Choose a miter saw that meets your needs
For everything from miter and bevel cuts to compound cuts and crosscuts, a miter saw is an indispensable addition to any workshop. Whether you are a busy professional with a heavy workload or a committed do-it-yourselfer looking to tackle a new home improvement project, a wide range of available options ensure you'll find just the right solution to match the applications and materials you most frequently deal with. As you begin to explore your options, use the following questions to evaluate what you need in a miter saw:
Type, Capacity and Capabilities
Miter saws are available in a variety of configurations. Different sizes are better suited to certain materials, and each type offers specific cutting capabilities to match the requirements of certain applications. Miter saws often accommodate a variety of circular blades, each designed to handle various tasks for greater versatility and freedom when it comes to tackling your next job. Whether you choose a standard miter saw for basic cutting or a sliding compound model for more advanced functionality, the right saw can substantially reduce the time it takes you to complete simple things like cutting molding and rafters or even the pieces to make your own picture frames.
Type: The slide and bevel capabilities determine the type of miter saw - basic miter saw (no bevel, no slide), compound miter saw (single- or dual-bevel) and sliding compound miter saw (single- or dual-bevel, plus slide). All of these types are available in a variety of blade diameters. Units with larger blade diameters and multiple capabilities usually weigh more and carry a higher price tag. As you evaluate the types of miter saws and available features, keep your intended applications in mind and purchase a unit designed to meet your needs. You may also want to consider any upcoming or potential projects and select a saw that can grow with you to meet increased demand.
Cutting Capacity: The blade diameter and ability to slide are key factors in determining cutting capacity. The standard blade diameters for miter saws are 10" and 12". While a 12" diameter blade does provide greater capacity than a 10" diameter blade, ask yourself if the added capacity is important or necessary. If you're cutting base molding, making picture frames or cutting materials up to 4" x 4" or 2" x 6", a saw with a 10" blade gives you ample power. If, however, you're cutting large crown molding or hip rafters, the extra capacity and power of a 12" compound miter saw will be appreciated.
Bevel Capability: Compound miter saws allow you to tilt the blade to the side, so you can make bevel cuts and compound cuts (miter + bevel). While single-bevel compound saws tilt to one side, dual-bevel saws tilt left and right, allowing you to make bevel cuts in either direction without flipping your work. Dual-bevel miter saws are best suited for applications requiring you to cut large materials or make frequent bevel cuts.
Cordless Models: If portability is a key concern for your professional or home projects, consider a cordless miter saw. Cordless saws allow you to go anywhere with ease. For those of you who rely heavily on your miter saw, power drain can present some challenges. Even models with a 24V battery don't always make it through a full day. If portability and performance are important, consider purchasing extra batteries or purchase a unit powered by a long-lasting lithium-ion battery for extended use.
Consult the following chart for help in determining which miter saw is best suited to your needs.
|Saw Type||Bevel Options||Cuts||Key Benefits|
|Basic Miter Saw||
|Compound Miter Saw||
|Cordless Miter Saw||
|Sliding Compound Miter Saw||
Wide Miter Range: Miter saws offer maximum miter cuts that range from 50" to more than 60". If your cuts require a wide miter range, compare specs carefully to ensure that your saw gives you exactly what you need.
Easy-to-Read Indexes: For fast, accurate cuts, check the miter and bevel indexes to make sure they are visible and easy to read during use.
Positive Stops: Look for positive miter and bevel stops that make it fast and easy to adjust for common angles, but make sure you can make minute adjustments near the positive stops.
Sliding Fence: A sliding fence provides full-height support for miter cuts and slides out of the way for bevel cuts.
Adjustable Handle: Some models offer multiple handle positions, so you can adjust your grip for maximum comfort and control.
Electric Brake: An electric brake enhances safety and helps you get ready for the next cut fast by stopping the blade just seconds after you release the trigger.
Easy-Change Blade System: Some saws offer one-step blade changes. If you switch blades frequently, minimize downtime by choosing a system that makes swapping them out simple and easy.
Dust Port: A dust port allows you to connect a dust bag or wet/dry vac to your saw, so you can collect sawdust as you cut for a clean, clear workspace.
Laser Guide: Laser guides help you ensure the blade is lined up correctly with your intended cut line. Saws with a single laser show where the cut will start, and saws with dual lasers show you the entire kerf (the width of the cut).
Stands: You can choose from a variety of stands for your miter saw, including folding stands and stands with wheels for enhanced portability. If you cut long stock, look for a stand that provides extensions to support long workpieces.
Keep your work looking great and prevent damage to your saw by always having a sharp blade on hand.
Pick out a stand for your new miter saw and enjoy the added freedom and functionality.