DeWALT DCS361 Cordless 7-1/4" Sliding Miter Saw

A perfect mid-sized miter saw: light in weight, a decent number of cuts per charge, easy to adjust, good dust collection system, and solidly built.

DeWALT DCS361 Cordless 7-1/4" Sliding Miter Saw

DeWALT Cordless 7-1/4" Sliding Miter Saw



Often, small, light weight, and compact, has distinct advantages over large, heavy, and unwieldy. Such is the case with the single bevel, left tilt, DeWALT DCS361 Cordless 7-1/4" Sliding Miter Saw. If you're a remodeler, flooring or cabinet installer, finish carpenter, furniture maker, or avid DIYer, working primarily with stock up to about 2" by 8", then the DCS361 just might fit the bill.

At a tad over 31 pounds, and with an 13" by 20" footprint, the DCS361 is easy to tote, and doesn't take up a lot of space when set-up on the job site or in the shop. With the arm positioned for a crosscut, the saw only requires about 30" of front-to-back space. 
 
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The DCS361 Kit (L to R): Material clamp, dust bag, 20V battery, charger, saw blade, miter saw

The DCS361 comes with a single 20V MAX 4Ah battery, battery charger, material hold-down clamp, dust bag, and instruction manual. Remember that the maximum initial battery voltage of any 18V battery is 20V, measured without a workload. The nominal voltage of a '20V battery', once you begin using it, is always 18 volts. 

The battery slides into a port at the back of the operating handle. You'll know it's time to recharge the battery when the XPS Crosscut Positioning System (discussed below) begins to flash as you depress the power trigger. This reminds you that there are about half a dozen cuts left. Even though the battery provides enough power to make a respectable number of cuts (according to DeWALT, 183 cuts of 2x4 pine or 275 cuts of 3-1/4" pine baseboard), it's probably worth investing in a spare battery (#DCB204, $129) if you make constant use of the saw throughout the day. 

At just over 30 pounds, you can easily tote the DCS361 to and from a job site. While there is a top mounded handle I've found it easier to lift the saw by means of the two integrated cast-in side handles.

Any power saw is only as good as the blade you use with it. The DCS361 comes with a 7-1/4" ATB 40-tooth carbide tipped trim blade (# DW7114PT, $35). It has a 7° hook angle, and makes a .063" (about 1/16") kerf. Over the hundred or so cuts I've made with the blade so far, it's performed admirably.

Even with this small diameter blade the DCS361 has a respectable cutting capacity:


CutMaximum Capacity
90° crosscut2" x 8"
45° miter cut2" x 5"
45° bevel cut 1-1/2" x 8"
Nested crown moulding3-5/8"
Vertical baseboard3-1/2"
Left side bevel-3° to 48°
Left and right miter0° to 48°

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Small work surface and no extension rails

The table on the DCS361 is roughly 5" x 22", and is made out of heavy duty aluminum. The underside has a pattern of ribbing that provides rigidity and strength. There aren't any side extension rails (and no capacity to install 3rd party rails). While it's fine for short stock, the support that the table offers for long stock is marginal. Because the saw is so light in weight, you really need to secure it to a work surface, especially when cutting wide stock.

The left fence is 1-1/4" to 3" high, while the right fence is 1-3/4" high. Both are about 9" long. While I've found them tall enough for the kind of work I do, they are pre-drilled, so that you can add higher sub-fences.

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Secure the saw with screws or bolts

Rubber pads on the bottom of the saw (right, photo above) help keep the saw from moving about in use, and from marring any surface on which you place the saw. However, for maximum safety screw or bolt the saw to a sub-base (left, photo above). You can also mount the DCS361 on any of the DeWALT miter workstations.

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User-built miter stand

You could also make your own workstation. The illustration above shows one option for a miter saw table made from plywood. The table could be mounted no top of sawhorses, a work bench, or a purpose built stand. Using a torsion box for the base and the two side extension tables makes it light, yet very rigid. A rear fence will enable you to integrate a measuring tape and stop blocks for accurate repetitive cuts on longer pieces. The track components for a shop made base can be purchased from hardware retailers, including Kreg Tool

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(L) Head hold-down pin; (R) Rail locking knob

As you'll find on most miter saws there is a hold-down pin that locks the saw head in the down position for transporting or storage. Right behind the hold-down pin is a locking knob that prevents the saw head from sliding forward or backwards when it’s being moved.

The steel rails on which the saw head slides are 1" thick, and provide 4-1/4" of travel. The head moves smoothly along the rails and the locking knob secures the head firmly in place.
 
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(L) Miter latch button; (R) Miter lock knob

The large cam lock handle makes it quick and easy to set accurate miter angles. After depressing the latch button you can move the handle to the left or right, where it will automatically engage the miter detents (10°, 15°, 22.5°, 31.62°, and 45°). Once you're at the chosen detent position simply push down on the lock knob to firmly secure the saw head in place.

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Miter detent plate with red miter pointer

The oversize scale on the stainless steel miter plate is relatively easy to read though the markings could be a tad darker. The red pointer enables you to position the head precisely at whatever angle you choose.

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Wide throat kerf plate
 
All miter saws have a fairly wide throat on the kerf plate. On the DCS361 it's 1/2" wide, which accommodates the blade when you're making bevel cuts. Because of the wide kerf, there is usually some chipout on the bottom of stock. If this is a concern, you can place a sacrificial piece of 1/4" ply underneath your stock, or make a zero clearance insert such as the one used on a table saw.

