Best Miter Saws for Amateurs and Pros 2017

best miter sawThe best miter saw can help you to get a job done faster, better, and more efficiently.

A powerful miter saw is considered one of the handiest tools around, and it’s definitely a tool you’ll rely on frequently if you love working on your home, woodworking or taking on challenging projects. When it comes to quality, nothing beats a miter saw that can offer accurate ninety-degree crosscuts, which is the most common cut. But these saws can also pivot and make perfectly angled miter cuts. Higher end models can even tilt in order to make compound angle cuts.

So, what makes a miter saw so indispensable? Precision. Because the saw’s blade is attached to a solid arm on a heavy base, you’ll be able to fine tune your cuts to the width of the blade, expertly shaving off bits of wood to get that perfect cut. The built-in blade guards, along with the saw’s stability will make this type of saw safer for beginners to use, compared to other power cutters.

But the miter saw does have its limitations. This type of saw isn’t able to cut very wide workpieces or rip lumber and some models may be limited to tilting only one way. But the saw’s sliding arms work to increase cutting reach, and the models that tilt two ways will make it easier to tackle complicated cuts.

Just keep in mind that with more features comes a higher weight and a bigger price tag.

We’ve created this extensive buying guide in hopes that you can narrow down your search to find the best miter saw to fit your needs. We’ve also compiled a list of the top five selling miter saw models on the market and detailed what makes them the best, what consumers had to say regarding performance and the types of features each product has to offer.

Whether you need a miter saw as a reliable workhorse that you can use on a daily basis, or a simple model to use for making repairs around the home, we’ve got the model for you.

Miter Saw Comparison Chart

ImageProductComparisonPriceRating
DEWALT DWS779 12 Sliding Compound Miter SawDEWALT DWS779 Sliding Compound Miter SawStyle: Sliding Compound

Blade Size: 12"

RPM: 3800

AMP: 15
$$$$4.8
Bosch GCM12SD 120-Volt 12-Inch DB Glide Miter SawBosch GCM12SD Glide Miter SawStyle: Dual Bevel

Blade Size: 12"

RPM: 3800

AMP: 15
$$$$$4.4
Craftsman 10 Single Bevel Sliding Compound Miter SawCraftsman Compact Sliding Miter SawStyle: Compact Single Bevel

Blade Size: 10"

RPM: 4800

AMP: 15
$$$4.4
SKIL 3821-01 12-Inch Quick Mount Compound Miter Saw with LaserSKIL 3821 01 Compound Miter SawStyle: Compound

Blade Size: 12"

RPM: 4800

AMP: 15
$4.5
Makita LS1040 10-Inch Compound Miter sawMakita LS1040 Compound Miter SawStyle: Compound

Blade Size: 10"

RPM: 4600

AMP: 15
$$4.4

1.    DEWALT DWS779 Sliding Compound Miter Saw Review-Best Miter Saw 2017

DEWALT DWS779 12 Sliding Compound Miter SawThe DWS779 DEWALT sliding compound miter saw is a twelve-inch diameter, solid, precise and compact corded model that features fifteen amps and 3,800 RMP rotating speed. This is definitely a saw that’s designed to last and with the addition of two steel rails, a ton of raw power, advanced clamping mechanism, machined base fence, and linear ball bearings, this is one accurate saw that allows for more precise cuts. This model is suitable for a wide range of cutting tasks and has the ability to cut up to 2×12 dimensional lumber at forty-five degrees and 2×16 at ninety degrees due to the innovative back fence design. It will also allow you to cut crown molding that’s almost eight inches nested, using the tall sliding fence and base, molding vertically up to six inches against the fence. The saw can also move out in order to perform precise bevel cuts. You won’t need to worry about the amount of dust you have to deal with when you’re making these cuts because this model features a highly effective dust collection system that can collect more than three-quarters of dust.

This saw comes with a ninety-day money back return policy, three-year limited warranty and a one-year free service contract.

