February 17, 2010

Craftsman 10" MiterMate - Review

mitermate_1.jpgMiter saws are one of those tools that dribble through the innovation process. Not a whole lot happens between generations other than a few more amps of power, or a couple more degrees of cut, at best, a laser sight is added. All in all it's a slow and rather boring progression. Festool released their mighty Kapex a couple years ago which added a good jolt to the process, but at a price of $1300, the most the average person could do was read the stats and say, "cool." But now here comes Craftsman with something called the MiterMate. When you first look at it, it's pretty strange. It's essentially a miter saw with two adjustable fences, as opposed to an adjustable blade. This feature, when used with their angle finder, allows for a single adjustment for two cuts which result in a perfect miter. Craftsman/Sears was nice enough to send us a sample to review and we found it to be an effective, but not perfect, tool.

mitermate_2.jpgSo how do you use this thing? First, take the angle finder over to your door, window, wall or whatever it is that you're putting the miter around and capture the angle. The wings on the finder work nicely and there is a little locking knob so the angle won't change on the way back to the saw. Then set the gizmo into the throat of the saw and adjust the fences so that they are touching the wings on the gauge. Now, if your blade is tuned up (ours was perfect out of the box), it will bisect the angle perfectly. Just cut your stock, one piece on one side, the other piece on the other side (note: the rear bevel works just like any other miter saw).

mitermate_3.jpgWe cut about a dozen or so different miters in the shop using scrap wood and each one came out perfectly. The real benefit here is with those corners that are just a whisker off 90 degrees. The MiterMate doesn't care what the angle is, it just makes the cut. The days of cutting and taking four more passes shaving off a 64th of an inch seemed at an end.

We then took the tool to a jobsite where we had some casing to put up and that's where we ran into a little problem.

mitermate_4.jpgCutting miters usually means one of four things; door casing, window casing, baseboard, or crown. With at least three of these items, you'll be using at minimum 8' lengths of stock. This means that when you move the fence to make, say, a 45 degree cut, you're also swinging the stock around to your side. Here you have two options; 1) shift your outfeed stand around or 2) shift the saw so the stock remains over your workbench. The first option will quickly consume a lot of time (and you need an open space) and the second option leaves you standing at an off angle to your saw. And because you're constantly moving the saw around, this method doesn't allow you to bolt or otherwise clamp the saw to your workbench (which we highly recommend with such a light saw).

This design issue makes the saw difficult to use on a crowded jobsite where space can be hard to find. But because all of the crusty old carpenters we spoke to turned up their noses at this tool, it's probably a moot point. Members of the full-time woodworking crowd know about 500 different ways to get a miter right and from the ones we spoke to, they aren't likely to turn those skills over to a saw. And because we're also a member of that crowd, we tend to agree with them. Cutting a nice miter is one of the pillars of good carpentry and if you're a serious DIYer, it's something worth knowing how to do.

mitermate_5.jpgBut not everyone has the time or inclination (or patience level) for that sort of self-flagellation, and it's those people who should investigate the MiterMate. Other than the outfeed issue, the saw does cut a nice miter and for someone unfamiliar with the process, it's a very quick way to do it. It could also be very helpful if you're working on an old house where nothing is plumb, level, or square. Like we said before, it's those miters that are only a whisker off 90 degrees that seem to be the most difficult.

The MiterMate is available at Sears for about $200.

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at February 17, 2010 5:27 AM

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Recent Comments

I am a music teacher and was clueless about how to cut angles for a "Great Room addition in our house. The guy who sold us the house built it, so things were definately not plumb. I figured "How hard could it be to measure and cut the molding using my square" I found out the hard way.So I know this Saw is the perfect answer to my woes.


Posted by: Len at January 27, 2011 4:50 PM

I recently purchased a 1971 house that is in major need of remodeling. I would use the miter saw to replace all the trim in the house as well as several other projects. I am always messing up the angled cuts and could deperately use Sears' MiterMate to complete those cuts.


