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The DWS780: DeWalt’s New 12-in. Slider

As carpenters, we rely on our miter saws to help us do fast, accurate work. Our cut stations are the heart of our jobsite setups. It comes as no surprise that we expect a lot out of these tools—we are continually on the lookout for a saw that is precisely calibrated, feels natural, operates strong and smooth, offers large cutting capacity, and doesn’t weigh a ton. No single saw satisfies these criteria perfectly, and the new DWS780 is no exception. I had high hopes for this saw, some of which it met and some of which it didn’t.

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(Note: Click any image to enlarge)

I never used to be much of a DeWalt fan, but their stuff seems to be getting better and better. A good number of my new and replacement tool purchases over the last year have been DeWalt. I had recently started a new position as a lead carpenter for a trim subcontractor when I first noticed this new DeWalt 12″ sliding saw, and I was intrigued to see how it performed against the competition.

First, the light: DeWalt’s XPS Crosscut Positioning System utilizes bright LEDs that are projected on both sides of the blade. This illuminates the work-piece while simultaneously creating a shadow line you can cut to. It’s brilliant. Every saw should have one. IMG_9377-1
dw6-1 The kerf ends up slightly wider than the shadow line, but it really helps you index to your mark quickly, especially when making bevel cuts where it is more difficult to visualize where the blade will enter the work-piece.

The saw is impressively lightweight (56 pounds) and a well-placed handle makes it easier to carry. It offers very good cutting capacity: 60-degree miters to the right, 50-degree miters to the left, and 13 7/8-in. (advertised) square cuts.

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The miter scale is chrome with crisp, etched black angle markings. There is no vernier or micro-adjust knob, but the angle gradations are a full 1/8 in. apart so it is pretty easy to set the saw to cut at 1/2 a degree. IMG_9382-1
The detents feel reassuringly solid, and the detent override located to the side of the miter lock knob allows you an unhindered angle adjustment when you need it. IMG_9379-1
If you depress the button behind the miter lock knob with your thumb while swinging the saw from side to side, you can glide over the detents, preventing them from wearing out prematurely. IMG_9395-1

The saw was square out of the box, so no adjustment was necessary. I removed the miter scale anyway to see how difficult it would be to calibrate again. If your saw isn’t cutting square, the recalibration process would begin with loosening the four star screws while holding the miter scale in place, using the onboard star driver/wrench. You don’t need to take them all the way out, but if you do, note that the two near the front are shorter. From the factory, these screws are pretty tight; it helps to stick a nut driver in the onboard wrench to give you some extra leverage. After you get the miter scale loosened so it rotates freely, lock the saw into the 0* detent and nudge it back and forth until it is square, checking both fences as insurance. I like to use a digital bevel square for this. Once you’re satisfied, tighten the screws back up and re-check to make sure the position didn’t change. Overall I think this design makes adjustment easier and more accurate than the Makita, where you have to move the fence to correct for square.

The bevel scale is yellow with etched black angle markings. It measures over 5 inches across, but due to the design of the pointer it is difficult to set it finer than 1 degree. The bevel calibration screw is located in front and to the left of the bevel scale. Turning it adjusts the default position of the saw at 0 degrees (90 degrees to the saw table). IMG_9385-1

The saw required some minor adjustment out of the box, and I have adjusted it several times since, which does make me suspicious about the long-term reliability of the bevel calibration. (Read David Collins’ “Miter Saw Tune-Up” article for more information on miter saw adjustments.)

IMG_9388-1 Changing the bevel-cutting angle requires reaching around the back of the saw to the three-pronged 4-in. cast knob. It’s not the most comfortable arrangement, but I tend to prefer it to the single plastic lever on my Makita.

After I received the saw I immediately changed the blade out for a Freud 80T since I prefer to use Freud blades instead of stock blades. Changing the blade is simple: unplug the saw, loosen a bolt (using the onboard star driver/wrench) in order to slide back the blade cover and fix the guard in the raised position. Next, engage the spindle lock and unscrew the arbor nut, again using the onboard wrench. Reverse the process after installing the new blade. (A rule of thumb I like to remember for blade changes: loosen with the blade rotation, tighten against the blade rotation.)

Out of the box, I noticed the slide action was quite rough. I added some lubricating oil and tinkered with the slide adjustment screw, but my tinkering was to no avail. This is a bummer, especially on bevel cuts where there is added torque on the slide rails while cutting. I suppose the smaller-than-normal rails could have something to do with it, but it just feels like sloppy machining between the rails and the guides.

IMG_9398-1

The other major detriment to this saw is the huge amount of flex in the saw head at full extension—almost a full 1/8 in. in either direction from center. You can’t cut trim accurately when the saw head is flexing all over the place, especially when you’re shaving 1/32 in. off the end of a work-piece. The blade gets “pushed” right off the edge of the board, and makes this common and simple task frustratingly difficult.