Conclusion

Right out of the box, this is a saw that’s deadly accurate. You can use it to finish trim, handle cabinetry and for any other job big or small, that needs to be done around the home. The stock blade is perfect for general carpentry work, but you might want to upgrade for fine woodworking projects. Overall, we were pleased with how this saw performed and impressed not only by its precision but by the amount of raw power that’s packed into such a compact design.

Pros

Power, accuracy, solid performance and reliability, it’s what consumers have come to expect from DEWALT, but this saw offers a little more in terms of usability. This is a smooth cutting machine and one that you’ll need in your tool arsenal if you plan on doing some heavy cutting.

This is a beautiful black and yellow sliding miter and it weighs in at an impressive sixty-seven pounds. The saw is more compact than you may think but definitely very heavy. This model will stay solid during operation. In the box, you’ll get the saw, blade wrench, carbide blade, and user’s manual.

The ability to move this model fifty degrees to the left and sixty degrees to the right obviously increases its overall usability as it’s able to carry out a wide range of cutting tasks. The stainless steel miter detent plate provides great precision that can be adjusted with ten positive stops for precise angle cuts.

Cons

This saw doesn’t come with the slow start feature so the belt drive kicks during initial start-up. The included dust bag runs a little small for the size of this model, but overall, it does a decent job of dust collecting. This saw is missing some extra features higher priced miter saws tend to offer, including lighting and a laser cutting guide, but when it comes to quality and a solid performance, you really can’t beat the price.

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2.    Bosch GCM12SD Glide Miter Saw Review-Best Cutting Precision

Bosch GCM12SD 120-Volt 12-Inch DB Glide Miter SawThe Bosch GCM12SD glide miter saw comes equipped with the popular axial glide feature which is designed to provide the user with improved control when making delicate cuts. This is a saw that is packed with innovative features that make it useful for a wide range of applications in small workspaces. The manufacturer is well known for their quality tools and innovative technology and this model is just proof that Bosch has still got it.

This is one of the pricier models we reviewed, but once we learned about the axial glide featyre, which is perfect for precision cuts, we decided to take a closer look, and we weren’t disappointed.

The axial glide system doesn’t use the traditional rail set up, which means it won’t take up as much space as other models in this price range. The unique design allows the back of the saw to fold with the articulated arm flush, saving up to a foot of precious workspace. The design also makes it possible to use the saw with minimal rear clearance, making it even more suitable for cramped quarters. The axial glide system also gives you more control and balance when you’re making precision cuts.

One of the things we loved best about the saw is the large capacity it offers. This saw is able to cut up to sixteen inches horizontally and over six inches vertically. It can also be used to cut crown molding that’s up to six and a half inches thick. This type of capacity will provide you with more flexibility and freedom to make a wide variety of cuts, which is definitely more than the average twelve-inch miter.

Conclusion

The GCM12SD by Bosch is quite a saw. While it’s surprisingly heavy, this is a saw that comes loaded with plenty of innovative and useful features. The dust collection system and the axial glide system are just a couple of features that rated well with us and consumers. This model is the perfect choice for woodworkers and carpenters who work in tight workspaces.

Pros

The square lock fences feature a quick release, which is also pretty impressive. They’re aligned at ninety degrees right out of the box. Each of the square lock fences will slide easily into position at the touch of the unlock or lock feature for improved alignment accuracy when working with materials. This means that every cut will be precise and smooth.

You’ll probably also be pleasantly surprised to learn that this saw features a dust collection system that actually works. This saw comes with a ninety-degree combination vacuum adapter, dust chute elbow, and dust bag.

Cons

This model, while built in a compact design that allows you to work easily in cramped spaces, weighs in at a whopping eighty-eight pounds which means it’s definitely not very portable. We also would have liked to see a laser guide system that would help with more accurate cutting, especially considering this model is a little on the pricey side.

