Bosch GCM 12 GDL 305mm Axial-Glide Mitre Saw - user review

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AJB Temple

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I bought this saw mainly to cut 4” oak rafters and such like for timber framing, as well as general carpentry. It is a good saw. I bought the Axminster package deal with the Bosch saw trolley and this was £742.47 plus VAT for both. Competitors for 12” / 305 mm saws in the UK are basically the De Walt (highly regarded by many) and the Makita. Both of these have conventional rail systems. They are a bit cheaper, but not enough to matter for most people who expect a saw like this to last several years.
Bosch mitre.jpeg
Bosch .jpg

My thoughts on the saw having used it for several hours and made hundreds of cuts:

1. The saw with standard blade cuts extremely well. Very smooth cut from the general purpose wood blade, with hardly any break out and extremely smooth finish. This is as expected. I have not tried a blade change but it looks easy enough.
2. The pull push mechanism is outstanding – easily the best on the market, super smooth and very easy. Takes up far less room on the bench. This would hardly matter on site but makes a difference in the workshop.
3. Laser is feeble and hard to see in daylight. It has two dashed red lines that show each side of the blade. These work well enough for straightforward mitre cuts but are very hard to see for laterally angled / compound cuts. Also quite fiddly to adjust.
4. Dust collection is woeful without extraction. It is also woeful with extraction! The rubber / plastic rear shroud system at the back of the blade results in a cloud of sawdust being directed back at the user when cutting through thick timbers. All mitre saws are fairly hopeless in this way, but my old and much smaller Elu saw has 3 ports. Dust extraction from that 20-year-old saw is better than from this Bosch. But to be fair the Bosch is cutting much thicker stuff and thus creating more waste.
5. Depth stop is very rudimentary, being a screw down knob with spring retainer. There is a slide bar that enables you to either have the depth stop in use or not, as you wish. However, it has no graduation scale – which is poor for a pro tool in my view, and has insufficient range of adjustment, so if you want to do shallow cuts it is tricky or impossible to set up.
6. Anyone who tells you that these kind of saw are great for cutting accurate trenches etc, doesn’t know what they are talking about in my opinion. You can if you want cut out tenon cheeks with multiple cross cuts, but I would say you will get a depth variation of 0.1 or 0.2 of a millimetre. Good enough for most purposes, but not really fine work. Don’t bin your rebate plane just yet.
7. Horizontal mitre adjustment is excellent. Very precise, locks in place well.
8. Adjustable back fences are pretty good – but not perfectly rigid when you slide the tops out. You need these adjustable back fences for when the saw is tilted over a lot.
9. Saw is easy to set up accurately. However, as it happens mine was dead on straight from the box. The reason I know it is easy to adjust is it got a slight nudge from a big beam so I had to check it over! In normal use, it stays accurate.
10. Rotational mitre adjustment works well but if you want unusual angles rather than the standard ones where détentes are, it is quite difficult to get the saw into the correct position, because of the sheer weight of rotating the saw head. Also the détente lock is fiddly. It goes to a maximum of 47 degrees left and right rotationally. I wish I could get a saw that does 60 degrees, but there is no such beast. Standard detents are in sensible places. Lock mechanism for this range of adjustment is very good too.
11. Blade guard is good (transparent plastic) and
12. Blade guard release (thumb operated) and trigger mechanism is excellent.
13. Motor is more than sufficient for heavy duty use and not too noisy. I am using it to cut thick, seasoned oak and green oak and it is not struggling at all.
14. It has fast blade stop. Not fast enough to prevent your thumb getting lopped off though if you ignore the safety principles about where to hold your work.
15. There is a rudimentary hold fast supplied. This is OK but would be much better if it had a quick release. And there is only one.
16. The multilingual manual is pretty good. Oddly, the German version is slightly more comprehensive than the English one. I found some of the English bits slightly confusing, for example I thought you could only get 47 degree lateral tilt one way, but this is not so.

Issues
Aside from the feeble laser I have had no issues in use except that when you release the trigger there is a tendency for the blade to plunge down about 5mm unless you have got the saw back in its fully retracted safe position first. You don’t always want to do this with trenching or compound cuts. It may be a feature of having such a powerful saw, but I don’t like this aspect.

The trolley is a right pain to assemble with eight fiddly little nuts you have to wangle into a slot to fit the top table. Fits the saw well and is reasonably easy to operate. The extension arms go out about a metre on each side, but they could do with being stronger and more rigid, and the plastic knobs and end fittings could be better. The end supports are partly plastic and not good enough in my view. Overall the trolley is worth having but not a premium product in my view. The Makita one is better actually.

