Hitachi C12RSH2 Miter Saw Review
What I care about most revolves around cut quality. As a woodworker, the balance, precision, and power of this saw make me very happy.
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The Hitachi C12RSH2 comes with some street cred, and some big shoes to fill. It’s the second iteration of Hitachi’s cult classic C12RSH that has since been discontinued. When Hitachi originally designed the original C12RSH, they gained a loyal following of woodworkers by offering forward-thinking features. Fine adjustment knobs for both bevel and miter settings, a vertical handle, and one of the first zero-clearance rail systems made this saw a really big deal way back in 2006.
But I came too late to that party, and so I’ve been using the Ridgid R4221 12-inch sliding miter saw. By all rights, it’s a beast of a saw, but it wasn’t designed for a woodworker. I only know of one miter saw intentionally designed for fine joinery, but since I can’t justify the expense of the Festool Kapex, I can use an alternative. Needless to say, I was excited when the new Hitachi C12RSH2 hit the market. When PTR asked me to shake it down, I swapped out orange and grey for green and black and vowed to keep whichever saw ended up being the better woodworking saw.
First Impressions & Calibration
The saw appeared to be packed well for the trip to my shop, but I noticed a small cosmetic chip on the throatplate once it was set up. Hitachi sent out a replacement quickly, so I have confidence in their customer service.
Anyway, I hauled the unit out of the box, and I noticed it was lighter and less complicated than the Ridgid R4221. The Ridgid has a huge table for supporting your work, while the Hitachi’s table keeps it close to what I’m used to on other saws. Sometimes I miss the larger table, but the one on the Hitachi works well.
The Hitachi C12RSH2 will make miter cuts at a max angle of 57° to the right, and 45° to the left. This saw has a very straightforward design. The positive stops and lockdowns on the miter gauge consist of a simple lever and knob setup. Same with the bevel lock. I actually prefer this over the Ridgid solution, which uses a clutch system that engages and disengages to hit the positive stops.
Despite mingling brands, the Hitachi C12RSH2 mounted right up on my Ridgid MS-UV. This saw mounts to any universal miter saw stand, and it ships with brackets for clamping down to a temporary bench if needed.
Out of the box, the Hitachi C12RSH2 came respectably close to square, but I spent a few minutes tuning it up with a precision straight edge anyway. Once adjusted, and with a Diablo 80 tooth fine finish blade mounted, the scrap wood pile found itself in imminent danger of some test cuts.
Performance & Cut Quality
As a woodworker, one of the things that stuck out to me right away was the vertical handle. I’ve only ever seen it on two other saws: this model’s predecessor, and the $1,500 Festool Kapex. I immediately wondered how I would like it… as it turns out, I love it. It takes a little getting used to, but I think it’s a more natural motion. When I slide the saw on its rails, I find it easier not to add my own input to the cut, reducing head deflection and improving cut quality. This also means that operation is ambidextrous. When a cut requires that I go southpaw, the vertical handle still feels natural. Contrast this with the more popular horizontal handle: when I go lefty, I have to pull the trigger with my pinky. It never feels right. Er, left. Well.. whatever.
The other major feature that attracted me as a woodworker revolves around the zero clearance rail system. The zero clearance rail system allows me to place this saw very close to the wall. This saves valuable space in my shop, but honestly, it could function better. Hitachi chose to locate the bevel-locking lever directly on the back of the saw. This requires the saw to sit a few more inches away from the wall, which partially defeats the purpose of the zero clearance rail system. I would have preferred if they had side-mounted the lever as they did with the previous model. Still, compared to my Ridgid, I’m reclaiming several square feet of space in my shop, so I’ll call it a win.
I don’t have hard data to back this up, but logic tells me that the forward rail design on the Hitachi does a better job of supporting the rotating mass of the saw blade. Regardless of whether my gut is correct, the saw has great balance, and the operation and cut performance feel very smooth.
Design & Features
Let’s talk features. Starting at the top, the 15-amp motor has plenty of power. Recently, I’ve been making new kitchen countertops out of 8/4 ash. The Hitachi C12RSH2 cuts through this mid-range hardwood with only a little bit of bogging when I attempt to go through on a single pass.