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3.    Craftsman Compact Sliding Miter Saw Review- Best 10 Inch Miter

Craftsman 10 Single Bevel Sliding Compound Miter SawThe Craftsman compact sliding miter saw takes its compact design seriously. The motor carriage projects forward, riding on a couple of tubular rails that have been fixed in place. This compact design works to save plenty of front to back space. By tucking the rails in this manner, the saw is able to sit on smaller work surfaces and because the rails are fixed in place, they won’t bang into walls like models with moving rails tend to do. The rails work to vertically offset one another, as opposed to a side by side alignment, which works to stiffen the motor carriage to prevent twisting from occurring when the user bears down in order to push through a rough cut.

The base of the saw will also save bench space and is over just twenty inches wide. The small stature and forward rail design will allow this smaller miter to fit into tight workspaces. The weight of the saw is also pretty manageable at forty-three pounds, making it highly portable.

Conclusion

The ten-inch sliding compound miter by Craftsman features a fifteen amp motor, so it’s packing quite a bit of power in such as small a saw. The saw’s telescoping aluminum extensions offer additional support when you’re working on longer workpieces and the sixty carbide teeth on this smaller saw gives it some serious bite power. Perfect for amateurs and pros alike, don’t let the saw’s stature fool you, it has a lot of functionality and power to offer.

Pros

On the back, you’ll find a plastic throw lever which will allow you to tip and release the motor up to forty-seven degrees left for bevel cuts. Once you tighten the lever, the angle setting will stay in place. When we tried this model out, it actually was able to handle hard maple well. The sliding system produced uniform offcuts, which indicates that the blade is able to track straight. This model also comes with a laser guide, which illuminates the blade path, helping to expertly line up cuts and it’s also very easy to adjust. You’ll also get a large capacity dust bag that works pretty well to cut down on cleanup time.

Cons

The table surfaces at the end of the fence are somewhat small, which can make working on wider pieces complicated. In cases such as these you’ll need to use the hold down clamp, which comes standard with smaller miter saws. Also, the fence is very short on the right side of the blade, although it has a tall wing on the left. The shortness on the right side tends to limit vertical support. You also might notice a little side to side play when you’re snapping the base of the saw into nine detents when setting up a cut, but the slop tends to vanish once the lock knob has been appropriately tightened.

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4.    SKIL 3821 01 Compound Miter Saw Review-Best Value

SKIL 3821-01 12-Inch Quick Mount Compound Miter Saw with LaserThe Skil 3821 01 compound miter saw features a laser cutting guide system and fifteen amps of power, making it a good choice for the avid woodworker or DIYer. The laser cutting guide allows you to make more precise cuts and is easy to adjust and use. The quick mount system allows the user to mount the miter saw following a few simple steps. For precise, quick angle settings, the saw also features nine positive stops. While straight out of the box, the saw isn’t very accurate, it won’t take you long to set it true and start making straight cuts. It features plenty of power and can handle most tasks without any problems. The extension wings allow you to easily handle larger workpieces and are longer than most.  One side of the saw features a small table attached for added support.

Conclusion

SKIL is known in the industry for producing pretty decent power tools at a more affordable price. Their latest miter saw, the 3821 01 tested well for the most part and we consider it a fairly reliable saw, however, because of its many limitations, especially in terms of clean cutting and accuracy, this model is best suited for use around the home or for the avid DIYer. This is definitely not a saw that can be used for detailed work such as woodworking. But for the price, this is a model that can come in handy at home, if you need a solid preforming saw for your workshop. For the quality and extra features, it’s offered at a reasonable price.

Pros

This saw is equipped with a fifteen amp motor, with 4,500 RPM. The blade features forty teeth and offers better than average bite. The max miter angle for right and left is forty-five degrees. The nine positive stops allows you to quickly set the most commonly used miter angles, so you can make more precise cuts. The bevel angle is at forty-seven degrees for both right and left.

The markings on the aluminum fence also help to improve cut accuracy, while the horizontal clamp system ensures that your workpiece remains solidly in place when cutting. The laser line guide is the perfect feature for the beginner and allows you to make accurate, fast cuts. This is a lighter weight miter saw, weighing in at just forty-two pounds, which will make it easier to haul and transport.

