Miter saws are an excellent choice for precise crosscuts, bevel cuts, and (surprise!) miter cuts. Like circular saws, miter saws are also incredibly easy to learn how to use, making them a great choice for pros and beginners alike. However, with so many different miter saws on the market, not to mention the various blade sizes and miter saw styles you will find, buying the right miter saw for your woodworking needs is imperative.
Why buy a miter saw?
A reliable miter saw is a must-have for a serious DIYer. They will allow you to efficiently cut crown molding, picture frames, and much more while also providing a reliable means of making straight cuts for your next DIY project. Miter saws also tend to be reasonably affordable, especially when considering everything they allow you to do. While miter saws are not the most portable tool in your workshop, their unique design makes tackling complex cuts a breeze, even for beginner DIYers.
What should you look for in a miter saw?
- Type of Miter Saw: Before making a purchase, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the differences between standard miter saws, compound miter saws, dual compound miter saws, and sliding compound miter saws. For straight crosscuts, use a standard miter saw. To tilt the circular saw blade in one or two directions, check out a compound or dual compound model. Finally, for a wider cutting width when working with wide pieces of timber, a sliding compound miter saw is an ideal choice.
- Features: Blade size, power, safety features, and the number and positions of positive stops are all key factors to consider when shopping for a miter saw. While these will be chosen based on your needs and preferences, look for a miter saw with at least a 15-amp motor to prevent getting bogged down while making cuts. Also, a reliable dust collector can significantly reduce your cleanup routine, so factor this in as well.
- Durability: While some bargain bin miter saws may seem great due to their low price, if they are composed of plastic parts that break down in months instead of years, you will end up paying for your decision in the end. A smart design and rugged materials are usually the best indicator of long-term durability, but don’t forget to check reviews to see how others have fared with their miter saws after putting them through their paces.
How do you select the right size miter saw?
Both 10- and 12-inch miter saws have their advantages, so closely consider your needs before making a decision. 10-inch miter saws are a convenient choice for many since they tend to cost and weigh less than 12-inch miter saws and often feature space-saving designs. Additionally, 10-inch blades tend to be considerably less expensive than comparable 12-inch blades. On the other hand, 12-inch miter saws can make longer and deeper cuts, meaning they’re a great choice for more demanding applications.
DEWALT Single Bevel 12-Inch Compound Miter Saw
This basic, single-bevel miter saw features the excellent power and dependability that one would expect from its world-renowned brand.
Pros: Featuring a lightweight, easy-to-use design and precise miter system, the DEWALT 12-Inch Miter Saw is powerful enough for a wide range of DIY and construction applications and can easily be moved from your workstation into storage when necessary. Additionally, the cam-lock miter handle is incredibly easy to manipulate to keep a hand free. This miter saw also maintains its speed in just about any wooden board you can throw at it and is the most durable option at its price point, solidifying its position as our top pick.
Cons: If your new miter saw is going to be a vital (and often used) addition to your workshop, this product’s single bevel design might not be ideal as it is less efficient than a dual-bevel alternative. This will be especially true for those who plan to cut crown molding or undertake other projects where a wide variety of cut angles will be necessary.
Bottom Line: Those seeking their first miter saw will likely be enthralled by the simplicity and dependability this tool has to offer. While this isn’t a miter saw that’s tailor-made for projects that require complex cuts, it has the power and durability to make it a mainstay in nearly any workshop.
Metabo HPT 10-Inch Compound Miter Saw
This budget-friendly compound miter saw sports thumb-activated positive stops for quick miter adjustments and is light enough to easily move around your workstation.
Pros: If you’re looking for a trusty entry-level compound miter saw at the lowest possible price, the Metabo HPT 10-Inch Compound Miter Saw is your best option. The Hitachi C10FCGS that this product replaces was beloved for its high cutting capacity and bargain bin price, so it’s no surprise that this upgraded model provides much of the same. It also ups the ante with a large, sturdy table that offers plenty of support and a 15-amp motor that reaches 5,000 rpm.
Cons: The blade guard seems easily breakable as it’s made of thin plastic. Also, the blade that arrives with this miter saw is less than satisfactory, especially if you plan on making finer cuts.
