This post is sponsored by The Home Depot. Take a stroll through pretty much any job site where there’s carpentry going on, and it probably won’t take long before you come across someone using a power miter saw. Whether it’s for rough or finish work, the sliding compound miter saw has become one of the must-have tools of the trade. While all the major tool makers have been working toward a cordless job site, there are a few tools that demand a lot of power – like miter saws – that have foiled their plans. Until now. Milwaukee’s engineers have combined a highly efficient brushless motor with proprietary advances in battery capacity and output, and come up with the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Miter Saw. They sent one to HomeFixated HQ, so we could see if it has enough slicing and dicing power to convince you to leave the corded saw in the truck.
Here is a quick tease to get us started:
We got our first up-close look at the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Miter Saw (model 2734-20) last summer during the Milwaukee New Product Symposium. In a venue where there was a LOT of cool new stuff to see, the miter saw garnered more than its fair share of attention. Clearly, there’s a lot of interest in a cordless miter saw that can hold its own in the real world.
To that end, Milwaukee’s designers didn’t cut corners – they built a rugged, beefy saw, as robust as any corded model you’re likely to come across on a job site. And as capable, too – even with its 10” blade, the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Miter Saw can make 90 degree and bevel cuts in 2X12” lumber, cut stock up to 5-3/4” tall, and handle nested crown up to 5-1/4”. Here’s the official list from Milwaukee, followed by a quick promo video with some soothing music.
• 5-¾” Vertical Capacity (Base Board Against the Fence)
• 2 x 12 Horizontal Capacity (Laying Flat at 90°)
• 5-¼” Vertical Capacity Nested Crown
• Cam Locking Miter System with Adjustable Stainless Steel Miter Detent Plate and 11 detent locations
• Dual Bevel with 9 detents and easy access bevel lever
• Shadow Cut Line Indicator for quickly lining up cuts
• Top and Side Carrying Handles for maximum portability
• Detent Override for Easily Setting Miter Locations Outside of Detents
• Up to 400 Cuts per Charge
• Tall Sliding / Removable Fences to Support Large Base and Crown Against The Fence
• Easy Access Blade Change
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
Tool Warranty 5 Years
Getting the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Miter Saw set up was a snap. After de-boxing it, you just have to attach the carry handles/supports on each end, secure the kickstand to the rear, and install the blade. The whole process was quick and easy, even the blade installation. In a feat of engineering magnificence, the blade guard actually stays out of the way while you change the blade! The process only takes about a minute, using the blade wrench, which resides securely in a rubber grommet on the rear of the saw.
Our saw blade was perfectly square to the fence right out of the box. If yours got some overly-exuberant handling during shipping, not to worry. The manual, which I actually opened, tells you how to make sure it’s square, to both the fence and the table. If adjustments are needed, the manual has good step-by-step instructions.
Once the saw is set up, slide in a battery, and you’re ready to make some sawdust. If you’ve used a compound miter saw before, you’ll be right at home here. Changing the miter is simple: Squeeze the detent lever, and rotate the turntable to the desired angle. There are solid, positive detents at 0, 15, 22.5, 31.6, 45, and 50 degrees left and right, and 60 degrees right. You can also select any angle in between; depressing the miter lock lever will lock it solidly in.
Setting a left or right bevel is also fast and easy, and can be done right from the front of the saw. Simply pull back on the bevel adjustment lever, and rotate the saw head left or right to the desired angle. There are detents at 0, 22.5, 33.85 and 45 degrees, and the bevel can be set anywhere along the scale, including points beyond 45 degrees, by simply pushing the lever forward to lock it.
For making steep bevel cuts, the fence will have to be removed on one side. This is a minor annoyance, but it’s actually pretty fast and easy: Just loosen the knob on the fence, and slide it right out. It goes back in place just as quickly.
But Wait, There’s More…
The ability to make fast, accurate cuts is a key feature for any miter saw. One of my favorite features on the Milwaukee M18 Fuel miter saw is the cut line indicator. Indicators on other saws I’ve used range from nonexistent to marginally useful. The indicator on the Milwaukee is excellent. A light shines down along the blade, casting a highly-visible shadow right where the blade will cut. The indicator never gets out of adjustment, and the shadow is exactly the width of the blade. The indicator has a switch that lights it up for about ten seconds, and it comes on automatically when the saw is started.
Another cool feature is the depth of cut adjustment. This allows you to stop the blade at a preset point before it’s completely down, allowing you to cut grooves or rabbets in your material. Simply rotate the depth stop lever up, lower the head to the desired cut depth, rotate the depth stop adjustment knob until it contacts the lever, and lock it in place with the lock nut. Among other uses, I can see where that could be very handy for cutting a bunch of kerfs in the back of material you want to bend, or for an improvised dado.
