Best Miter Saw: Our 2017 Consumer Guide
Last Updated October2017
A miter saw is a tool that is designed to allow you to make cuts at a range of different angles. It has a blade that is attached to a swinging arm that can pivot left or right and this then lets you make angled cuts much more easily. This is useful for all manner of things, from crown molding, to making picture frames or door frames.
Unlike Circular Saws and chainsaws though, the miter saw is something that has a slightly more niche appeal and that isn’t quite as well ingrained in the public lexicon. So if you were unfamiliar with it, don’t be too hard on yourself!
But what you’ll find, is that if you’re someone who does a fair bit of DIY or who likes to do woodwork in their own workshop, then a miter saw can make your life much easier.
Whether you already knew what one was or not, read on and we’ll look in depth at what the best miter saws are, how they vary and what you need to consider when making a purchase. This is your best miter saw buyer’s guide and it will help you to get the very best tool for the specific jobs you need it for!
Miter Saw Basics
When looking for your miter saw, there are a few basic points to consider right off the bat. For example, there are actually multiple types of miter saw and you need to make sure you’re getting the right one.
Compound Miter Saws
These feature blades that will pivot left and right for your angled cuts and often tilt in a single directly for making bevelled cuts.
Dual Compound Miter Saws
These are the same as regular compound miter saws but with the added bonus of enabling you to tilt the blade in two directions. This makes it much easier to quickly create bevelled cuts, increasing the range of possible applications and making for some nice designs and patterns.
Sliding Compound Miter Saws
These will yet again allow you to extend the potential applications of your miter saw by moving the cutting material or moving the cutting blade itself (more likely) forward and back. This allows for more applications when cutting longer items but it’s worth noting that it won’t be necessary for everyone.
Getting it Right
So which is right for you? As ever, the answer to that question is going to depend on what you have in mind. As mentioned, many people who perform woodwork fairly regularly may not have a miter saw as there are ways to achieve the same thing manually. This can make life much easier and improve the end product significantly though, so it is worth investing in if you do have the money.
Ultimately, you need to ask what you need the saw for and what you may need the saw for in the future. From there, you can then pick the best option for the given task at hand while keeping your expense to a minimum.
What’s also very important is that you choose a respectable brand though and a moel that has good reviews and ratings. That way, you can make sure that your new device will stand the test of time and not fail on you sometime down the line.
We’ve listed some of the very best miter saws on the market here and any of these will be more than fit for most purposes. Find one you like the sounds of and you can rest assured it will handle any work you can throw at it.
But if you’d like more detailed information regarding the different types of saw and how they operate, be sure to read the section below that goes into detail regarding the specs and stats of these saws.
Our Top Choices
We are big fans of DEWALT here thanks to their ever-impressive value for money. Across all categories, they offer very well-made devices that are more powerful than the competition at a lower price.
This time is no different. This is a slightly more costly choice than some options on this list but what you’re getting for that is the practicality of a double bevel sliding compound miter saw – so it can do absolutely everything. It has a back fence for more stability, a powerful 15 amp and 3,800 RPM motor and even a handle in case you want to bring it with you somewhere! It has 10 positive stops too, to ensure productivity and accuracy. All around, this is pretty much everything you could need at a price that isn’t too astronomical!
But if you’re looking for something a little less expensive, then DEWALT do that too. Their DW713 model is a compound miter saw with a 10’’ blade. It doesn’t offer sliding or double bevel but a lot of people reading this aren’t going to need those extra functions – and it’s less than half the price.
Otherwise, it’s pretty much the same thing with 11 positive stops, a machined base fence support (that slides) and great build quality. Most of all, the 15 amp, 5,000 rpm motor is capable of handling a LOT of materials.
A 12inch blade on this miter saw brings longer cuts. And along with that you get a patented ‘axial glide system’ for durable precision in a compact workspace, you get handy scales and a you get a useful high precision squarelock fence. The max RPM is 3,800 which is pretty decent though and there are a good number of detents. All around, it’s a good model at a decent price and it has rave reviews from a lot of buyers.
Another offering from DEWALT, this time another compound, single-bevel but with a 12inch blade for longer cuts. It has a more precise miter system according to the product description and a detent ‘override’ system that lets you create your own positive stops. It has tall sliding fences and a handy dust bag included for keeping things clean. It’s very affordable and also very powerful at 15A and 4,000RPM. All in all, another great choice from DEWALT!
If you want sliding but you aren’t two bothered about the double bevel, then here’s a sliding unit that also offers a 12inch blade. It has a powerful 15 amp and 3,800rpm motor and also includes sliding fences. An ‘oversized’ bevel scale should keep things easy and as is always the case with products from miter, it is well built, resilient and thoughtfully designed.
Oh and it’s also very affordable too!
This model is a standard compound miter saw but is coming in at the lowest price so far which will make it very appealing to those hobbyists who want-but-don’t-need a miter saw. Despite its low cost, it still comes with some neat features and is still a great buy. For instance, it offers a laser marker which always feels very pro to use and which can make sure you cut right along the mark you’ve made. It has a large pivoting flip fence, an ergonomic handle and actually quite a lot of power going all the way up to 5,00RPM. It also comes with a dust collector to keep the accumulation of muck to a minimum. Overall, this might be a relatively affordable choice but it’s surprisingly all-inclusive, powerful and well designed. It also comes with a 10inch blade.
