The DeWalt DW718 12 Inch Compound Miter Saw – Sadly Unimpressive
Compound miter saws have a multitude of uses, but generally these uses fall into one of two categories: stuff where finish is important (e.g., crown molding, cabinetry, trim), and stuff where it’s not (framing, rough cutting, PVC). For the latter, an ugly but powerful saw will do; there’s no need for tenth-of-a-degree precision or twenty bevel or miter stops.
The DeWalt DW718 12-Inch Double Bevel Slide Compound Miter Saw is a workhorse, no doubt about it. The question is: what kind of work is it intended to do? Considering the price and all the gadgetry, you’d expect this saw to be prepared for any kind of delicate trim work where accuracy is absolutely necessary and finish is everything. However, the first time you throw a piece of crown on this saw, you’re going to be unpleasantly surprised. DeWalt would have you think that this is the upgraded version of the well-loved DW708, but that’s only true if you consider rain to be sun, less to be more, and features made considerably worse to be improvements. If that’s you, this is the saw you’re looking for.
An all-around disappointing show from a great company
DeWalt has a well-deserved reputation for making reliable, consistently-performing power tools. Their DW708, the 12-inch miter saw in production before this abomination came out, was the saw of choice for many carpenters for years and years. It’s only reluctantly that many have been forced to find a new saw after their DW708s died, and naturally many of them turned to the DW718, only to be disappointed.
- The motor is fine. No complaints here.
- The miter and bevel selections are great but difficult to lock in.
- The amazing sliding capacity is ruined by terrible rails.
- The machined fence is sometimes great, sometimes terrible (and non-adjustable).
- There are lots of little design mistakes that add up to an overall bad user experience.
The motor’s probably not the problem
At 15 amps, the motor in the DeWalt DW718 is standard for a 12″ miter saw and doesn’t seem to have much of a problem. It runs at 3,600 rpms, but that’s kind of a useless figure since it does get bogged down more than some other models, the Milwaukee 6955-20 for example. However, it can still get through hardwoods, PVC, pretty much whatever you’d use a miter saw for. Loss of rpms, though, results in a choppier cut, and this is unfortunately just one of many features that affect the cut quality produced by this saw.
Angle adjustments can be tricky
The DeWalt DW718 has a good range of miter and bevel angles. Miters range from 60 degrees left to 50 degrees right, with additional positive stops at 0, 15, 22.5, 31.6 (crown), and 45 on both sides. The miter indicator is a big, red plastic arrow, and it’s kind of thick and a little hard to read. Although there is a miter détente override, which supposedly allows you to easily select angles in-between the positive stops, it’s difficult to actually do so (although not impossible).
The bevel presets are great; they’re at 0, 33.9, 45, and 48 (the limit) on both sides, and the selector is durable and easy to calibrate. However, unlike the Bosch 5312 with its fantastic up-front controls, the DeWalt has annoying reach-around-the-back bevel controls. On the other hand, a lot of dual bevel miter saws don’t have the crown bevel preset, so it’s nice having that option available on this saw. Well, at least it would be if this saw were suitable for cutting trim.
Fantastic slide length along flawed rails
Is there another miter saw that offers a 16″ cut? I don’t think there is one. The DeWalt DW718 ought to be the standout entry on that feature alone. But what good is a 16″ cut length if you get over 1/8″ deflection along the way? That’s right – some users have even measured up to 3/16″ deflection over the length of the slide. And the explanation is simple: DeWalt opted to use 1″ diameter rails instead of standard 1 3/8″ rails, and they’re also set close together, resulting in a sliding rail configuration that gives easily when you pull the saw side to side. Solution? Never pull the saw side to side! Always slide it with exact, robotic, mechanical precision, and you’ll never have the deflection problem. Oh, and do that while you’re controlling the jerks and stops along the slide as well.
Good & Bad Fence System
The good news about the fence on the DeWalt DW718 is that the base is machined to the table, which should guarantee a square fence that can’t be budged. Great if your fence is already square, but frustrating if it’s not. Although this saw doesn’t have the fence alignment problems as some of the Makita LS1216L units, it’s something to watch out for. As for capacity, DeWalt does deliver in this respect. The fences slide easily out of the way to accommodate deep bevels and can support nested crown up to 6 5/8″ and vertical stock up to 6 1/2″.
And everything else…
I know that miter saws aren’t known for their dust collection, but the system on the DeWalt DW718 is particularly awful to the point where the bag just gets in the way of sliding cuts and it’s not worth even putting the darn thing on.
The stock blade isn’t great. Additionally, the blade sits so far forward that material against the fence is cut with the upward stroke, resulting in tear-out that makes this saw even more unsuitable for fine carpentry.
Every time you nudge this saw, it needs to be recalibrated, so it’s useless to the contractor who needs to move it around a lot. And to add injury to insult, the blade guard will scrape the skin off your thumb if you don’t keep it out of the way as you pull down the saw. Nice.
What people are saying
With some saws, you can dismiss certain problems that only creep up once in a while. When the criticisms appear in half of all user reviews, however, and even the positive reviews acknowledge them, you know you’ve got a problem. On Amazon, this saw only earned 3.5 out of 5 stars.
- “DeWalt has dropped the ball on this one, IMHO, and I am very disappointed in my purchase. I expect a full refund on this product! Maybe this saw would be great for house framers or any type of rough carpentry, but NOT FOR FINISH CARPENTRY OR CABINETRY!”
- “Method for measuring angle not accurate. Play in sliding mechanism. Electronic speed control not suitable for areas where power isn’t ‘clean’.”
- “The blade will not stay square to the fence. There is no adjustment to square the fence to the table frame. This causes the blade to cut into the plastic kerf guard.”
- “The sliding system was not smooth. The dust collector was basically useless. Spend your money on something else. I would not recommend buying this saw.”
- “The saw is just as good as my DW708 saw. I like this saw because you can add the laser guide for cutting.
Where to get it
If you’ve got your heart set on the DeWalt DW718, by all means, get it from a dealer that with a hassle-free return policy. Or at least read a bunch more reviews before you make your mind up – after all this saw does still have some happy users. Amazon’s got both, and although no one’s offering an amazing price for this saw, Amazon does have one of the lowest prices, so it’s a good place to start.