For my work building models and automata, I own two Proxxon miniature power tools, and they are both amazing. Not amazing for their size; just plain amazing.
The Proxxon Miter Saw (table area 9″ x 9″; weight 12 lb) has been a valuable addition to my tool collection, and it would also be ideal for anyone who has limited space in his/her work area. This miter saw is great for cutting 90-degree and 45-degree cuts in a variety of materials. There are detents every 15 degrees for cutting a range of angles. The saw has a really clever integrated clamp to hold the material and ensure that each cut stays on the mark. There’s also a built-in stop that helps me when I want to cut a bunch of pieces to the same length. Nice.
Micro-Mark sells a lesser miter saw that is slightly cheaper ($140), but it only takes cut-off wheels, not blades, so its range of functionality isn’t as broad as the Proxxon’s. The Micro-Mark allows for angled cuts, but doesn’t have the 15-degree latching detents of the Proxxon.
A full-size miter saw is a powerful machine. A small, loose cut-off piece can get swept up by the blade into the blade guard housing. I know; it happened to me. This can be both costly and dangerous. It’s not an experience I ever want to repeat. The Proxxon is more appropriately scaled for cutting small pieces, so this is less likely to happen. Compared to free-hand cutting with a cut-off wheel mounted in a Dremel tool, the Proxxon is safer and produces cleaner, more accurate cuts.
These miniaturized tools are clearly not toys. The Mini Table Saw (overall size 11 13/16″ x 10 5/16″ x 6 43/64″ w/o extension wing; weight 11.5 lb) can make a clean cut in 3/4″ hardwood, and it’s barely bigger than a toaster. Cutting small very parts on a full-size table saw requires that you spend a good deal of time constructing jigs and zero-clearance inserts in order to make the cuts safely. Unlike another miniature table saw I own, there a ton of useful accessories available for the Proxxon — some that are simply not available for full-size machines. The Proxxon’s variable-speed control also sets this saw apart from lesser miniature tables saws, allowing me to adjust the speed depending on the blade in use and the material being cut. This can make the difference between clean, smooth cuts and ruined materials.
The truly handy thing about owning the miter saw and the table saw is that they use the same blades, and a surprisingly wide variety at that. I can get blades for slitting, cutting wood and cutting metals, and they’re all interchangeable between the two tools. Consider, for example, the diamond-coated blade, which allows me to cut things as hard as tile and stone. I’ve found the miter saw mounted with an abrasive blade for non-ferrous metals to be a great way to cut brass rod and bars to length.