Pro's Picks: Hitachi (Now Metabo HPT) 15" Miter Saw

A miter saw built like no other

October 22, 2019
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remodeler using a metabo miter saw

Nathan Rinne

Owner

Rinne Trimcraft | Eldon, Mo.

 

 

 

Opinions, scientific analysis, and blind brand loyalty are all tossed about on the interwebs when trying to decide what miter saw is “the best.” 

A framer may not be concerned about 1/16” or even an 1/8” of play in a slider, but because my work is highly visible, I aim to have everything as tight as possible. 

One area where accuracy lacked for me in the past was cutting stair and deck posts: My 12” slider only had the capacity to cut a nominal 4x4 in one pass, and given its rather weak arbor flange, the blade always seemed to deflect a bit in harder woods. The drift in my 12” slider was never more apparent than when I had to flip a post several times to cut it. No matter how dialed in my saw was, and even marking lines all the way around, I’d end up with an ever-so-slight hump from my blade taking just a hair more on any given side.

I had often heard about a 15” Hitachi miter saw that was popular in the ‘80s and ‘90s before the slider became standard. (Note: Hitachi Power Tools was renamed Metabo HPT in 2018.) It has quite a fan base online, and I ended up buying an almost-new one from Facebook Marketplace, for less than half the list price.

Upon seeing and touching it, I could easily see why it’s typically $1,000 or more. In all my years on jobsites, I have never seen a miter saw built like this. The arm is a massive bit of metal with cast webbing, and every single nut, bolt, and screw is Grade 8 with heavy threads—commonly available hex head bolts, should you need to replace one. The arbor flange is so thick and large that it acts as a blade stiffener, preventing blade deflection at its source. The blade guard is a bit clunky, but there is a thumb-actuated lever that can be easily pushed to lift the guard out of the way when preparing a cut. The included extensions are (surprise) robust and include a stop that can be used on either side. 

Accuracy

Part of what makes this saw so dead on is the fixed blade, resulting in no bevel cutting—just a good, old fashioned chop saw. With fewer moving parts and no room for operator error, you can dial it in perfectly and get reliably consistent cuts. 

When I cut several stair newels the following week that were true 6x6s—thus a real test of the saw’s accuracy, as they were just barely past its capacity—every single post came out square in all directions as well as perfectly flat (no hump), even though I had to flip them each once to finish the cut. The first cut actually pierced the bottom but left about ¼” on both sides. Were it not for the oversized arbor flange, the saw would actually cut all the way through, as the flange hit the top of the post long before the guard would have. 

Dust Collection

The dust port is huge. It took a bit of rigging to make something fit, but with my Bosch 300 cfm extractor, I was pleased with how much dust made it to the chute. The port placement and the oversized guard are more than ample.

Some people complain about the weight of this saw, but it’s really no heavier than a 12” slider at 55 lbs. 

Worth noting: The capacities listed online are wrong. Everywhere I looked, it said 43/4” max cutting height, but I used it to cut 8” base standing up, 73/4” crown nested, and a post that is 53/4” square without hesitation.

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