DeWALT Double Bevel 10" Sliding Miter Saw

A premium feature-rich tool that is a pleasure to use

dewalt_dw717_lead

DeWALT Double Bevel 10" Sliding Miter Saw



Of the several variations of miter saws on the market, a dual compound sliding miter saw will give the optimal cutting options - crosscuts, miter, bevel and compound miter cuts - while the sliding arm enables you to cut stock up to around 12 wide.
 
If you're already familiar with miter saws, you know that there are three additional items that you need to consider when buying a saw - stand, dust collector, and blades. While you can use a miter saw right on the floor, it's best to mount it securely on some kind of shop-made work table or a commercially available miter saw stand. A stable support stand not only makes for safer cutting, and places a lot less stress on your back, it's indispensible for making repeatedly precise cuts. The work table and sliding fences on a miter saw are typically quite small and suitable only when processing short stock. For anything longer than about 6' you really need to have some additional support for holding the stock securely in place. When a miter saw is going to be used exclusively in a workshop, I suggest making a custom miter saw workstation. There are numerous plans available on the Internet, such as this versatile stand from Fine Woodworking. Where the saw is going to be used primarily on job sites, I recommend you purchase a commercial stand. Expect to pay in excess of $200 for a top quality stand like the DeWALT DW723.
 
Miter saws kick up a lot of dust, and the little dust bags that come with most machines are notoriously ineffective. You'll want to connect your miter saw to a shop vac or a central dust collector. Because of the exposed back of the miter saw, and the typically small dust port (generally around 1-1/2") expect to collect no more than 75% of the dust. If you have a dust collection system, then consider installing a dust hood, which is much more effective at channeling dust away from the source. Again, search the internet for plans to build your own, or purchase an aftermarket hood, such as The Big Gulp.
 
With few expectations, the blades that come with most miter saws are general purpose blades meant for rough work. They're fine for cutting framing, sheathing, and the like, but for clean, chip free cuts you'll want to invest in a quality miter saw blade like the Forrest Chopmaster.
 
As is the case with most power tools there are two primary grades of miter saws - those designed principally for the consumer market (home owners, DIYers, hobbyist woodworkers and the like), and those geared to the professional and tradesperson segment. The DeWALT Double Bevel Sliding Miter Saw (DW717) is a professional grade saw, that will be of greatest interest to contractors and carpenters, but should also appeal to professional  woodworkers and avid DIYers who prefer to buy top-of-the-line tools.


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Pre-drilled holes to secure the miter saw to a workbench
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The saw is easy to carry with the side hand indentations
The DW717 is a compact 10" slider with a relatively small 14" by 22" footprint. Even though it weighs 51 pounds, and doesn't vibrate hardly at all in use, it's a good idea to bolt it to whatever stand you place it on. I use my miter saw both on job sites and in the shop; I've found it most convenient to mount the saw on an aftermarket stand that can be easily folded for transportation, yet doesn't take up a lot of floor space. If placing it in a work shop you'll need to allow for about 30" of space from the front of the saw to the wall, in order to accommodate the sliding arm. While there is a lifting handle on top of the saw, it's much easier to use the hand indentations on each side of the saw for transportation; I find this safer and easier on my back. As on most miter saws, a lock down pin holds the head in the down position for transportation.

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Lock down pin
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Head locked in the down position for transportation
The saw is powered by a 15 Amp, 0 - 4,000 RPM universal motor, and the 10" blade is belt driven. The belt drive system likely contributes to the smooth operation and, for a miter saw, relatively low (no load) noise level of 93 db. All bearings are permanently lubricated and sealed, the belt is designed to last the life of the saw. The saw head travels smoothly on two large 1" diameter stainless steel guide rails that require nothing more than an occasional dusting. Length of movement over the rails is 8-1/4", and the head can be locked at any position along the rails.

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Large dual guide rails with locking knob at front right
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Rotating work table (in center) with two side wings
The work table is 22" wide - the rotating portion of the table is 10-1/2" wide and the two side wings about 5-3/4" wide. The distance from the fences to the miter lock handle (along the yellow plastic kerf plate) is 14". The two sliding fences are 4-1/4" high The machined aluminum fences are 4-1/4" high by 10-3/4" wide, and when fully opened, they provide a 37-1/2" wide support surface.

