Hi! Looking for information and recommendations on the best sliding compound miter saws, or pretty much any kind of powered miter saw? Want to know why one type of miter saw blade is better than another for a particular job, or which tooth configuration will give a cleaner cut? Tired of using the floor as your work surface and want to know what specific features are available on stands these days to make your work more convenient?
Well, I’ve got explanations for all those technical specifications and terms that manufacturer’s like to throw at you in shorthand as well as what features and options you can expect to see. So now you’ll be able to understand all their “tech specs,” find the features best suited to your uses, and end up with the right miter saw, blades, and stand for your projects.
My reviews are the result of extensive research on both the physical aspects of a product as well as the full range of user experiences, and are structured to offer you both a detailed and summary view. In addition to providing accurate specifications and feature descriptions, I have sorted through public user reviews and weeded out the “one-off” and “me too” offerings to get to the gist of positive and negative aspects of a tool that could affect your purchasing decision.
Since there would be little point in providing detailed reviews of junk, the tools reviewed here are quality products from industry leading manufacturers, but with both their strong and weak points exposed to help you make a more informed choice.
Dual Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw – The Ultimate!
The dual bevel sliding compound miter saw, with laser cutting guide, and LCD digital readout of both miter and bevel angles is the ultimate angle cutting tool:
- Dual bevel allows the blade/motor assembly to tilt vertically both left and right for convenience and flexibility.
- Sliding allows for the cutting of stock wider than just a horizontally stationary saw blade(chop saw), and the ability to cut grooves of a particular depth, which has a variety of applications such as a tenon joint or creating clearance.
- Compound means the blade/motor assembly can be swung horizontally left or right to set the miter angle, while also being tiltedvertically left or right to set the bevel angle, allowing both miter and bevel angles to be completed in one cut.
- The laser cutting guide allows for fast, precise positioning of stock, and may be additionally valuable where marginal eyesight is a factor.
- The LCD digital readout of miter and bevel angles allows these settings to be made quickly and accurately (at the time of this writing, only Hitachi has this feature).
Types of Miter Saws
Powered miter saws are used to make fast, duplicable, and precise crosscuts in a piece of wood stock or other material, and are most commonly used in framing (building construction), woodworking, and the installation of molding. Used both on the job site and in the workshop, they are usually fairly lightweight and portable. Accessories such as stands, lasers, fences, stops, dust collection bags, extension wings, and various clamps expand the miter saw’s uses. Also called a chop saw or drop saw, it is basically a circular saw assembly attached to a base with a stationary fence, and the saw pivots left and right with gauges to show the miter angle relative to the fence. The motor/blade assembly pivots up and down so that stock can be placed under it, held stationary against the fence, and the blade lowered to cut the stock. A compound miter saw is a chop saw with a motor/blade unit that tilts vertically left and/or right to allow both a miter angle(horizontal) and a bevel angle(vertical) to be cut at once. A sliding compound miter saw combines all that with the ability of the motor/blade assembly to slide on horizontal rails in and out along the plane of the blade, allowing significantly wider stock to be cut.
10″ and 12″ blade diameters are by far the most popular sizes for sliding compound miter saws, but they also come smaller at 8-1/2″, 8-1/4″, 7-1/2″, 7-1/4″, and larger at 15″ for cutting large post and beam stock.
Features/Specifications And What They Mean To Your Projects
In shopping for a new sliding compound miter saw (or whatever variation of miter saw you’re contemplating), price of a specific model is not a major consideration since most of the saws in a particular class are priced competitively, but features can vary greatly between models. Also, keep in mind that miter saw blades can be fairly specialized, so you may want more than one, and miter saw stands can provide a great deal of convenience and safety. Here is a list of features to check out, with their relative importance depending on your intended use:
- Blade diameter – what kind of projects will be tackled and how much flexibility do you need?
- 12″ blade provides greater cutting capacity, good for post and beams.
- 10″ blade has less deflection / wander (smaller blade runs “truer”) and thus greater accuracy.
- A full kerf blade will have less deflection and wander (usually happens in tough grain) than a thin kerf blade.
- Weight – will saw be used on job sites or kept in a workshop, and will you use a stand?
- Amperage – higher amps = greater power.
- An indicator of cutting power, but other factors such as drive-train design may offset a lower amp motor.
- Electronic soft start and an brake can make living with the “beast” easier.
- Soft start means less recoil upon start-up, a user-friendly feature.
- Brake means greater safety and productivity since blade stops quickly.
- Degree range of bevel angles and number of detent stops – left and right tilt with dual bevel saws.
- More detent stops mean more quick adjustments.
- Greater angle range mean greater flexibility and fewer “creative” setups.
- Degree range of miter angles both left and right (one side usually has a greater range) and number and specific degrees of detent stops.
- See above
- Accuracy of detents – user reviews are also a good indicator of whether detents might get sloppy with use, and how easy they are to recalibrate.
- Micro adjustment knobs for bevels and miters allow greater precision.
- Maximum vertical (at 90 degrees) cutting capacity – angled bevel cuts will lessen this number since the blade is angled.
- Maximum horizontal (at 90 degrees) cutting capacity – angled miter cuts will reduce this number because the blade is angled.
- Height of fence – higher fence can mean greater stability and increased vertical crown molding capacity.
- Width of fence – can it be extended for added stability, and will you use a stand with it’s own supports and fences?
- Miter lock system – ease and speed of use locking/unlocking, and does it have a detent override so you can set angles close to a detent?
- Position of main handle – comfortable to use and carry? Are there side and main handles?
- Amount of clearance needed in back of saw for the slide (Hitachi has a patented slide that essentially reduces this to zero).
- Adequate dust collection – does it come with a dust bag, and/or can you attach a shop vac, does the collector diameter match your vac, and if not, is there a separate adapter?
- Accessories available for a particular miter saw model.
- Saw blade included – could be a minor consideration, since you’ll likely replace the stock blade if you do fine woodworking or exacting trim carpentry.
Of course, competition being what it is these days, and depending on how critical your miter saw needs (and your budget), you might also be well satisfied considering just a few of the major features, such as blade diameter, sliding feature, compound configuration, dual bevel or single, desired accessories such as a laser guide, and then buying any qualifying saw from a major manufacturer.