No assembly tools are provided, but we will all have the necessary spanners etc anyway, so that was no big deal. Trolley should be sent pre-assembled. 6 out of 10 as I would prefer it to have better supports that are both wider and more rigid and it took me 90 minutes to assemble on my own. Mainly because you need three hands.


Conclusion
Overall recommended. I give it 8 out of 10 for the saw. Maybe 9. To get 10 it would need better lateral adjustment, and a better laser. I can forgive weak dust collection as all chop/mitre saws spray dust. It is a very capable, high capacity saw. Accurate enough for the intended purpose – I can shave off transparent end grain slices quite consistently from 4” by 4” oak or 8” by 4” oak, not that I need to very often, but it would not do that if it was in any way struggling. It is a very good saw and the push / pull mechanism is clearly class leading.
 

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MattRoberts

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Thanks for the detailed review - it solidifies my view that this is the best saw around in my price range. It's too of the list for me after my daughter allows me to get back into woodworking!
 

AJB Temple

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Yes, I think for a portable saw that will do workshop and site it is the best out there. Someone who needs less capacity might prefer the smaller Festool offering. To my mind a chop saw is a fairly basic tool and there are four key things aside from the necessary depth of cut: accurate mitre guides, enough motor power and a good blade. Blades are consumables so any saw can have a good blade fitted. The differentiator here is the articulated action, which is featherlight in use. It was that aspect that sold it for me over the Makita. The DeWalt is getting a bit dated now and lacks adjustment flexibility.

I did see some other 12" saws. There are a couple of cheaper ones such as Metabo, which are OK but some aspects suggest more DIY or light trade at most. I also looked at some much more expensive saws in a pro dealer in Germany, but the staff there all said the Bosch was better.
 

MikeJhn

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"The trolley is a right pain to assemble with eight fiddly little nuts you have to wangle into a slot to fit the top table. Fits the saw well and is reasonably easy to operate. The extension arms go out about a metre on each side, but they could do with being stronger and more rigid, and the plastic knobs and end fittings could be better. The end supports are partly plastic and not good enough in my view. Overall the trolley is worth having but not a premium product in my view. The Makita one is better actually."

I am very surprised at the above comment, I find the Bosch Gravity stand to be brilliant, the side arms on the double tube extensions seem to be adequately rigid for every thing I have on them, but admit to not cutting 8 x 4 Oak on it, plastic knobs, not an issue for me, the end support on my gravity stand are metal, they must have changed the design a lot since I bought my version which was just after it came out, if indeed the Makita one is better it must be flawless, can you let me know what is better about it, maybe I will have to change.

Mike
 

AJB Temple

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Hi Mike.
The end supports are metal at the top, but the whole vertical part that connects the extension bar to the support is moulded plastic.
If I put a 4" square oak rafter say 2m long (I am just doing the short ones currently) on the support (one end is on the saw) the support bar sags and has to be adjusted.
The end supports are rather narrow - so if you want to cut say two 4" rafters (or whatever) side by side, one of them is half off the support. I would expect if I was doing softwood rafters, say 4 by 2, I would wish to clamp several together and batch cut them - the support is not really wide enough.
The height adjuster on the end supports is just a friction screw with a red plastic knob and is not very robust and does not lock positively. Over time the end support slips down.
If you want to move the saw (say on site) without collapsing the saw down, (e.g. I want to change work orientation so the wind is not blowing clouds of sawdust into my face) then the handle is at the wrong end - the handle on the left had side (the bottom part of the frame when collapsed) is low down.

I have used the Makita one and this one. The Makita unit is more rigid, much easier to adjust and folds more easily. It feels like a better trolley design for site use or just for heavy duty pro use. If it had not cost an extra £100 more than the package deal I would have bought the Bosch saw and the Makita trolley. Interestingly the staff in Axminster Sittingbourne also think the Makita trolley is better but I am not sure of their reasons.
 

Eric The Viking

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It does look impressive (but then it should, for the price). AJBT, I have a couple of questions if you have a sec...

The kick when you switch off - do you think that is the blade brake coming on? I just watched a promo video (by James Duffin - USA version on YT) and it seems to do that on the last cut they show. That is a very big blade for something that can move up/down (i.e. trenching etc.), and I am reminded how heavily built Wadkin kit of old was built to cross cut wit a similar blade. And those just slid on a rail, with no hinging action vertically.

I would guess that the European requirement for the blade to stop in 10 seconds probably means Bosch have to do something dramatic to dump the kinetic energy in the permitted time. It would be fascinating to know what exactly. Having played around with trying to make a functional brake for my 10" saw, I'm aware how hard it is to do, and this one has a lot more KE than my little Electra Beckum.