The Milwaukee M18 Fuel Miter Saw Makes Some Sawdust
Like many users, I give my sliding compound miter saws a workout on a combination of rough and finish carpentry tasks. Over the past few months, I’ve had the chance to let the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Miter Saw munch on dimensional lumber from 2 x 4’s to 2 x 12’s, with the occasional 4 x 4 to keep it in shape. It also got a heapin’ helping of red oak baseboard and window trim and oak flooring. The saw was even able to handle a 1-3/4″ x 11-7/8″ LVL beam. That slowed it down a little, but it forged right on through.
During a recent project, we replaced nine windows on an old farmhouse. Some of the windows had some rotted framing members that had to be replaced, and all the exterior trim was done using 1x 4″ PVC. We used the Milwaukee M18 Fuel miter saw to make all the cuts. We swapped out the framing blade and put in a 60-tooth finish blade, and got beautiful, smooth finish cuts. The saw didn’t break a sweat – or use up much of the battery – to repair and trim all nine windows.
The interior trim for the new windows is all being done in red oak. The 60-tooth finish blade did a great job of providing splinter-free cuts, and the cut line indicator made it easy to get all the trim pieces the exact size I wanted. We’re doing all the baseboard and door trim out of oak, too, as well as installing 5” wide tongue and groove oak flooring. The Milwaukee has no trouble zipping right through it.
During the same project, we replaced a tired, ugly ceiling. We ran 2 x 4” sleepers perpendicular to the existing trusses. The Milwaukee M18 Fuel Miter Saw made quick work of cutting the sleepers to length, and cutting filler blocks for all the gaps. Finally, it spent a little quality time spiffing up the kitchen. We installed a Pergo XP floor, and the Milwaukee did a perfect job of producing smooth edges when we had to cut pieces to length.
Bringing The Power
As we mentioned, saws like the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Miter Saw need a lot of juice to make them go – and to keep them going. Milwaukee has that covered pretty well. The saw can be purchased in a kit with the new 9.0 Ah High Demand M18 battery, which was designed for power-hungry tools like saws, big drills, LED work lights, and the like.
In our testing of the saw, we made a lot of cuts, but the saw wasn’t in continuous use. This is pretty typical of most job sites, in my experience; cut a bunch of pieces, go put ‘em in, come back and cut a bunch more pieces…We were able to go a couple of days between battery charges. A single battery would likely get you through the day on all but the busiest sites, although it would be a good insurance policy to have a spare. If there are other Milwaukee tools on site, any M18 battery will work in a pinch. We also used the saw with a 5.0 Ah battery, and while it seemed like there was a small drop in power, the saw had no trouble cutting anything we threw at it.
Ready To Cut Another Cord?
A good miter saw is one of the most useful – and most used – tools on almost every job site. Having a versatile, powerful saw that can be set up wherever is most convenient – without worrying about access to power – is a big time and headache saver.
At only 47 pounds with the 9.0 Ah battery installed, the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Miter Saw is a lot easier to schlep around than any other full-sized miter saw I’ve used. The well-placed carrying handles, one at each end and one on top, help out here, too. Getting it in and out of the truck and into its work stance is relatively painless. All the adjustments on the saw are fast and simple, and the saw has plenty of power to perform surgery on your lumber of choice.
Any quibbles? Nothing major. Even though it only takes a few seconds, having to remove the fence to make a steep bevel cut is a minor annoyance. The only other quibble is somewhat mediocre dust collection. Because of the sliding rail design, the bag remains pretty far removed from the cutting head, and the sawdust has to travel a bit through the groove/chute to get to it. Connecting a vacuum to the dust port helps quite a bit, but face it – that sort of defeats the purpose of untethering the saw.
The Milwaukee M18 Fuel Miter Saw is capable enough, and robust enough, to handle 95% of the jobs a typical carpenter or remodeling contactor would throw at it. For a serious DIYer or serial renovator, it could well serve as the only compound miter saw you’d need. Milwaukee backs the saw with a solid five-year warranty, and the Home Depot offers a 90-day money-back guarantee.
As this goes to press, Milwaukee has a promotion going on where they’re tossing in an extra 9.0 Ah battery when you purchase the kit (model 2734-21 HDP). That means for $599, you get the saw, two 9.0 Ah batteries, and a rapid charger. That’s a sweet deal, and a great opportunity for anyone on the M18 platform to add another high-performance battery to the corral.
Buy the bare tool for around $499:
I acknowledge that The Home Depot is partnering with Home Fixated in sponsored content. As a part of the sponsorship, Home Fixated is receiving compensation for the purpose of promoting The Home Depot. All expressed opinions and experiences are our own words. This post complies with the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Ethics Code and applicable Federal Trade Commission guidelines.