Pro Tip: While ash is a very stable species of wood, it’s a good habit with thicker material to take two, or even three passes to release stress on the grain slowly.
It’s a brushed motor, so you’ll need to replace the brushes eventually. But those don’t cost a whole lot, and they’re not hard to source. It’s also not a surprise. Outside of the cordless miter saws running around, none of the big names are putting brushless motors in – at least not yet. The Hitachi C12RSH2 also has a blade brake, which is a must-have for working through thicker stock.
While miter saws don’t generally get high praise for their dust extraction, the Hitachi’s works pretty well. You can probably chalk that up to the larger-than-normal dust collection shroud behind the blade.
Unfortunately, what you gain in dust extraction, you pay for with visibility. The dust shroud blocks the laser almost as soon as you lower the saw. The laser projects a single line that adjusts to represent either the left or right edge of the blade kerf. If you don’t remember where you last set it, you’ll have to show a little bravery to figure it out. Using your fingers to move aside the dust shroud, you’ll lower have to lower the blade down. The design leaves some room for improvement here.
Typical of most miter saws, the hold-down clamp fails to impress. As a woodworker, I have to constantly clamp down on workpieces. The basic hand-screw design takes a long time to set up. A cam system would save a lot of time here, though undoubtedly, it could drive up the price.
So, the Hitachi has three main drawbacks: the bevel-locking lever on the back, the clamp, and the visibility issue surrounding the dust shroud and laser. While those are areas for improvement, the sublime cutting experience easily overcomes them. If the laser is a pain to adjust, I’ll just leave it off; I’ve been using a miter saw since before they came with lasers, and I can get by without.
What I care about most revolves around cut quality. As a woodworker, the balance, precision, and power of this saw make me very happy. The Hitachi C12RSH2 gives me all the confidence I need to keep my projects moving forward and my expensive workpieces out of the scrap pile.
Hitachi C12RSH2 Miter Saw Features
- Compact slide system allows the saw head to slide along fixed rails, eliminating the need for rear clearance
- Laser marker system from Hitachi increases cutting accuracy
- Powerful 15 Amp motor to tackle tough cutting jobs with ease
- Large sliding fences raise fence height to 5-1/8 inches to cut up to 7-1/2″ crown molding vertically
- 0-57 degree miter angle to the right and 0-45 degree to the left for flexibility
- 0-45 degree bevel angle range to the right and left allowing users to quickly and easily flip the saw blade and leave the material in place
- Positive stops and indications on the miter and bevel scale, for easy to read measurements and quick settings
- Carbon brush access, allows the user to replace the brush as needed to greatly prolong tool life
- Vertical handle with soft, vibration reducing elastomer grip adds comfort and control
- Covered by Hitachi’s professional 5-year warranty
Hitachi C12RSH2 Miter Saw Specs
- Model Number: C12RSH2
- Amps: 15 A
- No-Load Speed: 4,000 RPM
- Blade Diameter: 12″
- Miter Cutting Range: 0-45° L; 0-57° R
- Bevel Cutting Range: 0-45° L & R
- Positive Miter Stops: L/R 0,15, 22.5, 31.6, 45°
- Laser Marker: Yes
- Saw Blade Drive System: Poly V Belt & Gear
- Splinter Guard: Provided (Fixed)
- Tool Dimension: 25-1/2″ x 36-5/8″ x 27-15/16″
- Tool Weight: 59 lbs
- 90° Cross Cut: 4-3/16″ x 12-1/4″ or 4-11/16″ x 10-3/16″
- 45° Miter (L/R): 4-3/16″ x 8-5/8″ or 4-11/16″ x 7-1/16″
- 45° Bevel (L): 2-3/4″ x 12-1/4″ or 2-15/16″ x 10-3/16″
- Compound Cut 45 x 45 (L/L): 2-3/4″ x 8-5/8″ x 2-15/16 x 7-1/16″
- Warranty: 5-Year
- MSRP: $349.99
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