questionswhat is the best saw to install flooring?

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I'd recommend a sliding compound mitre saw. You'll be able to cut just about any angle you will ever need, and the sliding feature lets you cut wider material. A larger (12") size will allow for thicker materials. My laminate installer used a Bosch that was awesome. Here are some examples:

http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&page=1&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Acompound%20sliding%20miter%20saw

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The flooring work: 1st choice is a skill saw. 2nd choice is a compound mitre saw.
Both of these you can use for any future projects as well.

The cabinets: A decent table saw.
This will also be extremely useful for future projects.

These are some basic tools every handy homeowner should own.

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@zippy the pinhead: Will a miter saw allow me to rip the board as well? it's not just end cuts I have to make.

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@zippy the pinhead: Agreed on the compound miter saw part, but I'd caution a bit on the sliding part.

Unless you really need the extra cross-cut capacity, the downside to sliding functionality is it introduces another point of movement/adjustment/wear. Every element of movement can impact cut accuracy and cleanness.

Go with the highest tooth count blade you can find - that blade will work for most stuff and give you a beautifully smooth cut.

I've learned the hard way to buy only the best quality tools affordable. Not only are they more capable and enjoyable to use, but they can last a lifetime.

While I don't have fresh research, I have the original version of the following Dewalt saw and have been 100% happy with it. (It is now a lot cheaper than what I paid 10+ years ago!)

http://www.amazon.com/DEWALT-DW713-10-Inch-Compound-Miter/dp/B000WR18XY

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@nmchapma: " Will a miter saw allow me to rip the board as well? it's not just end cuts I have to make. "

No it won't. You will need a table-saw to do this. Unless you are very skilled in the use of a skill saw.

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@nmchapma: miter saws are for cross-cuts.

Normally for flooring, if you are ripping boards, it is to 'scribe' (follow) to a wall or cabinet. Free-handing the line on the clamped board with a circular saw or jig saw (slow!) does that job nicely. You can fine tune the line to the curves in the wall with a rasp/surform or a handheld band sander.

If you need a straight rip, while a circular saw can do the job, a contractor (portable) table saw is a better match. Watch out for under powered portable table saws.

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If I had to choose a saw for those projects I would also consider getting a sliding compound miter saw. One of those should serve you well as long as you aren't needing to do a lot of ripping. Around here that means cutting the wood down the long side. A miter saw is fantastic for cutting the hardwood flooring to length. And I can't imagine going after cabinets without one. For the occasional rips I usually use my circular saw and just wing it. The only time I'll use my table saw is for accuracy or sheer volume. With flooring the ripped edge will get tucked under your finish work so being perfect isn't that important for that.

If you do decide on a miter saw. Notice that they all 'chop' the wood. You will want one that slides to cut as well. And try to get one with at least a ten inch blade.

This is what I've been using for maybe as long as fifteen years, http://www.homedepot.com/p/Ryobi-13-Amp-10-in-Sliding-Compound-Miter-Saw-with-Laser-TSS101L/202049523?N=5yc1vZc28l.

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I saw this in the store, it has great reviews. The price is good but I'd only ever use it for flooring. Maybe I should buy it for this job and sell it on craigslist? I have a skill saw but that will be a huge pain for ripping boards considering I have 600-700SF to put down. I really don't want to buy a table saw and miter saw.

http://www.lowes.com/pd_320303-46922-3600-01_4294607768__?productId=3179071&Ns=p_product_qty_sales_dollar|1&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNs%3Dp_product_qty_sales_dollar%7C1&facetInfo=

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The floor saw will be a one time use then. Money would be better spent on a table saw.
The table saw will come into good use for making the cabinets.

If you know how to use a skill saw really good, then you don't need a miter saw.

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One can never have too many tools. Get them all.

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@bluemaple: Said something about the blade that I agree with.

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I did a lot of flooring at my previous house. You're really best off getting a table saw so you can do the long ripping cuts that you will need. I bought a Black & Decker table saw (MSRP ~$150) and it was fine for the floors I did. You'll probably want to complement that with a jigsaw for when you need to cut right angles into pieces.

On the flooring topic itself, have you looked at "Engineered hardwood"? I did one floor with this, it is essentially hardwood that installs like laminate (ie still a floating floor). The one I did turned out great and I very highly recommend it.

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I've spent many years of my life installing flooring with a friend that does it for a living. I've even done some of my own projects.

For hardwood flooring, the type of saw you get doesn't have to be anything special. All of your cuts will (in theory) be under the baseboards or door jambs. If you need to make a cut where part of the entire board is past a door frame, and the rest of is along a wall, you will need a table saw. Odds are, you will also inevitably have to rip the last row you put down (unless your house is the 1 in 1000 that is built perfectly square and exactly the correct number of boards wide). For this, I highly recommend a table saw. Nothing fancy, but you will need a good blade so the wood doesn't splinter or split.

Any jobsite saw will do, even the $99 one at Lowe's.

