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


GMC DLS2000M 185mm
(7 1/4") Laser Guided Circular Saw
Review
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.

The circular saw is a simple but one of the handiest cutting power tools available today. It is portable, can achieve great cutting results with quality blades in use, and can be as accurate in its cut as the tool's design and manufacture allows. With appropriate tool guides and jigs, it can do most tasks the more traditional woodworker's table saw can handle too. Portable circular saws are most commonly available in sizes from four inches (specialty application or trim saws) to nine and half inches (heavy trade or large cut saws). The seven and a quarter inch (185mm) saw is perhaps one of the more common sizes to be found around building sites and workshops however. This size offers a good mix between cutting capacity, tool weight and price.

GMC's DLS2000M model is one such saw of this size. It comes with the extra feature of a laser line generator for aiding in straight cutting. I took a close look at this saw and have been using it for several months. I have used it to cut many types of materials and of varying thickness for testing purposes. Let's have a look at its features and performance.

GMC DLS2000M Circular Saw
The DLS2000M comes shipped in its own plastic molded carry case. Inside the case is the saw itself, a fence accessory, blade changing spanner and a printed color manual outlining all you need to know to operate the saw. It cannot provide instruction on using common sense however! Always be extremely careful and mindful when operating cutting tools.

The saw is fitted with a 2000W (2.7hp) motor. This is quite a powerful motor for this size saw. Usually motors of 2000W or more are reserved for the larger 235mm power saws. With this extra power under the hood, the saw can cut virtually any material at full cut depth with little problem. Even dense hardwood cut at near maximum cut capacity produced quite a good finish result. Motor strain was kept at a minimum with a steady cutting pace. The motor spins the blade at 4700 RPM, which in itself is perhaps not an overly significant value, however, you do need to ensure any blades you buy for the saw are rated to spin at an amount equal to or (ideally) higher than this value. Most quality blades will be rated for use to a high revolution rate. The included 185mm (7 1/4") blade is rated to 7000 RPM and features 24 TCT teeth with a blade arbor size of 16mm and kerf size of 2.8mm. Quality-wise it is average at best. I ended up fitting a better quality blade following the tests and that alone improved the saw's cutting ability and performance quite markedly.

Looking at the general saw construction, you will immediately notice the use of magnesium for the saw base, and areas around the blade. Magnesium is a light weight material, but very durable and strong. It's use goes a long way in reducing total saw weight (5.4kg) which greatly reduces fatigue, and in many cases aids in tool control too. The saw base in made completely of magnesium and is quite resistant to bending and warping, even under deliberate load. A straight edge held against the base in various configurations shows it is close to flat, although not perfect. There is a slight error which probably will not have much effect on cutting accuracy, at least not as much as the many other factors which are also at play. The base is sufficiently wide in itself to provide good support during a cut, and the tool is balanced enough not to tilt when sat on a flat surface with motor body/blade raised to its highest position. Another good test is to sit the saw on a flat surface, raise the body/blade up, then while holding the base firmly to the flat surface, check how much lateral play there is of the motor body/blade in relation to the saw base. If there is a lot of deflection, the saw will generally not be overly accurate in its cuts and ability to retain a cutting line or bevel angle. If it is rigid then there is less play, and hence, more potential for accurate cutting, and retaining the bevel or square cut angle accuracy at all depth setting points. The DLS2000M model I have is very rigid in this test. In fact, it rivals some of my more expensive saws. This was a good sign!

Depth of cut at 90 degrees is 60mm, at 45 degrees is 42mm, and at 55 degrees is 34mm. Depth of cut is adjusted via a lever behind the blade guard on the backside of the motor housing. It is easy to manipulate and lock and release, and raising and lowering the saw is quite a smooth process. If needed, a depth scale is provided to set the saw to cut at a specific depth. A smooth adjustment can be important if trying to make accurate plunge cuts into the middle of material. The saw can cut bevels from 0 degrees to 55 degrees. The bevel adjustment at the front of the saw offers a locking knob with a scales measured in 5 degree increments. An adjustable pointer allows some method of fine adjustment to set the angle correctly on initial setup, and this should be checked for accuracy with a good square or reliable angle measuring device to ensure accuracy is retained over time. The mechanism itself is strong and holds an angle securely, however I found that when setting back to the 0 degree setting, the locking knob sits quite close to the fence locking knob and occasionally the position of both leaves little room for fingers to adjust them easily. It's not a major issue, and if you are not using the fence you can simply remove the fence locking nut and the issue disappears completely, but it is worth noting nonetheless.

