You can click on Model 21237 anywhere in this article and go to Sears.com to read more and purchase this saw. You can purchase it online and pick it up at your nearest Sears store. If you buy the saw online from them I will get a commission from the sale. It is my way of paying for this site. I get no other compensation from SHC for this review.
I purchased this saw in October 2007. The saw in this review is the silver version. Since then Sears has changed the color scheme to black and silver. I will go through the changes they made with the new color scheme.
I was unsure if this saw would meet all my requirements but I was willing to give it a try. I had to install two arches in my kitchen, remodel an area around the washer/dryer in the basement and I wanted to build my wife a potting bench. I had about 3000 board feet of 1 x 10 and 1 x 12 long boards that I wanted to use for building Adirondack chairs. My table saw is set in a corner and I was tired of having to move it every time I wanted to cross cut a long board. This article goes through my experience with this saw for the last two years.
Warning: I included in this article all of my expectations, concerns, fixes and positives about this saw over the last two years. So it’s pretty long.
Setting up the Saw:
I wanted a saw that would do the normal cross-cutting for home remodeling and a saw that could do exact finish work for a furniture items I wanted to build. So, I was very critical of the Model 21237 and the tolerances of the cuts it could make. I knew the $600 dollar sliders would meet my expectations but I wasn’t sure if this one could meet them. At $250 retail I was a little cautious and took a lot of extra time checking the tolerances and going through the mechanical attributes of the saw. After assembling the saw, the first thing I did was anchor the saw to my work bench. I had a friend buy a slider and broke it in half on the first cut he made by pulling the head forward and having it tip off his workbench. So from him I knew that sliders must be bolted down. I planned on using it out in the garage in the summer and bringing down the basement in the winter so I used threaded inserts in the table and 1 1/2 inch long 1/4 inch bolts and washers. I mounted it so the front feet were near the front of the bench with the slider hanging over the edge. That way I could easily adjust the horizontal angle without banging my knuckles.
One item they changed with the new black and silver 21237 is the location of the feet and mounting holes. The front feet are the same, but the rear feet are longer and protrude another 2 inches to the rear. They also eliminated the wire support on the bottom rear of the saw. These positive changes make the saw easier to mount and more stable overall.
The next thing I did was check the accuracy of the fence. I knew about one out of every 1000 saws or so had a warped fence. If the fence is not perfectly parallel you can never get accurate cuts. The bevel and angle markings will be off and the saw will drive you crazy. I used a good engineer’s rule to check the accuracy and it was dead on.
Then I checked the 90 and 45 degree detents. I set the saw at 90 degrees, lowered the blade and then locked it down (there is a button on the back of the head to lock in the down position for transport) Then used and engineer’s square to check the angle and then repeated this step at 45 degrees left and 45 degrees right. Everything was correct right out of the box.
Time to Make My First Cut:
I took a 1 x 6 oak plank that I knew had a straight edge and using the engineer’s square, made a 90 degree mark. I turned on the saw’s laser and then placed the board on the saw and using the screw clamp that came with the saw clamped it down. I put my mark where I thought the blade would cut using the laser.
I made my first cut using the way I was taught to use a slider. Pull the saw all the way forward, turn it on, lower the saw, and then push the saw through the board. I missed my mark by 1/16 of an inch. After playing with the saw, I realized I should line up the mark with the RIGHT edge of the laser mark, not the left side as I had done. (After using the saw for two years I now realize that lasers are just guides. If you are cutting 2 x 4′s they are accurate enough but if you want exact measurements you need to lower the blade to your mark and then set your clamps to that.)
The supplied work clamp is too much work. It takes too much time to adjust it, tighten it down, and then release it for the next cut. I set up a Kreg Bench Clamp to the left of the saw and I use that when I want to clamp my work. I move the clamp to the basement with the saw in the winter.
Ok, so far so good. EXCEPT the saw did not cut all the way through the board! It left about 1/4 inch on the backside of the cut. After looking at the saw and playing with it I saw that even though the fence was lined up perfectly, whoever aligned it at the factory had pulled the fence all the way forward in the adjusting slots. I thought about returning the saw, but before I did I decided to play around a little.
I went to loosen the four screws that hold the fence. They are hex (Allen). No problem, I have one of those. When I went to loosen the screws though, they were so tight that I couldn’t get them loose. I was afraid if I put to much effort on them I would strip out the heads and then as far as I was concerned the saw would be junk. So I found my old impact screwdriver (it’s the kind you hit with a hammer and it gives a little twist to the screw.) The screws easily loosened with that.
So I moved the fence all the way to the back, and the used my engineer’s square to align it back up with the blade. I was careful to tighten the screws evenly so I didn’t warp the fence.
I checked the new black and silver saw and the fence was in the right position. It will cut correctly out of the box. I also checked it for square and it was right on. It still has the same hard-to-use clamp. I wish they would supply the same clamp they have on the MiterMate.
My Second Cut:
I made my second cut and everything worked perfectly. I dropped the blade to my mark and then clamped the board and cut it. The saw cut all the way through the board, the cut was right on my carefully placed mark. Everything looked good except the face of the cut.
