Dewalt Miter Saw LED Worklight Review

July 29th, 2010 by Jim German Leave a reply »

Lasers are all the rage these days showing up on everything from miter saws, to  drill presses, to even scissors.  Anyone who’s seen the New Yankee Workshop has looked at Norm’s miter saw with its fancy laser system and wanted one in their shop.  However in practice they aren’t nearly so useful as they can be difficult to see,  and don’t always stay aligned with the blade.  Dewalt’s miter saws are designed to accept a laser, but Dewalt also makes a LED light that uses the blade’s shadow to mark the cut.  How well does it work?  Find out after the jump.

Components

The Dewalt DWS7085 Miter Saw LED Worklight System (which is quite the mouthful) consists of two parts, the light assembly (left), and the power supply (right).  All of Dewalts modern Miter saws are designed to accept this system, and have a dummy cover in place where the light and power supply go.

Installation

Installation begins with the power supply, the dummy plate is removed using a T20 wrench that is provided in the kit.  Two plugs need to be connected, and then the wires get stuffed into the cavity.  It’s a bit of a hassle to do, but nothing crazy.

Next up is the light assembly itself.  Once again, a dummy plate is removed using the provided wrench.  The light  also needs to be plugged in, but as you can see in the picture, no plug is visible.  Upon closer inspection, the plug is wrapped around the screw post and trapped inside the assembly.  Unscrewing the assembly easily frees the plug, however this starts off a running theme of poor manufacturing quality control.  Once the wire is plugged in and the assembly screwed down, installation is complete.

Use

The light is turned on by a separate switch that is located just in front of the handle.  It is separate from the motor power, and therefore can be turned on while the blade is stopped.

The light is provided by a single LED, which indoors is quite bright, and is great for illuminating the workpiece.  Once the blade is lowered a shadow appears exactly where the blade will cut the workpiece.  With the blade fairly close to the workpiece the shadow is crisp and easily visible.  So crisp in fact that the shadow of the slightly wider carbide teeth can be seen.  When the cut is made it land exactly where the shadow is, and removes just a hair more material than the widest part of the shadow.

With the blade running  the teeth disappear, and you get a nice straight line that lines up perfectly with the cut.  No alignment is needed, as the shadow is based on the actual blade position.  This method works extremely well, and makes aligning pieces for a proper cut a piece of cake.

The system has two downsides.  The first is that the blade needs to be fairly close to cast a good shadow.  As seen above, once the blade is more than a inch or two away the shadow gets a bit fuzzy and beyond three or four inches there is no shadow at all.  The second problem is that in direct sunlight the shadow can not be seen, even with the blade lowered.   This only occurs in direct sunlight though, the LED is bright enough that even in a well lit shop, the shadow is easily visible.

Design

In general the system seems to be well thought out and well designed.  Everything is easy to use and fits together well.  The switch has a rubber seal, so dust getting in it is not an issue, and the light housing is cast aluminum so it should be quite durable as well.  That being said, the light appears to be designed as an afterthought using most of the same parts as the laser system.  In most cases this is not a problem, however the power unit has a few anomalies.  For one it includes a little plastic stick, which I’m guessing may be used for aligning the laser, but in this application has no apparent (or documented) use.  Secondly it has a slot to hold the included torx wrench, however the wrench doesn’t fit in it.  The switch for the light is easily reached however the design could be improved by the addition of a timeout so that the light isn’t accidentally left on for days (although with the long life and minimal power usage of the LED leaving it on doesn’t really matter).


Fit and Finish

The parts themselves all seem to have been manufactured to reasonable tolerances, and out of good materials.  However the assembly seems to be done quite haphazardly.  Between the aforementioned inaccessible wires, and the very poorly aligned sticker show above, it felt like the assmebler was half asleep.

Conclusion

The Dewalt Miter Saw LED Worklight System is a great little accessory for any Dewalt miter saw.  Its a far better solution than having to deal with the alignment of a laser,  and it has the added benefit of allowing you to see what you’re doing if you work in a dim shop.   With a list price of about $60 though its not cheap.  If you use your saw alot and need to be accurate with your cuts is easily worth it, if not I’d see if you can get one on sale.

Highs:

Bright, easy to see shadow

Illuminates the workpiece

Very accurate without need for alignment

Lows:

Poor assembly quality

Blade needs to be near workpiece to get crisp line

Verdict:

A much better solution than a laser.

[xrr rating=8.5/10]

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8 comments

  1. LED Lights last much longer than incandescent bulbs and yet they consume less power,“

  2. the drill press that we use at home uses a 1/4 horespower motor and it is sufficient for general applications “

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