Whether you are a professional contractor or you enjoy doing projects around your house, a miter saw is a tool that you are definitely going to want to have in your workshop. Miter saws have the ability to accommodate a variety of circular blades, and each one is designed to handle a variety of tasks, giving you a lot of options and a lot of freedom. When you go shopping for a miter saw, you may find yourself quite overwhelmed. Do you choose a standard miter saw? A compound miter saw? A sliding compound miter saw? With so many options, it can be difficult to determine which type of miter saw will best suit your needs. To help you make the best choice, we have put together this buyer’s guide. In this guide, you will find everything you need to know about miter saws, including the different types, the factors to consider when purchasing one, the different features they can offer, and the best miter saw brands. After reading this guide, you will be well informed and ready to purchase the best miter saw to suit your specific needs.
Types of Miter Saws
A miter saw is a specialized saw that allows you to make cuts at a variety of different angles. The blade on this type of saw is mounted onto a swinging arm that pivots left or right, which allows it to produce angled cuts. A miter saw can be used to make quick cuts for a variety of applications, such as crown molding, picture frames, door frames, window casings and more.
While the goal of all miter saws is to make angled cuts, they can be differentiated by the way that they are operated. There are four different types of miter saws, which include:
- The standard miter saw
- The compound miter saw
- The sliding compound miter saw
- The cordless miter saw
In order to choose the best miter saw for your specific needs, the first thing you need to do is understand the difference between each of these five types of saws. Once you understand the differences between these miter saws and what each one can do, you will be able to make the best choice for your needs.
Below, you will find a detailed description of each of these five types of miter saws.
The Standard Miter Saw
The basic miter saw makes is an upgraded version of a manual miter box and handsaw. It is the most basic of all miter saws, and makes it a lot easier to make cuts than if you were to make them with a manual miter box and a handsaw. The standard miter saw is fairly easy to use and is ideal for making simple cuts. It is the least expensive of all miter saws and offers a great deal of functionality.
The Compound Miter Saw
The compound miter saw feature blades that pivot left and right for angled cuts, and blades that tilt in a single direction to make beveled cuts. Manipulating the saw on both of its axes at once allows you to produce a compound miter cut. The compound miter saw is idea for making picture frames, cutting crown molding, or creating any other project that requires angled cuts in two planes. It also offers the advantage of making compound cuts in one pass. Some compound miter saw models tilt to one side, and some can tilt up to 50 degrees. Dual bevel models allow you to make bevel and compound cuts in both directions without having to flip over the piece that you are working on.
The Sliding Compound Miter Saw
The sliding compound miter saw offers all of the versatility of a compound miter saw, but it also has a sliding feature, which is similar to a radial arm saw. This allows you to move the blade forward and backward with ease. The major advantage of the sliding feature is that it increases the length of the cut that you can make. The sliding compound miter saw can make a variety of cuts, including crosscuts, miter cuts, bevel cuts and compound cuts. The sliding head also allows you to cut through wider pieces of wood.
The Cordless Miter Saw
The cordless miter saw has the ability to make crosscuts and miter cuts. There are also some models that offer a single or a dual bevel design, which allows for bevel or compound cuts. The primary advantage of a cordless miter saw is that it is extremely portable. Because there isn’t a cord that needs to be plugged in to power it, you can use it pretty much anywhere you want to. There are both 18 volt and 24 volt models, so you have two different power options to choose from.
Things to Consider When Purchasing a Miter Saw
In order to choose the best miter saw for your needs, there are a number of factors that you are going to want to take into consideration before you start shopping. Some of the most important factors that you are going to want to take into consideration include the size of the lumber that you need to cut, the precision of the cuts that you need to make, and the cost of the miter saw, among other things. By taking these factors into consideration, you will be able to choose the best miter saw for your particular needs. To learn more about these and other factors that we consider to be the most important when you are shopping for a miter saw, please keep on reading.
The size of the lumber you need to cut
One of the most important factors that you are going to want to take into consideration when shopping for a compound miter saw is the size of the lumber that you need to cut through. A 10 inch miter saw can only cut through boards that are up to 10 inches wide, so if you need to cut through larger pieces of wood, you will need to upgrade the size of the miter saw, or you will need to opt for a sliding miter saw.
