A miter saw is a powerful tool that gives you the kind of precision and options that you just don’t get with a lot of other free-hand tools. This is a large tool that stays fixed in place and that has a saw attached to an arm. You place the wood down in place and then you adjust the precise angle of the saw both in terms of the angle of the cut and the angle of the blade and thereby for the slope (bevel) that you’ll get on the edge of the cut.
This is a great addition to any workshop as it will allow you to make far more precise angled cuts than would otherwise be possible. This then opens up a whole world of new possibilities while allowing you to stop messing around with protractors, rules and pencils (and lots and lots of rubbing out…).
Thing is though, just because you’re ready to add a miter saw to your collection, that doesn’t mean that you’re going to want something that has a ton of power and that gives you all the bells and whistles under the sun. Miter saws can be expensive and they can take up a large amount of space, so what if you want something a little more basic?
In that case, the Ryobi ZRTS1143L might just be the ideal tool for you. This is a smaller, more compact and less feature-rich miter saw. But is it enough for your particular needs? Let’s find out!
Too weak for you?
We’ve already reviewed several miter saws that fall into the 10”, 15 amp category. Those are small, light-ish tools that can generally be easily carried from room to room. And the price reflects this.
Well now we’re going smaller and lighter still. The Ryobi ZRTS1143L is a 7” blade with a 9 amp motor, which makes it very much designed for making small cuts. That’s even what the tool describes itself as offering.
This of course is absolutely fine, as long as you know precisely what you’re getting and you’re happy with that. Just know that this isn’t going to be cutting through very thick materials and that it isn’t going to replace any professional grade equipment any time soon.
The design is also of the budget variety. This is a grey and lime green/yellow looking tool which is certainly… an interesting choice. It is light to carry around but also very light to operate which is nice. It is prone to a little occasional vibration though and also lacks some of the stability that you would obviously get from a heavier and bigger tool. Again though, you should have known that going in.
The tool also comes with a laser, which is nice for the price. This of course gives you a little more precision and lets you see precisely where the cut is going to be once you’ve made it. That adds confidence when you’re working and is fun to use. There’s a fence too that comes with little markings for easily seeing the angle and size of things.
It does miss some other key features though, such as a wrench for changing the blade or positive stops.
The good and the bad…
This is a great tool if you want something very basic but still need a miter saw. This is an affordable purchase and one that will give you a good amount of versatility, power and precision for the price. That said though, there are also some features missing here and it’s particularly a shame to find that there’s no positive stops. And of course you are also looking at something that is very much designed for small cuts in thin materials. And what you need to ask yourself is whether that’s really a wise move, seeing as for not much more – in some cases for the same price – you could get a 10” blade and 15 amps.
Overall, it’s a very likeable little saw but when you buy it you are making a conscious decision to get something less powerful. And that’s not even necessarily going to be tied to the price, seeing as there are models out there for a similar amount that offer more power and more features…
PS: Sometimes you can get this tool refurbished for a really good price!