I wasn’t asking for much as I hunted for a new miter saw. I simply wanted a unit that was rock solid with no slop in any moving part, super lightweight for portability, easy to adjust, precise locking locations for common cuts, high powered, and under $200. I was willing to forego the depth capacity of a 12″ blade, and the width capacity of a sliding saw, but I occasionally cut crown molding, so I needed the ability to perform a bevel and miter cut at the same time; a capability offered only by a compound miter saw. With these criteria in mind, I went into my usual 18 month research cycle before plunking down my dough. The winner? The Makita LS1040 10″ Compound Miter Saw, list price $320, street price approximately $200.
Overview. The LS1040 features a powerful, smooth running 15-amp motor, a solidly constructed dual post pivoting arm, solid fence, integrated dust collection, positive miter stops with 9 common settings, electric blade break and aluminum base. It weighs in at just over 27 pounds, which I found to be heavy enough to remain stable, and light enough to move around in the shop when needed.
Monkey test. (Can I have it up and running in under 2 minutes without looking at the manual or using anything that didn’t come in the box?) This saw scored an A+ on the monkey test. The blade was installed and ready to go. Everything was set perfectly square at the factory. All adjustments were intuitive and tool free. No rust prevention goop to remove. No little packages of mystery parts. Just open the box and rock and roll!
Operation. The motor sounds smooth and tight. It is loud like all saws in this price range, but you definitely get the sense of quality when you flip the switch. It gets up to speed quickly, powers through cuts without any hesitation or bogging. I almost think this motor is over engineered for a saw in this price range, but it sure makes for a nice cutting experience.
Great miter adjustment / lock mechanism. I examined beneath the saw and was impressed by the construction of the swiveling mechanism for the turn base. The miter angle is set in the same manner as most miter saws; press the lock lever, rotate to desired angle, and let go. But the movement on this saw is more refined and solid than on other saws I have used. The turn base moves smoothly and locks in solidly and precisely on 9 positive stops including 15, 22-1/2, 30, 45 degrees left or right, and 0 degrees.
Great fence. The fence is solid, with great fit and finish. It flexes very little, and was perfectly square to the table surface out of the box. It also includes a nifty sub-fence that remains in place to support square and miter cuts, and easily flips to the side to provide clearance necessary for bevel cuts.
Brake. It is common for miter saws to provide a braking mechanism so that the blade stops quickly after the switch trigger is released. This saw includes a brake, but it is a tad slower in bringing the blade to a complete stop than my other miter saw (A Delta Sidekick SCMS). I timed it at roughly one second slower, or roughly a total of 3.5 seconds to stop the blade. In my rational mind, I realize that is not a big deal. In a typical day in my shop I might make 20-30 cuts on the miter saw. Can a hobbyist, or even a pro, spare 30 seconds in a day? Yes, but my feeble attention span doesn’t like to wait that extra second. ‘Nuff said on that one.
Need a bit more bed with my saw. I want a bed that is bigger than 18″. No, I am not willing to take on additional weight. Aluminum is light, and 18″ is too short for a miter saw bed. Give me a few more inches not counting the slide-out bed extensions. Speaking of those, Makita, put them in the box and charge me a few more dollars if you must. Everyone needs these, they are not expensive to make, and I do not want to have to “accessorize” my miter saw.
Dust collection. Hmmm, a miter saw with marginal dust collection? What a shocker. I will let Makita off the hook ever so slightly because all the other saws in this class have poor dust collection as well, but come on, who is going to step up and change the game here? It gets old, and I predict a run of success for the first major player to solve this riddle. The best example of the level of frustration out there is a friend of mine, who threw his dust bag away because dust flies all over the place anyway, so why pretend? One thing I will say on a positive note is that I like the simple zipper free-design of this dust bag. To empty, just slide the plastic locking strip back and empty the bag. Quick and simple.
Stopper pin. Admittedly this is a minor nit, but the stopper pin used to lock the blade into the down position for storage or transport is a bit tricky to handle. It would benefit from a handle or knob of some sort to make it easier to grip.
Recommendations. If you are looking for a 10″ saw with no frills, clean design and solid construction, overall I don’t think you can do better than this saw for under $200. I am thrilled with the quality of construction found in this tool, and after running it through some basic tests, my expectations have been surpassed. If your needs are similar to mine, I think you would be pleased to own one of these.
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Makita LS1040 Compound Miter Saw, list price $320
Makita Industrial Power Tools