Cons

This is probably the dustiest saw we reviewed, while it comes with a dust bag, it was pretty ineffectual, so be prepared to break out the shop vac come clean-up time. The electric brake will take about six to twelve seconds to stop the blade after the trigger has been released, which is a few seconds longer than what you’ll get from competing models. We also noticed that tightening the miter lock down shifts the saw’s angle slightly, which can be a big problem for precise cuts, which is why we don’t recommend this model for woodworking.

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5.    Makita LS1040 Compound Miter Saw Review-Most Versatile

Makita LS1040 10-Inch Compound Miter sawMakita is a company that’s well known for their quality products. This smaller miter saw features a compact design, awesome power and the type of versatility you won’t find in another saw in this price range.

This model comes with a ten-inch blade, dust bag, triangular ruler, wrench, and vertical vice. This saw will cut with precision, straight out of the box. This is the perfect choice for the beginner, avid DIYer, carpenter, or woodworker. The saw was marketed as accurate, powerful and versatile and we definitely weren’t disappointed.

The LS1040 compound miter saw by Makita is a ten-inch model that is designed to cut through rough wood and other types of materials with easy and smooth precision. It features a fifteen amp motor, impressive cutting capacity, carbide blade tip, triangular rule and wrench and vertical vise, dial aluminum base, and dual slide rails. It also comes with an extensive one-year product warranty.

The saw offers a lightweight design, weighing in at a little over twenty-seven pounds. The impressive cutting capacity allows it to smoothly slice through fifty-two degrees right, and forty-seven degrees left. This model also comes with nine positive stops at fifteen degrees, twenty-two and a half degrees, thirty degrees, forty-five degrees and zero degrees for both right and left directions.

Conclusion

Makita has done it again, offering a reasonably priced ten-inch miter saw that’s tough, durable and above all, reliable. As you’ve gathered, this is one of our favorite saws, mainly because we were able to use it for a wide range of applications, something that simply isn’t heard of with most models in this price range.

Pros

The Saw’s carbide tip will slice easily through wood with precision. The aluminum machined base will prevent rust from forming while also offering stability and much-needed support when working with larger workpieces. The wrench, vertical vise, and the triangular ruler will only add improved precision with every cut. Overall, this is one durable ten-inch miter. The lightweight design also makes it highly portable, allowing you to easily move it from room to room or job site to job site.

This saw offers 4,600 RPM and an electronic speed that allows the saw to easily control and maintain speed under load. The soft start safety feature will prevent the saw from jerking during initial start-up.

This is the most versatile saw we reviewed, capable of handling a wide range of applications including cabinet installing, woodworking, siding installation, general contract work, and flooring, to name a few.

Featuring less weight and improved capacity and performance, this saw delivers raw power and exceptional versatility.

Cons

Some consumers had issues adjusting the saw to certain specs. Reading through the user’s manual will help you to troubleshoot this problem easily. Like most dust collection systems on miter saws in this price range, the system’s performance didn’t do much to cut down on our cleanup time.

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Miter Saw Buyer’s Guide

miter saw buyer guideThe miter saw is probably one of the most popular types of saws on the market these days. They’re very versatile and useful and can allow you to complete a wider range of projects. This type of saw can be used by carpenters, home remodelers, contractors and any avid DIYer. Most people commonly think of a miter saw being used primarily on wood, which of course is the number one type of material to use with this tool, however, the best miter saws can also be used to cut materials such as concrete, aluminum, and plastics.

You’ll find miter saws in a wide variety of price ranges and sizes. We advise you to not run out and purchase the first saw you come across and instead spend some time researching some of the top models by reading miter saw reviews. You’ll be much better off if you take a look at the stats available for each saw until you come across one that will be the best fit for the type of work you plan to do. The type of saw the casual DIYer needs will definitely be different from the kind the professional carpenter uses. With that in mind, we’ve compiled some important information and facts regarding miter saws and what to look for in order to find the perfect model to suit your needs and your budget.

Let’s start off with the basics. First, you’ll need to consider the type of miter saw you’ll need. Basically, there are a few different types available: sliding compound, compound, and basic. Each style will come with their own advantages and disadvantages. Now, we’ll take a closer look at each style of miter saw to help you narrow down your choice.