I put the saw through its paces cutting poplar trim, AZEK, 2x pine, ash tongue and groove, and oak paneling. Cutting cupped 1×8 oak baseboard on a bevel, the saw visibly struggled, mostly due to the issues mentioned before—rough slide operation and excessive flex in the saw head. As a result, I tried to avoid using this saw for wide, demanding cuts. The 10-inch Makitas and Hitachis that I use track much more reliably.

Dust collection is a challenge on any miter saw, but hooking up a vacuum to this saw does make a worthwhile difference, which is more than can be said for some other saws. I wondered if the light would trigger the auto-start on our Festool vacuums, but it didn’t—the vacuum only came on when the saw motor was switched on.

The base of the saw has a low profile—it sits close to the table when mounted, which aids in keeping the cut station clean by preventing chips and sawdust from building up underneath.

This saw does come with a built-in dust shroud, which can also be helpful. IMG_9392-1

Overall, here’s where I’ve landed: This saw excels if you need to be highly mobile and handle a wide variety of small- and medium-sized jobs. That said, it wouldn’t be my first choice to set up on a technical and demanding trim-out—it’s just not precise enough throughout the slide range, which is really unfortunate, as there are a lot of other things about the DWS780 that are really compelling.

Pros: Great light; easy-to-read miter and bevel scales; not terribly loud; good capacity/weight ratio.  

Cons: Rough slide action; excessive flex in saw head; no soft start; feels slightly underpowered.  

Price: $530-$675, depending on retailer.

Comments/Discussion

28 Responses to “The DWS780: DeWalt’s New 12-in. Slider”

  1. Frank

    Thank you Aaron. You may not be able to answer my question, but I will ask anyway. Have you had any experience with the Bosch 5312? If so, how do the two saws compare?

    Thank you

    Reply
  2. Aaron

    Frank, I have not used the 5312 extensively, but one of our guys has one, and I must say that the up-front bevel control is pretty much the cat’s pajamas. It seems like it goes out of adjustment easily, but I could be wrong about that.

    My ideal saw would have the bevel system of the Bosch, the light, handle, and miter scale of the DeWalt, and the tracking and slide action of a Hitachi. And it would be 20 pounds.

    Reply
    • Stan Pearse

      I have a Bosch 5312 and really like it a lot. If I could justify the expense I would purchase a Bosch Axial Glide miter saw so I can use it closer to my shop wall.

      Reply
  3. J Sanders

    Nice review. I have a question regarding the stand setup rather than about the saw: In the first picture, what kind of stand and right and left supports are those?

    Thanks, Justin

    Reply
    • John Monju

      That is a Sawhelper miter saw stand. Excellent, expensive and extinct. They have been out of business for several years now. A shame, since its a Rolls Royce miter stand. They can be found second hand, but shipping is a major problem. Shipping is said to be the reason they went away. Fast cap makes a similar setup, but I have not seen one in person. I own a Sawhelper and love it.

      Reply
      • Lou

        I have the new fastcap stand, while not perfect I think it’s a pretty good set up. Maybe I should write a small review including the few issues I had setting it for TIC

        Lou Hale

        Reply
  4. Kenny

    Hi Aaron, just thought I would show the amount of real flex this saw has .This was cutting 4″ oak skirting. As you can see the saw teeth marks, it baffles me how the blade managed to get in this position. I find the saw under powered as well. Bring back the original 708, it’s twice the saw gimmick laden pretender.

    Reply
  5. Jeff Saul

    Aaron,
    I have an older DeWalt 708, 12″ dual bevel miter saw and I like the saw, but have the same problem with keeping it accurate. I am a DIY’er and have done work in almost every room in our house and appreciate the finest tools. That being said, I am willing to spend the funds necessary to please my tool fetish and purchase a Festool Kapex. Have you had any experience with the Kapex and if so how would you compare it with all other miter saws?
    Thanx, Jeff

    Reply
  6. jeff kirk

    We have two of the previous models from Dewalt at work and from what this looks like the only change is the yellow bevel gauge and the newer laser, though the laser is simply something that dewalt stripped from the older Porter cable pro line when they discontinued it and flipped it over to the Dewalt.. They really really need to rethink their saws.. These saws are a joke for power to be considered a 12“. They run at almost 800 rpms less than the Bosch and Milwaukee, I dont know how many times I’ve had them bog down cutting nothing more than 2x pine and even bind up and throwing the material…..

