbital sander rebate.

The only complain I have about it is that the plastic fine adjustment gears on the bevel mechanism broke after about year 4. It’s still adjustable, but I just have to put in a little more effort for accurate bevel cuts. Otherwise it’s still a great saw.

In my opinion, I would rather have a 10" sliding miter saw than a 12" non slider. Unless you plan to be cutting through 5" thick material fairly often, a 10" slider can do virtually everything you will need a miter saw to do. Also if you have a table saw, it will have the same size blade as most standard table saws. It will be significantly more compact and lighter as well.

I am in the market for a miter saw in the near future, as I currently have a cheap task force 10" non slider. I’m primarily using it for cutting all of the trim for my house remodel, and it is a pain.

I bought some used woodworking machinery over the years from reputable sellers - and they all worked out OK. With an inexpensive tool like this - while you’re taking some risk - it’s not too big. You might be able to reduce the risk - by first seeing if you can download an owner’s manual to see how the saw get’s adjusted, Then - assuming you can try the saw out - you can bring some tools along that Dewalt recommends for setup (might be one or more of the following: good quality combination square, screwdrivers, wrenches, Allen wrenches, straight edge.) You can check the blade-to table and fences to table and fences to bade for square . You can check the table for flatness. If you have a dial indicator you can check for runout - otherwise try to see if the blade wobbles. You can try a 2 test cuts at 90 degrees - reversing the cuts to see how good the square is. If the saw has an electric brake - you can see if it works. If needed you can see if you can adjust things per the user manual. If these check out, the saw doesn’t look too beat up, the motor runs without obvious signs that it needs new brushes etc. then $80 bucks might be a great deal.
BTW - when trying it out - remember that star-up torque on a 12 inch saw may cause it to jump.

I posted an article about this a few years ago and I’d still stick by the recommendation in general. You might have some specific reasons why a 12" would be necessary though.

Some pros to 10":

  • 10" blades can be used on your table saw (before we go into this again, most 10" crosscut blades have a positive hook angle)
  • 12" blades cost more and are more expensive to sharpen,
  • 12" saws are possibly less accurate.

Ignore the following, I spoke without thinking.
end edit_

One thought is that if you do buy a 12" saw, see if you can use 10" blades in it. It should be possible in some saws, while others you won’t be able to cut all the way to the back and bottom.

Jacob and Benjamin

I too would prefer a 10 inch slider. I have 2 Stationary and 2 mobile circular saws to choose from. Three have 10 inch blades.
One is an old Sears RAS that I haven’t used in many years. One is an old Unisaw that is the center of my basement shop. One is a Bosch 4100DG09 that rolls on a gravity rise stand - sits in my garage awaiting one of the kids calling to say something needs doing. My old chop saw was a Dewalt DW717 which I gave (along with some very good blades) to my son in-law - and I’m still waiting for him to come and get its stand that hangs on top of some staging in my garage. I replaced it with a 12 inch Bosch GCM12SD on a gravity rise stand in 2013 when I gave away the Dewalt. Not that I do not like the Bosch saw - but in some ways I liked the 10 inch Dewalt better - probably mostly because 10 inches is more than enough and the saw weighed a lot less.

On the subject of interchangeability of blades - and mounting a 10 inch table saw blade in a 12 inch chop saw - as Benjamin alludes to - many 12 inch chop saw sport a 1 inch arbor - while many 10 inch table saws use a 5/8 inch arbor

Thanks for catching the arbor size fred. I was rereading the comments in the article I linked and the one about using a 10" blade on a 12" arbor saw stuck in my mind as a good idea. Of course I didn’t look into the arbor size issue.

I looked at all my blades both 10" and 12" and you are absolutely correct. There may exist 10" blades with different arbor sizes, but they are going to be special and therefor not very useful.

if it was me buying used I would partially base it on where the nearest service center is

for Me its Makita everyone else is significant Drive difference

that being said ask to check the saw cut your board flip it over and pull the blade down again if it doesnt match up its not cutting square do this vertically as well

also check to see if there is any blade wobble visually when you start the saw

its not a fool proof method but it will give you a fairly good idea i would even put a straight edge on the cut I have seen some compound saws that wander as much as a full 1/8 front to back leaving a curved finish

for my money i would stick with Makita or Hitachi both have soft starts and if you do a significant amount of cuts the “kick” of the other saws can be a factor


While you are right that stock blades like those you find at Home Depot or at most Tool Supply Stores will have 10 inch blades with a 5/8 bore and 12 inch blades with a 1 inch bore - you may know that some blade manufacturers will custom bore their blades to fit your arbor. I’m thinking here about Forrest and Carbide Cutters as two examples. Custom blades can also be had in different (than stock) grinds. Just one example is Forrest grinding blades that are beveled in various degrees right or left to cut dovetails on a table saw.

When I was shopping for my first miter saw, I scoured craigslist and found one at a reasonable price with a little cosmetic damage to the fence, but otherwise light usage by a homeowner. It was within a 30 min drive so off I went to get my new saw. I brought a little plywood to do the test cuts mentioned above. The owner left me to perform my test cuts. A couple minutes later, my square indicated the miter was way off 90. I made another cut using the right fence and that was off as well. But both cuts were less than 90. After a little more pondering, I realized the entire fence was bowed in 1/4" at the center. That cosmetic damage was a kickback which bent the fence n like a V. And had I placed the stock across the entire fence for the first test cut…I likely would have had a kickback. And this guy knew he was putting a damaged saw in my hands. I gave him an earful and left with my fingers intact. The next day a new saw was on order.

There are lots of great deals out there. Just be careful!

I wouldn’t buy something like a miter or chop saw used, but if I did, it would be in person and I would check it with a square.

My home miter is an old hand me down 10" single bevel but its rock solid, it does get some job site use mainly for 2x4 framing cuts. We use a 12" “every” bevel dewalt most of the time, I swear I spend more time ajusting the dewalt than cutting with it but its cuts are perfect. We used to use a Hitach 12" laser guided Cadillac of a machine and loved it but it left with the gut that owned it when he left. We also have a nice lil Delta that fills in some times, I haven’t used it much but seems just fine. If I were in the market my cash would buy a Hitach 10" slider. Just my 2 cents.