Saw Advice Needed

Roxanne Langley

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Sep 14, 2000
Woodlands, TX
Good morning oh great minds out in Grumble land. I'm headed to the hardware stores tomorrow on a quest to try and find a saw so I need everyones 2 cents worth and more.

Currently I just need a bit more creative control over my chops in the design area. There are a couple of techniques that I would like to start trying on a regular basis so justifying a brand new double mitre saw at this point isn't in the cards. What I'm hoping to find is maybe a smaller version or another alternative that I haven't thought about so that I am able to lay mouldings on their side and cut them. I've been doing it with the old hand saw for a few years and while I enjoy the upper arm workout I'm getting tired of that procedure. Maybe I just need to purchase a smaller single-mitre for the moment and if so which brands do you guys suggest.

Okay, let the suggestions fly and thanks so much,

"Where the bluebonnets and other Texas wildflowers are popping out and looking beautiful"
Might I suggest that you take a look a DECOR or PFM for advertisements of equipment specifically designed for a framers needs. Most import is the high quality blades and measuring devices that you will not fine in a hardware store.
I have found that the local BB hardware/lumber stores have a fairly good selection of the major brand name saws, but they have only the less rugged models (good and better, not best). I buy my electric power tools from a company that works mainly with the construction trades and they handle only top of the line equipment.
There are many brands and each has its features, but the power miter saws I see most frequently in local woodworking shops are made by Hitachi, Makita, DeWalt, or Milwaukee, but like pickup trucks there are probably regional brand preferences.
One thing you might want to investigate is the compatability of the saw to the brand measuring bench, if you are planning on getting one of those. Some saws require modifications to adapt to certain brand benches.
I have a 10" Hitachi on a Phaedra bench that has been delegated to cutting metal frames since I got the Breveti.
Don't forget to get fine blades for framing. The blade that the typical chop saw comes with is great for cutting 2x4's but after a little use it will make your moulding look like crap.

The blades can cost more than the saw.

Hope this helped.
Plan ahead. Will you be chopping anything larger than 3" across? You will probably need a 12" chop saw if you plan to chop your own 4" moulding as there isn't enough saw in a 10" to go completely through a 4" moulding.

I have used a Phaedra saw system for the past 16 years in a small shop and it has been flawless for me. I bought 2 chop saws and set them to opposite 45&#186 angles so I wouldn't have to switch one saw back and forth.

I have cut moulding in the conventional position for framing and also on edge to make different styles of boxes and shelves and such on my saws and it worked very well in either case.

As was stated about the blades and contrary to the beliefs of some, buy the best blades you can afford. The blades will make or break your miters in the long run. It really doesn't matter about the machine that is driving the blade other than to have it cut an accurate miter but the blade will be the telling factor in smooth miters and tight miter joints. The saw may be noisy or have a funny grip or a trigger or a button to operate it or many other characteristics that separate one brand from another but the blade will be your "secret weapon" for good miters once you have the saw itself zeroed in.

Good luck.

I got the impression from Roxanne's post that she wasn't so much interested in a saw for mitering frames as she is in doing some things that chop services won't do. Am I misunderstanding here?

so that I am able to lay mouldings on their side and cut them.
Could be that a 10" miter saw from Home Depot will serve nicely and a measuring bench isn't what she's looking for (though it would make the saw more generally useful.

Regardless, most of us will agree that a couple of very good blades are a good investment.
Thanks so much everyone, I'm armed and ready for the next step. God help us! My next step will be checking into blades and discovering all the little known tips about them. Seems I remember an article in either PFM or Decor recently about all of this. Time to dig the magazines out.

Roxanne, my advice is to look at table saws, maybe a contractor's saw. To do the work you want to do really well, you need a sliding table saw. DeWalt and Jet make inexpensive sliding table saws ($1100.00 range). These are good flat out table saws, too, and table saws compliment frame shops well. There are smaller sliding table saws that finish carpenters take to work sites and I imagine they run in the neoghborhood of $700.00 about what a good quality chop saw would cost.

An out and out contractor's saw will need some kind of sliding panel cutter, either one you make or a commercial one. A table saw is one of the most versatile cutting tools you can use and becoming familiar with one is useful for picture framers. If you look carefully at the picture of our cabinet shop on our web site you can make out two cabinet saws, a Delta Unisaw and an SCMI Sliding table saw. We use both of them frequently.
Warren is right in that a table saw will open up a whole world of possibilities - but that said - if you are looking for a tool that will allow you to make miters with different orientations than a motorized miter saw is a useful tool.

In my youth I worked as a trim carpenter and still dabble at it. I have alway been impressed with the Hitachi line of compound chop saws. They are very accurate and suprisingly versatile. I have one that I take to job sites. I paid just over $200.00

At my shop we have an Omga 12" Single miter saw that cost about a thousand with a measuring table which is marvel - solid as the rock of gibralter. We use it for trimming and lot of strainer and support cutting - it is accurate enough to true up chops like a miter sander does.

We have a double miter saw, a single miter saw, a chopper and a sliding table table saw and they get used in that order. We cut all routine chops on the double miter saw and it get used all day every day. The single miter saw is used for straight cuts, fussy trimming and odd orientations or odd angles. The chopper is used mostly for filets and small stuff. The table saw is used for panel cutting, ripping and really odd frames. The table saw can do a lot but it is also the scariest of the bunch.

Peter Bowe
Saline Picture Frame Co.
Hello Grumblerz,
my question is if I would go with a miter saw (chop), what is the best measuring fence for it. Easy to use, sharp, sturdy, and very mobile.
Originally posted by 2400:
Hello Grumblerz,
my question is if I would go with a miter saw (chop), what is the best measuring fence for it. Easy to use, sharp, sturdy, and very mobile.
Very mobile? The Phaedra Sawhelper for a single miter saw must have been designed for construction contractors. Its legs fold under for quick knock-down & transport. And when you want to set it up again, it's just as quick & easy -- no loss of adjustments, either.

Roxanne, if you can find a used Sawhelper for sale, it might be a good buy. And if you can't find a used one, consider a new one. With the saw, it's still under $1,000.