Not every framing carpenter needs to cut angles and bevels. But those who specialize in finish work and trim do need the right tools for making precise cuts at the correct angles, as do cabinet makers and those who lay hardwood floors. Lots of tools that can do this are available, but in my opinion, few compare to the power and versatility of the DeWalt DW716 compound miter saw.
The belt drive makes for a versatile saw
One of the first things I saw on this model that gave it the thumbs up was the belt drive – this puts the motor well back from the blade. This kind of thing is critical when you need to make cuts to the right and you can’t have the motor getting in the way, a common problem with direct drive models. It also reduces vibration, which means more precise cuts and less wear on the operator. The blade angle can be set to up to 48 degrees left or right, with the miter position moveable to 50 degrees in each direction.
A tall fence is provided which can be used for those large crowns and baseboards. This will handle stock up to 6 5/8 inch (nested) or base board material up to 6 1/2 inch, vertical against the fence. This fence can easily be slid aside when you need to make bevel cuts.
How does the motor rate?
The motor is powerful, enough that I was really able to feel a surge after pulling the start trigger. This might scare novice woodworkers but to me, it shows that the tool can do the job that it was designed for.
This was confirmed when I tried it on oak and Ipe lumber, the latter of which I was using to put in some decking for a friend. It sliced through both with ease. It is rated at 15 amps and can spin at 3600 rpm.
Another attraction of this tool is that it is just so easy to use. If you don’t want or need to set a custom angle manually, a range of preset angles and bevels are built in as presets. This should help when trimming things like crown moulding and other materials where accurate fitting is essential.
The detent plate features 11 positive stops that cover almost all standard angles, and a detent override when manual adjustment is necessary. This is important when doing final trims where there no margin for error. I tried it on some bookshelf sides that I’m making and the cut was perfect.
What is the stock blade like?
Although the machine comes out of the box ready to use with no complicated assembly required, you’ll probably want to purchase a special purpose blade suited to the type of work you’re doing. The stock blade (a 12 inch carbide) should do the job when only general rough work is called for. More TPI means more strain on the motor, but again, the one in this model should be more than up to it.
Does the DW716 have any drawbacks?
This model does have its downsides, one being its dust collection. The bag is too small in my opinion, requiring frequent emptying. Also, I would estimate that it only catches about half of the dust actually produced. I was able to get around this by attaching a Shop-Vac hose to the unit in place of the bag and running the vacuum while I was working.
Also (though this might not strictly be a downside), while it’s compatible with both the DW7187 miter laser system and the DWS7085 LED cut line indicator, like many other pros I view these as overkill in most cases and not even necessarily the best option. The only way to guarantee a perfectly gauged cut is to make a small notch in the scrap side of the stock and work off that.
What’s the verdict?
All up, I think the DeWalt DW716 double bevel compound miter saw is probably the best saw in its class, especially at that price. The precision of its cuts and its high maneuverability for both mitering and beveling are unmatched, making it the ideal saw in its class for finish carpenters and other woodworkers who rely on top-level accuracy from their cutting tools. And its ease of operation will make it a good choice for beginners, too.