First up is the basic miter saw. This style of saw is commonly used for simple projects such as making cross cuts, cutting up trim or making miter cuts. The saw’s cutting capacity is pretty limited, mainly focusing on miter cuts because there are no bevel options. So essentially, you’ll be unable to make a large variety of cuts, however, these saws do have a reputation for accuracy and are perfect for small and simple cutting jobs. A basic miter is also usually priced pretty affordably, which makes them a good option for casual woodworkers or beginners.

Compound miters are much different than basic miters because you can use them for bevel cuts. They can also be adjusted to make both bevel and miter cuts. There are a couple of different types of compound miters: dual and single bevel. The single bevel saws can make bevel cuts in only a single direction, so you’ll need to move the workpiece in order to create a bevel cut in the opposite direction. The dual bevel models can make both right and left bevel cuts, which means you won’t have to move the wood in order to make that second cut. Most pros prefer compound miters for cutting such things as crown molding because the compound miters are so impressively accurate and it’s much easier to make matching bevel cuts.

The sliding compound miters are considered the most versatile of the bunch. And of course, because of this, it’s also the most expensive option. The sliding compound offers all of the same features as a compound miter, with the addition of a sliding arm. The arm will allow you to make wider cuts and can easily slice through thicker pieces of material. This type of increased cutting capacity is what makes this style so versatile. Because this type of saw is so expensive, we don’t recommend it for the casual user.

Whichever style of saw you decide to go with, there are important features you’ll want to consider. Let’s take a closer look at some of the basic features.

A laser guide system on a miter saw isn’t exactly what we’d call an essential feature, but it can be incredibly useful. An effective laser guide system will make the saw a lot easier to use and will also increase accuracy. However, the laser system on some models are not nearly as effective, so you’ll want to really take a closer look at the system used on the model you’re interested in. Read as many miter saw reviews as you can and pay attention to what consumers have to say about the particular laser system.

Typically, the dust collection systems that you’ll find on miter saws consist of a simple dust bag, which isn’t very effective. But there are some models that do actually feature effective systems. The best way to determine if a saw has a solid dust collection system is again to read reviews. A good system will keep your work area cleaner and it can also increase the saw’s lifespan by preventing dust and debris from getting inside. If you do find a saw you love, but it has a pretty poor system, don’t let it stop you from buying the saw. You can still use a shop vacuum to help keep the dust under control. You’ll need to keep a good shop vacuum around anyway.

Extra Features on Higher Priced Miter Saws

These days, most miter saws come packed with a variety of features. Many come with lights, which can come in handy when you’re working in poor lighting conditions. Most saws will also come with extension arms, workpiece clamps, and adjustable rear fences. All of which can be great for supporting wood and will keep your hands free and out of the blade’s way.

Newer models will come equipped with a variable speed dial, which will allow you to set the motor’s speed based on the type of material you’re cutting.

higher price miter sawNext up is the motor type. The saw you use should pack enough power to perform your cutting jobs. A miter saw usually features between ten and fifteen amps. While it’s not always a must to have a saw that’s super powerful, if you’re using your saw regularly then you’ll need one that offers reliable power. You should also consider a saw’s max RPMs because it will affect the smoothness of the cut. The direct drive motor tends to provide more power and lasts longer than a belt driven motor. If you need to make fine smooth cuts or if you plan on doing plenty of heavy cutting, you may also want to consider a motor that features smooth start technology. This type of technology works to lessen the bursts of power you feel upon start up.

Miter saws are dangerous tools to use, so it’s a good idea to look for a model that offers adequate safety features such as fence guards and electric brakes. A built-in safety switch located on the saw’s handle will work to prevent the saw from accidentally starting up. This is a great feature and a must-have for the beginner.

