What’s this? A blue saw? In a world dominated by Dewalt yellow, the Hercules Miter Saw is making waves with their striking blue brand color and well-built products.
This is a cheaper miter saw that offers many the same benefits as the high-end saws and seems to have the engineering to back it up.
I’m convinced that this is about the best miter saw you can buy for the home DIYer and weekend warrior. And I’m becoming more inclined to also heavily recommended it for the professional carpenter.
A lot of you remember the sometimes-mediocre Chicago Electric products that Harbor Freight sells. If your experiences have been like mine, it has made you think twice before buying their power tools.
This Hercules line of tools is Harbor Freight’s attempt to create a pro-level tool. I feel that this Hercules Miter saw is going to change our perception of their tools. Hold your skepticism.
If you don’t have a Harbor Freight near you, you can buy it on Amazon.
This saw looks very much like a Dewalt DWS780 knock off, including the LED cut-line light that is mirrored after Dewalt’s XPS system.
Hercules Miter Saw Review
- 12″ blade size
- Miters 60° right, 50° left
- Double Bevel: 49° both directions
- 14″ cut width at vertical
- 7-1/2″ nested crown molding cutting capacity
- 6-3/4″ baseboard vertical cutting capacity
- Light-shadow blade guidance
- 15Amp @ 4100 RPM Motor
- Weighs ~56 lbs
Is the Hercules Brand Any Good?
All of the mechanisms seem very solid, and it provides accurate cuts. Using this saw feels just like using a Makita or Dewalt. Even better, they seem to have one of the easiest-to-use warranties.
The dual-bevel sliding compound miter saw has become so expensive to purchase.
Most of us save and save — and then settle for something with fewer features.
Until the Hercules hit the market, I was pushing the Metabo. I think this might just sway that recommendation.
With the built-in sliding mechanism, you get a massive 14-inch wide bite. The saw has dual linear bearings that slide smoothly on the rails.
Suddenly this is your go-to saw for everything under 14 inches wide.
The high-output 15 amp motor whirs at 4,100 RPMs, making it super easy to cut with minimal resistance.
Ideally, we’d start seeing more brushless motors on these Miter saws. Both Dewalt and Hercules sell replacement brushes for the motor, should they wear down from heavy use. They are simple to replace if that becomes an issue.
The Hercules will cut a 6×6 inch chunk of hardwood with ease (it’s rated for a maximum height of 6.75-inches). Of course, 6-inch pine is like butter to this saw.
It also has a massive 7-1/2″ Crown molding nested capacity.
A Better Blade
The stock blade is of better quality than what generally comes with a miter saw. It has laser relief cuts for heat relief, which makes it a better quality blade. This offers an additional value while giving you better cuts without burn marks or jagged edges on the wood.
From framing to flooring to trim work, you are going to get a consistent cut.
It’s dual bevel cuts are easily adjusted and accurate. The huge wingnut shaped lever on the back makes it easy to loosen and tighten for the Bevel cuts. The oversized Bevel scale is easy to read, even if they have some sawdust on them.
I love this saw because it is a double-bevel design that lets you cut at 49-degree bevel angles in either direction. This makes it easy to get the right cut without performing intricate geometry in your head.
As a dual bevel sliding miter saw, you can perform wider beveled cuts, which lets you keep the table saw put away for most of your jobs.
The Hercules 12-inch Miter saw turns 60 degrees to the right and 50 degrees to the left.
The ten positive stops on the miter detent plate offer accurate cuts and solid adjustments right from the box, decreasing the amount of time you need to do to get it set up and calibrated. The Stainless Steel plate provides a stable woodworking surface.
The screw on the bottom secures the angle in position with just a few turns, and the little lever on the top makes it easy to release and pivot it around.
I do prefer saws that don’t require you to hand-tighten it into each stop, but this is a small inconvenience considering how well this saw performs.
The led light button is easily clicked with your thumb above the handle. It provides a nice drop shadow on the blade, similar to the Dewalt DWS 780, and making it easier to get your cuts aligned when working quickly.
Of course, if you need to work outside of the lines, the miter detent override allows infinite micro-adjustments, and you simply tighten the handle to secure it in these unique angle positions.
The crown molding soft clamps are nice for holding the material in place while you work in intricate cuts.
As you know, dust collection is hit and miss on miter saws. However, this one does include the dust collector port so you can plug it into your shop system and try to reduce the sawdust.
You’ll still get a lot of sawdust on the floor, but the dust collector can help minimize and direct the mess. It also comes with a dustbag, if you don’t have a dust collector.
I rarely carry my saw by the top handle. Instead, I like to mount it to a Miter Saw Stand. This lets me raise it up to a handy height for working on wood, and it supports longer boards as I get the job done.
