Review By Dean Bielanowski  GMC Website - http://www.gmcompany.com

GMC LSMS210 and LSMS250
Sliding Compound Miter Saw

Reviews
By Dean Bielanowski

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Please note: Since this review was published, Global Machinery Company (GMC) has gone into receivership and is no longer operating. As such, spare parts or technical support cannot be obtained directly through them. Their website at www.gmcompany.com appears to still be available online and offers some product information and manuals but contacting them will receive no reply. Note that OnlineToolReviews.com does not work for GMC, nor do we offer any support or spare parts for their products.

Global Machinery Company (GMC) are currently experiencing some extraordinary growth in the power tool market worldwide, thanks to a line of tools offered that are suited to the budget conscious, re-modeler, or DIY enthusiast. Originally, the company offered a basic line of tools but has since been on a steady curve upwards in bringing to the market some better quality tools with some unique features, as well as a line of tools better suited to the commercial and trade sector.

The company recently released two new sliding compound miter saws, and we thought we would take a look a look at these and see how well they perform in common woodworking tasks...

We looked at two models, the LSMS210 and LSMS250. Essentially, apart from the size and motor specs, both saws have the same features and build design, so we will review them together and highlight any differences between the two models as we go. Note that the models reviewed are wired for Australian power supply, so power specs may be different if this model is, or does become available outside of Australia. We used the saws on a folding miter saw stand which we reviewed previously on the site (this is not included with the miter saw purchase of course).

The Specs
Firstly, to highlight some of those obvious differences between the two models, let's take a look at the specifications list...

Saw Specifications

  LSMS210 LSMS250
Power Input: 1600 W 2400 W
No load speed: 4500 RPM 4200 RPM
Blade Size: 210 mm 250 mm
Bore: 16 mm 16 mm
Blade Teeth: 24 TCT 24 TCT
 *Note - power rating is given for Australian product. Power rating for US/International version of product may vary.
Cutting Specs
Straight Cut at 90 200 x 50 mm 285 x 70 mm
Mitre Cut at 90x45 140 x 60 mm 200 x 70 mm
Bevel Cut at 45x90 200 x 34 mm 285 x 40 mm
Compound Mitre Cut at 45x45 140 x 34 mm 200 x 40 mm

As we can see from the table above, there is a difference of 800 W of power between the LSMS210 (8 1/4" saw) and the LSMS250 (10" saw), the horsepower for the 250 being larger because it sports a larger blade, and because it can cut thicker stock due to its larger cut capacity (70mm vs 50mm for non-beveled cuts). In both cases, the saw is powerful enough to cut to its maximum capacity, so we had no problems with lack of power from either tool. No load speeds are pretty much average in comparison to other tools, and perhaps the only major consideration with this spec is to ensure any blades you buy for the saw are rated to run safely at the indicated saw RPM figure.

Naturally, larger blades do cost more money, so you will have to factor overall saw size into the equation if you decided to purchase either of these models. First determine the maximum cut depth and width you will need for the majority of your projects and see if the smaller saw will meet those needs. If not you need to go for something larger. As you can see from the table, the cutting capacities are significantly different between the two models.  

Warranty
I will make note at this point that both saw models come with a full 2-year replacement warranty for both home and commercial / trade use! Many other tools in the GMC range (aside from their platinum series) are only covered for home use, but both these models are also good for warranty claims with commercial and trade use as well. GMC are also very good with warranty claims, and do offer a 30-day satisfaction guarantee with all their tools, so both items offer a "risk-free" purchase option.

The Blades...
One thing that may stick out more than anything else in the spec list above is the blade. Both saws are fitted with a 24 tooth TCT blade. I am not sure why this was done. Perhaps to keep the cost down, but a 24 tooth blade is far from ideal for cross cutting tasks on a miter saw. It is pretty much a rip blade, and to get good results from your cuts, you will need something with a little more teeth. I'd recommend a 60 tooth blade as minimum, and one designed for use with miter saws if you are serious about good cut quality. You should also factor a replacement blade into the tool price, because, in my opinion, you will need it, unless all you plan to cut is rough lumber or make cuts where cut quality is not important or relevant. The blade supplied is not a terrible blade as such, it just doesn't have the number of teeth you need for fine cross-cutting work. It can be used for rough carpentry or framing cutting successfully however. If you decide to use the included blade, be aware that the outer egde and teeth are painted, and a few quick cuts through some scrap material might be required to remove the paint from the blade's teeth so the sharpness of the teeth underneath is exposed. The first few cuts are pretty rough, but once that paint has worn off, cut quality does improve markedly.

