The Winner

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Milwaukee's front handle allows for quick, one-hand bevel adjustment and the rear handle position pivots.

Credit: Photo: dotfordot.com

There were a lot of good saws in this test, and any of the better pro-grade saws could serve a carpenter well. Remember, you can get used to anything, but the most efficient setup will always be better. So my favorite is the Milwaukee 6394-21 for its rugged construction, easy operation, and great versatility. I particularly value the ability to make quick, bevel adjustments without moving my hands off the tool. This saw makes all types of cuts smoothly, blade changing is easy, and the adjustments work smoothly and lock solidly.

The second place saws are the DeWalt DW369CSK and the Makita 5007MGA. The DeWalt, with its tough composite base, is well designed, lighter, and more compact than most. The Makita is a superbly comfortable saw, and its rubber-covered adjustment levers set a new standard. We were surprised by how much we appreciated the saw's light, too. These top three saws really define what I would recommend as a full-time saw for serious framers.

The next tier of pro picks includes the DeWalt DW364K, the Hilti WSC167, Hitachi's new C7BMR, and the Ridgid R3203 Fuego. This little 6-1/2-inch saw was a huge hit, and I suspect that other manufacturers will jump on the compact saw concept pretty soon.

I would have included the Porter-Cable 324MAG near the top of this list if I liked the tool-free blade-changing feature; everything else about this top-quality saw is a pleasure to use. The high-performance Bosch CS20 also would have rated higher if not for the lack of a standard power cord.

Trailing the rest are the Ridgid and Worx saws, followed by the Craftsman, Firestorm, and Ryobi.

–John Spier is a builder and construction writer on Block Island, R.I.