Miter saws are an essential tool for any DIY-er and professional. Understanding the different kinds of miter saws is vital to navigating around the available options on the market. That’s why we have put together a guide of all the aspects offered by this saw, along with the explanations as to what makes these saws different from one another. This is included to help you choose the best one that satisfies your specific needs and preferences. Moreover, we have also included our picks for the best miter saw options to make the selection process less daunting and straightforward.
Why Do You Need A Miter Saw?
These specific saws are seen as a precious tool for DIY-ers and an essential device for any fully-operating workshop. These tools are designed to quickly and effectively cut picture frames, window casings, door frames, and crown moldings. This kind of saw is also equipped to perform straight cuts for ordinary woodworking tasks. These features are incredibly desirable for any woodworking space.
Nonetheless, you’re likely to be met with confusion when looking at the array of miter saw options available on the market. There are four primary types of miter saws that are available. These options are equipped with a saw blade that performs cuts at different angles by pivoting on an axis. However, there are varied key features that cause these types of saws to differ while accommodating users’ specific needs.
What Are The Different Types of Miter Saws?
As previously mentioned, there are four main types of miter saws. These all offer similar setups. However, the specific functionality of these is varied. This is why your individual woodworking preferences or needs are what determines the type of saw that’s right for you. Here are the functionalities of each kind of miter saw:
Standard Miter Saws:
The standard miter saw is considered to be the simplest saw out of all four of the options. It is also called a ‘chop saw,’ as you’re required to pivot the swing arm at a specific angle and push the arm downwards to slice through the wood or other materials being cut. The standard or chop saw is only equipped to produce blunt cuts. For this reason, it’s not as popular or commonly-used as the other miter saw types.
- Affordable to purchase.
- It can produce crosscuts and miter cuts.
- The design is generally robust, lightweight, and durable.
- It’s easy to operate.
- There isn’t any bevel option.
- This type of saw can’t cut compound angles.
Single Compound Miter Saws:
Along with cutting angles, the swing arm incorporated on the single compound miter saw is also equipped to tilt in one direction. It generally tilts to the left, and this feature is included in the design to cut a bevel located at the end of the board. This is done simultaneously as it cuts the miter angle. This is a desirable function for projects like constructing picture frames that are elaborate installing crown molding where the material’s end needs to be beveled to fit correctly. The majority of saws that are available on the market are classified as compound saws.
- It’s an exceptional choice for most people.
- It provides excellent versatility.
- The power tool is more expensive when compared to the standard option.
- Its system is more complicated to operate.
Dual Compound Miter Saws:
The dual-component miter saw is also equipped to cut bevels on the ends of the material you may be working with. Nonetheless, the swing arm designed on a dual compound miter saw can tilt in both directions, unlike a single compound miter saw that only tilts in one direction. This function primarily works as a time-saving convenience, as a single compound saw is equipped to make the same cuts as the dual compound miter saw. The only difference is that the user must turn the material over to cut a bevel in the opposing direction when using a single compound miter saw. The dual-compound miter saw is equipped to skip this step.
- It can produce compound cuts, bevel, miter cuts, and crosscuts.
- It’s very versatile.
- It’s a more expensive option when compared to the standard saw.
- Its system is more complex to operate effectively.
Compound Slide Miter Saws:
The sliding compound miter saw provides the user to perform cuts on a wider board. A sliding compound miter saw is designed by incorporating sliding rails into a compound miter saw. A compound miter saw that doesn’t have a sliding compound miter has the ability to perform cuts on boards with a width of up to 5.5-inches.
Without this sliding compound miter saw feature, you will need to turn the wooden board over if it’s wider to complete cutting it. The problem with completing cuts like this without a compound miter slide saw is that these cuts can be uneven if you don’t line the cuts up on the board correctly.
Therefore, a sliding miter saw is the best option for cutting boards with a wider width. This is because the user can pull the miter saw with slide functionality forward and continue cutting through the whole board once the swingarm has been lowered.
Most of the compound miter saws that have the functionality of a sliding compound miter saw can cut boards that are between 10 to 18-inches wide. However, each sliding compound saw’s individual capabilities are dependent on the model and can either be designed as a dual or compound miter saw. Nonetheless, sliding compound miter saws provide the user with exceptional convenience.