Sliding Miter Saw
Both the LSMS 210 and 250 models are sliding miter saws. The head slides forward and back on metals bars to essentially allow a wider/longer cut to be made. This is very handy if you work with pre-dimensioned timber or boards with widths that fall under the maximum cutting capacities listed above. The sliding mechanism allows you to cut boards up to this width, whereas a fixed (non-sliding) miter saw's width cutting capacity is much less.

The good thing about these saws is that you can still use them in fixed mode by locking the sliding mechanism. It's the best of both worlds really. Sliding miter saws are usually more expensive as a result however, but as we will find out later, GMC retails these sliding saws at an attractive price.

If you look around at different sliding miter saws, you will find models with either one slide bar or two slide bars. In almost all cases, two slide bars or dual-sliders are more accurate and offer smoother travel than a single slide saw. I have owned a Ryobi single slide bar saw in the past, and while it was a very good saw and gave me great service, the single bar slide mechanism was not overly smooth throughout it's entire range; it had a 'sticky' point toward the end of its range that didn't allow for smooth saw travel throughout the entire movement range. Both the two GMC models tested here feature dual sliding bars. You can see the bars and their position on the saw in the accompanying photos. Their accuracy is determined in part by the tolerances of machining of the bar and the slots they ride within, and the smooth travel dictated by the ball bearings they slide on. I can say that I was pleasantly surprised with the smooth travel of the saw head throughout the entire range of motion on both models tested. I had expected worse, but they are actually quite smooth. I'll fall short of comparing them to the slide action on the Makita LS1013 (considered to be one of the best sliding miter saws in recent history), but they will certainly give you a pretty smooth and accurate cut with good tool technique. Having dual bars is a great aid in keeping the blade aligned as you move the saw head, as well as distributing the saw head weight and load across two bars, as opposed to one, which may have been the reason my old Ryobi saw did have trouble in a small section of its slide range.

A yellow turn knob behind the head of the saw on the slide rail casing allows you to lock the sliding feature so you can use the tool just like a fixed, non-sliding saw.

Operating Handle & Blade Guard
GMC, in my opinion, have made a good choice with incorporating the horizontal D-handle type design on both saw models. I first used this design on a Bosch miter saw and found I favored it almost immediately. Some claim these handle types are more prone to side deflection by the user, but I have never had a problem. I find this much more ergonomic and easier to drop the head of the saw and control the slide action than other types of handles. Your mileage may vary of course. The rubber over-mold grip helps keep your hand from slipping during use - this is a feature we would expect to see on all saws these days. If you take a look at the close-up photo of the handle we have displayed in the right hand column, you will see a number of yellow controls.

The one on the far left is the blade guard release "button". When you push this in, the stop preventing the blade guard from opening as you lower the saw head is moved out of the way and the blade cover is free to pivot and you can safely lower the saw head to make a cut. The blade guard, which is constructed of rigid, clear plastic virtually covers the entire blade constantly as the saw head is lowered, helping protect your hands and fingers from coming close to or touching the blade. Without releasing the blade guard stop, you cannot lower the saw head and make a cut. It's a fairly standard feature on just about every miter saw available. It is well-positioned if you are operating the saw via the handle with your right hand. Unfortunately, if you operate the handle with your left hand, the handle itself and controls are not as easily used. The handle is really designed for right hand use primarily.

Under the rubber grip you can see the power button. Nothing fancy here, just push it in to power up the saw and release it to power down the saw. On the right lateral side of the handle is a small round yellow push button. This is the power on/off button for the "Redeye" laser line generator that is fitted to the saw...

"Redeye" Laser Generator
GMC have managed to put a laser on just about every tool imaginable it seems. Some tools certainly can benefit from them, others might not be as useful. A laser on a miter saw can be helpful, assuming it is accurate. The laser on both models tested features dual lines, that is, two individual laser lines are generated from the laser unit fitted behind the blade just below the head spring (see photos). Each line is intended to project the cutting line for each side of the blade, so in theory, you can get a good idea of where the blade will cut no matter which side of the blade you wish to use for material alignment. The ability to power up (or power down) the laser independent of the rest of the tool is a good safety feature. Other methods of generating a laser line can require the blade to be powered up and spinning before the laser will switch on. The laser is also powered via the mains power, so no batteries or power packs to contend with.

The primary issue with adding lasers to tools is the user's ability to see the laser lines in bright, outdoor environments. Unfortunately, the laser on these models suffers that same problem. In bright light, it is very difficult to see. It is easier to see if weather conditions are overcast, or if you work in a shed or workshop with artificial light sources - these are generally not as bright or have as much glare as natural sunlight. So outdoors in bright light, the laser becomes somewhat ineffective, but it is quite visible and much more effective indoors, even under moderate artificial light.

