Although sliding compound miter saws are great for cutting larger materials, one thing I’ve found they often lack is portability. This isn’t a massive issue for everyone, but some of us need a miter saw for both the workshop and taking to a jobsite.
I decided to look at the Hercules Professional, a 12” dual bevel sliding miter saw. It came recommended by several fellow carpenters, who specifically mentioned its portability.
Read on to find out what I thought about this miter saw, and if it doesn’t match your needs then I offer some great alternatives too.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Miter Saw
A compound miter saw isn’t necessarily a novice’s tool. They have the ability to make precise crosscuts through large pieces of lumber, such as decking or cabinet trim.
They differ from circular saws in that they are mounted, whereas circular saws aren’t. This is beneficial for making more efficient crosscuts, as the work is less dependent on your precision.
Miter saws generally have more of a factory assembly feel to them. You simply have to line up the material, drop the blade down, and move on to the next cut. If your intention is to make a series of crosscuts, this definitely saves time.
Compound miter saws are best suited to professional woodworkers and large-scale woodworking hobbyists. They’re particularly well suited for jobs such as framing and cabinet making that require beveling.
You might be thinking, “Should I buy a single or dual bevel miter saw?” In short, a dual bevel miter saw saves you having to flip the material when making several beveled cuts. This ultimately saves time on larger projects.
But if you’re in the market for an efficient saw for smaller at-home DIY projects then you might be better suited to a circular saw or standard miter saw.
Similarly, compound miter saws aren’t designed for metal work. The blade speed is too high for cutting metal. If you’re after a saw that can cut both wood and metal, consider a chop saw instead. Chop saws have a lower RPM and more weight behind them.
To summarize, a compound miter saw is suitable for:
- Professionals in the construction industry.
- Cabinetmakers and framers, need from easy beveling.
- Amateur carpenters who work with large pieces of lumber.
The Hercules 12-inch Dual-Bevel Sliding Miter Saw
This sliding miter saw is definitely a tool for professionals. But its ease of use means it’s also a great starting point for those who are new to miter saws.
In my opinion, its dual bevel and LED shadow guide make it suitable for professionals and hobbyists alike.
What’s more, its mid-range price tag makes it ideal for novices. It’s also affordable enough to be a secondary or replacement tool for professionals.
Inside the box you’ll find the saw, a 12” 60-tooth blade, dust bag, material clamp and blade wrench. It also comes with a 1 year warranty to cover any breakdowns.
What I Like
- Lighter than other miter saws.
- Dual bevel allows for a variety of cuts.
- Bevel markings are nice and clear.
- More affordable price than competitors.
What I Don’t Like
- Manual states a professional must adjust the bevel angle.
- Sawdust intake seal is a bit flimsy.
- Locking screw is less efficient than locking lever found on similar models.
Blade Size and Cutting Capacity
The Hercules has a 12” blade that offers a vertical cutting capacity of 6.75” at 90 degrees. It also has a horizontal cutting capacity of 14”, which is fairly standard for a blade of this size.
In short, this is more than enough cutting capacity for even large pieces of lumber. The 60-tooth carbide-tipped blade makes quick work of hardwoods. This means you have about as much efficiency as you can ask from a miter saw.
This saw has a power draw of 15A at 120V, and reaches a top blade speed of 4,100RPM. This is slightly faster than other miter saws in a similar price range, meaning you can get through your cutting jobs at a better pace.
Due to its blade speed you should have no problems cutting through both hard and softwoods. This is useful for anyone working on a variety of projects and saves you having to switch between tools for different woods.
This also helps with the overall precision and quality of the cuts you make. In short, there’s no danger of the saw slowing down when cutting through harder materials.
Unlike some other miter saws, the Hercules lacks a soft start. Rather than the blade gradually speeding up, it turns on. But this isn’t a problem once you get used to it. If anything, it saves you time not having to wait around!
As with most saws, precision is the name of the game with a miter saw. Luckily the Hercules offers plenty of features to provide high-precision cutting.