The upper portion of the fences are horizontally adjustable, smoothly sliding left and right to allow room for the saw to make steep bevel cuts. Holes in the fences allow you to add taller back supports. You can safely cut stock up to about 6' long on the table; for longer stock I highly recommend that, at a minimum, you use additional side supports. Extension rails (DW7080) are available from DeWALT that add about 20" of extra support on either side of the work table.
 

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Adjustment knob on back of the fence - note how fence slides in machined slot
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Top sections of the rails can be adjusted horizontally
The kerf plate can be easily replaced with a shop-made zero clearance insert plate or replaced with a stock plate if damaged. When cutting furniture parts on the miter saw I often place a sacrificial 1/4" piece of MDF under the stock, which eliminates chipping altogether (I also switch to an 90 tooth finish blade).
 
The miter lock handle has a cam-style lever that engages firmly, and the table top rotates smoothly left and right (0 to 60 on the left, 0° to 52° on the right). There are five detents on either side: 0°, 15°, 22.5°, 31.6°, 45°, plus a 60° detent on the left. The detents engage firmly without any wiggle room. There are two convenient miter latch override switches on either side of the handle; these enable you to disengage the miter stops so you can freely rotate the table. The adjustable stainless steel miter scale plate is etched and the settings are very easy to read. The pointer is independently adjustable as well.


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Miter lock handle with lock override switch on the left side
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Stainless steel miter scale plate is easy to read and adjust
With the miter angle set at 0 you can crosscut stock as large as 2" x 14", 3" x 12-1/2" or 3-1/2" x 11-7/8", and at 45° you can cut stock up to 2" x 12". Moldings up to 6" wide can be cut in a vertical position using the optional crown stop fence (DW7084). There is a slide stop pin on the right side of the saw just below the motor housing that positions the head so the largest possible vertical moldings can be cut; when engaged, the rail lock knob has to be engaged so that the head doesn't travel on the rails.
 
What makes the DW717 even more unique is that you can crosscut up to 15.4" by placing a shop built 2" extension platform onto the work table. This does require you to remove the two back fences from the saw, but gives an incredible width of cut for a 10" miter saw. The steps for doing this are clearly outlined in the instruction manual that comes with the saw.


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Bevel scale is somewhat hard to read
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The 45° bevel adjustments are easy to make
The saw head bevels from 0° to 48° left and right. The printed stainless steel bevel scale is, as on most miter saws, somewhat difficult to read. Thankfully, there are both right and left bevel stops at 0°, 22.5°, 33.9°, and 45°. You can quickly and easily fine tune the 45° bevel by means of adjustment screws on either side of the bevel scale. The bevel lock handle is on the rear of the saw, and locks the head at a user defined angle or preset bevel stop angle. There are two bevel latch levers (one on each side of the back column) that can be raised vertically to override the stop angles. Also on the back of the saw is the rail lock knob that enables you to lock the head at any predetermined distance along the rails. All the adjustment knobs and levers on the DW717 are reasonably sized, making them easy to grasp and manipulate.
 
An over-the-top hold-down clamp is included, and works on both sides of the saw head. However, I didn't particularly like this clamp; it takes way too long to adjust. Fortunately, in a lot of situations you can use an Irwin style quick grip clamp.
 
The grooving stop is a great feature for cutting grooves with the miter saw. Essentially it's a bolt that you adjust to limit the depth that the saw head can descend. You simply move a stop lever forward, and then adjust the grooving stop for the depth of cut you require. It requires a bit of trial and error, but once set, you can make very quick work of cutting clean, chip free groove. When finished grooving, simply flip the grooving lever backwards, so that the saw head can descend to its normal depth.


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Bevel latch (A) and bevel lock (B)
 
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Grooving stop with lever moved forward to limit the downward movement of the saw head
As mentioned earlier, dust collection, on just about every miter saw, isn't very good. On the DW717 a funnel directs dust up through a dust spout into the dust bag. While it does collect some of the dust, you really need to connect the saw to a shop vacuum or to your dust collector. Unfortunately DeWALT has chosen a small, 1-1/2" o.d. dust port. A more widely used 2-1/2" dust port would have been more appropriate, and would also make it easier to connect the saw to a conventional 4" hose dust collection system (via a 4" to 2-1/2" adapter).
 
