Other Features

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The Makita has three pre-set bevel stops, a handy headlight, and nice rubber-covered levers.

Credit: Photo: dotfordot.com

Makita's saw has an LED headlight that shines on the blade at the cut line. We smirked until we were doing interior framing in a dark basement, then we decided it was pretty handy.

The Firestorm and Ryobi saws have lasers, but I didn't find a use for them. I was willing to try, but their lines were too short to make it across plywood.

Porter-Cable's saws have sawdust diverters atop their guards that can rotate out to connect to a vacuum. Ryobi also has a small vac attachment, but it must be screwed to the saw's upper guard before each use.

Both Milwaukee saws and the Worx model feature rotating handles that let you position its angle relative to the base. The Milwaukees only move the rear handle, but the Worx moves front and rear handles together. The idea is to keep the handle in a pushing position regardless of the cutting depth, but having used a similar Milwaukee saw for several years, I can tell you I never adjust the handle. I just leave it as far back as it will go with the saw set for full depth as I prefer not to have an additional step every time I adjust the blade depth.

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Blade changing is easier when one hand can hold the spindle lock and guard lever simultaneously, like on the Hitachi.

Credit: Photo: dotfordot.com

Blade-Left Saws. Using a saw with the blade on the side facing you gives you good visibility, but also fills your boots and toolbelt with sawdust and often drops along with the cut piece.

The two we tested were nice, but not our choice as righties. The $140 Milwaukee 6391-21 is very similar to the blade-right Milwaukee model but without the brake, detachable cord, and on-board hex wrench. Instead, it has a standard wrench that is stowed separately. The front handle is also lacking the ergonomic tilt of the 6394 so it can be used by righties and lefties.

The $140 Porter-Cable 423 MAG is a mirror-image of the Porter-Cable blade-right model. The only difference is this model's tool bag.