Pros: 12-inch blade, precise miter cuts, long cord
Cons: A little pricey for a homeowner... but it's worth it
I had a Craftsman 8.25-inch power miter saw for several years and it gave me good service. It was small, cheap, lightweight and easy to carry to the work site. But I could never get miters perfect with the Craftsman and it was all it could do to cut a miter in a 2X4.
When the local home center put the DeWalt DW705 compound miter saw on sale for $270, I made the jump and sold the Craftsman to a neighbor. (He still uses it and it has to be 15 years old!) I have not regretted making the change.
The DeWalt DW705 has a 12-inch blade that looks big enough to cut through a planet. The powerful motor is firmly mounted to a beautifully forged and machined aluminum chassis that is sturdy and lightweight. The primary miter adjustment is both simple to use and elegant in design. There are very positive detents at commonly used angles such as 22.5 and 45 degrees.
Since the DeWalt DW705 is a compound miter saw, there are two angles that can be adjusted. The secondary angle is also easy to adjust but it does not have the detent feature. Actually, I almost never need to cut compound angles, so straight cuts and standard miter cuts are 99.999 percent of what I do. Adjusted for a straight cut, the SW705 will cut through a 5X8. And quickly.
The saw has an adjustable guide fence that I use occasionally. The adjustable part of the guide fence can be moved very close to the blade, giving you a place to hold some pieces that would otherwise be very difficult to work with. I have also clamped a wood guide piece to the fence on the DeWalt DW705, so there is room for clamps.
A carbide-tipped blade is supplied with the saw. This blade is good for many applications but is not the best for fine trim cuts. The fairly coarse teeth will chip little bitty trim pieces. However, it will crosscut a 2X4 like a fool goes through a bank account. You will wonder if the cut wasn't there all the time! This is a very powerful saw.
Miters cut with the DW705 are just perfect. The detents are in exactly the right place and adjusting the angle is a snap.
The DeWalt has a very effective retractable blade safety cover to prevent accidents. An accident with a powerful tool like this is too gruesome to imagine and you can still hurt yourself -- badly -- if you do something stupid. I don't think that the safety features could be any better without compromising the usability of the tool, however.
The power cord on the saw must be about 10 feet long. It always seems to be able to reach an outlet, no matter where I place the tool.
The DW705 comes with a dust collection bag that I find useful, if not perfect. It's best when collecting dust from crosscuts, as this sawdust is small and will pass easily into the bag. Cuts made with the grain (rip cuts) produce relatively long and curly shreds that quickly block the port to the dust bag.
Incidentally, the DeWalt's dust bag fits perfectly on a Black & Decker circular saw that I have.
The DeWalt DW705 feels absolutely rock solid when I use it. My wife, who is no friend of power tools, has no problem using the DeWalt because it is easy to use, so precise and so reassuringly sturdy.
The saw is just light enough to move to work sites if the need arises. Another five pounds and I probably would seldom move it.
I have had my DeWalt DW705 for about four years and it has given very good service. The blade supplied with the saw is excellent for cutting framing lumber and general-purpose cutting. I recommend that you get a finer blade if you do much fine trim work.
The DeWalt DW705 is a high-end tool for a homeowner who gives it occasional use. If you are a serious wood hobbyist or a professional, the DW705 has the quality you require. Its power, precision and rock-steady feel will give you many years of confident service.
October 29, 2004 Update:
I still have this saw and still use it regularly. Las night, I used it to cut trim for a new bathroom and it worked perfectly. I even had to use the compound miter feature for a couple of difficult corners and had no trouble with the DeWalt saw.
I did replace the blade last year with one that has more teeth and does finer cuts. It works better with trim than the old blade and it still does crosscuts quickly.
February 10, 2009 Update:
I still have this saw and use it regularly, although I've replaced the blade a couple more times. I now have an Irwin multi-purpose blade on it and it works well. A few days ago, I used it to cut plastic floor tiles for my garage and it worked perfectly. The saw continues to be reliable, powerful and accurate, and I continue to recommend it. I think there is a newer model but I have no interest in trading up... the DW705 is all the chop saw I need.