Milwaukee M18 FUEL Cordless Miter Saw Review
Milwaukee M18 FUEL Brushless 10-Inch Miter Saw 2734-21
Milwaukee M18 Fuel Dual Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw
Model number: 2734-21
Price: $549 bare $649 kit
Power source: M18 battery
Motor size: Brushless
Until now miter saws have been an AC (corded) dominant power tool and for good reason. Trying to get corded performance out of a battery powered miter saw is not easy. And let’s be real, if you can’t work most, if not all day on a cordless power tool then it’s not really a professional grade power tool. We took this saw to several job sites over a few weeks to test and get a good feel for it.
A New Look – Miter Saw Redesign
This new 10-inch cordless, sliding miter saw looks a bit different than most sliders, it’s saw head and rails slide in and out of the body of the saw. The slide rail location actually makes the saw more compact and also protects the rails from damage during transportation.
M18 Miter Saw Features
- 5-3/4″ Vertical Capacity
- 2×12 Horizontal Capacity
- 5-1/4″ Vertical Capacity Nested Crown
- Cam Locking Miter System – 11 detent locations
- Dual Bevel with 9 detents and easy access bevel lever
- Shadow Cut Line Indicator
- Top and Side Carrying handles
- Detent Override
- Up to 400 Cuts per Charge
- Tall Sliding / Removable Fences
- Easy Blade Change
Users Demand Capacity
Most of the contractors I know, have a certain way they like to cut material on their saw. Cutting base trim on its vertical vs. flat is one example, cutting crown nested vs. flat is another. In order to get a feel for this miter saw, here are some capacity specifications:
- Max Miter Capacity 50 / 60
- Vertical Capacity Against Fence 5-3/4″
- Vertical Capacity Nested Crown 5-1/4″
- 90 Cross Cut Capacity 2 x 12
- 45 Miter Cross Cut Capacity 2 x 8
- 45 Bevel Cut Capacity 2 x 12
- Weight 45 lbs
- Maximum Bevel Capacity 48 / 48
Four Things To Like About M18 FUEL Miter Saw
There are at least four things that to like about this saw. First and foremost it’s cordless and works off of the M18 battery platform. The fact that Milwaukee is investing in the M18 platform shows commitment to their users. Contractors invested in a tool brand platform usually have hundreds, if not thousands of dollars into it. When new technology comes out, no one wants to see it leave the platform they have invested so heavily in.
Second, the miter saws weight is a feature that I noticed, and liked immediately. This saw is light weight, and two nicely placed handles make this saw a very portable and easily transportable saw. For the last two weeks we’ve been working 15 feet up on staging. Lugging a heavy saw up a ladder is not fun, even for a young buck. Being cordless on this staging was not only convenient, it was safer.
With a 9.0 Ah battery attached, this saw weighs 47 pound which is 7 to 10 pound lighter than most corded counterparts. Not too bad, when you consider that most saws weigh in at the following;
- 10” Corded: 50-55 lbs
- 12” Corded: 55-70 lbs
Third, the saws cutting capacity is exactly what I need on 90-95% of the remodeling and carpentry jobs I perform. Rarely do I need to pull out a 12-inch miter saw. Frankly they’re too big and heavy, I equate that to using a sledgehammer to sink a finish nail. The Milwaukee M18 saw will cut a 1×6 vertical and a 2×12 on its flat, that’s going to do fine for me on most days.
Fourth on my “what we really liked list,” is the bevel lever. Beveling this saw is achieved through lifting a paddle lever on the rear top of the saw. Most saws require you to reach, unnaturally around and under the rear of the saw. This lever is cable controlled and easily lifts and adjusts the saw in either direction and up to 48-degrees on both sides. It you lift and release the lever it will stop on a dime.
Note – The cable paddle stops the saw head when released. When returning to zero [90-degrees] you need to ensure that the saw is fully against it’s stop. Several times I thought I zeroed the saw at 90-degrees, only to find my cut off by a degree or two. I attributed this to more of a learning curve.
Ok, I have five things; so shoot me!
My fifth feature that I liked is the cut line indicator. Controlled by a separate switch or depressing the tools trigger, this cut-line light illuminates the blade [casting a shadow] indicating the line of cut. In my opinion, this feature is way better then a laser, that often needs to be re-calibrated with different size diameter saw blades. When the blade is brought down to the work piece, the shadow line is perfectly matched with the kerf of the blade, showing you EXACTLY where and how wide your cut will be. Dewalt was the first to come out with this feature, I use this feature all the time on their saws, and loved using it on the M18 cordless miter saw.
The Milwaukee M18 Fuel Dual Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw will not bevel to the right at 45-degrees without first removing the right side sliding fence. I’m not sure how this limited, right-side bevel slipped past the design team but this is a major annoyance and time sink. Removing parts of the saw in order to perform a cut also means that part will likely go missing on the job site when it gets left behind.
All I can say is thankfully it can cut a 1×6 on its vertical, so I didn’t have to deal with this too often. I’d like to see a second generation saw that can handle the bevel just the same in both directions.
