Harbor Freight Miter Saw Review: Hercules and Other Brands

Last Updated: by Peter Lynn

Are you in the market for a brand-new miter saw? Would you like a high-end product at a bargain price? Ordinarily, I’d recommend spending a bit more on a high-quality model when it comes to woodworking equipment.

That said, I always appreciate a deal, and, as you’ll see in this Harbor Freight miter saw review, sometimes you can have your cake and eat it too — or, in this instance, get a high-quality saw at a low, low price.

Worried about how well these saws operate? I would be too. That’s what instigated this set of Harbor Freight miter saw reviews in the first place. Do these products stack up well when compared to industry icons like DeWalt?

Our top pick I’ve got to say that I favor the Hercules 12″ Miter Saw. To learn the answer, you’ll have to read on…

My Top Harbor Freight Miter Saw Are:

ProductDetails
1. Hercules 12

  • Cuts 7 ½-inch crown molding with a nesting capacity of 6 ¾-inches
  • Allows for vertical baseboard
  • Precision guide for the blade
  • 15 AMP, 4,100 rpm motor
  • Adjustable miter detent plate adjustable with ten stops
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2. Chicago Electric 12-Inch Miter Saw With Laser Guide

  • 15-amp motor
  • 12-inch blade
  • Makes miter, bevel, and cross cuts
  • Slide rails allow the saw to move smoothly
  • Bevel at a 45° angle in either direction
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3. Chicago Electric 10-Inch Sliding Compound Miter Saw

  • 12-amp motor
  • Makes miter, bevel, and cross cuts
  • Bevels at a 45° angle to the left or right
  • Has rails to make precision cuts
  • Brushes are easy to access
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4. Chicago Electric 12-Inch Double-Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw

  • 15-amp motor
  • Has linear slide rails to improve stability
  • Aluminum fence
  • Extension bars
  • Table clamp
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1. Hercules 12″ Double-Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw — Top Choice

The Hercules’s dual-bevel design certainly seems to measure up to the professional specs that DeWalt offers. Considering the lower price, though, you have the right to feel skeptical. Let’s see how the Hercules measures up.

Specs

  • Cuts 7 ½-inch crown molding with a nesting capacity of 6 ¾-inches
  • Allows for vertical baseboard
  • Precision guide for the blade
  • 15 AMP, 4,100 rpm motor
  • Adjustable miter detent plate adjustable with ten stops
  • Bevel scale oversized for accurate adjustments
  • Double-bevel design used

What I Like About This Product

The Hercules is a professional-grade product at a very reasonable price. Harbor Freight included features that can make a real difference in a busy workshop. Thanks to the clear markings, it’s easy to position your wood correctly.

The adjustable miter plate makes it simple to set the wood and keep it in the right spot.

What I don’t like about this product

At 56 pounds, it’s cumbersome to lug around. That said, most DeWalt models weigh about the same. Still, it’s an essential consideration if you go out and work in a client’s workshop.

Pros

  • LED light makes it easy to see where you’re cutting
  • Price is right
  • Professional-grade equipment
  • High-quality build
  • Extremely accurate
  • Adjustable detent plate
  • LED light casts a shadow on materials for clean-cut lines

Cons

  • Heavy and cumbersome
  • Requires a lot of space

In summary, my Hercules Miter Saw review is that you’re getting Herculean value for money with this product.

Overall Rating – 4 ½ out of 5

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2. Chicago Electric 12-Inch Miter Saw With Laser Guide — Best Beginner Model

This budget-friendly model is no slouch in the performance department. Coming in at almost half the price of the Hercules, it’s a good option for hobbyists or woodworkers on a tight budget.

Specs

  • 15-amp motor
  • 12-inch blade
  • Makes miter, bevel, and cross cuts
  • Slide rails allow the saw to move smoothly
  • Bevel at a 45° angle in either direction
  • Laser guidance system
  • Weighs 52 pounds

What I like about this product

This model comes fully assembled. There are one or two adjustments you’ll want to make, but these are easy. Have a look at this video to learn about some useful adjustments. I wasn’t expecting much here, considering the price.

I was pleasantly surprised. This machine operates at a higher level than you’d expect. The laser guidance makes it easy to create accurate cuts.

What I don’t like about this product

It doesn’t come with a blade. That’s a minor complaint, I know, but I expect a new saw to come with everything I need. You can cut boards up to 12-inches. With other models, it’s usually 13 to 14 inches. That said, other models cost upwards of $300, so I’ll live with that.

Pros

  • Outstanding value for money
  • Puts in an above-average performance
  • Priced a lot lower than competitors
  • Cuts accurately
  • Powerful motor
  • Laser guidance helps

Cons

  • Only cuts up to 12-inch boards
  • Not suitable for high crown molding

I can’t believe that this comes in under $200. If I’d tried it out before checking the price, I’d have placed it in the $300 to $400 category.