I realized that the blade Sears supplied with the saw would not work for me. It works ok for normal construction and remodeling tasks but I wanted a perfect cut everytime. I headed back to Sears and bought an 80 tooth Freud Blade. This blade cuts cleanly and is so good on hardwoods that I never need to sand the edge.
Since then I have found a better blade. When the Freud blade wears out I will replace it with a Tenryu Saw Blade. To most of you these blades may seem expensive, but the quality of cuts they produce are worth every penny especially when you want an accurate cut with almost no tearout no matter what wood you are cutting.
What I learned about the saw over the last two years:
Pro: I use this saw just about everyday. I have made at least 5000 cuts with it. I have cut everything from 1/4 plywood, pine, hard maple, and plexiglass. I even used it to cut a 3 1/2 inch walnut log into 1/2 inch slabs for coasters. It will easily cut two stacked 2 x 12′s and a Menards 4 x 4 (3 1/2 in)
Pro: I keep it tied (screwed) to a workbench and move it to and from the basement twice a year. I am careful with the saw when I move it, because I know I could damage it by throwing it around and dropping it. To treat a sliding compound miter saw with respect and care is just common sense to me. When I read other reviews about other people breaking their saw, I wonder if the problem is the saw or the way they are treating it.
The best way to move this slider is to lock the blade down, slide the saw all the way to the front of the slider and lock the slider thumbwheel located behind and under the slides. It then easily balances on the front and rear handhold. On the new black and silver version Craftsman moved the slider thumbwheel up and on the side of the slide so it is easy to reach and use.
Pro: As part of my routine I check the accuracy of my saws at least every six months. (my table saw needs adjustment every so often.) The Model 21237 I have has never needed adjustment since the initial setup. I even “caught” some hard maple in it a few times (the wood I was sawing was too short and kicked out of the saw) and the alignment stayed perfect.
Pro & Con: I leave my laser on most of the time now. I turned it off and on for the first year every time I used the saw and I noticed the switch starting to fail. Instead of loosing the switch, I just leave it on. I also have a switch box out in the garage where I supply power to my router, vacuum, miter saw and belt sander. I have it wired so only power goes to one device at a time (for my safety) so the laser does get turned off, I just don’t use the switch on the saw to do it. On the new 21237 Craftsman installed a sealed switch that should last a lot longer than the old rocker switch.
Con: (This has been fixed with the new saw) Where the laser is located on the saw the sawdust blows directly over it. When cutting pine the sticky sawdust covers the laser and you have to clean it all the time. My model 21237 is the all silver one. On the new 21237 Craftsman moved the laser up out of the way of the sawdust and enclosed it in a more durable housing. It shouldn’t collect as much sawdust.
Con: Dust collection. This saw is one of the “normal” homeowner saws as far a dust collection is concerned. Very little sawdust makes it into the little dust collection bag. Even with a shop vac hooked up to the saw instead of the bag most of it is spread all over the work area. I compensated out in the shop by placing a 12 inch “wall” around the backside of my bench. This wall keeps the sawdust from blowing off the back of the bench and falling down where it is hard to vacumn up. I plan on placing a dust collection hood behind the saw when I install a permanent collection system this summer. I can’t see any changes on the new version so expect most of the sawdust to be everywhere but in the bag.
If dust collection is a concern for you, I would suggest buying a Professional Sliding Compound Miter Saw. The professional versions all have a much better collection system than the homeowner versions.
Con: Kick. I didn’t realize it when I bought this saw but I now do. All the direct drive homeowner saws “Kick” when you turn them on. The motor spins up so fast and there is so much torque that the handle kicks in your hand. If you are not expecting it you may let go of the saw in shock the first time. This is normal and just something to get used to. Professional saws use a belt drive, soft start feature. It takes a couple more seconds for the blade to come up to speed and this produces a lot less kickback than the direct drive homeowner models. On the new version Craftsman installed a thumb-lock for the switch. As a safety feature it is very easy to use and actually keeps you from inadvertently starting the saw with just your hand resting on the handle or sliding the saw into position. (yes, I’ve done it myself a few times)
Con: The extension wings work well as a work support. They extend much farther than the wire supports found on most saws. But I never used the stops that were on them because I found with the one locking screw on one of the two rods the stop would move over time. I either couldn’t tighten the screw down enough or the wings would wiggle just a little. It was ok for remodeling work, but for cabinetry and fine woodworking it was unacceptable. The revised version fixes this. There are two tightening screws on each side and the steel on aluminum screech you used to hear when moving the wings is gone. Craftsman installed nice bushings to eliminate the sound.
Pro: Overall I really like the Model 21237 saw. It cuts accurately and consistently for me. I have used it a lot and it is holding up well. There is very little sign of wear on the dual slide rail system and all of the hinge points and moving pieces show no signs of wear. I feel I have gotten a good saw at a great value. I would recommend this saw to anyone who needs a slider and is a great first saw for everyone who thinks they need a miter saw. It will do all of the miter and cross cut tasks for most of us. In addition the slider really is nice. Being able to cut up to a 12 inch board makes this saw many times more useful than a traditional miter saw.
The new version of this saw fixes all of the cons I had with my version except the sawdust issue.
If you want to read more. You can click on Model 21237 anywhere in this article and go to Sears.com to read more and purchase this saw. You can purchase it online and pick it up at your nearest Sears store.