The dual bevel ranges from 60 degrees to the right and 50 degrees to the left. This means it can accommodate a wide range of cuts, and saves you having to flip the material when working.
Also, the bevel scale is very clearly marked and locks securely into place. This makes cutting at a range of angles super easy, and saves you time on larger and more complex projects.
Perhaps one of my favorite features on this miter saw is its LED shadow guide. In short, this casts a shadow over the cutting line, making it much easier to see. This obviously helps with visibility and precision.
One of the key features on a miter saw is its fence, as this is what keeps your material in position. The Hercules has a high-quality double metal fence that keeps the material stable while working.
My only real negative on this saw is its locking mechanism. It still uses the traditional screw lock to hold materials in place. While there’s nothing really wrong with this, it does take longer to use than a locking lever.
Considering many other features on this saw save time, this is a bit of a shame. But it’s not a big issue if this is the locking mechanism you’re familiar with.
A sliding miter saw is useful for making deeper cuts in your material. While there are several kinds of sliding miter saw available, the Hercules has the saw’s body mounted on the rails. These then slide through a bearing system, offering smooth sliding action.
The only real downside of this sliding saw is that it takes up more space than something like an axial glide system. This is only a problem if you’re short on space in your workshop.
That said, a potential issue is that the bearing system can become clogged with sawdust. The Hercules comes with a dust bag, so I’d recommend hooking this up before working.
But if this is a concern you might be better looking for a miter saw with an axial gliding system. This is less prone to clogging because it features an articulated arm instead of rails.
Ease of Use
If you’re looking for a miter saw that’s easy to use then this could be the one for you. It’s easy to set up straight from the box and you can have it working in no time.
The fences have good clearance and will hold your material firmly in place while cutting. Also, it comes with a material clamp included for extra stability.
The Hercules has a trigger and safety switch that are easy to hold at the same time. They’re also ergonomic enough to use in longer cutting sessions; a big advantage for professionals.
Adjusting the bevel is simple; you flick the handle, move into position, and then return the handle to its original position. This offers high levels of precision, and the clear markings make it easy to see what angle you need.
The only downside to the bevel is that you need to reach behind the saw to adjust it. This isn’t a massive problem; it just means you need to wait for the saw to stop completely before adjusting.
Finally, the miter detent comes with an override system that allows you to make fine adjustments. It has 10 positive stops, allowing for a range of cutting angles. What’s more, it’s simple to use, meaning even novices should get the hang of it quickly.
My only negative of this saw is that the manual states you need to get the bevel angle adjusted by a professional. This isn’t necessary, however, as you can find videos on how to adjust the bevel angle.
For the most part, miter saws aren’t designed to be portable. But the Hercules weighs in at 56lbs, making it a much more portable option than most.
To help with this it has a carry handle over the trigger and two handgrips on the base. While you might not be up for lugging around a 56lb saw all the time, this at least makes it easier to take to jobsites when needed.
The downside to this is that the Hercules isn’t foldable. It isn’t the most convenient shape for carrying, but its lighter weight makes it a better option than most.
Perhaps one of the best extra features on this miter saw is its LED cutting guide. This makes precision cuts easy because it casts a shadow over your cutting line.
Also the saw comes with a dust bag included, which helps to keep your workspace clear. You can hook it up to a dust extractor instead, meaning you have options for both in the workshop and on the go.
The blade guard is a standard design but does the job. It provides good visibility of your material while cutting, so there’s not much more you can ask of it.
Warranty and Support
The Hercules comes with a 1-year warranty, which is pretty standard for tools of this kind. You do have the option to extend this by a further 2 years, which is a great help.
Also Harbor Freight guarantee the tool is in proper working condition upon arrival. If not, you can have it replaced for free.
What’s more, there’s also a no-risk free trial so you can make sure it’s right for your needs. It’s not something all brands offer, so it’s definitely worth taking advantage of this.