- It’s seen as the most advanced out of all the options.
- It holds the ability to cut any angle.
- It’s a handy power tool for professionals who are required to cut wider pieces of wood more frequently.
- This is the most expensive type of saw out of all the other options mentioned above.
- The structure of these saws is heavier and more massive.
- The systems of these specific power tools are only suitable for very experienced workers.
A Buyer’s Guide: The Considerations Needed To Purchase The Best Miter Saw For You
The woodworking projects you wish to undertake largely determine the needed features to purchase the right miter saw for you. For example, an individual who wishes to use a miter saw to perform crosscuts on strips of wooden flooring won’t need the additional features that a professional trim carpenter requires to install crown molding’s of elaborate nature efficiently. Here are a few features that should be considered before purchasing a miter saw:
The Size of the Miter Saw:
The miter saw the size of the miter best dictates the device’s capability to cut the different sizes of wood and other materials.
A 10-inch miter saw is named this because it’s equipped with a 10-inch blade. This miter saw a size is a suitable option for performing cuts on a majority of types of siding strips and trim boards. These are generally smaller than 6-inches wide and 3/4-inches thick.
However, if you wish to cut 1.5-inch thick framing boards, along with other thicker boards, you should consider choosing a larger-sized miter saw. A good option would be a 12-inch saw, as its larger blade holds the ability to cut through thicker boards more efficiently.
The majority of miter saws are corded. Just a few years ago, manufacturers implemented power options that didn’t need a cord. However, these still aren’t as popular as corded options.
These miter saws equipped with corded features include either a 15-amp,12-amp, or 10-amp motor. The powerful 15-amp motor is seen as having the most power, and a general rule to follow is that the higher the amp, the more powerful the motor is.
Nonetheless, a 10-amp motor can still effectively cut most kinds of trim boards. However, a higher-amp motor, such as a powerful 15-amp motor, is a better option if you wish to cut through larger, more dense boards. Moreover, these motors won’t overheat as quickly as lower-amped motors when using the device continuously.
As previously mentioned, the cordless feature on a miter saw is new to the saw’s design. The cordless miter saw is generally equipped with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that operate on a 20-volt power source.
The miter saw the battery runtime depends on how often you’re performing cuts and how much wood you’re performing these cuts on. Nevertheless, you can expect to achieve an average of between 150 to 275 cuts with the power provided from a single battery charge.
Some miter saws are equipped with a laser guide feature. This feature produces a green or red line across the wooden board to indicate where the blade will cut. The laser guiding feature is highly desirable for DIY-ers and beginners to allow these users to have the correct positioning before beginning to cut across the wooden board. Thus, the cutting that’s produced is even.
Working up a sweat is incredibly common when using this type of device, especially on a hot summer’s day. The build-up of sweat can result in you having a slippery grip on the handle of the miter saw. This is something you want to avoid when working with such devices.
For this reason, manufacturers have included non-slip grips in the design of miter saws. This non-slip grip is a feature that aids in reducing hand fatigue while offering a better grasp over the miter saw’s handle.
Even though this is an incredible feature, many miter saws aren’t equipped with this non-slip grip. Thus, finding a miter saw that incorporates a non-slip grip is a fantastic bonus.
Dust Collection Feature:
Miter saws have a reputation for creating a lot of sawdust. This is especially the case when operating a miter saw inside a workspace. Nonetheless, manufacturers have formulated features to combat this dust by incorporating dust collection abilities into the miter saws’ design.
Two different types of dust collection are provided in miter saws. The first method of dust collection includes a small dust bag equipped to naturally collect the dust as it moves off the miter saw’s blade. However, this dust bag method of dust collection isn’t as good as the second option.
The second method of dust collection incorporated in the structure of the miter saw is a dust collection port. This port effectively removes dust by being connected to a shop-type vacuum hose.
The Miter Saw’s Table:
The table of a miter saw refers to the base attached to the actual miter saw. This table is the element that provides the surface for miter saws to make cuts on. This is the primary task of the table.