Posted by: Laura at February 22, 2010 4:30 PM

I could really use this saw because of my Saxon ancestry. Why does that help you ask? Because they knew all the angles too!


Posted by: Jim at February 22, 2010 3:45 AM

The saws an accident waiting to happen if you ask me. Theres a chance the fence can shift out of position if not locked down correctly. You dont have this problem with a reg miter saw. The saw has capabilitys to cut acute angles like 67.5 degs. If you were cutting crown molding for the 67.5 miter your hand would be way to close to the blade when the saw came down. Trying to hold the molding in place against the saw fence and table is alot for the diyer to concentrate on anyway then Craftsman comes up with this dangerous saw...
There an easier ways for the diyer to cut crown molding or any product with there reg miter saw. Check out Miter Master Plus on Amazon, MMP is a great miter/angle finder for the pro and diyer and you dont need to worry about using the Craftsman dangerous saw...
MMP is a No Brainer tool


Posted by: Matt at February 20, 2010 5:50 AM

I have a great deal of finish work to do do in "Our Old House" and would greatly appreciate this system/tool to be able to acheive a good result and professional looking finish.

Thanks John


Posted by: John M at February 19, 2010 3:18 PM

wow, with an old farm house just like article states (nothiing plumb, level or square) this would come in handy as I attempt to remodel it. my current miter set up is the trusty old plastic box and hand saw. 87 degrees is great for a joint angle right?


Posted by: Chris at February 19, 2010 12:42 PM

I am the only non-building trades member of a four generation building trades clan. Family reunions are tough. It would be nice to have some bragging rights


Posted by: Jerold Farver, Sr. at February 19, 2010 12:41 PM

I have new crown molding I need to put up in a few rooms.
Of course, I'll need to buy the crown molding first...and to do that I'll need a certain sum of money (tax return hard at work)...and then I'll need a few new tools (the wife loves that excuse, but its the only one I have) and already having a Miter saw would definitely help in that department. Just my luck my wife would go out and buy me a hand saw just to see my face fall...oh well.
Thanks


Posted by: Ben Lauer at February 19, 2010 8:29 AM

Finally a product I can almost understand. It is like Miter Cuts for Dummies. I would love to get my hands on a saw like that. I have a miter saw that I bought at a discount store for $40, so you can imagine the quality that it is lacking. I have been working on trimming our whole house and the task has brought me to the conclusion that I should just hire it out. I am a weekend warrior that has turned out to be a weekend waster. Please help me out and send big box of happiness my way! Thanks for the reviews, Ryan


Posted by: Ryan Petrea at February 19, 2010 1:33 AM

Thanks for the review. I began woodworking about a year and a half ago, having suddenly gained much free time when Los Angeles Unified decided that they no longer really needed to teach the class I had been hired to teach years prior (English). With no tooling experiences in my past, I set out to yard sales and thrift stores and began to amass a collection of mostly tabletop power tools. Lots of the tools came with accessories, but I discarded most of those. I thought that accessories equaled, for the most part, clutter. Fences, gone. Jigs, gone. Many unsuccessful projects went by before I started doing my research, realizing the importance, the necessity, and sometimes the simplistic beauty of the woodworking jig.
This one looks pretty nice. "looks." hint hint.
Thank you.


Posted by: Alan Probst at February 18, 2010 5:26 PM

Looks pretty darned cool to me, though I wouldn't have much use for it. I wouldn't have thought of the problem your review pointed out with regard to support for long stock ... that's why hands-on reviews like yours are so important. keep up the good work.


Posted by: Jim at February 18, 2010 1:32 PM

I have three bedrooms of crown molding to put up and two rooms have angled walls. This would save my sanity!

Thanks,
Mike


Posted by: Mike at February 18, 2010 11:17 AM

I am one of the noobs that can't ever get the right cut the first time on crown molding. So save my relationship with my wife and allow me to live up to her expecations by wining this tool for us miter saw idiots.


Posted by: Kevin at February 18, 2010 9:41 AM
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