Bottom Line: Despite its shortcomings, this miter saw will appeal to many due to the fact that it is a huge step up from other miter saws that can be purchased at its price range. However, some will likely factor in its single bevel design and the cost of necessary extras (such as new blades) and invest a little bit more for a miter saw that meets more of their needs.
Makita LS1019L Sliding Compound Miter Saw with Laser
Featuring a unique rail system and advanced cutting capacity, this 10-inch miter saw is a great choice for contractors.
Pros: The innovative Makita LS1019L punches above its weight in terms of cutting capacity and is easily capable of cuts that many reserve for 12-inch miter saws. While fairly hefty in terms of weight, this tool sports a surprisingly small footprint, thanks to its well-implemented rail system, making it a great choice for those with limited workspace. It also features a very accurate laser sight that makes it easier to quickly line up your cuts without sacrificing precision.
Cons: This miter saw has a lot going for it, but even so, there are plenty of high-quality 12-inch miter saws that can be obtained at a lower price that offer fairly comparable functionality. Also, it’s heavier than your average 10-inch miter saw, so be wary if you’re seeking a smaller miter saw for portability reasons.
Bottom Line: This is a great miter saw for contractors as well as woodworkers due to its impressive power, compact design, and excellent dust collection system. While some may shy away from 10-inch miter saws, especially at this one’s price point, it’s hard to fault the LS1019L in terms of its cutting capacity, which rivals many 12-inch miter saws. However, those on a budget may prefer a more affordable model, even if it means lesser functionality.
DEWALT Sliding Compound Miter Saw
If you're looking for a miter saw that can make straight, dependable cuts and is simple to operate (even for beginners), this one is a great choice.
Pros: Featuring an easy-to-adjust bevel design and cam-lock miter handle for quick adjustments, the DEWALT Sliding Compound Miter Saw is a thing of beauty that is thankfully just as functional as it is well-designed. From its smooth-running rails to its easy-to-push handle, this compound miter saw definitely limits the amount of exertion (and frustration) you would experience with a lesser product. This sliding miter saw also packs some incredibly handy features, including a depth stop that is a dream come true for those who struggle to accurately cut a half lap joint.
Cons: This miter saw is fairly space-consuming, so it’s not the best option for those with limited workspace. In addition to being bulky, it’s also quite heavy, so those seeking a miter saw that can easily be transported to different workshops may find that transporting this one is more trouble than it’s worth.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a miter saw that is precise right out of the box, this is the sliding miter saw for you. While it’s definitely more pricey than more bare-boned miter saws, the cross-cut capacity and ease of making compound cuts make this a product that is hard to pass up at its price point. Factor in the long-term durability this saw offers, and the added investment doesn’t seem so bad after all.
Bosch Corded Dual-Bevel Sliding Glide Miter Saw
This dual-bevel miter saw features an extraordinary design that can be placed flush against the wall to save space. It also sports great cutting capacity.
Pros: This miter saw scores serious points, thanks to its space-saving design and effortless cuts. This saw features an innovative axial glide arm that not only does away with exposed grease joints (the bane of conventional sliding miter saws) but will save a ton of space at your workstation as it can be placed right against the wall. In terms of power, this saw’s 15-amp motor is well-suited for a wide range of applications and makes smooth cuts even with its stock blade attached. If innovation and performance are key factors for you, this miter saw is an excellent choice.
Cons: This miter saw is very heavy, so unless you’ve invested in a system to transport equipment from worksite to worksite, you will have your work cut out for you. Additionally, this product’s unique design necessitates a less-than-perfect dust collector outlet, although most won’t find it too difficult to improve dust collection via their own DIY ingenuity.
Bottom Line: For many, the Bosch Corded Dual-Bevel Sliding Glide Miter Saw may be the last miter saw they will ever have to purchase. If you’re looking for a miter saw that offers you nearly unlimited flexibility in how you approach your cuts, this is the product for you. That being said, beginners may find the offerings of this miter saw a bit overwhelming if they haven’t already gotten used to less complex models.
Finding the perfect miter saw for your workshop isn’t easy, especially since it requires you to consider your future as well as current needs. Be sure to factor in the size of your workspace, desired cutting capacity, portability requirements, and must-have features to help you find the best miter saw for your next project, and check out our recommendations.