For this reason, you must be aware of the board you wish to perform cutting on for the table to operate as an effective work surface. The space provided by the table can be limited. Thus, many woodworking hobbyists have created their own miter saw tables and stands.
These additions are made to accommodate cutting longer boards. That’s why it’s essential to consider the length of boards you wish to perform cuts so that the right miter saw, with the correct-sized table, can be selected.
Another vital feature that should be considered is the miter scale of a miter saw. The miter scale is significant as it’s seen as the miter saw’s real purpose.
The miter scale determines the type of cuts you’re able to make. Angled cuts are known as ‘miter cuts.’ Along the vast meter scales are ‘stops.’ The ‘stops’ are the most common angles that the miter saw is used to cut from.
These standard angles include 90 degrees and 45 degrees. Nonetheless, some miter saw brands equip miter saws with 10 to 12 ‘stops.’ Thus, providing an array of different angles for the miter saw to cut from.
Moreover, these particular ‘stops’ hold the ability to be locked in place. This functionality is exceptionally convenient, especially if you happen to be working with a specific angle repeatedly.
The Specific Cuts That The Miter Saw Can make:
There are a variety of different cuts that you can make with a miter saw. These types of cuts play a vital role in the specific miter saw you ultimately purchase. Here are the cuts that miter saws are capable of producing:
Angled or Miter Cuts:
Performing miter cuts is what a miter saw is mainly used for. These are cuts achieved through the piece of wood you’re cutting, and it runs at a diagonal angle. You gain the ability to make such cuts by utilizing the miter scale that’s present on your miter saw. You can select the best angle from the ‘stops’ provided by your miter scale to produce the miter cuts you require.
The majority of the time, miter saws bevel to the lift. Nonetheless, when using the other miter saw variations, such as a dual bevel miter saw, you gain the ability to pivot the blade to the right with the same angle to the left of the pivot.
This feature creates an easier way of cutting your wooden pieces. This is especially the case when you’re required to perform cuts for a tight-angled project. The purpose of this feature is to provide convenience to the user. This is due to eliminating the step of turning the boards over to make the same angled cuts on the wooden pieces.
Making crosscuts is relatively straightforward and holds the ability to be made on most power saws, such as standard miter saws. A cross-cut is identified as a straight cut that runs parallel to the board’s edges.
This is unlike a miter cut because you don’t need to decide on a specific angle before performing cuts on the wooden board. This makes it one of the most straightforward and effective cutting processes as you don’t have to adjust the saw when you’re performing cuts.
The process of making a bevel cut requires the chop to be done at an angle. However, this cut must be performed across the wooden board at any angle other than 90 degrees.
A bevel cut is made when sliced downwards into the wooden piece. This is in contrast to a miter cut, which performs a cut that’s straight-angled.
The majority of miter saws are incapable of producing these bevel cuts, and only a specialized few hold the functionality of effectively performing these bevel cuts.
Nonetheless, the ability to make a bevel cut is beneficial if you wish to perform a diagonally spanning board. This is especially the case for those that are placed at a tricky angle.
The ability to successfully perform a bevel cut with a miter saw is incredibly beneficial. Acquiring this ability not only elevates your skill but also enhances the finish of your cuts, along with the quality of the finished product.
The 8 Best Miter Saws: Review
There is an incredibly vast amount of miter saws available on the market today. This can make choosing the right one extremely daunting. That is why we have created this list. We have collected our top picks for the best miter saws to provide you with some exceptional options, along with outlining the features that these power tools hold. This is done to help you decide what would be the best fit for your specific needs. Here are some excellent miter saws to help you identify the best miter saw for you:
This Dewalt DWS780 Sliding Compound Miter Saw is also designed with a machined base fence support system.
- An adjustable laser guide system is provided for improved accuracy.
- It's equipped with an incredibly powerful 15-amp motor system.
- The dust bag collection system isn't very effective.
The Dewalt DWS780 is equipped with a powerful 15-amp motor that holds the ability to run at 3,600 RPM. Moreover, the structure of this sliding compound miter saw provides the user with a precise miter system.
This Dewalt DWS780 Sliding Compound Miter Saw is also designed with a machined base fence support system. The benefit of including this feature in the design is that the user gains optimal accuracy when producing cuts.