Is it the last miter saw you’ll ever need? No, and it’s probably not going to be useful for an advanced woodworker. For the beginner, though, it’s perfect.

Overall Rating – 4 out of 5

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3. Chicago Electric 10-Inch Sliding Compound Miter Saw

This 10-inch saw is the previous model’s younger brother. It’s a sliding compound miter saw that comes in at a very favorable price.

Specs

  • 12-amp motor
  • Makes miter, bevel, and cross cuts
  • Bevels at a 45° angle to the left or right
  • Has rails to make precision cuts
  • Brushes are easy to access
  • Dust collection bag
  • Weighs 30.4 pounds

What I like about this product

As a lightweight model, the Chicago is ideal for the home hobbyist on a very tight budget. It puts in an excellent performance, especially when you consider the price. The clamp is nice, although I think laser sighting would’ve been more useful.

It doesn’t have all the features that a DeWalt has, but considering that it’s about a third of the price, I can live with that.

What I don’t like about this product

For an extra $20 to $30, you can upgrade to the Chicago Electric 12-inch version instead. With that model, you can use a 10-inch blade if you like, and you get laser sighting. Other than the size of the blade, and the laser guidance, these two models are about the same.

Pros

  • Great price
  • Good motor
  • Cuts accurately
  • Dust bag included
  • Beveling options are convenient
  • Has a table clamp
  • Weighs just 30.4 pounds

Cons

  • Lack of versatility
  • No laser guidance

Overall, this is a good model for the occasional hobbyist. You have to be careful not to overwork it, or it might overheat. On the upside, at 30.4 pounds, this is the most portable model on the list.

Overall Rating – 3 ½

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4. Chicago Electric 12-Inch Double-Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw

To round off our Harbor Freight reviews, we’ll have a look at this 12-inch model. I’m giving this the best budget option title.

Specs

  • 15-amp motor
  • Has linear slide rails to improve stability
  • Aluminum fence
  • Extension bars
  • Table clamp
  • Storage hooks
  • Laser guide
  • Dust bag

What I like about this product

You’re getting a lot of value for money here. This model comes in at less than half a DeWalt with comparable features would. The cuts are accurate, and this model is easy to use. I like the thoughtful extras included here, like the dust bag and storage hooks.

What I don’t like about this product

You might have to adjust the screw for the guard. It tends to come loose during shipping. The blade might wobble slightly. You can correct for this, but it is an annoyance. If you’re going to use this in your workshop only, you’re fine.

If you’re looking for a portable option, this is not it. Weighing in at a cumbersome 80 pounds, you can’t call this saw a lightweight.

Pros

  • Powerful
  • Dual beveling possible
  • Easy to operate
  • Reasonably priced
  • Comes with useful accessories
  • Extension bars
  • extend the range

Cons

  • Very heavy
  • Not as compact as possible

So for this Harbor Freight 12″ sliding compound miter saw review I’d say you’re getting good value here. This certainly classifies as my best budget buy. I do think it could stand to lose a bit of weight, but for a stationary carpenter, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Overall Rating – 4 out of 5

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About the Harbor Freight

Harbor Freight Tools is an established American retailer that built its name by providing high-quality tools at reasonable prices. It’s fair to say that you’re always likely to find the best value deals at Harbor Freight.

Harbor Freight’s chain of over a thousand brick and mortar stores and its online shop carry several in-house brands established by the company over the years that have brought such joy to DIYers all over the country. Will you find state-of-the-art equipment? No, but you’ll be getting quality goods at inexpensive prices.

Yes, they offer some cheap, low-quality products, and you’ll pay rock-bottom for them. But you’re just looking for a saw for a once-off project, you definitely head over there and find the cheapest one you can. It’s not going to last forever, but it will be fine for a few projects.

Like with everything, you get what you pay for. What I appreciate about Harbor Freight is that they’re fairly strict about many of their lines. They won’t, for example, sell a saw that’s going to crash and burn the first time you switch it on.

They do sell some pretty good quality power tools at surprisingly low prices. Just keep in mind that you may need to perform some adjustments when they arrive.

In the saws that I reviewed above, for example, it’s not uncommon for the guard screw to need tightening out of the box. It’s not a big deal, but I do recommend checking that everything is calibrated correctly when you first get it.

On the upside, if things aren’t properly calibrated, there’s usually a straightforward fix.

To be on the safe side, I recommend carefully checking anything you order from the company when it arrives. Make sure that all the little bits and pieces are included. It’s rare, but something could slip through the cracks.

Final Thoughts

For these reviews, I highlighted the four top miter saws available from Harbor Freight. In the end, the Harbor Freight Hercules Miter Saw came out as the clear winner. It’s the most expensive of those reviewed, but it’s still going to save you hundreds of dollars.

Considering the price, it performs surprisingly well. I’d never have guessed that it’d outperform it’s DeWalt counterpart in cutting hardwood. It just goes to show — it’s not always necessary to buy the most expensive brand to get the best results.

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