The included fence is basic, but offers all you really need. It has an etched scale with measurements in both metric and imperial (up to 7 inches and 18cm) and the glide fence portion has screw holes to attach a larger sub-fence if required for deeper or longer support. The fence locks down in only one spot, and given its guide channel is slightly larger than the fence width itself, there is room for play in the bar. This has the potential to affect accuracy but it didn't seem to be a problem evident during most fence cuts we tried.

When it comes to dust collection, most circular saws fair poorly. There are only a few saws designed for maximum dust collection. The Festool saw comes to mind. However, some circular saws are better than others, and if you are working in a closed workshop environment or where dust dispersion is a concern, hooking up a dust vac will certainly help reduce the amount of dust getting airborne. The dust port on the DLS2000M is elliptical in shape, measuring 1 3/4" by 1 1/2" diameters. This shape makes it difficult to easily attach a dust hose without some form of adaptor and none is included in the box. It's not impossible of course, but just know that hooking up a vacuum or extractor will take some thought and extra work. It does appear however, that the location and design of the dust port is conducive to collecting as much dust as possible from the upper blade housing and ejecting it out and away from the user as best as possible. The location and shape of the port is not much different to some found on top of the line circular saws I have used in the past and found to be slightly better at deflecting dust away from the user in outdoor use (as long as the wind isn't blowing it straight back at you of course). But in most cases, these saws are dust creators and the best you can do is minimize it, rather than eliminate it. In this sense, the dust port appears to function as best as it can without taking the next design step to a near-fully enclosed saw design similar to the Festool saw.

Safety and Ergonomics
Circular saws are dangerous tools there is no doubt. But most of the risk can be eliminated or certainly greatly reduced with common sense and basic additions to the saw design itself. The spring loaded lower blade guard on this saw is quite standard, and works in the same way as any other of this type. It retracts as it is pushed away from the surface of the material being cut, then springs back to cover the blade after exiting the material being cut. It has a manual lever arm to allow the user to open the blade guard to begin a cut or for plunge cutting. This lever has a rubber overmold for reduced slip and is sufficiently long enough to keep hands away from the blade. It is quite comfortable to use and easy to manipulate. The springs are not so tight that they make it difficult to retract the guard, but also not so loose that the blade guard cannot spring back safely following a cut. The spring force is just about right in my opinion. There is no riving knife fitted to this saw.

To change blades, a spindle lock button in incorporated on the tool just to the right of the handle. When this is pressed it locks the spindle so a single blade spanner (included) can be used to loosen and tighten the blade nut to remove old blades or add new ones. The spanner is bent to provide easy access to the nut.

The main handle and front handle both feature rubber overmolds and have comfortable shapes for gripping the tool. The trigger and trigger release safety switch are in easy reach of the your hand so no stretching fingers to reach them is required. The saw has extremely good balance in the hand. You don't feel like you have to wrestle the tool to keep it in balance and in control. This makes a huge difference to cut accuracy and quality too, particularly when free-handing a cut. The saw base also has numerous depressions and ridges as part of its design. These actually provide a nice surface to rest a finger in or on to help guide and manipulate the base if needed during a cut. Ensure your fingers are kept well clear of the blade area however!

Overall ergonomics are quite good on this tool, and they make it very easy to use and to control.

Dual Laser Guides
I guess one of the more noticeable features of this tool are the dual laser guides (X2 Redeye). These lasers, located atop the upper blade guard project two parallel lines forward of the cutting area to allow you to more accurately follow a pre-scribed or drawn line. Now, if you were going to cut a long line on sheet goods and need best accuracy as possible, you would use the included fence if cutting near the edge of the sheet, or perhaps even a straight edge clamped to the sheet material if cutting in the center of the sheet or beyond the limit of the fence's capability. But for framing cuts or short cuts or perhaps even trimming a deck or fence palings following installation, the laser guide offers a way to "see" where the saw will cut and to project a cut line across a greater distance. By matching the laser line against a straight-drawn line for the line of cut over a distance, you can better ensure a straight cut, even without looking directly at the cutting area. When doing this, you can actually end up with a much straighter cut by looking ahead of the saw and matching laser line vs drawn line than looking over the front of the saw directly at the blade. These laser guides have been touted as gimmicks by some, and their inclusion on some particular tools certainly warrants that claim to some degree, but I have found them to be useful on circular saws in some instances, particularly when a project or cut does not require a perfectly straight line that you would get from a table saw or when a straight edge guide is not available or can be accessed easily. So it definitely has its place, even if application is somewhat limited. The lasers cannot guarantee a straight cut, and do not replace a good straight edge or fence by any means, however, in the absence of these, or where practicality dictates they cannot be used, the lasers will certainly help!


Here you can see the dual lasers projecting onto the workpiece.