This sliding compound miter saw can perform miter cuts between zero and 60 degrees to the left and zero to 50 degrees to the right. Also, it can perform a bevel cut between zero and 48 degrees to the left and right. These sliding compound miter saws have a crown molding capacity of 6-5/8 inches (left and right)
Moreover, this sliding compound miter saw device includes a dust bag collection system and a carbide blade. Another desirable feature included in these specific sliding compound miter saws is the adjustable miter saw laser guide system.
The Hitachi C10FCG isn’t a sliding compound miter saw. However, it’s still a worthwhile purchase and one of the best miter saw devices for various reasons
- The cutting capacity is large and offers enhanced material support by incorporating a vice clamping system, which secures the workpiece.
- The single bevel miter saw is lightweight (only 24.2 lbs.).
- The power tool isn't a sliding miter saw.
The Hitachi C10FCG isn’t a sliding compound miter saw. However, it’s still a worthwhile purchase and one of the best miter saw devices for various reasons. The first reason being that the compound miter saw is equipped with a powerful 15-amp motor, which holds the ability to generate a no-load speed of a maximum RPM of 5,000. This motor can be used to produce miter cuts, as well as crosscuts effectively.
One of the best features of this compound miter saw is that it includes thumb-activated positive stops in the design. This functionality offers the user the ability to make quick miter adjustments.
Another feature offered by one of the best miter saw devices is its incredible dust collection system. The attachment included in the miter saw’s structure minimizes the airborne dust particles present in the workspace.
Dewalt has incorporated a 15-amp motor in the sliding compound miter saw. This 15-amp motor provides extended power with an RPM of 3,800.
- These sliding miter saws are equipped with a massive red pointer to make the angles easy to read and locate.
- No dust collection feature is incorporated in the design.
DWS709: A back fence design is provided to cut up to 2-inch X 14-inch wooden pieces at 90 degrees with these particular miter saws. Dewalt has incorporated a 15-amp motor in the sliding compound miter saw. This 15-amp motor provides extended power with an RPM of 3,800.
The dual bevel compound scale features oversized and easy-to-read functionality. Moreover, this dual bevel compound miter saw offers sliding fences support for crown molding of up to 5.5-inches.
The bevel angle is also micro-adjustable and features an up-front rotary knob. This features the capability to align all cutting from the left and the right easily.
- The sliding miter saw features the ability to produce precise single bevel angles and bevel cutting.
- More than a year warranty is offered on the sliding miter saw.
- The cutting capacity is relatively limited.
The 561287 10-inch sliding miter saw by Festool provides a rail forward design. This particular design features a compact footprint while offering an accurate cut that prevents head play.
Accuracy is offered during the cutting process, as the dual laser features highlight the material that needs to be removed. The bevel angle is also micro-adjustable and features an up-front rotary knob. This features the capability to align all cutting from the left and the right easily.
These single bevel angles can be set precisely with ease due to the fine points and significant bevel scale features.
The 45 degrees that the dual bevel is equipped with are executed accurately using a laser guide.
- The 12-inch sliding miter design saw featured flexibility and extended cutting, with an additional cutting width.
- More than a year warranty is offered.
- There isn't an effective dust collecting system.
This 12-inch miter saw features the functionality of a sliding miter saw. The 12-inch miter saw is also equipped with a 15-amp motor that’s capable of producing 3,800 RPM.
The 12-inch miter device offers a 40T 305mm blade. Moreover, the blade can produce a double-bevel cut at 45 degrees to the left and right. The 45 degrees that the dual bevel is equipped with are executed accurately using a laser guide.
The single bevel feature provides dual horizontal railings. Not to mention, the structure features a 12-inch blade and powerful tool that’s lightweight and portable.
- The single bevel feature included in the 12-inch blade design offers accurate cutting.
- The structure is portable due to its lightweight feature.
- There isn't an effective dust collection feature included in the design.
DWS779: One of the best features offered by these sliding miter saws is the back fence design. This allows the user to cut a maximum size of 2-inch X 14-inch wooden pieces with the blade at 90 degrees while cutting a wooden piece with a maximum size of 2-inches X 10-inches at 45 degrees with the blade (left and right).
