If you’re in the market for a new miter saw, you may be overwhelmed by the plethora of options available. With different types, blade sizes, and motor powers to choose from, it can be challenging to determine which saw is best for your needs. That’s where our ultimate miter saw buying guide comes in.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know before making a purchase, including the various types of saws, key features to consider, and tips for finding the right one for your specific projects.
Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or a professional woodworker, we’re here to help you make an informed decision and get the perfect miter saw for your needs.
What is a Miter Saw?
A miter saw also referred to as a miter saw, chop saw, or drop saw is one of the more popular types of power saws. However, they are not as popular as circular saws or table saws.
As the name suggests, the miter saw derives its name from the miter joint. In simple terms, a miter joint is any joint formed by joining two pieces of wood or metal that are cut at an angle such as 45 degrees.
An example of a miter joint is the four picture frame joints.
A miter saw is a saw that is designed to make cuts that will help you make different types of miter joints.
With a miter saw you can make different cuts such as:
● Miter cut
● Bevel cuts
● Compound cut
While miter saws have tens of applications they are mostly used for cutting trim, molding, and picture frames.
While the miter saw is the perfect saw for making miter cuts, bevel cuts, and compound cuts, you can also cut any of these cuts with other saws such as a circular saw, jig saw, and table saw.
That’s why a miter saw isn’t a must-have saw especially if you have other saws such as a table saw, jig saw, and circular saw.
However, if your work involves cutting a lot of miter and bevel cuts, then a miter saw will be necessary.
Types of Miter Saws
The table below is a summary of the common categories of miter saws from the most basic to the most advanced.
As you move down the table, the saws become more advanced, bigger, and pricier.
|Standard miter saws without beveling feature
|Single bevel compound miter saws
|Dual bevel compound miter saws
|Single bevel sliding compound miter saws
|Dual bevel sliding compound miter saws
Something to note here is that all these types have some basic similarities.
For instance, all miter saws have a circular saw that is mounted on a swing arm.
Also, when cutting, you move the saw to the work-piece, unlike with a circular saw.
They can also be used to cut a wide range of materials such as pipes, lumber, flooring, and siding. However, different materials require different types of cutting blades.
1. The Standard Miter Saw
The standard miter is the most basic type of miter saw. This type of miter saw can only cut straight cross-cuts and miter cuts but cannot cut bevel cuts since you cannot tilt the blade.
Standard miter saws are typically cheaper and lightweight making it easy to move one from one job site to another.
Because of the lack of the bevel feature, basic miter saws are not as popular. By just adding a few bucks you can get yourself a more functional compound miter.
Types of cuts you can make with a standard miter saw:
● Miter cuts
2. Compound Miter Saw
Compound miters saws are more popular than standard miter saws. Apart from cutting straight and miter cuts, a compound miter saw can cut bevel cuts.
There are two types of compound miter saws
1. Single Bevel Compound Miter Saws
The blade of a single bevel compound miter saw tilts to one side only.
2. Dual-Bevel Compound Miter Saws
Unlike a single-bevel compound miter saw, the blade of a dual-bevel compound miter saw tilts to both sides allowing you to make a bevel cut on both sides of a piece of wood without changing the position of the wood.
Types of cuts you can make with a compound miter saw:
● Straight crosscuts
● Miter cuts
● Bevel cuts
3. Sliding Compound Miter Saw
The sliding compound miter saws are a more advanced type of compound miter saw. These saws have a movable blade that slides out, allowing to crosscut or miter cut wider boards.
Sliding compound miter saws can be single-bevel or dual-bevel. Single bevel tilt to one side only while double-bevel slide saws tilt to both sides.
4. Cordless Miter Saws
This classification is based on powering modes. While most miter saws are corded, there are some that are cordless. They are powered by batteries but can also be connected directly to the socket.
Size of the blade on the Miter Saw
The next and very important step after choosing the type to buy is determining the right size.
The size of a miter saw refers to the size or diameter of the blade. Typically, miter saws are available with an 8-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch diameter blade.
There are also a few models with a bigger blade diameter such as 15 inches.
The 10-inch blade size is the most ideal for most people including most DIY enthusiasts. Most compound sliding miter saws are mostly available with a 12-inch blade size.
The size of the blade determines the depth of the cuts you can make with the saw.