One thing I do like about this laser generator is that it is fixed to the lower body of the tool, independent of the saw head, so even as you lower the saw head, that laser line position does not change and remains fixed. The laser lines do move with forward back slide motion accordingly, but your alignment should have already been completed before this action takes place, and regardless, they dont really move off track anyway. Additionally, the laser lines are adjustable to accommodate different blade kerf widths, or if you wish to fine-tune the laser's position for greater accuracy. The lasers are factory set out of the box, but even so, I found a little adjustment was in order. The beams are fairly narrow, but there is still a little ambiguity to them in that they are not ultra-sharp with sharp beam edges. However, I found that by adjusting the laser so the outer edge of each laser line marked the actual blade cut line on each side delivered the best result, plus your pencil-marked cut line on your material is then not obscured or "hidden" under the laser line itself. Even at bevel angles the laser line retains accuracy well, although it is most accurate when using the saw in the upright 90 degree, non-beveled position.

Miters and Bevels
The main body and table of the saw is constructed of a metal alloy, and certainly strong enough for the task at hand. The table pivots from 0 to 45 degrees in both left and right directions. A scale is marked on the right side of the table near the fence, with a red pointer marking to the current angle setting. Both the fence and angle marker are adjustable, allowing you to successfully square up the blade to the fence and "zero" the angle scale if it was not perfect out of the factory. We did not have to make any adjustments here, but it is wise to check this before you first use the saw, and every 6 months or so to retain continuous accuracy.

The miter lock knob at the front of the tool twists to lock the current setting, or twists to release the table allowing it to pivot left or right to any angle between 0 and 45 degrees, in 1 degree increments. There are positive "click" spots at 0, 15, 22.5, 30 and 45 degree points, where the table slots into a small groove to indicate the tables positioning at that setting. This is so you can quickly set the table at these common angles, although if accuracy is key for your cut, quickly visually double-check the angle setting according to the red marker before making the cut. There is perhaps a 1/4 degree "play" in these settings. They are not "hard keyed" slots as such.

I made cuts at all common angles marked on the guide to check accuracy throughout the angle range after I had squared the fence to the zero degree position. I took my most reliable angle measuring devices for the specified angles and found the cuts to be angularly accurate to the naked eye. I verified all angles in relation to a stopped blade and the fence and they were shown to be pretty much right on the money. You must perform the setup and alignment steps outlined in the manual to give yourself the best possible results however.

The bevel cutting feature allows bevels to be made anywhere from 0 - 45 degrees, however, the saw head tilts to the left side only, not the right. The bevel angle gauge, like the miter gauge, displays 1 degree increments, however, there are no fixed click spots at common bevel angles. I rarely make bevel cuts on the miter saw personally (perhaps because I do own a table saw), but your situation may be different. I don't think it's a major factor not having these click spots personally. Regardless, bevel cutting did prove to be fairly accurate, although there is a greater propensity for inaccuracy when bevel cutting because more of the saw head's weight is placed laterally to the saw's natural pivot point center of gravity, and hence, the saw is in a more 'unbalanced' state in this configuration. Plus, user-induced force on the saw head in a plane other than that which matches the current bevel angle can exacerbate the problem.
This is no different on almost all miter saws. It takes some practice and user vigilance to make very accurate bevel (compound) cuts.

A combination of bevel (compound) angle and miter angle settings allow you to make compound miter cuts for specialist tasks or uncommon applications. Generally you don't see a lot of compound miter cuts in most woodworking projects, but then again, it depends on what you are making too.

Fixing points and safety notes
The saw base features four 'legs' that provide a good, wide base of support for the saw, fully supporting it so it will not tip over under its own load, no matter what configuration the saw is in. Regardless of this, the saw should be secured to a solid surface before using it. Each 'leg' on the base has a milled hole to allow bolts or screws to pass through to secure the saw to your work surface. There is no guarantee any miter saw will remain fixed in a position if not secured down if something like a kickback, blade jam or foreign object is hit while cutting. Safety first! Secure your saw and avoid personal injury. It also goes without saying that both eye and ear protection should be used when operating the saw. The motor is no louder than any other brush motor of the same capacity in my opinion, and for both, personal protection is required if you want to keep your eyesight and long-term hearing well into the future. Remember... accidents can rarely be predicted!

Locking Head and Spindle Lock
For portability, the saw head can be locked in the down position. The handle on the top of the machine, which is different to the main operational handle then can act as a carry handle. A small spring loaded knob located laterally to the main saw head pivot point locks and unlocks the head via its cross-pin design (pull the knob out and rotate to lock and unlock etc). For changing blades, a small spindle lock button will hold the arbor still so you can more easily release and remove blade, and add and tighten on a replacement blade.

