Pros: Best bang for the buck. Good specs and design
Cons: Only bevels to one side.
If I already have a sliding compound miter saw that I really like, why would I want another? I really didnt, but my son wanted one and couldnt justify the price of one like mine for his do-it-yourself projects. We went to Lowes together where we closely examined the GMC 10" Slide Compound Miter Saw with REDEYE Laser Line Generator SMS250LSRUL. Something like the deal between Ridgid and Home Depot, the only place you can find the GMC line of saws in the US is at Lowes.
Global Machinery Company (a powerful name isnt it?) is an Australian company known down under for good tools at a fair price point. Established in 1997, GMC has jumped to a place of dominance in Australia and is now exporting its tools. They have a line of professional tools, their line of Redeye Laser tools, and a line of DIY tools. The Redeye tools are those Lowes has chosen to feature so far.
I was looking at the GMC sliding compound miter saw with the eye of a tool snob. It was sitting in a group of displayed miter saws that included the excellent DeWalt and a couple of nice Delta saws. Frankly, it seemed to hold its own in the look of quality department. When the price difference was considered, we had to look deeper. Ultimately he purchased the saw and we headed for my shop to set it up and give it a thorough tryout. That was several months ago.
The Laser Line and New Yankee Workshop
A few years ago, Norm Abrams started using a Delta miter saw that splashed a laser line over the wood. When he started doing this, there was no miter saw in the world that had that feature. Even Delta had stopped producing the saw Norm was using. Such is the power of this show in the world of woodworkers that, within a couple of years, most manufacturers have added saws that place a line over the board to line up a cut using a laser. GMC even has produced a whole line of tools around this concept.
GMC 10" Slide Compound Miter Saw with REDEYE Laser Line Generator SMS250LSRUL
The saw is packed in a box. It is fully assembled. The manual that comes with it is sparse but quite adequate. The Allen wrench needed to set the laser line generator is included as is a nice blade. Thats about it. We pulled it out of the box and set it up near my Makita saw. Even against a saw rated by most as the best 10 slide compound saw in the business the GMC didnt fade.
We followed the clear instructions to set the laser line and then ran a series of cut tests to assure the saws accuracy. We cut a 12 wide by 3 thick piece of oak scrap and checked the bevel and crosscut with machinists square. It was dead on at 90 degrees each way. We rotated it to 45 degrees and sliced the edge off a piece of 6 scrap. A 45 degree machinists square confirmed the angle was dead on. We were already falling in love with the laser line that slid its bright redness across the board to make the cut setup easy and nearly foolproof. Slipping it back to the 90 degree point, we tilted the head to 45 degrees. It only tilts one way, the first shortcoming noted against the Makita LS1013. The 90 degree cut was again perfect in our 3 by 12 scrap and the bevel was also dead on. The laser line tracked well and was easy to see in the shop.
The slide action is every bit as smooth as that of the Makita; the handle is also well suited for multiple cuts without tiring the hand. The safety features include a push button release before the trigger will pull, a self-opening blade guard that covers the blade well, a clamp that works well, and side extensions. This is a match to what came with the Makita. The laser runs from batteries and is turned on by its own switch. The saw doesnt have to be running to get the light.
Now, after several months of use at home, the GMC 10" Slide Compound Miter Saw with REDEYE Laser Line Generator SMS250LSRUL is back in my shop as we work together to build a crib for his new daughter, coming in October. When we first set it up, we again checked the settings. He had done nothing but use the saw. They were still dead on, even after riding around in the back of his SUV as he helped friends with their projects. So was the Makita, but at the Makita price, one expects that kind of stability.
We have used the two saws heavily as we cut the pieces for the crib out of red oak, varying from 2 thick down to ?. I defy anyone to tell the difference in the cut edges. The key difference is in the time it took him to cut his 18 spindles to length compared to the time it took me for the other 18. He won handily with the laser line to aid his setup.
The Gory Details
The following is borrowed from the Lowes web site since the GMC site lists everything in metric units. I can say we agree with all the hype.
REDEYE? Laser Line Generator for improved cutting vision, faster set-up, increased accuracy and safer operation
14.5 Amp motor for powerful cutting action
Miter cuts 0? to 45? left and right for greater versatility in all applications
Precision bevel cutting from 0? to 45? for a complete range of compound miter cuts
Positive stops on the table at 15?, 22.5?, 30?, 45?, and 0? allows for fast convenient setting of common miter cuts
Spindle lock lever allows for quick and easy blade change
Dual ball race rail slide mechanism for an accurate and smooth sliding action
Work piece clamp allows material to be safely secured
Lock down facility for portability and storage
Polished aluminum miter table provides a high strength to weight ratio
Strong robust alloy construction for greater durability
Dust extraction port for a cleaner and safer working environment
Carbide tipped saw blade stays sharper longer for an extended service life
There is no overstating of the specs on this unit. It can do exactly what the specs say. The fence is solid and at right angles to the table. The controls are smooth and easy to use. The stops are repeatable. The cutting capacities (not listed here) are identical to the Makita and most other 10 slide compound miter saws. The 2 year replacement warranty is as good as any saw on the market, better than many.
The Down (under) side
The laser line washes out quickly in bright light. A pair of tinted safety glasses are included which helps unless you are in direct sunlight. The bevel action is only on one side so boards have to be turned instead of the bevel angle switched. All of the parts are solid but just not up there with the Makita. The paint is already beginning to show wear after five months. The saw seems to miss the dust bag with more material than the Makita. It still isnt bad, just not as good.
Like I told a friend recently who had just bought a fixer-upper vacation A-frame, unless you are planning to use it every day on a lot of job sites, dont waste your money on a more expensive saw. He didnt.
The Makita review is here: http://www.epinions.com/content_22192885380
Check out their circular saw here: http://www.epinions.com/content_154489294468