Lets talk about the Ridgid MS1290LZA miter saw. This saw has loads of capacity! It will cut 2 x 12″ at 90º, and since it’s a compound miter saw, it tilts and rotates both left and right of 90º!
The usability of this saw is top notch. All components slide very smoothly, and I was especially thrilled with how easy it is to rotate the table. Each lock and adjustment are also quite nice. Almost every user interface point is overmolded with comfortable rubber. The adjustment points that aren’t rubberized have been contoured to make their use easy and comfortable. The user interface areas are plenty large for easy use, but not so bulky that they get in the way of operating the saw. I especially like the table lock lever, as there is actually a segment under the table that you can pull against while locking the table into position.
The Y axis lock is also done well and is comfortable to use. This is a cam lock that holds very securely with the benefit of being easy to loosen and tighten.
The two stage trigger is great. It’s a rather standard design these days, but the ergonomics are spot on and very comfortable to use. I find it more comfortable to use the web of my hand between the thumb and index finger to depress the trigger lock instead of just using my thumb to push the button. The lock does not have to be held while the saw is running though, so if it’s not comfortable for you to hold the trigger lock while using the saw, that’s also an option.
The hold down clamp is pretty sweet. Maybe I’m behind the times and admittedly, I don’t usually use the hold down clamps, but this one just might get a workout. It’s a quick release clamp which means that you just hold a button that disengages the threads on the clamp, allowing you to make quick adjustments, then release the button that re-engages the threads. This allows you to clamp down your board for safe and accurate cutting.
For those of you installing crown molding, making picture frames, or regularly cutting angles, you’ll love the detents at the most common angles. The base rotates and locks solidly into place with great repeatability at 0º, 15º, 22.5º, 31.6º, 45º, and 60º. Not cutting on a detent angle? No problem…this is really easy too! Just unlock the table, rotate the detent thumbwheel all the way down, and adjust the table as you please. Once you’ve found the angle, rotate the thumb wheel back up and lock the table into position.
The surface finish of the work areas are nice and smooth so that boards slide easily. The fence is adjustable to allow as much support of the work pieces as possible, and even has mounting holes for an auxiliary fence. The surface of the fence is a little more coarse though for added grip to your work piece while cutting.
The fence also has an area for writing so that you can mark the length of boards for repeated cuts. It’s a nice feature, but I’d set up a stop block if your repeated cuts need to have a high level of accuracy.
The blade that comes on the saw makes a good quality cut. I tried a variety of woods including spalted maple, cherry, oak, hickory, and plywood, all with great results. I’ve not had the saw long enough to speak to the blade’s longevity, though.
The miter gauges are very easy to read on this saw and they’re also adjustable! The crystal clear plastic is top notch, isn’t flimsy, and is rather robust.
Another feature I really like is the blade lock for transport, which doubles as a depth stop. Here the saw is set for transport or storage.
In this configuration the saw is ready for normal use utilizing the full cutting capacity of the saw.
By setting the dial at different points, you can vary the depth of cut, which is great for slotting boards or laying out hand cut dados.
Out of the box, the saw has side to side play, which is detectable without measuring equipment. By this, I mean that if you inadvertently push the handle off to the left or right while cutting, the angle of your cut is thrown off by some amount. If your intention is to make high quality woodworking with miters that are seamless right off the saw, then you will need to spend a little time dialing in the saw. The adjustment is rather simple, just tighten the two screws on the top right sleeve bearing.
As you tighten these screws, you’ll improve the accuracy, but it can make it difficult to manipulate the saw if you over tighten. For the vast majority of woodworkers from hobbyists to semi professionals, the accuracy of this saw out of the box is more than adequate and should serve you well. If you’re like me and just have to have things right…spend a few minutes to dial things in and you’ll be in pretty good shape!
Unfortunately I was not able to take all of the slope out of this saw even after running through the adjustments a few times. It seems that the “head” of the saw has a bit of wiggle that I can’t remove which can throw off the angles a bit in the x and y. The good news is that this discrepancy is probably too minute for most to worry about, and you’re definitely in the clear if the saying “caulk and paint make it what it ain’t” applies to your project.
The dust collection on this saw could be better. If you simply use a chopping action to cut through the wood, dust will spray to either side while cutting.
Ideal Cutting Sequence for Dust Control:
Bring saw forward before starting cut
Turn on saw and lower blade
Push blade through the cut
This is the best way to direct any dust into the collection bag. While this isn’t a huge issue for me, as I will eventually have the saw set up with a dust collector hood around the back of the saw, it is good practice. If you don’t have space for a dust collector hood setup, pairing the saw with a shop vac makes a vast improvement in managing dust while cutting.
That cut was made on the 45º detent. The resulting cut was really accurate I’d say!
I’m rather lukewarm on the laser for this saw. The laser is very easy to adjust by following the instructions in the manual. However, since the laser only activates while the blade is under power, to me it ‘s just a verification that you will be cutting at the correct spot. If you’re going to blip the saw every time you have to make a new cut just to activate the laser, it seems like a lot of useless wear and tear on the tool. In my opinion, once the saw is running, you need to have your board in the proper place and ready to be cut. Fiddling with a board while the blade is spinning is just asking for something to go wrong. None of my previous miter saws were equipped with lasers, so this doesn’t really detract from saw’s utility for me. However, the laser seems like an after thought and in my opinion should have been left off since its implementation wasn’t any better. My suggestion would be to have the laser emit a line across the work piece once the trigger lock is depressed. To me, it would have more utility and make the work experience safer.
This is a relatively minor issue, but should also be mentioned. If you intend to use this saw for cutting small items, I’d highly recommend using a fixture to clamp and hold the piece while cutting. Alternatively, you should make a new insert for the table since the one that is provided has a large opening and is rather flimsy. This is not a major issue for this saw since most folks who buy this saw are going to be using it for larger projects or construction work.
My official opinion is that this is a great saw for any price range, especially since it’s under $500. Sure, there are a few things that I’d change, but those are mostly aspects that do not heavily impact my use or opinions of the saw. This saw is well built and I do not expect to see trouble with this tool in the future. I’ve been using Ridgid power tools for more than 10 years and have yet to run into any troubles.
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As always, feel free to leave your questions or comments below. If I missed something or lost you in the article, I’ll be happy to clear up any confusion! Thanks for reading, y’all!
Full Disclosure: This product was provided by Ridgid for my unbiased use and review. If I wouldn’t buy or use this product I’d tell you. Rest assured, the Ridgid Compound Sliding Miter Saw MS1290LZA is a great saw for the money!