Blade Brake and Drop Action
There are no quick-action blade brakes fitted to the LSMS210 or LSMS250 saws, so it takes about 4-5 seconds for the saw to power down after a cut. The drop action on the saw is pretty smooth. Not a lot of force is needed to lower the saw head to make a cut, but its firm enough to ensure the head will not drop enough on its own. Again, its not the smoothest drop action I have ever seen on a saw, but it is much better than the average drop smoothness factor of miter saws in general in my collective miter saw experience over the years.

Fence, Clamp and Supports
The fence on both models is rigid, albeit not all that tall. For 90% of cutting tasks it is fine, but it won't handle crown molding cutting on its own. You might like to make a taller wooden sub-fence for the tool, but you will have to drill your own fixing points in the fence itself as it does not have any (check warranty conditions before making any "mods" of course, it may be at your own risk). The fence is straight however and does the job the fence is supposed to do for most cutting situations, and that is, provide a reference point to which you can butt your workpiece against to obtain and accurate cutting angle. It achieves this with no problem at all, but again, ensure the fence is square to the table, shimming if needed.

A clamp mechanism comes as standard with each model saw. There are two clamp mounting points, one of each fence section (left and right). The clamp mechanism drops into these clamp holders and is secured via a threaded thumb screw. The clamp itself can be raised and lowered on the clamp support rod as required, and final clamping of the circular clamp pad/face is achieved by twisting the large yellow knob to lower or raise the clamp face. There is nothing fancy to it. Everything fits well and the clamp does its job of securing your material while it is being cut.

Also provided with each saw are two black material support arms. These are secured to each end of the saw and provide additional material support beyond that which is provided by the saw table itself. You can see these in the included photos. They work as they should, but for longer lengths of timber or material you will require additional supports so they remain balanced before, during and after a cut. The last thing you want is a chunk of heavy, long material unbalancing and sliding off or shooting up from the table as it becomes unbalanced after cutting it off unsecured. A home-made miter saw stand with wider extension wings or a portable miter saw stand (as shown in the photos) with its own roller supports is a good solution.

Depth Settings and Making Trench Cuts
Both GMC saws shown here feature an adjustable saw head depth setting. This allows you to drop the saw to a pre-determined, repeatable depth setting so that you don't necessarily always cut right through a piece of wood. Setting at a higher depth allows the blade to pass through only a shallower section of the material, and repeated passes at the same depth and moving the workpiece along after each cut allows trenches/dados to be cut in material. This is definitely a handy feature if you do not own a radial arm saw or table saw that can be equipped with a dado set, or where a router may not be the easiest or safest way to achieve the cut. Bear in mind though that repeated depth cuts with a single saw blade does not always give you a smooth-bottomed cut, so these types of cuts on the miter saw are best reserved for 'rough' joinery, or expect to smooth up the base of the cut later with a hand plane if you require a perfectly flat-bottomed groove/trench/dado etc.

The depth adjustment setting is by way of a flip-out metal stop (you flip it out so it has a surface for the depth screw to hit) and a metal, threaded depth screw. You set the depth screw and lock it into position to determine the depth of cut for the blade into your material. Then you push the flip stop out so the depth screw will actually hit it as the saw head is lowered. When the end of the depth screw hits the metal flip stop, you are at your pre-determined depth setting and can make a sliding cut to make the first trench cut. To go back to full depth 'through cutting' you simply slide the stop over again so the depth screw now falls through a hole in the stop and does not engage, giving you a full depth cut. It is a pretty basic but effective method of providing depth stop cutting.

The other issue with the depth stop and cutting dado/grooves with this saw is a similar issue that presented itself with the Ryobi EMS1830 saw we have reviewed earlier, and also occurs on many other sliding miter saws, coincidently, and that issue is that when you go to make a depth stop cut at almost any higher depth other than a full plunge through cut, the bottom point of the saw blade does not actually make it all the way through the material to the back side (against the fence) before the slide mechanism runs out of, well, slide... This means that you have a flat bottom cut through perhaps 75 percent of the material, and then the remainder has a curved cut because the slide mechanism does not take the bottom most point of the blade past behind the table fence. This seems to be a consequence of manufacturer's aiming to provide maximum cut capacity in front of the fence and sacrificing blade travel behind the fence. I guess it's logical in a way, because most cutting on this type of tool are of the through-cut variety and it is perhaps best to provide for the more common cuts the saw will be used for first. There is a solution of course to this problem, and that is to make a sub-fence for the saw so that it displaces your material further away from the original fence. By doing this, the bottom-most part of the blade can actually make it all they way through your material giving you a proper, flat-bottomed cut all the way along, but you do end up sacrificing cutting width by the same amount as the thickness of your sub-fence. It's a compromise I guess, but it does work. Again however, you will have to find a way to mount the sub fence to the original fence to achieve this.

