As a finish carpenter who specializes in custom stairs and hand-railing, I've used sliding compound saws regularly for years, and have switched brands once or twice as my needs changed. Currently, I have two of these saws — a Bosch 4412 and a Hitachi C10FSH — and find plenty to like in both of them. However, a recent opportunity to check out the entire current field of sliding compound miter saws was too good to pass up, and held a few surprises. I looked at 13 saws in all, including two 8 1/2-inch, six 10-inch, and five 12-inch models.

A sliding compound saw should be user-friendly, both for an experienced user and, perhaps more important, for an inexperienced user. Positive miter and bevel detents are key for cutting crown molding efficiently. Otherwise, you go mad trying to locate and repeat the compound bevel and miter settings. Equally, those detent settings should be easy...

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