How Does It Feel
All of these saws performed well when fitted with the same 24-tooth carbide blade. Beyond the specific set of features you’re looking for, one of the most important considerations in buying a saw is how it feels in your hands. Unfortunately, you don’t have the luxury of 13 saws lined up in front of you like we did. But you can still visit two or three stores and get a good idea of which saws you find most comfortable. Despite the fact that the DeWalt saw has a simple grip with no added rubber or other enhancements, we all think it’s one of the most comfortable and well balanced saws in the group. If you work in a cold climate, be sure you also try out the saws with a pair of gloves on. Some of them may not have enough clearance around the trigger for gloved hands.
Aluminum or Magnesium Shoe
Steel shoes are common on less expensive saws, and they have a few downsides. First, they can bend if you drop the saw. And a bent shoe can cause your saw to cut poorly. Also, the rolled edge on a steel shoe can be a problem if you’re using a thin straightedge like a rafter square for a saw guide. The saw can slip over the top of the guide and ruin the cut. We prefer aluminum or magnesium shoes with crisp, square edges. The more expensive saws in this group all have excellent shoes.
Extra Bevel Capacity
With the exception of the Black & Decker, all of these saws cut bevels beyond 45 degrees. It’s rare that you would need to cut such steep bevels unless you built a lot of hand-framed roofs. But it’s a nice feature to have. Many of the saws have included detents, or stops, for common angles like 22-1/2 and 45 degrees. On some saws these features actually get in the way of normal bevel setting. But Makita has what we think is the perfect system. You can set a positive stop by rotating the knob to either 22-1/2 or 45 degrees. Otherwise, there are no detents to interfere with the smooth operation of the bevel adjustment.