The value of laser alignment guides is debatable, and the DW717 makes the choice a personal one - the saw comes without a laser unit, but an optional one is available (DW7187). There is also an optional work light (DWS7085) that will be of interest if you intend to place the saw in a location with less than ideal lighting.


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The 1-1/2" dust port is marginally effective
 
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The slide stop prevents the saw head from moving along the rails
The DW717 is equipped with an ATB 40 tooth general purpose blade. The teeth are not overly large (3/32" x 3/16"), but you should be able to get it re-sharpened four or five times). For construction work, this blade is quite serviceable, giving good quality cuts. Finish carpenters, cabinet makers and furniture makers will likely want to install a higher quality blade and retain the DeWALT blade for general rough cutting. Blade changing takes all of about 3 minutes - once you get the knack of it. You need to back off a guard bracket screw until you can move the blade guard down to expose the arbor. Don't completely remove the screw, as re-inserting it is a hassle.
 
Like any power tool with a sharp blade spinning at high RPMs, miter saws can be dangerous. The two piece cast aluminum/Lexan plastic blade guard on the DW717 is very durable, and completely covers the blade. As you move the saw head down, the guard gradually retracts, exposing the blade. A small wheel on the end of the guard rolls over the stock, and keeps the guard from catching on the stock.


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The guard bracket screw (shown with guard lifted up)
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A roller wheel on the end of the guard prevents the guard from catching in stock
In use the DW717 is a stellar performer. I tested it on a wide range of material, from 2" x 8" spruce to 3" by 6" ash, as well as 3/4" plywood and melamine, baseboard and crown molding. I made a range of crosscuts, bevel cuts, and compound cuts. Straight out of the box the saw was ready to go; the blade was aligned square to the table, and the miter and bevel scale stops were right on the mark.
 
Making adjustments is no big deal, and well documented in the accompanying instruction manual. The head travels smoothly along the guide rails and the electric brake stops the blade fairly quickly. More importantly, setting the miter or bevel angle is quick, easy and accurate. Nothing on the saw feels flimsy - the fit and finish are super, and the levers and knobs are easy to reach and manipulate. I particularly liked the cam-style miter locking handle design and the bevel latch lever for quickly overriding the bevel stops. And the grooving feature is a great bonus.


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Cut 3/4" stock on end up to 6-1/2" high
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Cut 3/4" stock on its side up to 12-1/2" wide
The DeWALT DW717 will be of particular interest to trades people: carpenters, framers, home builders, stair builders, cabinet makers, renovators and the like, offering a lot of features and cut capacity that you would expect to find on larger 12" models. An excellent performer that will give you years of reliable service.

KEY FEATURES: 


  • 15 Amp motor
  • 4,000 RPM
  • Electric brake
  • 0 - 48° bevel range, L and R
  • 0 - 52° R, 0 - 60° L miter range
  • Miter stops at 0°, 15°, 22.5°, 31.6°, 45°, 60°, L and R
  • Bevel stops at 0°, 22.5°, 33.9°, 45°, L and R
  • 12-1/2" maximum cut width at 0° and 45° (measured with 3/4" stock)
  • 6-1/2" maximum cut height at 0° (measured with 1-1/4" stock)
  • 4-1/2" maximum cut height at 45° (measured with 1-1/4" stock)
  • 2-1/4" x 11" or 2" x 12-1/2" maximum compound cut at 45°
  • 4-1/2" x 10-3/4" wide sliding fences
  • 1" diameter guide rods
  • 14" x 22" footprint
  • 51 pound weight
  • 3 year warranty
  • Includes: 40 tooth blade, dust bag, clamp, wrench

Manufacturer:DeWALT
Available From:Tool and equipment suppliers nationwide
Retail Price:$629.00
Model #:DW717
Made In:Mexico
Carl Duguay, October 2010
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