Friday, July 17, 2009

Bosch 5412L/T4B Combo Makes The Cut

It might not seem right for a person such as myself to be reviewing and rating a compound miter saw because I don't have a lot of experience with them or many different models. But I think it's suffice to say if a novice can buy and assemble one of these and use it within minutes of setup AND make dead on accurate cuts and miters then the saw almost speaks for itself.

This is true of the Bosch 5412L 12" Sliding Dual Compound Miter Saw and Bosch T4B Gravity Rise Miter Saw Stand. Although mine is only a "hobby shop" this saw is most definitely in the professional/contractor saw league. The saw combined with the stand is made for portability and easy setup and storage. Even a small hobby shop can reap the benefits of this powerhouse without compromising valuable shop space.

The stand is an exercise in simplicity and balance. The unit comes well packed in a heavy shipping carton and massive Styrofoam padding. The assembly takes about 45 minutes and can be done single handed. The assembly instructions are clear and concise and all the parts and diagrams are well labeled. The only tools required are 3 wrenches and/or sockets (10, 13, 17 mm) and a Philips head screwdriver.

The stand is finished in a metallic grey paint that is incredibly scratch and dent resistant so you'd have to work hard to mar or mark it during assembly. There are no little parts to fidget with, just plain old nuts and bolts and washers. There is no fancy mechanism for folding the table, just one cam lock lever and a twist handle that releases the spring lock pins. The unit glides up and down effortlessly.

Mounting the saw on the table is as simple as measuring the distance between the mounting holes on the saw and setting the stand cross pieces accordingly. Then four bolts attach the saw to the cross pieces permanently. To remove the saw from the stand, you unlock two cam levers on the cross pieces and lift the unit off with the cross pieces. The cross pieces then act as "feet" for any surface you want to put the saw on. The saw itself is not light, and it is bulky and awkward to carry. With the portability of the stand I can see no reason to ever remove it.

Even with the weight of the saw on the stand, the balance is so near perfect that folding or unfolding the stand can be done with ease. Release the locks, push the wheels forward with your foot and the table and saw fold to a vertical position. Lock the cam lever and you can wheel the saw anywhere. The air inflated rubber tires make it easy to push the saw over rough or uneven surfaces, or to pull the saw up stairs. It's like it's own built in dolly. The saw can be stored in the vertical position to save space.

The stand also has pullout extensions on either end that extend up to 28 inches each. This puts the overall length of the table at just over 8 feet, perfect for almost any job. The extensions both have double tube sliders for extra support so heavy pieces won't be a problem. The ends of the extensions are also adjustable vertically to line up with the table or higher if necessary. There are two leveling pads on the bottom front frame as well.

The Bosch 5412L 12" saw is a serious power tool for any woodworker. You can find all the specifications at Bosch Tools and there are a long list of features as well. It too comes packed in a heavy shipping carton with ample Styrofoam padding. Bosch didn't miss anything with this saw. It even had a convenient cord wrap attachment. If there is a specific feature you are looking for in a miter saw I guarantee you this one has it. The construction is solid, it feels like it's ready to take on any project. Nothing wobbles, wiggles or rattles, no cheap snap off plastic parts. Everything slides and moves like it's supposed to with one small exception. The bevel adjustment lock knob on the front of the saw is a little disappointing. I often had to push or pull the head to get it to engage or disengage. There is nothing smooth about it's operation at all. It has three settings that are also a little confusing, 45-0 Left, 0-45 Right, and Max Range. The first setting allows you to tilt the head left and will lock the head at 0 when you return it. The second allows you to tilt the head right but I couldn't find a locking position at any setting. The third setting allows you to tilt the head either way. This may be a minor flaw in my saw only and I will be contacting Bosch to find out.

Setting up cuts with this saw requires careful attention. There are numerous things that have to be locked or unlocked, and for bevel cuts you may have to adjust the two piece sliding fence. For 45 degree bevel cuts you won't be able to use the provided hold down clamp. The 60 tooth blade itself made smooth cuts in both 3/4" MDF and Oak with minimal tear out in the Oak using the provided insert. A zero clearance insert or backer board would probably eliminate any tear out. The provided plastic insert does have some small adjustability that would narrow the gap but not significantly.

Straight out of the box, the saw set up was dead square. I had perfect 90, and 45 degree cuts in both MDF and Oak in both flat and vertical cuts left and right. The only glitch was the left 45 degree tilt bevel did not cut all the way through the wood, leaving a tiny chunk right at the end of the flat cut. A small fence adjustment will probably fix this. I checked the saw with both a square and by test cuts and found no other adjustments necessary. The saw comes with one 4 mm Allen key, a double ended wrench and a socket wrench/screwdriver tool that stores right on the saw for quick adjustments and blade changes.

The saw also comes with a Laser guide that must be installed by the user. The unit is contained in a washer that simply replaces the left side blade washer. It's powered by three A76 button cell batteries that are contained in the unit and a centrifugal switch. It also comes with 3 replacement batteries, a very nice perk. There is no other adjustment for the laser guide. Once installed it aligns with the left side of the cut when the saw is powered on.

The weakest feature of this saw is of course the dust bag. Being almost a burlap type material, it may be tough, but it cannot contain fine dust like that created from MDF or similar woods. The 1 1/4" dust port might also prove annoying to connect to a dust collection system.

The saw and stand combo is the "Binford Cadillac" of Miter Saws! The only other thing required is a skilled woodworker to benefit from all the exceptional features and abilities of this rugged instrument.

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