Apart from the size of the cut, the size of the blade also determines the materials you can cut, the thickness, and also the cutting speed.
Note, bigger-diameter blades have fewer revolutions per minute than smaller-diameter blades.
The table below shows the cut depth and width of a 10 and 12-inch blade.
Cut Capacity (90 Degrees)
Cut Capacity (45 Degrees)
Other blade-specific considerations include:
● Blade thickness
● Tooth count
Miter Saw Buying Guide-Key Features to Consider
The first key considerations when buying a miter saw are the type and the blade size.
Let’s now move to other things that you should have in mind when shopping for a drop saw.
1. Corded or Cordless Miter Saw
Here the consideration is whether you want a corded or a cordless model.
Corded models plug directly into a power socket, while cordless models are battery-powered, but can also be plugged into the socket.
Corded models are more powerful than their cordless counterparts. Cordless models are smaller and lighter and are ideal for medium-duty applications.
2. Power of the Saw
The power of a miter saw is measured by the amperage of the motor. Most miter saws have a 10, 12, or 15-amp motor.
For most users a 10 or 12-amp motor is sufficient. Bigger amp size also corresponds with a larger blade size so they are generally bigger.
3. Dust collection mechanism
Dust collection is another must-have feature in a miter saw. This is because most of the time you will be working indoors.
Not only will this help to keep the workspace and workshop cleaner, but it’s good for your health. Working in a workplace full of dust risks you developing chest complications.
The efficiency of dust collection differs from one model to another depending on the brand and model, but most brands do a great job of designing an efficient dust collection mechanism.
3. Guide lights on Saw
Now, a miter saw should help you make accurate cuts.
While it majorly depends on the user’s cutting skills, different miters saws have developed different means of helping users achieve accurate cuts.
Some models use a laser to help you know when you are making a straight cut. Other models cast a shadow on the surface you are cutting.
While this feature is only found on some high-end models, it does not work perfectly in some models. If you are buying a model with this feature check what users are saying about the efficiency of the guiding light.
4. Positive stops and depth stops on Miter Saw
Positive stops are set points that you will find pre-marked on the miter saw to help you set the miter saw quicker.
Positive stops are usually the most common angles that most people set when using a miter saw. Some of the most common positive stops include:
Depth stops allow you to set the depth of the cuts. This setting determines how deep the blade will get on the stock material.
The electric brake feature in a miter saw is designed to help stop the blade in 2-3 seconds after you have released the trigger.
Without this feature, the blade would continue running for up to 10 seconds before stopping.
The feature works by reversing the current after you have released the trigger, which immediately stops the blade.
Over time this feature tends to become less effective. This feature is also found in most other power tools such as circular saws.
Sliding or flipping fences
One of the most important parts of a miter saw is the fence. The fence helps you position and secure the material you are cutting,
The design of the fence will vary from one model to another. Some models have a sliding fence that you slide out when cutting a longer material. Other models have a higher fence for when you are cutting wide boards.
Price and Brand of the Miter Saw
Finally, consider the brand and the price. When shopping for a miter saw you will come across tens of miter saw brands. The best idea is to go with a brand that is well-known and reputable.
Some of the leading miter saw brands include:
When it comes to cost, the price of miter saws ranges anywhere between $100 and $1000. The price will depend on the type and features. For instance, a 7-inch blade basic miter saw will be cheaper than a 12-inch dual bevel sliding compound model.
You will also find models that cost as much as $1600. For instance, the Festool Sliding Compound Miter Saw KAPEX KS 120 REB costs around $1600.
Conclusion-Miter Saw Buying Guide
In conclusion, purchasing a miter saw can be a daunting task, but with the information provided in this ultimate miter saw buying guide, you should now have a better understanding of the various types, features, and considerations to make before making your final decision.
Remember to consider your budget, the type of work you’ll be doing, and the features that are most important to you. By taking the time to do your research and invest in the right saw for your needs, you’ll be well on your way to achieving professional-looking cuts and completing your projects with ease.
We hope this guide has been helpful, and wish you the best of luck in finding the perfect miter saw for your needs!
I’m Thomas Steven with more than 12 years of experience in woodworking. It has always been my passion to become a successful woodworker. I have completed hundreds of successful projects. This blog is a way of sharing my woodworking experiences and what tools get the best results. I write about woodworking while being an associate with Amazon and I earn a little commission from every qualifying purchase.