On further examination, it was found that when trying to make a trench cut, the front part of the cut was actually deeper than the back part of the cut, so there is a small misalignment between the plane of the slide axis and the plane of the table top. This makes it difficult to make square trench cuts. Naturally, if you dont plan on making trench cuts with the saw anyway, it isn't an issue, but if you do and need this feature, I'd be checking the saw out at the store first if possible to look for this problem.

Dust Extraction
A small dust port is located behind the blade, and a small dust bag is provided to connect to this port. Like most miter saws, the majority of dust rarely finds its way into the dust port and bag. This is not simply a problem with these particular saws, its a problem with almost every miter saw. Their inherent design does not favor dust collection, and sliding saws are even more difficult to catch dust from. Your best solution is to use these saws outdoors. Failing that, you should build a hood around the back of your saw that is hooked up to a 2HP+ dust extractor. This hood should allow full movement of the saw through its range of miter settings and bevel cutting settings. There are some good examples of home-made saw dust hoods available online, and there are also some commercial hoods available for sliding saws, but the price tags are high.

Conclusion
Well, I must say that the build quality of the saw in general was better than I expected. Sure there are some issues with some of the components, but most can be readily worked around if your saw purchase must meet a specified budget. When you consider the retail prices of the saws - the smaller LSMS210 retails for AUD$249, and the larger LSMS250 retails for AUD$299, these saws offer good value for money. With an investment in a better quality blade with more teeth, these saws become a tool that can stand up and be counted, and compared in some aspects to saws retailing for at least three times the price.

Naturally, the question of durability over time is one we cannot answer at this stage, having only used the saws for a 6 week period (we will update the review at a later stage to include information on this factor), but the 2 year home/commercial/trade use warranty offered will guarantee at least 2 years of use for your investment in the worst case scenario. Plus the 30 day satisfaction guarantee means you can purchase the saw, and if not happy with its features and functions advertised, return it for a full refund.

For me, the biggest noteworthy aspect of saws of this type is how well and how accurately they can make both stationery and sliding cuts at varied bevel and miter angles, and after having used a better quality blade on these saws for testing purposes, I can say they are able to achieve high-accuracy cutting results when good tool technique is used.

Both the LSMS210 and 250 are easy to use and adjust and would suit all types of woodworkers, re-modelers or contractors not willing or able to spend AUD$800+ on a sliding miter saw in the "pro" class. On a dollar-for-dollar comparison between these saws and those costing $800+, these latest GMC miter saws stack up quite well indeed.

The GMC website can be found at www.gmcompany.com and you can contact them to find out whether these saws are available to you in your local area.
 

GMC LSMS210 / LSMS250 Photos
All photos copyright onlinetoolreviews.com. Use without prior written permission prohibited


The smaller LSMS210 saw mounted and ready to use...


The see-through rigid plastic blade guard keeps precious limbs away from harm.


Dual slide bars on the LSMS210 and LSMS250 provide a smooth sliding action for wide cutting.


Solid bevel locking knob at rear of saw keeps that bevel setting from moving.


The miter locking knob at the front of the saw table locks the table at the desired miter angle setting.


The incremented miter scale and adjustable red angle marker.


The bevel angle scale. Only left tilt bevel cutting on these saws.


Here we see the dual laser line generator unit.


Saw tables are smooth and flat.


Main operating handle with yellow blade guard release "button" (left), main power switch (center), and laser control button (right).


Flip lever moved over to allow depth stop trench cuts.


Without a sub-fence, the blade doesn't make it all the way through on trench/dado cuts.


Cutting some framing material square to length.


The larger LSMS250 saw mounted. Very much identical feature-wise to the smaller model. Just a little larger and bigger blade and motor.


Included dust bag attached.


This is the saw head locking knob that allows you to lock the head in the down position for carrying or transporting the saw.


Included material clamp does its job well.


Extensions provide more support for workpieces.


This is what sliding saws are all about! Making a wide crosscut in sheet material using the sliding feature.


A 30-degree bevel cut with the LSMS250 saw tilted left.


Test cutting a 45 degree miter for picture frames. Yes, you do need a better crosscutting blade with more teeth for this task...


It's a little hard to see here, but there are indeed two laser lines being projected onto this piece of wood. The laser is best suited to indoor (shed / workshop) use.

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