Milwaukee M18 FUEL Miter Saw Run-time
Milwaukee now has a High Demand 9.0 Ah battery with an upgraded electronic package that offers impressive performance. According to Milwaukee this miter saw when equipped with a High Demand 9.0Ah battery pack can make up to:
- 400 cuts in 3-1/2″ baseboard trim
- 300 cuts through 2x4s
- 150 cuts in 2×12 lumber
Is Run-Time The Ultimate Measure of Performance?
Of course it is, buts it’s only one metric. On our website we often perform cordless tool run-time tests. These tests are often aggressive ways to test a tool to its limits and are often used as a metric for guys looking to compare whose saw is better. The old “my saw is bigger than yours,” applies here.
While this may be fun banter, unfortunately some folks use only this to make purchase decisions. The job site reality is that these tools are rarely used to the extreme of these run-time tests. While sexy and fun to watch – torture testing is not painting a complete picture. The real metric is whether this saw has the features you need, to professionally complete your work, and will it keep up with what you do. For us it does!
Job Site Run-Time Perfomance
We’ve been using this saw daily, exclusively for 6 weeks on our job sites. Most of the work we have been doing is exterior trim, siding and some interior trim work.
Unless you are performing production cutting, like cutting hundreds of balusters and decking in one day, you’ll find that this saw will give you a FULL day of work on one charge. In our case it depended on the work we were doing. We got a full days work on one battery, but also experienced several days of work on one battery:
- On one project, we cut one-hundred balusters and a bunch of Ipe decking, and needed to change the battery early into the next morning.
- On several subsequent jobs we performed minor trim repairs to a house, cutting mostly 1×6 trim and cedar clapboard siding. On this job the battery lasted 4 days, even a week.
We feel that the 9.0 Ah battery will get the job done, and if you’re concerned or still not sold, then get two batteries. Any PRO contractor concerned about productivity is going to have at least two batteries with this tool.
Adjusting the saws miter angle is accomplished easily, and effortlessly by activating a cam lever. The cam locking miter system has adjustable stainless steel miter detents at 11 detent locations. We found this saws miter adjustment easy to use and extremely smooth. On other smaller saws we’ve experienced friction in this movement, especially when gunked up with sawdust.
To change the miter angle, you pull up the top cam lever and swing the arm left or right until you hit a detent. If you want the saw to swing and adjust freely or override the detents, you can pull the bottom trigger. Pushing the cam lever down locks the angle in whether you are on a detent or not. The miter adjustment plate is stainless steel and can be adjusted if the saw gets out of square.
As I mentioned above, the saw rails slide in and out of the body of the saw, we found them extremely smooth to operate. The saws head when fully extended on the rails has some minor play in it. While this is pretty typical on slide saws, I’ll remind you to be light-handed and pay attention to your hand pressure when making these full slide-out cuts. This is especially important on trim “money-cuts.” When the saw is lowered, or the rails retracted the saw is tight, no slop.
The lateral movement of the head is most notable when the head of the saw is fully open (up). As the saw blade/head are lowered into the work piece the lateral movement is reduced significantly as the “moment arm” from the blade to the rails is reduced.
There is also a lever on the front of the saw that will lock the saw in “chop saw only” mode. By toggling it and pushing the sliding carriage all the way back, you can lock the saws slide rails.
The dual bevel is adjusted by lifting up on a paddle on the top of the saw. Lift it up fully and you can adjust to any angle, let it go and it “stops on a dime.” If you lower the paddle halfway down it’ll stop in detents at common angles.
The Milwaukee M18 FUEL dual bevel sliding compound miter saw 2734-21 comes with a square, boxy looking dust bag that works surprisingly well. On the back of the saw there is a dual 1-1/4″ and 2-1/2″ dust port that will fit most shop vacuums. We also hooked this saw up to dust collection on a trim job where we were cutting a lot of PVC trim. Even with dust collection the saw spews some dust, I’ve yet to see a saw that doesn’t. A dustless saw, now that would be something?.
Price: $549 for the bare saw, $649 for the kit which comes with a 9.0Ah battery and rapid charger. The rapid charger will charge the battery in 90 minutes.
3 Takeaways – M18 FUEL Miter Saw
One of the really important things to understand is that this saw truly allows you to cut the cord. The biggest takeaway for me and my crew comes down to 3 principles:
- Cordless Platform
- Full day work
Milwaukee built this cordless saw on its M18 platform, they are investing in this platform and supporting their users who bought into it. In comparison, I’m a big fan of the 20 Volt DEWALT tool platform, but disappointed that they changed their tool platform with their 60 Volt FlexVolt tools. While this may work in the end for DEWALT, it may take time for guys to buy into it.
The Milwaukee M18 FUEL dual bevel sliding compound miter saw is light and my entire crew has commented on its weight over the last two weeks while working on staging. Some carpenters may scoff at the saw being only 10-inches, but I prefer having a lighter tool that accomplishes 90-95% of what we do daily. If I need a larger saw, I know where to get one!
Lastly, getting a full days work out of a 9.0 Ah battery, while using a high capacity tool like a miter saw is impressive, and accomplished! Milwaukee may be “cutting” their teeth a little late on carpentry tools, but beware, once they join a core tool focus, they jump in from all “angles.”
Milwaukee FUEL M18 Dual Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw
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