You’ve no doubt heard the expression “measure twice, cut once” as a reminder of how to make your carpentry and woodworking cuts more accurate. If you want to take that old adage one step further, how about having a laser guiding you when you make that one cut?
Lasers have worked their way into a number of construction tools these days, and a growing number of manufacturers are now offering laser-guided saws, with more being introduced each year. Miter saws are the most popular, but there are also a couple of circular saws now being offered as well.
All laser-guided saws work along the same basic principle. A small, safe laser generator is located on the housing of the saw, directly adjacent to the blade. This projects a bright red, highly accurate line onto your work piece, which indicates the line that the blade will take. Simply make sure that the red laser line is aligned with the mark where you want to cut, then just follow the line to ensure an accurate placement of the blade.
Some saws will generate a line that is bright enough to be seen under virtually all lighting conditions. Others may require that you use laser-enhancing glasses – typically included with the saw – to see the line more clearly in bright lighting. (The laser-enhancing glasses typically double as safety glasses, so it can be a good way to force yourself to wear those safety glasses that you always know you should have on, but usually don’t!).
Laser-guided saws are available from a variety of manufacturers. Here, in alphabetical order, is a look at some of what’s out there:
- Craftsman: Craftsman, sold through Sears stores, currently has the largest assortment of laser-guided tools. They offer a 10-inch compound miter saw for around $200, and a 12-inch compound miter saw for about $300. Both utilize Craftsman’s Laser Trac cutting guide, which attaches to the side of the blade. Craftsman also has a heavy duty 12-inch sliding compound miter saw, which offers more cutting capacity. This saw, which retails in the $600 price range, uses their Dual View Laser Trac system to project a laser line onto both the top and the side of the work piece.
- Delta: Delta has decided to expand its line of heavy-duty, 12-inch laser-assisted miter saws, and now offers a 12-inch dual-bevel and a12-inch single bevel saw (the dual- and single-bevels refer to how the saw’s motor housing tips) as well as two different 12-inch compound miter saws. All utilize Delta’s TwinLaser technology, and are offered in prices ranging from $250 to $400, depending on the features.
- Hitachi: Hitachi, which has come on strong in recent years with a line of contractor-grade tools at competitive prices, has a couple of very nice laser-assisted miter saws now on the market. Their 10-inch dual bevel compound sliding saw retails for around $475, and features a blade that tilts to both sides, a “soft-start” feature that absorbs some of the motor’s torque on startup, a smooth 12-amp motor, and a reduced 44-pound weight. They also have a 10-inch compound miter saw (the motor doesn’t slide), priced at around $180.
- Porter-Cable: Another contractor favorite, Porter-Cable has a tough 12-inch compound miter saw available that’s equipped with their Twin Laser cutting line. It has a 15-amp motor, and weighs in at a hefty 63 pounds.
In addition to the three miter saws, Craftsman also has a 10-inch, 3 horsepower radial arm saw with Laser Trac, as well as a 15 amp portable circular saw with the same laser technology for around $110.
Craftsman tools are available through Sears retailers and on the Sears Web site. All the others are available through various home centers, tool retailers, and tool Web sites. And look for even more laser-guided saws to come on the market as the technology continues to improve.
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