For all those reasons, it makes the list!
Bosch is a brand that a lot of people are very familiar with and that’s always a good start when picking a new device that’s going to set you back a little bit in terms of price!
This time you get a12-inch blade and you also get a dual bevel slide compound machine! That means that like our first entry, this is a ‘do everything’ device. You can slide the wood around inside in order to cut through thicker/wider materials, you can create bevel cuts nice and easily and you can also use it as a standard compound miter saw. Combined, all these features allow you to cut up to an impressive 40 inches. It has a very readable bevel and electric brake, which makes it much safer and allows you to stop cutting much more quickly ready to go again on the next piece.
Power is 120V, which puts out a good 3,800RPM. So all in all, this is a great choice that once again gives you everything you might need. But like our first option, it’s again priced at the higher end.
This is a 10 inch miter saw that offers 3,200RPM of power. It’s not the very most powerful or the very largest in its class then but it’s priced with our top two offerings. So what’s the deal? Well, in this case, the inflated price is all about that slide which gives you the ability to slide further and longer than the competition along a 4-steel rail sliding system. It is engineered for remodelling, trim work and furniture making and the dual slide gives it the very best capability for that kind of use. These are also designed with extra rigidity which allows you to improve the accuracy of your cuts even further. But it’s not the most powerful, so this will come down to your personal preference! Otherwise, it again has everything you could want with multiple positive stops, a good guard system, direct drive gearbox and improved design for its vertical cutting capacity.
And that’s really the take home message here – there is no ‘best miter saw’. It’s just a matter of finding the right one for your specific requirements.
Found a miter saw you like the looks of? What’s next is to make sure you’re getting the very best tool for the job you have in mind and for the money you’re willing to pay. That means you should learn what some of the different specifications and numbers are referring to, so that you can make a more informed decision and really understand the specific differences.
With than in mind, let’s take a closer look at what all the jargon and terminology means and which numbers count for the average user…
The amps tell you the power that the saw motor is going to be running on. This in turn gives a good idea of the cutting power (though the two aren’t always exactly correlated) so that you can cut through thicker materials with greater ease.
This of course tells you the size of the blade itself and that’s one of the biggest decisions when you pick your saw! These come in 8, 10 and 12 inches and the larger the diameter, the longer the cut you’ll be able to make. You can make cuts in multiple goes but this is a little more work and leads to a greater potential for things going wrong…
As well as the blade size, you also have a number of different types of blade which will be better suited to cutting different types of material. Some will be better for cutting wood, others for aluminium etc. and this will largely depend on the type of teeth and the material of the blade itself. Generally, more teeth means a finer cut!
Most miter saws will come with a generic blade for cutting through most woods. This should be suitable for the vast majority of different applications. You can then upgrade this later on if you wish too. Unfortunately, it’s not all that common to buy miter saws with multiple blades in the package, although you can find them like that sometimes!
The miter is the part that allows you to set the angle (a miter is an angled cut) and this should let you choose from pretty much any angle within a certain range.
These are some factory predefined points that the saw will automatically stop at. That means you can find specific angles quickly and easily without having to line it up. That’s ideal if you know you want to quickly make a cut of exactly 45 degrees and it will greatly reduce the chances of things going wrong. These are known as positive stops or just preset angles.
A depth stop is the same thing but for the depth of the work piece. In other words, it can cut all the way through a number of common thicknesses, or it can plunge just to a certain depth and then stop.
These brakes work by quickly reversing the flow of electricity in the motor. That will stop the momentum of the blade fast – in as little as two seconds – and that means it’s ready to go again quicker and slightly safer in case you need it to stop rapidly.
These are designed to immobilize the shaft and blade so that it’s easier to change without the thing moving around all over the place.
Dust Chutes and Blowers are both intended to help you keep sawdust away from the work area. That in turn helps you keep your work surface cleaner and prevents jamming, coughing and other issues. Many will have dust bags mounted directly underneath where the dust will be filtered.
A slider allows you to cut through wider angles by gradually bringing them in towards the blade. Depending on what you’re cutting, this can be a very important thing to look for – for instance you might need a sliding miter saw if you plan on cutting through fence posts!
Some saws will ‘bevel’. What this means is that you can cut with two angles at once, which will come in toward each other to cut out a small triangular chunk. This allows you create attractive bevelled patterns and some go even further to allow for double bevels that tile left or right. This is handy too for crown molding and furniture making but a lot of people won’t need this option if its just for DIY around the home.
Laser lights are a great additional feature to look for. These help you to line everything up perfectly by projecting a beam/shadow showing you precisely where you’re about to cut. Adjustable rear fences, clamps and extension arms that make it easier for you to keep your items of any size in position firmly. customers can also now get miter saws with variable speed dials to match the type of material you’re cutting – though this is only found on the newer models generally. You can also look for other things such as digital readouts and more advanced sliding systems for more control over your cutting material.