DeWalt DWS780 12-inch Compound Sliding Miter Saw Review
At first glance the saw looks impressive – like it means business. The combination of yellow, black, and chrome are certainly defining characteristics. On further inspection, the dual horizontal slide bars were the first feature that I really noticed. They stood out to me because I had used DeWalt’s earlier model, the DeWalt DW708 miter saw, for years. The DW708 has the same two bars, except they are vertically positioned rather than horizontally – something DeWalt switched to with the DeWalt DW718 miter saw. In addition, I noticed both the 60º and 50º miter capabilities to the right and left respectively, and I liked how narrow it became when in the 60º position (great for storage options in a tight work trailer).
With a 15 Amp, 3,800-rpm motor, this saw also had plenty of push. Whether I was cutting a small piece of crown or a 4” x 4” pressure treated post, I never felt like there was an insufficient amount of power to get the job done. As a matter of fact, the thought of the saw’s power never even crossed my mind while at work, which is generally a good sign because honestly… I have more important things to worry about on a job with tight deadlines and… assertive Project Managers.
One of the most helpful new features DeWalt has added is the XPS Cross Cut Positioning System. It’s the “why didn’t I think of that” kind of feature. Instead of a laser-cutting guide, DeWalt employs a small but powerful LED light directly over the saw blade. The light cast a shadow of the blade on the material below. As the saw blade was lowered, the shadow of the blade narrowed to the exact width and location of the cut. It worked on every cut, miter or bevel, although my bevel cuts required a slight tilt of the head to see. What made this so helpful was that the shadow was even visible outside in direct sunlight whereas laser guides are not. Another advantage of the XPS system over a laser guide is that it didn’t lose accuracy when it was bumped. I found the XPS Cross Cut especially useful when I was installing both the hardwood floors and a tongue and groove ceiling. Rough cuts that didn’t need to be accurate to within 1/16” (because they were getting covered by baseboard, cove molding, or some other trim piece) were particularly quick. The XPS light system allowed me to simply glance, chop, and the job was done.
Another solid aspect of the DWS780 I used a lot was the back fence. This feature gave me the ability to increase the normal cut depth. I found that I could cut 1X material a full 16-1/8″ on a 90º angle and I could handle a 2×12 on a 45. This was extremely valuable because it reduced the “normal” burden of cutting wide materials on a chop saw – we all do it: cutting, flipping, lining up to the first cut line, and cutting again. Remember: deadline. Project manager.
Whether I was cutting crown molding or 1×8 base caps for my front porch columns, the double bevel cut options were extremely useful. Unlike a single-bevel saw, the DWS780 lays down for a bevel cut both ways. It was not necessary for me to flip 16 ft. pieces of crown over, which might have dinged up new drywall. I didn’t have to worry about transferring measurements from one side of the board to the other in order to cut the boards finish side down. If you want to get truly automated, there are two fold-away stops for left and right bevel that provide for cuts at 22.5° and 33.9°. As you can imagine, if you’re cutting a bunch of molding this could save a lot of time. Having these stops easily accessible, and just as easily defeatable, makes for quick cuts and more options to potentially speed up your workflow.
Having used DeWalt’s previous DW708 model for the past 7 years, one of the big improvements in the DWS780, which I believe began (at least in the 12″ models) with the DW718, is the change in the dual steel rail configuration. Instead of the dual steel rails positioned vertically, the new DWS780 miter saw has them positioned horizontally. I have cut thousands of 45º bevel cuts on 5-¼” base board (most of them as the first step in the coping process). The one problem I have always run into was a small amount of flex in the saw when it was laid on a 45º angle. This created a slight belly in what was suppose to be a straight cut, and it always made me angry that my corners weren’t perfectly tight in the middle despite being tight at both the top and the bottom. As I made my cuts with the DWS780, the problem was gone. By configuring the rails in the upright position, they actually become vertical in relation to the downward pressure, and therefore stronger as the saw is laid down on a 45º angle.
As much as I enjoyed using the saw, I took away one small issue with it. Despite DeWalt’s claim of a “super efficient dust collection system” that “captures over 75% of dust generated”, I found their dust collection system to be far from super efficient – at least when operating the saw without a shop-vac. The rather long dust tube kept getting clogged easily and therefore frequently, which on more than one occasion led to a cloud of sawdust in my face as I cut. Obviously, the speed at which the tube gets clogged depends on the moisture content of the material you are cutting as well as the moisture content in the air… and I did use the saw in the heat of summer in humid Central Florida, so perhaps others will have less of an issue.
As great as the 12″ miter saw is by itself, I also had the opportunity to use it with its counterpart, the DWX726 rolling miter saw stand, and it was a good pairing. Although the combination offers excellent mobility and functionality, storage and transportation from job to job was rather awkward. A very large space is needed to accommodate the stand/saw combo, which together is quite substantial. I found that the unit took up more space than I liked in my work trailer. A quick-connect/disconnect system (such as the one that comes with the DW723 stand) would be preferred to the current method of bolting the saw to the stand. This would allow for easier and more versatile storage options while also making it even more flexible and valuable to the professional carpenter who must load and unload this tool every day.
All in all, the DeWalt DWS780 miter saw helped me to make my deadline and to deliver a final product any project manager would be happy to sign off on. Despite some very minor issues, the DeWalt DWS780 Miter Saw proved to be precise, powerful, and extremely versatile… bells and whistles should be ringing and blowing, because it’s got ‘em. I thought nothing would ever replace my DW718, however I would have to say that after using this saw for several weeks at home and on the job site, the DWS780 is worthy of carrying the torch.