Moreover, the cutting capacity is equipped to support larger wooden pieces. The single bevel feature provides dual horizontal railings. Not to mention, the structure features a 12-inch blade and powerful tool that’s lightweight and portable.
The Hitachi C12RSH2 is equipped with a powerful 15-amp motor that generates a significant amount of power for the device’s 12-inch blade.
- More than a year warranty is offered for the blade saw.
- The power tool produces a significant amount of power with the use of a 15-amp motor.
- This Hitachi blade saw doesn't include an effective dust collecting system.
The Hitachi C12RSH2 is equipped with a powerful 15-amp motor that generates a significant amount of power for the device’s 12-inch blade. The immense power provides the blade to produce clean cuts on the wooden pieces. Moreover, the blade is also capable of producing accurate and even cuts with the laser maker feature’s aid.
The saw’s blade is run on a compact sliding system, which requires no rear clearance from the user. The saw head’s blade also holds the ability to glide smoothly due to the fixed rail system’s addition in the design. Not to mention, the blade saw can efficiently and effectively produce bevel cuts.
The blade also can cut on large material with the tall sliding fence feature, as the cutting capacity is increased.
The Delta Power Sliding Saw provides miter angles that have the ability to go up to 45 degrees from left to the right.
- The electric brake is one of the best features for ensuring safety while operating the power tool, as the blade can be stopped quickly.
- The guiding laser feature ensures that the user makes accurate cuts, even if they are new to using a sliding miter saw.
- The bag dust collection system isn't the best dust collecting option available.
One of this sliding saw’s best features is the lightweight feature, which provides this power tool with incredible portability. This particular saw offers a laser guiding feature to aid in producing accurate cutting.
The Delta Power Sliding Saw provides miter angles that have the ability to go up to 45 degrees from left to the right. The design of the saw is best known for its electric brake. This feature is equipped to stop the blade quickly.
The table extensions are included in the saw design, which offers the best support for long surfaces of wood. The dust collection bag is also a very desirable feature included in the design of the saw.
The beauty of this specific power tool is that it’s exceptionally versatile and has the ability to assist in producing furniture, homes, and even stands for these saws.
One of the best features of these specific saws, in general, is that you have the ability to purchase one of these particular saws at any price range. Of course, the features and quality are usually dependent on the cost. Nonetheless, there is a miter saw available for any budget.
The most crucial element that should be identified is what you wish to do with your miter saw. Everyone has their own needs and requirements for what they wish their saw to provide. For this reason, what works for one individual may not work the best for the other.
Identifying what you wish to receive from your miter saw helps you pick the best features that should be included in the design. Thus, you’re able to search for particular models that offer these desired features and gain a miter saw that would be the best option for you and your needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are miter saws one of the most preferred tools for contractors and DIY-ers to use?
The main reason for miter saws being incredibly popular among contractors and DIY-ers is that these power tools offer exceptional versatility. Moreover, this saw can also provide excellent convenience as the saw holds the capability to produce quick-adjusting angles within a short time frame.
This is a highly desirable feature, as it’s often limited within the realm of construction and woodworking. This is especially the case when performing cuts on surfaces that are larger.
One of the best advantages of using this type of saw is that its cutting is accurate. For this reason, a majority of woodworkers and builders make use of this saw to trim wooden surfaces into smaller pieces effectively. This can all be done without wasting a lot of time.
Are miter saws dangerous power tools?
A miter saw is deemed as a handy tool. Nonetheless, it also holds the ability to be dangerous to work with. The saw’s feature of a motor means that a force is generated to spin the blade. This blade is sharp and has the ability to cause a lot of damage. For this reason, these saws should be used with caution to get the best return from the saw’s use.
What are positive stops?
Positive stops are known as the factory set points, which allow the user to make cuts at particular angles. The more positive stops provided in a model correlate to the decrease in the time needed for these cuts to be set up.
Some of these saws are equipped with a thumb-activated stop feature. The thumb-activated feature for positive stops allows quick adjustments to be made, which is considered one of the best features. This equips a blade to make cuts at a variety of different angles at a quick pace.