The types of cuts you need to make
Another important factor that you are going to want to take into consideration is the type of cuts that you need to make with the miter saw. All miter saws can cut to the left or to the right to make mitered cuts; however, if you want to create beveled cuts, you are going to want to choose a saw that has the ability to make those cuts.
You want to make sure that the miter saw offers clearly marked scales. Your saw should be properly aligned and easy to read so that you can make accurate cuts. The best miter saws have scales that are marked in fractions of a degree.
The fence support
You also want to make sure that the fence support of the miter saw is stable. The fence is the small wall against which the board you are cutting is positioned. It should be adjustable and provide the extra support that will be needed when cutting larger stock. Users say that the best fences stand 4 inches high, at minimum, and are squarely perpendicular to the table. A fence that has sections that slide or swing up and out of the way is useful for making bevel cuts.
The sliding action
If you are choosing a sliding compound miter saw, the rails should glide easily as you push the blade through the wood. On some saws, users report that they sliding motion is rough and a bit difficult at first, but that it improves with use.
The Blade Guard
You want to make sure that the blade guard will protect you from the blade as it spins during the full range of motion of the saw; however, you want to make sure that you are still able to lift it out of the way by hand when it is necessary, as this will allow you to get a better view, or to keep it from interfering with the cut.
Where you will be using the saw
Yet another important factor to take into consideration is where you will be using the miter saw. Do you plan on using it in multiple areas? If so, you want to choose one that offers a cord that is long enough to give you flexibility when moving. Better yet, a cordless miter saw will give you the most flexibility when it comes to moving.
The precision of the miter saw
You also want to make sure that the miter saw makes precise cuts. The precision of the cuts will impact your projects. For example, if the cuts are not precise, you will not be able to make the cuts that are necessary to ensure that pieces will properly fit together, such as when you are making a picture frame.
The cost of the miter saw
You are also going to want to take the cost of the miter saw into consideration before you start shopping. These saws can vary widely in price, with sliding compound miter saws and those that offer more features being the most expensive. Make sure you know how much you want to spend before you start shopping so that you can avoid going over your budget.
The Features Miter Saws Can Offer
There are a number of features that miter saws can offer. These features are intended to make the saw easier to use, and make it more versatile. As was mentioned above, the more features that a miter saw offers, the more expensive it is going to be. It is important to make sure you understand the different features and their intended purposes so that you can determine whether you want or need them, or if the added cost will be worth your while.
An LED Cutting Guide
Users report that a miter saw that offers and LED cutting guide makes using a miter saw a lot easier. They report that the LED light is easy to read and makes cuts much more accurate.
Dust Collection Ports
A duct collection port will allow you to collect all of the dust that the miter saw makes while it is cutting through the wood you are cutting. This helps to make the job neater, and keeps your workspace cleaner.
A Built In Safety Switch
A built in safety switch located on the handle will prevent the saw from accidentally starting. This is a great feature to have, as it will ensure that the tool is as safe as possible to operate.
An Electric Brake
An electric brake makes it easier to stop your blade. In fact, with this feature, you will be able to stop your blade in a matter of seconds after releasing the trigger.
An Adjustable Handle
With an adjustable handle, you will be able to adjust your grip, which will give you maximum comfort and control while using your miter saw.
Positive stops make it faster and easier to adjust the saw for making common angles.
The Best Miter Saw Brands
There are several companies that manufacture miter saws, which can make it difficult to determine which brand to purchase. To help you find the best miter saw for your needs, we have assessed the different brands and compared their reviews. Our findings have determined that the following miter saw brands are the best of the best.
Craftsman is one of the most trusted names in the tool industry. Their miter saws are durable, well constructed, offer a variety of features and are easy to use. Users report that Craftsman miter saws are the best on the market.
Another very trusted name in the miter saw industry is Bosh. This company also produces a wide variety of miter saws that offer various features. They use the latest technologies, are very durable and make precise cuts.
We also really liked the miter saws that are produced by DeWalt. The offer all types of miter saws, boast a variety of features and make some of the cuts with pinpoint precision.