    They just keep making subtle upgrades to the existing models… the only good thing about them is the weight in my opinion.. Bosch put out the axial glide 3 years ago and are about to release the 10″ version, Milwaukee has their 12″ which is a beast and dead accurate,, plus Makita has their totally redesigned saw from a few years back..

    Seriously Dewalt, start actually come out with something revolutionizing, something instead of making the claim but merely playing catch up 4 years later with almost all your tools.

    Reply
  7. Aaron

    Justin: That’s the Sawhelper Ultrafence setup. They’re continuous aluminum extension wings that come in a few different lengths. There’s a folding table for the saw and adjustable legs for the stands. Heard they might be out of business, but the website is still up last time I checked, so who knows. Sometimes you can find a used one.

    Jeff: Some guys seem to really like the Kapex. I hate it. Very little about it is intuitive, the handle is awkward, and there’s lots of plastic. We have one in our shop and we’ve had issues with parts breaking off. I think you might be disappointed, especially considering you could buy a DeWalt, a Bosch, and a Hitachi for that price.

    Reply
  8. Norm

    Having used all but the Kapex in my over 25 years of trim, I’ll say that I’ve never liked a 12″ saw, from any brand and have never seen any particular advantage to owning one. Every one I’ve used, including DeWalt, Bosch, and the Hitachi, (we called that one Chopzilla) had the issues with deflection. I had the use of the dual compound, 10″ DeWalt for several months and liked it, and have owned 2 of the C10FSH and liked it alot! I had a Makita LS1016 and was really impressed with it untill it was stolen from a supposedly secure jobsite 2 weeks after I bought it. About the only thing I liked about the Bosch was the up front bevel lock. I’m probably going to be purchasing a new saw in the near future and will most likely go with the 10″ Makita. I really like the 4 rail system . I see that Metabo has a 10″ slider but I am unfamiliar with their stuff.

    Reply
    • Sonny Wiehe

      Norm,

      You make a good point about the relative lack of advantage of a 12″ miter saw. You have to figure that a larger diameter blade is going to require more power to develop the necessary torque to perform at capacity which, in turn, usually takes more mass in motor and frame material to accommodate. Since that is exactly what these chop saw manufacturers are working against, that is generally not going to contribute toward its accuracy, precision, and longevity attributes. Plus larger diameter blades are naturally going result in more blade deflection… and eventual run-out. So, while 12″ saws definitely have there place in specialty and repetitive production applications I also believe a 10″ blade dia. is still the sweet spot for an all-around miter saw.

      BTW, I’ve owned roughly the same quantity and type of miter saws you have…and recently bought the LS1016. I have not been disappointed. And that is coming from someone that owns just about every Festool made… except the Kapex.

      Sonny

      Reply
  9. KerryS

    I own the 708 and just recently purchased the DWS780. I’m not exactly sure why there are comments about the deflection being an issue. With a 100 tooth sharp blade, i’ve had no problems with deflection or power. Same with the slide action, i’ve had no issue with that at all. Still have the 708 and it’s still working well.

    KS

    Reply
    • Sonny Wiehe

      No issue with deflection? You don’t have to take my word for it–didn’t you watch Aaron’s you tube video he provided? It looks like the saw head deflection was at least a 1/32″ side to side when the head was pulled all the way toward him (max rail extension) and gauged by the blade drop in the zero clearance base slot. That’s a full 1/16″ total possible run-out on a wide crosscut (without the saw even powered up).
      I guess some folks have widely different concepts of “working well”.

      Reply
  10. Skip Van Wyck

    I’ve had the 708 for years. You know, going in, it’s a little underpowered, so wait until it’s at full revs, cut a tad slower and it’s fine. A sharp blade is needed and a touch of a dry lube on the rails lets it sliiide. I’ll stick with it. Good eval.

    Reply
  11. Dan

    I love Dewalt and own the DW708 and used it for years never any issues or problems with the mechanics or precision. However it is a REAL pig when it come to dust control which through the years has now started to become one of my highest priorities. I put that saw asside and switched over to a Hitachi for the sake of huffing less dust at the end of the day. I was sad to hear that they made very little advances towards this problem.

    Reply
  12. Larry Bernstein

    I love articles like this. Down in the trenches look at tools and I put more store on these than the woodworking magazines. Gary keep these articles coming on new tools but also on older tools, too. Especially on how to tweak them and make them better at what they do.

    I look forward to This Is Carpentry everytime I see it in my Inbox. Keep up the great Ezine and the great articles, Gary and to all your contributors. Great job guys.

    Reply
  13. Noel

    Nice review. I have the Milwaukee compound sliding miter saw 12 inch. My only complaint is that it takes too long to rev up – not a lot of throttle response if you know what I mean. Otherwise, it is an animal with brute power. However, the Bosch saw has always been a favorite – especially the upfront bevel controls.

