CORDLESS MITRE SAWS: The Near-Perfect Tool for the DIY Spirit

The country where I live, Canada, has some of the most do-it-yourself people in the world. We build and fix more for ourselves than most other nations, especially when the work involves wood. I’m not sure why this is, but perhaps it’s because our country was still the destination of homesteading pioneers as recently as a century ago. I’m sure our DIY spirit also has something to do with all the wood we have in this country. Whatever the cause,  DIY success comes down to tools, and this is true no matter where you live. And one particular kind of tool makes building projects more fun and more productive. If you’re thinking of tooling up for the DIY tradition of building things for yourself, you’d be wise to start looking at miter saws. And surprising as it sounds, cordless miter saws are really something these days.

The ability to easily crosscut lumber and trim to precise angles is what a miter saw is all about. The motor and blade of every miter saw swivels down, cutting wood that’s held at specific angles on the table below. All this sounds simple enough, but it wasn’t that long ago that miter saws were uncommon. Even as late as the 1990s, most contractors I knew didn’t own one. Go back to the 1970s, and carpenters were still cutting angled joints with a wooden miter box and a handsaw.

The remarkable thing about miter saws is how much they’ve improved. I don’t know of any other tool category that has changed so much for the better since inception. And most impressive of all for DIYers is the small, light, cordless miter saws that are coming on stream. They’re easy to carry, they don’t take much space in storage, and they really can do most everything needed while you’re building a deck, dock, gazebo or picnic table – all without a cord.

One of the most impressive combinations of light weight, power and capabilities I’ve seen so far in a cordless miter saw is the DEWALT 7 1/4” 20V model. This is not a brand new tool, but very little has come along to beat it since I first tested it in 2014. The Milwaukee 7 1/4″ cordless miter saw is another option that’s excellent. You can see it below. I’m not sure which one I like better. The consensus of every tool review site you’ll see online says great things about both these tools. I get to test and use virtually any tool I want from different manufacturers, and my shop is full of tools. Both the DEWALT and Milwaukee cordless models are still my go-to saws for most jobs that involve work out in the field.

This is the Milwaukee cordless miter saw in my shop. It’s the same tool that you’ll see in action in the video below.

Using the same battery and charger common to all related tools in the brand, battery life between charges is long, power is great and there are no drawbacks compared with corded saws with the same crosscutting capability.

When tool manufacturers talk about a “sliding compound” miter saw, they mean the motor and blade assembly slide on rails to allow for crosscutting wider wood. Most sliding compound mitre saws are much bigger and heavier than the cordless miter saws I’m talking about here, and this translates into the ability to cut bigger wood and wider trim. That’s fine, but how big do you really need to go? Both the 30 lbs Milwaukee and DEWALT saws crosscuts a 2×8 at 90º, and they’ll handle wood thicker than any construction grade lumber you’ll find. If you need to cut a 2×12, you can always flip the wood over and do it in two passes. This isn’t practical for every application, but for most DIYers it’s fine.

Below you’ll find one of my 1,000,000+-view videos and though it’s all about cutting accurate miter joints, you’ll see a great cordless miter saw in action, too. 

The ability to make things for yourself and save money is something like a campfire. The only way you’ll get heat and light out of the thing is if you put in fuel first. When it comes to woodworking and DIY, good tools are the fuel and you’ll find that it’s very easy to save way more money than you ever paid for them.

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