You’ll find that most miters come equipped with a standard blade, which is fine for rough cuts but it won’t be suitable for woodworking projects that require finer cuts. If you’re into woodworking then you’ll need to be prepared to buy a higher quality blade. The saw’s blade will determine the height or depth of a cut. There are a number of blade types available for cutting different styles and types of material, including multipurpose blades that can cut mild steel and aluminum. The more teeth the blade has, the finer the cut.

Twelve Inch and Ten Inch Miter Saw Blades

Unless you’re a professional, you can probably pass the twelve-inch double bevel sliding compound saws by. They’re simply too expensive and large for the average home workshop. A ten-inch model will work for most DIYers. This size of saw will feature a fifteen amp motor and they’re definitely more affordable and easier to maintain. These blades are often interchangeable with table saw blades, so you won’t have to expand your blade collection.  If you’re searching for a more portable option, check out a 7 ¼ inch cordless miter saw. These saws typically run on the same eighteen to twenty-volt lithium ion battery that powers other types of tools such as cordless drills. The small blade size can be a little limiting when it comes to the size of wood you can cut, but sometimes the convenience of these smaller sized saws can totally be worth it.

The ten-inch compound miter will only be able to cut through lumber that’s up to ten inches wide. If you have to cut a wider board, you can choose a sliding miter saw or upgrade to a twelve-inch model. The twelve-inch sliding miter can handle much bigger lumber, but they’re usually harder to transport, heavier and definitely more expensive.

If you’re on a tight budget and you only need a saw to make a few cuts at forty-five or ninety-degree angles, you can take a look at the venerable miter box, which will only set you back around $20 for the saw and the box.

When you’re shopping for blades, the packaging should tell you the type of materials the blade is compatible with and the type of cut you can expect. Be sure that you choose the right blade diameter for your saw in addition to the correct bore size.

You may also need to purchase a stand if you plan on transporting your saw from job site to job site. You’ll find universal stands available which work just like a folding table for a saw to rest on. They can also come in the classic leg stand style which is a foldable style that features long extensions and a variety of features such as adjustable legs and supports, roller carriers, and clamps.

The Miter Saw Quality Check

Bevel and miter scales should be correctly aligned and easy to read for more precise cutting. The most precise scales will feature a scale marked in fractions of a degree or they will be digitally displayed.

woodworkLook for locking catches that mark the most common bevel and miter angles. This feature should allow you to easily set the saw for the cuts you use the most frequently. Choose a model that has a solid miter lock so you can firmly hold the saw in place. The saw should have a detent override and at least five miter detents, which will allow you to secure custom angles.

The saw’s fence should provide extra support when you’re cutting larger stock and it should also be highly adjustable. Fences with sections that swing or slide out of the way can be perfect for use when making bevel cuts.

On a sliding compound miter saw, the rails should glide easily as the blade is pushed through a board. On some models, the pros have found that this sliding motion can be initially rough but they tend to grow easier with use.

A blade guard will work to protect the user from the blade during the full range of motion, however the user should still be able to lift it out of the way by hand to keep it from interfering with a cut or to get a closer view.

Knowing Your Project and the Type of Miter Saw Power You Need

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer and you’re considering purchasing a miter saw, it’s important that you’ve outlined your project and have a solid understanding of the tools you need and the duration of the project. If you’re working on a small woodworking project, you might only need a manual miter saw and won’t need to spend big bucks on a feature packed model. If you’re working on repairs or remodeling your home, then a new miter saw will definitely be an investment of sorts. Obviously, if you need a miter for work, you’ll need to spend more to get a miter saw that can handle rough daily use without fail.

projects for miter sawThe bottom line, know your projects and the type of miter saw power you need to get the job done.

Last of all, let’s discuss price. Obviously, the price won’t be much of a factor if your mind is set on purchasing a miter saw that you can use once in a while in the workshop, for casual projects. But if you’re looking for a saw that can withstand heavy duty, daily use, you’re going to have to shell out the big bucks and expect to pay extra for a more powerful motor, precision, and extra features. The type of saw you choose will heavily depend on the applications you plan on using it for, such as home repair, home renovation, construction or woodworking. Don’t be afraid to spend extra on a saw that’s guaranteed and designed to last.