    Reply
  14. Jimmy Daft

    Good review,I have used many dewalt saws In the past and hate the feel of them the motor just gets in the way!!!I currently own the Kapex and it’s by far the best,easiest,most accurate saw I’ve used,although not perfect beats all other saws I’ve used in the past.I would buy another one tomorrow if need be without a second thought!
    Jimmy

    Reply
  15. John

    Tho not a pro trim carpenter, I have used several chop saws and you lose accuracy in just about any slider. The slop the author talked about is the bearing on the slider, the roughness breaks in over time and use. The widening of the slot that he mentions I have seen on my 10″ slider also. I thought by getting a 10″ slider I was in good shape to tackle the larger crown on the flat… getting a 1/16 or more of a gap as you cut because the saw flexes is not good enough for me. Get a fixed 12″ and your still limited to 5 1/2″ crown in position..

    Reply
  16. Jake

    I am more interested in your saw stand. Are they still making those in St. Paul Park, MN. I would buy two of them if they were available. Does Gary Katz know anything? Shoot me an email if you know anything. Thanks, Jake

    Reply
    • randy

      I don’t think they make that saw stand anymore but fastcap makes one simular called bestfence. I have it and it works very well. its the heaviest saw stand i’ve owned but it also has the best material support of any stand i’ve used. its also expandable to meet your needs.

      Reply
  17. tom

    The dewalt saws are the best out there. That is, until festool makes a 12″ scms!

    Reply
  18. Yannis Tsakiris

    Here’s my 2cents.

    12’ Milwaukee is hands down the best out there by far. In all categories. The dust collection will rival Kapex. The only reason I don’t have this anymore is because it’s too dam big and heavy. I wish they made a 10” or I was in shop stationary so I can use it. Unfortunately it just does not work in our environment.

    I hate the idea of having a saw for each task. I only want one and better do it all and last. So my go to almost everyday saw is the Kapex for weight accuracy and saving at east 1/week per year by not having to clean up. We move around a lot and need keep it light. If I can fit I can cut it. From Crown to 4×4, 3” oak treads, miles of IPE Cedar, Mahogany and Aluminum including light framing and even PT. Change the blade and cut it.
    We do have a couple of the older model 10” Makita’s which are actually lighter the the Kapex and respectably clean with a vac and dead accurate.

    Dewalt and the new dbl rail Makita’s just don’t work with us.

    Reply
  19. Aaron

    Quick follow-up review in case anyone has notifications on:

    - I’ve been using the saw for about a year now, and it has become my go-to saw because of the light, capacity, and dust collection.

    - The vertical bevel stop seems to go out of adjustment frequently. This isn’t that big a deal as long as you remember to check it before you make critical cuts. Also, if you adjust the saw square on the miter scale, the left and right 45 degree detents are both 1/4-1/3 shy of 45, which can be fatal when cutting wide casing for preassembly. This is impossible to correct because all of the detents are machined into the same piece of metal.

    - When I first received the saw, I removed the stock blade and installed a Freud. I found the stock blade a couple of months ago and tried it out; as I feared it’s trash. This is disappointing because DeWalt’s stock table saw blades are actually pretty good. I’ve had pretty good results with Freud and Tenryu on this saw, but wish I had a little more power sometimes.

    Reply
    • T. Lathbury

      Aaron,

      Thanks for this great review. I just bought a 780 and notice the base is not flat (coplanar) with the turn table a bit below the left and right sides, about three pieces of paper can squeeze under a straight edge. It’s enough so you get a little rock on small trim pieces. Wondering if you checked base for level ? Also the kerf inserts sit even lower than the pivot table, although I believe these could be shimmed up easy enough.

      Thanks,
      Tony L.

      Reply
  20. bengt

    Actually, all saws that rely on the detent plate moving to adjust can be misaligned like you describe, i.e. perfect at 90 but slightly off at one or both 45′s. My 708 did this where the left 45 and 90 were perfect but the right 45 was slightly out. This is due to the very slight ability of the detent plate to slide backwords and forwards and get slightly out of pitch. I was able to correct it by leaving the screws tightened closest to the detents that were accurate and loosening the others and very slightly wedging the detent plate until I could get the saw to 100% accuracy. I like the review. I have messed around with several 780′s. Seems like some have more deflection than others? Do you have any time behind the big Milwaukee?

    Reply
  21. Aaron

    Tony:

    I didn’t notice that at first but it’s definitely there. Probably a good 1/32 over 6 inches. It really comes into play when checking the 0* bevel setting, as you bridge your square on the base and the slightly lower turn table, thus not accurately showing the path the blade makes through the stock. Argggh.

    Reply

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