The lasers are switched on and off via the laser switch button on top of the saw's main handle. The lasers are mains powered, which means the saw must be plugged into an active mains power outlet for them to operate. No real problem here as the saw needs the same mains power too. Lasers can be difficult to see in bright outdoor conditions. This holds true for these lasers as well, however, they are brighter than other battery powered lasers found on some other GMC tools, and you can indeed get a readily visible line in shaded settings, and the line can still be visible in bright daylight conditions, although just barely and only close up to the blade. GMC at one stage were selling a set of red tint safety glasses that work as laser line enhancement glasses. I picked up a set when they were available at the time (not sure if they still are) and they do indeed make a difference in laser visibility when worn. You can get a line showing in really bright direct sunlight conditions, but only when these glasses are in use. Of course, indoors the lasers are very bright and will project a long way, although laser accuracy diminishes the further out it is projected, but this is not a real factor in practical terms. The beams are bright and defined up to a about 30cm from the front of the saw, which is all you practically need.

The dual beams act somewhat to show where the kerf of the blade will cut. This means the saw can be lined up either on the left side or right side of a marked line and cut with accuracy, at least that is the idea. The lasers are factory set to line up with the left side of the blade according to the manual, and indeed on the test cuts we made using the laser this alignment to the left side appears to be good. A problem arises because the lasers appear to be set too far apart to match the kerf of the blade that is installed. The distance between each laser beam was measured at 4mm on the unit I have. The blade kerf is 2.8mm, so you can see the lasers, at least on this unit, are not positioned close enough together to depict the true kerf of the saw cut. You can change the alignment of the lasers via a hex screw adjacent to the laser compartment which moves both lasers either left or right for fine adjustment, but there doesn't appear to be any way to reduce the distance between the two laser beams. This is a shame because there is good potential here to offer both accurate left-of-mark or right-of-mark cutting without adjustment required. As it is now, you will have to adjust the lasers if you want accurate cuts using both sides of a line.

Runout
The saw does exhibit a touch of visible runout with the factory blade installed. This is also confirmed with a kerf cut measurement of 3.0mm (blade kerf is listed as 2.8mm). I thought perhaps the included blade may be contributing to this slightly, but runout was still visible with a higher quality blade fitted although perhaps slightly less (if you trust my eyes alone), so I'd say there is a slight runout in the saw's arbor, which could be exacerbated by a blade that is not perfectly flat. Again, for general rough saw cutting, perhaps not a huge factor, but it might come into play if you are trying to use this saw for more finer edge cutting work.

Conclusion
The saw straight out of the box performs reasonably well in terms of actual basic cutting features. The lasers had the potential to be very useful, but the design (or perhaps manufacturing/assembly accuracy) was a little lacking. Still they are useable for cutting to one side of a line if needed, and as mentioned above, they have their place in certain circumstances. I would probably not buy this saw on the back of the laser feature alone.

What I would buy this saw for is overall tool balance. With a good blade fitted, the saw operates remarkably smoothly for a lower-priced tool. It is very comfortable to use and the saw glides through many types of timber and sheet goods with relative ease (assuming the better blade is fitted). It is quite easy to control and you do not have to wrestle the saw to get it going where you want it to. Bevel cut accuracy is also quite high and the scale is accurate according to my measurements of cut bevel angles.

The saw will do the job for framing work, cutting sheet goods down to more manageable sizes or general "rough cut" circular saw construction work. It certainly has plenty of power for tackling larger depth cutting tasks too. If the runout was perhaps a little less and the lasers were adjustable for distance between them, the saw would certainly be a guaranteed recommendation by me. In its current version however, I can only suggest you literally pick one up in a store and have a look at it and feel it in your hands. Circular saws need to be comfortable to be practical and effective in my opinion. You can have the most expensive and feature packed saw on the market, but if it is not comfortable to use, you will fatigue sooner and probably not be happy with it in the end.

The GMC DLS2000M retails in Australia for AUD$149. It is a reasonable price for what is on offer, but with better manufacturing and a closer check on tolerances, it had the potential to be a bargain at that price. It's a 50/50 choice for me on this one. I'll grab it for any future rough cut work without hesitation because it is so comfortable to use, but for finer cutting work, I'll hunt for one of my other saws.

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 DLS2000M Photos
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The GMC DLS2000M Circular Saw


Very comfortable to use


Round spindle lock button and rectangular laser operation button (with chevrons).


The saw offers a solid 0 - 55 degree bevel cut capacity.


Elliptical dust port placement works well for expelling dust but is harder to attach to a shop vac.


Dual lasers are a nice feature but could have been implemented a little better perhaps?

 

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