Is there a chunky heatsink round the back or even underneath? That energy has to go somewhere! It'll be worse for 110V versions (higher current) but the switching would also need attention to detail. I wouldn't go so far as to use the word 'marginal' but the electronic side definitely needs something a cut above the ordinary (ow! sorry.) to stay reliable over time.

None of the above implies criticism, just curiosity. The mechanics look brilliant - elegant and clever, and the braking issue is not a weakness, just a 'hidden' design requirement I am curious about.

Thanks for posting the review - really interesting.

E.
 

AJB Temple

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Hello Eric

Yes, it could well be the blade brake I suppose. It stops in a lot less than 10 seconds. I will measure the stop time at the weekend and check for a heatsink. This one is a 240 volt as my intention is to use it mainly in my workshop or the framing barn at home. I did consider 110v as a lot of my gear is site oriented, but convenience won.

You notice the blade diving most when doing stopped bevel cuts. It is not an issue for normal mitre cuts as they go through.

You are aware with this saw, especially when doing bevels at close to the maximum angle, that there is a lot of exposed blade whizzing round. I am very used to chop saws as I have been using the Elu for a very long time, but this is an altogether different animal. The saw is very well engineered. I might buy a spare blade guard for it as it is quite easy to clunk it when manhandling heavy timbers. My wife is chief rafter shifter and she does not have the best spatial awareness around tools!
 

MikeJhn

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AJB Temple":2lui9uji said:
Hi Mike.
The end supports are metal at the top, but the whole vertical part that connects the extension bar to the support is moulded plastic.
If I put a 4" square oak rafter say 2m long (I am just doing the short ones currently) on the support (one end is on the saw) the support bar sags and has to be adjusted.
The end supports are rather narrow - so if you want to cut say two 4" rafters (or whatever) side by side, one of them is half off the support. I would expect if I was doing softwood rafters, say 4 by 2, I would wish to clamp several together and batch cut them - the support is not really wide enough.
The height adjuster on the end supports is just a friction screw with a red plastic knob and is not very robust and does not lock positively. Over time the end support slips down.
If you want to move the saw (say on site) without collapsing the saw down, (e.g. I want to change work orientation so the wind is not blowing clouds of sawdust into my face) then the handle is at the wrong end - the handle on the left had side (the bottom part of the frame when collapsed) is low down.

Interesting the end supports on my version are all metal and have serrated face's to lock into position, I think the bean counters have been at it. (hammer) I have never attempted to cut two 4" rafters on mine, that would be very heavy in Oak at, I don't doubt that the end support would move, in fact I think it would on any adjustable stand, I think rather than use the adjustment on the end of the extension arm I would attach a U section of off cut timber at the right height on the end, its meant to be collapsed to move, which is the whole point of the gravity stand I think.

Mike
 

AJB Temple

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I can't remember if it is that stand Mike. I first saw it on a site and used the saw for an hour, then went to Axminster Sittingbourne with the intention of buying the Makita saw. However, they also had the Bosch saw, which I had seen in a trade shop in Germany where it was a lot more expensive. The store staff and I fiddled around with the two stands and the definite consensus was the Makita stand was more user friendly. However, like any review, you get my opinion and others may well have a different opinion. I do try to give practical, rational reasons for making judgements. There is no doubt that the Bosch stand works.

I did try cutting two 4" rafters on it side by side, but there was not enough width to the end supports. It would do an 8" by 4" piece of wood fine, or 8" by 2" (which is one of my base sizes for braces). This aspect of the design is pretty hopeless and what I might do is see if I can fabricate a wider support. If I remember I will take a close up photo at the weekend.

All in all though, I bought it for the saw (which is excellent in most respects) and the stand was just handy and cheap enough in the package deal.
 

flh801978

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On the strength of your review i bought a 2nd hand one off ebay today ....cant wait for it to arrive
I already have the 8inch rail version.but I'm fed up always having to have it some distance away from the wall

Ian
 

AJB Temple

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PS Eric - no real evidence of a big heat sink.

I have also bought and tried laser glasses, which are interesting. I will post a review when I get chance.
 

Bodgers

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AJB Temple":3alnkrpu said:
I see Axi have just put the price up to £808.30 plus VAT = £969.96. So approx a 9% increase in a few days.

Appreciate it is still cheaper than the Kapex, but £1K for a mitre saw?
 

MikeJhn

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The £ has rallied against the Euro over the last few days, this may be the reason for the increase according to where the importer is from.

Ohh laser glasses, I always wanted to be Superman, but Buzz Lightyear is more modern, "To infinity and Beyond" Wheeeeeee

Mike
 
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