Aimed at: An “Expert” audience who can appreciate power and capacity.
Pros: Easy accurate adjustments, good quality build, and portable too.
Mitre saws, big and small, are now a well-established part of trade and DIY toolkits. Prices are also very competitive, so it is not beyond the budget possibilities for a competent DIYer to justify – even for a single big job.What a good mitre saw offers users, is the ability to cut accurate and repeatable angles and mitres – ideal for making frames, partition walling, laying flooring, roofing timbers, building units and kitchen fitting for example. Indeed, a quality mitre saw would not be out of place in a cabinetmaker’s workshop.
Accuracy in a mitre saw is dependent on robust build, the ability to adjust and reset the settings and the right choice of blade for the job.The Draper Expert sliding compound mitre saw (stock number 28045) sent for review is a big and capable beast with a 90 degree crosscut width of 340mm up to a depth of 77mm. Of course these are reduced on mitre and bevel cuts because of the angles, but still a very healthy 40mm x 240mm cut is possible on a left hand 45-degree compound mitre cut.
The box in which the saw arrives is big and can be lifted by one person, but this is not really recommended. Unpacking is pretty straightforward because the sawhead has been set at a compound angle to minimize the packing space. Most of the extraneous bits needed (table extensions for example) are stored in the top of the protective polystyrene packaging, so once that is lifted out, the saw can be lifted out using the built-in carrying handle.
First impressions were favourable – the alloy castings look robust and well finished. The alloy mitre table is smooth and polished underneath some instructional stickers and the rear one-piece fence looks big and well supported enough to guarantee the capacities of which the saw is capable.The sliding saw head is released by undoing a lock screw and the twin sliding bars are polished and strong enough with little sideways play on the sawhead.The sawhead is released on a spring via the release catch – again substantial and up to the job. Another useful feature is the trenching stop on the left hand side of the arm that enables fixed-depth trench cuts to be made.
Adding the accessories is straightforward. The side table extensions are handed so you need to make sure that they are correctly mounted. A screw on the end of each guide rod ensures that they won’t fall out and they can be locked into place with a screwed knob. Each side table has a built in pop-up stop as well, very useful for repeat length cuts.There is also a work clamp assembly that fits into a hole behind the right or left hand side of the fence.Finally, there is a dust collection bag that slots into a dust extraction port on top of the blade guard assembly. Since it is a standard size, this port can also hold a standard vac nozzle that would improve dust collection immensely. Vac extraction is vital, in my opinion, if the saw is used indoors – to avoid a lot of sawdust on the floor. A dust mask will still be needed for the operator as the dust on these types of saw easily becomes airborne.
I generally used the saw with a vacuum dust extractor connected and the majority of dust was collected – however, some dust always escapes – it is the nature of the beast.When I checked, the factory setting on the mitre table was a fraction out. This is not unusual as it can be quite easy to knock it out of true in normal usage parameters, which is why an easy way of making adjustments is necessary.
In this case all I needed to do was to loosen up the four bolts on the fence and use an engineer’s square to reset it accurately. Both the bevel and mitre scales are marked clearly in single degrees so it is possible to set angles very accurately.
Most of the cutting I did with the Draper were cross cuts and mitre cuts of some big pieces of beech and oak, and it is fair to say that the 2000w motor had all the power needed for the job. There is quite a lot of noise associated with the brush motor – again not unusual in a saw like this.
I found that the main controls were simple and intuitive to use. The large horizontal “D” handle with the switch trigger falls to hand and so does the thumb-operated side lever that releases the blade guard in order to plunge the saw into the cut. I found that there the slide mechanism worked smoothly too, helping accuracy and user confidence.
The saw comes equipped with a laser cut guide that operated from a switch on the end of the “D” handle. It, too, is adjustable should it be knocked out of alignment.
Weighing in at around 18Kgs it is possible for one person to carry the saw onto site. By setting the saw table at an angle and locking the saw slides and saw head down, the size can be reduced sufficiently to fit easily through a standard doorway. The large comfy carry handle in the centre of gravity of the machine helps to achieve this, but an extra hand on the base helps a lot to balance the weight when carrying.
After working with the saw for a while I really came to appreciate the extension worktables/supports. They are robust, extend the work surface significantly for safe support of workpieces and the flip-up stops are very handy for repeat cuts.There is also a steel support extending out of the back of the mitre table that will prevent the saw from falling backwards when used on a trestle table for example. There are holes in each of the feet for fixing the saw securely to a work surface, but let’s face it, one of the major advantages of a saw like this is that it is easily portable, so the steel support is very useful. It also serves as a nice little carry handle when needed.
With a typical internet price of around £250 – £260 it is good value considering that it is part of Draper’s “Expert” range aimed at trade users.