A cheap chop-saw is helpful in making faster end cuts. A small one would be ideal, and wouldn't cost a lot.

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As a side note, I made the mistake in December of not paying attention to my cuts in December while using my saw. Please be careful. Even the simplest of cuts can be dangerous.

I was ripping a 1x2 pine board and decided I was in a hurry and didn't have time to grab my push stick. 3 hours later, I was still sitting in the ER waiting to hear if I had cut the bone in my thumb in two or just the end of it. I got lucky, but I still can't feel the end of my thumb and the scar is extremely painful.

Some tips:

Don't ever wear gloves while cutting on a table saw. If your skin gets hit, it's bad, but if you're wearing a glove, it will pull your entire hand into the saw.

Always wear safety glasses. A woodchip in your eye may not hurt you permanently, but it can make it hard to see where your hands are.

Never try to make cuts that are difficult to do by yourself.

Always use a push stick and as a general rule of thumb, don't put your hand near the blade. EVER.

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Someone said the Magic Word!! TOOOOOOOOLLLLLLssssssss!!!!

Get a good Table Saw.. You don't need to spend a fortune, check Craigslist..
For end cuts Craftsman makes a small 7-1/4 inch sliding compound miter saw for not to much money...

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This $1,400 miter saw might be slight overkill, but it sure is a sweet tool... not complete without the optional $700 dust extractor tho.

http://www.rockler.com/festool-kapex-ks-120-eb-sliding-compound-miter-saw

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A table saw will make most of the cuts you need for all of your projects. Add to that a oscillating tool with a couple of the different blades to cut trim or baseboard that gets in your way and you're good to go. I highly recommend the oscillating tool, I bought a cheap one at Harbor Freight and I've used it for so many different projects it's more than paid for itself. Here a link to the oscillating tool Harbor Freight has: http://www.harborfreight.com/power-tools/oscillating-tools.html

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I'll add another vote for table saw. The mitre saw is the fastest way to do lots of cutoffs but is more of a specialty saw. The table saw can do the rips and later on cut plywood panels etc and it will still do the cutoffs. I've had a table saw for 20+ years and have done a lot of home renovations; 2 homes top to bottom, including hardwood floors and moving staircases, plus dozens of smaller projects in 2 more homes since then. Always wanted a mitre saw, never been able to justify the cost....

I'll note, I have seen a mitre saw where you can rotate the head to do rips. I know nothing about whether such a thing still exists or is reliable. I agree with the comment that more moving parts mean more problems..

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@bluemaple: One thing about blades. If you are cutting laminate flooring, don't spend too much for a fancy blade. The wear coating that they put on this stuff is usually Aluminum Oxide which will eat up blades pretty quickly.

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My first floor i put down, I used a jigsaw for the entire job - and while it's doable with fine results - it's tedious. If you can only choose one saw for the job - i'd go with the table saw. Of all your cuts - ripping needs to be the cleanest. It'll also handle the cross cuts, unless you're right smack in the middle of a board (and even then, just have to free-guide it. NBD. If you can swing a couple of tools, a good table saw and miter saw will do the entire job. If you really don't want to mess with anything more than hand power tools - a jigsaw or circular saw can absolutely get the job done - you'll just spend a lot more time marking, clamping and cutting (slowly) to get clean results. A note about flooring saws - In my projects i've worked around flooring professionals.. i've never seen one of them use a flooring saw. Always compound miter and table saw (and router, circular saw, jigsaw, etc as needed) - when even the pros don't generally use it - you have to wonder.

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For blades - I really like diablo blades. Good clean cuts, decent durability, and not expensive.

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Don't forget that you can RENT these saws if you're only going to be using them for one project only! I mean, why spend a grand on a tool you're only going to use once? Of course you could buy it and then sell it on eBay or CraigsList when you're done with it, but, personally, I'd rent.

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Wow, thanks everyone for the great info. I avoided the flooring saw and went with a cheap 10" table saw from Harbor Freight (<$100) for less than I could rent one. It works well for what I'm doing now, although I'm not sure how much bigger I could really go. I got an 80T blade which kept an extremely clean edge (thanks @capguncowboy ). I also ended up buying a new jigsaw and handheld belt sander at Home Depot, though the sander is going back because it's awful.

So now the floor is in and it looks great! My wife is very happy. :-)

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I'm late to this party, but wanted to contribute, anyway. DH was in flooring for about 20 years (mill rep, distributor rep), including several years owning our own flooring store. I finally remembered to ask him what you needed and he quickly said that you need a chop saw. I'm not quite sure whether there is another name for that (he rattled off some details I didn't quite get), but we've replaced all of the carpet downstairs in this old house over the last few years with ceramic tile, laminate and (my favorite) bamboo and invested in a few such tools of our own. And when I say we replaced the floors, I mean WE replaced the floors. (My knees and back hurt just thinking about it.)

Good luck! If you need more info from DH just let me know and I will pin him down on it.