Woodworking is a demanding endeavor that requires knowledge, skill, and the proper tools to be successful. Joinery that fits well does not happen by chance but is carefully calculated from concept to finish. One piece of machinery that is indispensable to this process is the compound miter saw. The dual bevel sliding compound saw has made complex cuts a pleasure to create.
Any carpenter plying their trade will have at least two on hand at all times. At Kent Made, LLC, my son and I have five on hand, ranging from my 10 year old Ridgid 12-inch to his new Festool Kapex. Even with a solid group to chose from, when Pro Tool Reviews asked if I wanted to test run the DeWalt DWS709 12-Inch Miter Saw, I couldn’t say no.
At first glance the DeWalt DWS709 seems the baby brother of the 780 series, but at near $ 200.00 less carved from your wallet, it is worth a closer look.
The unit comes well packaged like all DeWalt products. Molded foam secures the saw for transit and protects it well from damage. Our test saw was in perfect condition upon arrival with all parts in place and ready to unpack.
Once unpacked and assembled, I checked the calibration of the angle guide and found it to be 1/32 “ out of square. Not a lot for a saw that has been shipped from the factory, but worth the effort to zero out. DeWalt makes this adjustment easy with a simple loosening of the 4 star bolts securing the stainless steel detent gauge. As is the industry standard, it is further simplified by the supply of a handy on board wrench for just such an occasion. After adjustment, I checked the bevel adjustment and found it to be perfect. The 709 adjusts the bevel from the rear like most compounds – simple but effective. The miter detents are solid and effective. DeWalt does a good job with the base builds and the milling is true and flat.
The feature set is pretty basic – not surprising for a Pro-targeted miter saw at this price point. There are miter angles up to 60 degrees on the right and 50 degrees to the left. Beveling can go up to 49 degrees in both directions. Both adjustments are made easily and smoothly.
The fence easily slides out of the way for bevel cuts by unscrewing the bolts in the back that hold it in place.
Cut capacity is where things get interesting. With the fence installed, I was able to make a cross cut 9-1/2 inches at 90 degrees miter and 6-5/8 inches at 45 degrees. This seems short for a 12-inch sliding miter saw, and it is. For longer cross cuts there is a Special Setup to increase the range.
To do this, the manual offers specific instructions on the platform you will need to build. After removing the fence, you use 3″ wood screws to attach a 1-1/2″ x 12″ x 24″ piece to the base, creating a clamping platform. Your build is going to be cut with your workpiece, so it is not something you can make once and carry with you. If you regularly make cross cuts that require more than 9-1/2 inches, this is a deal breaker.
DeWalt DWS709 12-Inch Sliding Compound Miter Saw Specifications
- Model: DeWalt DWS709
- Motor: 15 amp
- No Load Speed: 3800 RPM
- Vertical Capacity (Baseboard): 4.5 inches
- Vertical Capacity (Nested Crown): 5.5 inches
- Cross Cut Capacity (90 Degrees): 2 x 14 (using Special Setup)
- Cross Cut Capacity (45 Degrees): 2 x 10 (using Special Setup)
- Miter Range: 60 degrees right, 50 degrees left
- Bevel Range: 49 degrees left and right
- Weight: 51 pounds
- Price: $399
- Warranty: 3 years
Earning a Living
The true test of a miter saw is performance on site with a variety of materials and demands. So to provide a worthy challenge, I took the DeWalt DWS709 to one of our new construction projects and ran it through the gambit.
First up was basic 5-1/4″ crown with a 45 degree spring angle (most crown in our area is 45 degree spring angle). While the 709 does have the capacity to cut this size standing at fence with easily adjustable slides, I opted to cut it flat. I was happy to find that DeWalt had included a 35.3-degree angle marking for this cut as not all miter saws have it. The 709 handles crown with ease and is very accurate on repeat cuts.
Next in line was window and door casing. Those were hardly a challenge for this saw with accurate cuts through 80 repetitions.
It is worth mentioning that the dust collection system with the dust bag is not the best. It is more functional when connected to a vacuum, though still short of stellar.
Finally, the ultimate test for any miter saw – oak stair treads and handrails. This is where the difference between “prosumer” tools and professional carpentry equipment collide. Accuracy for stair installs is paramount and not many miter saws out there can deliver stellar results because the combination of sliding rails and 12-inch blades have a greater tendency to deflect in hard materials. Only the upper echelon of saws in this class can withstand it.
While the 15 amp motor delivered ample power to carve through the hardwoods. the rail system allowed too much deflection for accurate cuts. This was especially noted on long crosscuts where I needed to shave the edge for scribe cuts. The deflection allowed the blade to skip off the tread instead of truing it up. This is a common problem with dual slide 12-inch saws, certainly not unique to DeWalt. Furthermore the 709 does not have a long enough stroke to cut through a standard 11 ½ “ stair tread or skirt without resorting to the Special Setup.
The DeWalt DWS709 has plenty of power to cut through even the hardwoods with relative ease. Mitering range and 13 positive stops include even the uncommon 35.3-degree stop I use to cut crown flat. The bevel range is more than adequate. The only hangups are a short cross cut capacity without utilizing the time consuming Special Setup and blade deflection in harder materials that is found on most 12-inch sliding miter saws.
The DeWalt DWS709 12-Inch Miter Saw is a contender in the 12-inch dual bevel ring. While not what I would consider true professional grade equipment for carpenters it is an excellent option for framers. With the proper blade, the 709 will handle most light to medium duty carpentry projects with ease. From the handyman to framing professional, the 709 delivers a lot of performance for the buck.