You'll notice a black piece of plastic attached to the left fence – this is a fence extension. It's remains a constant 1/8" from the blade, whether making crosscuts or bevel cuts. While the fence extension can be replaced if it gets damaged, it can't be adjusted so that it's closer to the blade. I haven't found it to be particularly useful.

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Changing blades is a multi-step process

Changing blades on any miter saw is somewhat tedious. On this saw you have to remove the battery, tie back the blade guard (a bungee cord works well), back out a couple of screws, push back the blade guard bracket, hold down the spindle lock button, and then remove the blade locking screw. Fortunately, the steps are clearly outlined in the user manual, and after you've gone through the process once, it's a piece of cake.

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(A) 45° adjustment screw; (B, D) Bevel overrides; (C) 0° adjustment screw

Adjustments for setting the bevel angle are located on the bottom of the saw head column. The bevel is controlled by a large three-winged knob at the back end of the column (directly behind the yellow bevel scale in the photo above). There are adjustment screws (A and C in the photo above) that enable you to fine tune the 0° and 45° angles (I didn't find this necessary on the saw I tested).

The bevel scale is in 1° increments. If you need to cut very precise angles, and find it difficult to align the head exactly on one of the hash marks, try using an inclinometer (aka 'digital angle gauge), available from building supply centers and woodworking supply retailers, including LeeValley.com.

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Overriding the 0° and 45° angles

There may be situations where you want to cut a bevel under 0° or over 45°. To do this, you override these angles by flipping up the override arms, enabling you to cut angles up to -3° and 48°. The photo above shows the 0° override flipped up so that a -3° bevel cut can be made.

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Dust Extraction: (L) Bag; (R) Vacuum

Miter saws don't have a very good reputation when it comes to dust collection. Well, dust extraction on the DCS361 isn't too shabby. You can use the included dust bag, which does an ok job, or connect your shop vac to the 1-5/8" o.d. dust port for much better dust management. While it doesn't mean dust-free miter sawing, it takes away the lions share of the debris. One thing to note – if you use the dust bag, remove it before an empty it before locking the head in the down (storage/transport) position. Otherwise a great heap of wood chips will fall out onto the kerf plate. 

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(A) Trigger switch with lock-off lever; (B) XPS light button

The DCS361 has a built-in safety feature that prevents accidental starting of the saw – nice if your shop is accessible to youngsters. There is a lock-off switch that you need to flick to one side in order to activate the power switch.

Just above the power trigger is the LED light switch that activates DeWALT's XPS Crosscut Positioning System. While you can active the system by pressing the button, the light comes on automatically whenever you power the saw – and stays on for about 20 seconds. The XPS light helps you align the blade to your cut line.

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XPS Crosscut Positioning System

Basically, the XPS light casts a shadow over the blade onto your stock, indicating the blades line of cut. You can then position your stock so that the cut line you've drawn on your stock aligns with the XPS shadow line. It took a couple of dozen cuts before I warmed up to the XPS system. Now I find that I use if all the time.

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Perfectly square cuts

Whether cutting hardwood or ply, the DCS361 makes consistently perfect cuts. Over time the saw is likely to get out of alignment, especially if it's subject to heavy use, and moved back and forth to job sites. Fortunately, realigning the blade square to the table, and perpendicular to the fence, is quick and easy.

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Precise cross, miter, bevel, and compound cutting

DeWALT's own testing averaged 183 cuts on 2x4 pine with a single battery charge, and 275 cuts on 3-1/4" pine baseboard. If you cut a range of different materials - solid wood, ply, MDF, engineered wood, decking, and the like, then the number of cuts you get will be different. Most of the approximately 100 cuts I've made to-date on the DCS361 have been on hardwood, and one of the battery fuel gauge lights shows there's still some juice left. 

If you're work is primarily within the maximum cutting capacities of the DCS361 then you'll want to take a close look at this miter saw. It's light in weight, easy to transport, provides a decent number of cuts per charge, is easy to adjust, has a good dust collection system, and is solidly built. 

KEY FEATURES:

  • Blade Diameter: 7-1/4"
  • Power Source: 20 V Max battery (18 V nominal)
  • No Load Speed: 3,750 RPM
  • 90° Cross-Cut Capacity: 2" max height; 8" max width
  • 45° Miter Cut Capacity: 2" max height; 5" max width
  • Vertical Capacity (Baseboard Against Fence): 3-1/2"
  • Vertical Capacity (Crown Molding Vertically Nested): 3-5/8"
  • Horizontal Capacity (Baseboard Lying Flat): 8"
  • Horizontal Capacity (Crown Molding Lying Flat): 8"
  • 45° Bevel Cut Capacity (dimensional lumber): 1-1/2" X 8"
  • Tool Weight: 31.6 lbs
  • Warranty: 3 years (limited); 1 year free service; 90 day money back guarantee
  • Includes: DCB204 20V MAX Battery; DCB112 12/20V Charger;  DW7114PT Carbide Blade; Blade Wrench; Material Clamp; Users Guide
 
COMPANY:DeWALT
MODEL:DCS361
PRICE:$498.00
MADE IN:China
SOURCE:Retailer Search

Author: 
Carl Duguay
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