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HOM BRIEFS Not all saws make the cut

Several factors to consider when purchasing one

Q:What kind of a saw should I buy? I am going to finish a wall in my downstairs bath where I had a new shower stall put in. I have some leftover cedar paneling from a cedar closet that I had built and am going to use that. I'm afraid of those big circular saws. Would a little circular saw work? I like miter saws. Would one of those work?

A:You are handy. You may be disappointed in a little circular saw. True, it will let you rip a board, a lengthwise cut, but it won't power through much and is harder to make accurate cuts than a miter saw. The miter saw will cut the studs for the wall and the cedar boards and the trim with ease. The saws are very accurate. Now the problem is going to be to find the one among a forest of miter saws available. A simple fixed-head saw will work, be relatively inexpensive and light enough to be convenient to set up and use. You can find one for about $75.

Moving up to get more bells and whistles is a tradeoff. The cost of the saw increases, its weight increases along with the performance. A 12-inch saw will crosscut up to a 4-by-6 and a 4-by-4 or 2-by-6 at a 45 degree miter. It will also handle wide stock, say a 1-by-8.

You can increase the capacity by buying a sliding miter saw. Now we are talking $150 at the low end. The saws that project a laser line on the work are nice, but just setting the teeth of the saw down on the stock will get you an accurate cut. Some saws tilt only one way. Some both ways to cut bevels. All have detents at common angles for easy mitering.

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Check out what is available -- it seems every portable tool maker has a model or two or three -- to find one that fits the capacity you need and your budget.

A wall made from aromatic cedar paneling should be very pretty.

If you have a question or comment, send to About the House, 18 First Ave. S.E., Rochester MN 55904. Or e-mail questions to Jerry Reising at reising@postbulletin.com. You also may call 285-7739.

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