Accordingly, one thing that has come up is how flimsily the top handle is. If you are carrying it by this all the time or it gets buried under other stuff in the back of your work van, I could see how the carrying handle could be damaged.
Hercules Vs. Dewalt Miter Saws
An out-of-the-box head-to-head competition is challenging since Dewalt ships their DWS779 with what I consider to be an inferior saw blade. After you buy a new Miter Saw blade, the cuts done by the Dewalt and the Hercules seems to be indistinguishable.
Shadow Cut Light
The Dewalt DWS780 advertises their exclusive XPS lighting system on the DWS 780 to help guide your cuts. The Hercules uses a drop shadow light, which seems to work fairly similarly, but is broader and possibly less precise of a light (although the saw itself is very accurate).
My experience has been that none of us trust the lights exclusively and always keep an eye on where the saw blade is engaging.
But the line lights are a nice feature to have.
15 Amp Motor
Both of these models offer a 15 amp motor. Fifteen amps is about the heaviest motor you can run without running a special circuit. Since most of us will use these miter saws on a job site, we want that 15 amp rating, so we get the maximum power without blowing a breaker.
The Hercules advertises 4100 RPM while the Dewalt shows a slightly lower 3800 RPM. Generally, faster is a tad better for most tasks.
Dewalt has a 1-year warranty with free service. Supposedly, you get a 3-year parts warranty with Dewalt if you have the correct documentation, and you get it back to the correct, approved service center.
This generally means that you have to package it to their specifications and mail it off for repair at your cost.
Hercules also offers a 1-year warranty. My experience with Harbor Freight tools has been that you can just return the tool to your nearest store for an exchange, making it easier to get a warranty repair than most other brands.
Hercules Vs. Kobalt Miter Saw
The other blue brand is Kobalt — Lowe’s consumer-centric brand options.
A lot of the specifications are the same. They both offer a 15 amp motor with a 4,000+ RPM.
Where the Kobalt tends to stand out is with its three-year limited warranty. I haven’t tried returning a Kobalt item to Lowes yet, but from their site it looks like you just take it back to Lowes for support.
Where the Hercules outdoes the Kobalt is in the amount of wood that it can cut. It has a much taller bite, letting you take on cuts that the Kobalt is unable to do.
The Kobalt does have a 2-inch wider cut, letting you crosscut 2×16″ boards without flipping them over, compared to the Hercules 2×14″ crosscut.
I doubt any of us will be buying new parts since we just are taking the tool in for repairs, but I did some poking around. Even though it is a new tool, some of the more custom pieces are already showing up for sale on amazon.
The bearings are the standard 6302 like the Dewalt uses, so it should be easy to find replacements if they go.
I am, however, not seeing any replacement motors on the market yet—just the small parts.
Weekend Warrior Vs. Pro Use
Sometimes I get hate because I will recommend a tool for Weekend Warriors.
The reason comes down to heat.
When you are a professional contractor, working skillfully, under a deadline, you are likely to push your saw to the maximum, multiple times a day.
This causes heat to build up. The bearings heat, the electronics get hot.
And the tool becomes well-tested.
Weekend DIYers tend to work at a more moderate pace. Their tools get the occasional lunch break to let the electronics cool down.
I’m very convinced that this one will hold up well for weekend home builders, and likely for the professional as well.
Who Makes the Hercules Miter Saw?
The Hercules seems to be made by Harbor Freight. Harbor Freight is able to offer low-priced tools by shipping the manufacturing out to the cheapest Chinese manufacturer. That manufacturing may change from year to year, depending on which company offers them the cheapest rate.
It appears that this one is made in Taiwan. It has the CSA certification, which matches all of the other name-brand saws.
Is Harbor Freight the New Craftsman?
With Sears unloading Craftsman, their innovation and tool selection has been rather limited. We’ve needed to see innovation at an affordable price point.
The new Harbor Freight Hercules costs enough more that they are at serious risk of alienating their biggest fan base of shoppers who want to buy a tool for a one-off job.
This new Miter saw appears to be using some of the same engineering work as the more name brand tools, especially when you look at the ample airflow around the motor and how accurately the stainless steel base is designed.
Would I buy the Hercules?
My garage is busting with tools, but I’m super excited about this one and think it could make a solid, permanent addition to my tool trailer.
Over the DWS779, you get a better blade, and that LED Light Cut Line system. That basically puts it on par with the DWS780… and the warranty looks very enticing.
I think it is a top pick for folks doing their own home remodels. We might even start calling it a Dewalt Clone. Time will tell.
The downside is, It hasn’t been on the market long enough for myself or anyone else to get the hours on the tool to see how the longevity is. So we have to bet heavily on Harbor Freight’s excellent past history of honoring their tool warranties.
Eric Schmidt (CEO of Harbor Freight) has been in the business for a long time. He sees a reason to take the company’s quality up a level.