Harbor Freight (the company behind Hercules tools) provide good support for their buyers. They respond quickly to any issues and are happy to replace any tools under the warranty period.
I’d definitely recommend having the extended warranty to take advantage of their above-average customer service.
Alternative Miter Saws
Although the Hercules miter saw is a great all-round product, it might not be suitable for your needs. Take a look at my full rundown of what I consider to be the best miter saws on the market in 2020. Alternately check out these alternatives to see if one is a better fit than the Hercules.
Ryobi TSS102L 12” Sliding Compound Miter Saw
The Ryobi is a 12” miter saw like the Hercules, but is less bulky. Although it’s only 1lb lighter, its shape does make it easier to carry around. Its lower price makes it a better choice for amateur hobbyists rather than professional woodworkers.
It has a laser guide for precise cutting and is incredibly easy to use. This makes it suitable for those with little experience operating miter saws.
Compared to the Hercules:
- Less bulky – It’s only 1lb lighter but is much more portable because of its shape.
- Single bevel – The single bevel means you have to flip your material, but not everyone needs a dual bevel miter saw.
- Lower price – There’s not much price difference between them, but the Ryobi is slightly cheaper.
The Ryobi TSS102L is a good choice for the home hobbyist who doesn’t need all the professional features found on the Hercules. That said, it offers greater portability if that’s something you’re after. For a more detailed look head over to my full Ryobi miter saw review. Alternatively click below to find out more information and see if it’s right for your needs.
DEWALT DWS780 12” Sliding Compound Miter Saw
The DEWALT comes in at a higher price point than the Hercules, but it offers more professional benefits. It has a more efficient dust collection system that helps to keep your workspace cleaner than the Hercules.
It has the more updated lever locking system, which makes it much quicker to use. It weighs the same as the Hercules but is easier to carry because it’s less bulky. This would be a good choice for professionals moving between jobsites.
Compared to the Hercules:
- Lower blade speed –The DEWALT’s blade speed is 3,800RPM but it’ll still cut through any wood you have in mind.
- More portable – Both saws weigh the same but the DEWALT is less bulky and has better carrying handles.
- Higher price point – While more expensive, it has a more professional feel to it.
- Easier locking – The cam locking system makes miter locking much quicker than the Hercules.
Overall, the DEWALT is a great choice for professionals who need a portable tool that offers high levels of precision. If you want more information on its features, click below.
Bosch GCM12SD 12” Sliding Miter Saw
The biggest advantage the Bosch has over the Hercules is that it uses an axial gliding system. This is instead of rails and offers incredibly smooth cutting with less chance of blockage. It also offers better alignment than the Hercules.
However, the Bosch is at a higher price point and is missing some features. For example, it doesn’t have an LED cutting guide and is less portable. That said, axial gliding systems take up much less room, making this a great workshop option.
Compared to the Hercules:
- Better alignment – The axial gliding arm is perhaps the smoothest cut you’ll find on a miter saw.
- Less portable – It might be heavier than the Hercules, but the Bosch is a great permanent workshop option.
- No laser guide – Although it has no laser guide, the Bosch has good visibility of the cutting area, so isn’t much of a problem.
- Higher price point – It’s more expensive than the Hercules but is possibly worth it for the axial gliding arm.
The Bosch GCM12SD is a good choice for the workshop woodworker who doesn’t need to take their tool elsewhere. Its axial gliding arm is a major selling point because it provides smoother cuts. Check out my full Bosch miter saw review, or click below to see if it’s what you’re looking for.
Overall, the Hercules offers a great range of features at a very modest price point. Its portability makes it suitable for jobsite workers and workshop owners alike. What’s more, its LED cutting guide and ease of use make it ideal for novices and professionals.
If you’re looking for a new miter saw that offers both precision and reliability, the Hercules Professional 12-Inch Dual Bevel Sliding Miter Saw could be the tool for you. Take a look to see if it matches your needs.