Checked and updated on November 10, 2020 by Aaron Barnett
The best cordless miter saws are made by Dewalt and Makita. Sliding compound saws can cut timber on perfect angles and bevels quicker and more accurately than a circular saw can. Cordless miter saws are also more light-weight making them more portable and usable when standard wall power isn’t available.
Cordless means you don’t need to worry about a nearby power outlet, making cordless drop saws a great choice for remote building and DIY locations such as a remote cabin in the bush or tiny house.
Mostly landscaping work and small handyman jobs well do nicely with the cord-free option, as well as sub-trade jobs, like a joiner fitting window beads on a roof.
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Miter saws are designed to make crosscuts and miters in wood and other material. They have circular saw blades attached to a frame that tilts down onto workpieces to cut into the surface.
Also known as “drop saws”, they may also be used with abrasive discs. Tools with these attachments are often referred to as “chop saws”.
Miter saws come in corded and cordless models, each of which may be a good choice for you depending on your needs. Whichever type you go for, miter saws will allow you to make different angled cuts.
This is because miter saws can also swivel from side to side apart from tilting down, which allows you to make cuts at different angles.
The ability to set the blade to different positions makes miter saws some of the most versatile tools around. They are especially useful for framing, flooring, and trimming work, which would be difficult and even impossible with most other saws.
Miter saws can even be used to make regular board cuts, so you will get a lot of use out of them even for projects that don’t require a lot of angle cuts.
You get even more versatility with compound miter saws, which allow you to make bevel and miter cuts, and even both at the same time. And if you need to cut boards to the same length, you will appreciate the versatility that a good compound miter saw provides.
Interestingly enough, the original design of the miter saw was never patented. This led to the development of a wide variety of miter saws, many of which added features that greatly improved the tool’s functionality.
Even so, most of the features that make miter saws so useful have been around since invented the tool in 1964. It is perhaps a testament to Niehaus’ design genius that the miter saw has remained largely the same to this day.
Should you get a “cordless” miter saw?
Traditionally, tradespeople and professional woodworkers preferred corded power tools due to their powerful motors and reliable performance. But more and more pros are shifting to battery-operated tools, many of which deliver comparable performance.
The newer crop of cordless miter saws measures up well compared to corded models, providing similar performance and features. And will perform well in conjunction with your best cordless circular saw.
There are many reasons to go for each, of course. Corded models continue to be popular choices for pros that require a constant operation. But cordless miter saws are the better options for remote job sites where there is no power outlet handy.
Even if you work strictly at home, you can consider going cordless for convenience and portability, but a corded model is best for a workshop or building site set-up.
For my review on the corded sliding miter saws click here.
What sized cordless miter saw for what job?
Miter saws generally come with 12-inch or 10-inch blades. Larger blades are better suited for making wide and deep cuts, while the smaller blades are easier to handle.
When choosing what size of blade to go for, you should also consider the jobs you will be doing. For cutting crown molding, 10” blades are better suited for four to five-inch molding. For molding measuring six inches or more, you should go for a 12” blade.
For cutting laminate flooring, go for a 12” blade if you are cutting larger pieces. For smaller pieces, you should be able to make do with a 10” blade. That being said, if you frequently have to cut tough flooring material, you might be better off with a 12” blade regardless of the size of the workpieces.
If most of your work involves cutting 4 x 4s, a good 10” blade should be sufficient, but I prefer a 12-inch blade size still because it is easier to cut in a sliding and dropping motion, rather than only a dropping motion that’s common with smaller 10-inch blades, or non-sliding saws.
Dewalt vs. Makita cordless miter saws
There are many fine cordless miter saws available on the market today, but DeWalt and Makita make the best cordless miter saws.
According to several cordless miter saw reviews, the two companies have established their reputations on high-quality tools that deliver outstanding performance and pro features.
Although you will likely spend a bit more on DeWalt and Makita cordless miter saws, the extra cost is worth it considering the quality and performance that you get for your money.
DeWalt’s 12-inch model is an excellent choice for DIYers and pros alike, with a sliding meter that allows for 12” crosscuts, which isn’t commonly seen in cordless saws. It also has a brushless motor that results in more efficient performance and longer tool life.
The Makita 12-inch model is equally impressive, with consistent performance and zero blade wobbling. It also cuts angles at 45° and miters at 60° in either direction.
The DeWalt DHS790AT2 combines the power and performance of a corded miter saw with the convenience and portability of a cordless model.
Powered by DeWalt’s FlexVolt technology, this miter saw provides excellent runtime while keeping the battery cool under load.
It also has a powerful brushless motor that offers more efficient performance and much longer runtimes than non-brushless designs, also without the need for brush replacement maintenance.
Features such as the Cutline Blade Positioning System allow for accurate cuts without the need for adjustment, and you can even make accurate bevel cuts easily with the high visibility bevel scale.
And with an adjustable stainless steel miter detent plate, you have a lot more cutting options as compared to other cordless miter saws.
The Makita XSL06PT is a 10-inch model that is highly regarded in many compound miter saw reviews. It has dual-bevel sliding design and a pair of 18V Lithium-ion batteries, which gives you 36V power and performance in a compact form.
This particular motor is even more efficient than other brushless models, giving you 50% longer run time than other miter saws. It is capable of 4,400 RPM peak performance, so you can cut through most materials quickly and efficiently.
The XSL06PT also has an Automatic Speed Change feature that adjusts the torque and cutting speed depending on the load.
The 2-steel rail sliding system ensures smooth and accurate cuts and makes this one of the best compound miter saws on the market.
Best value cordless miter saw
The DeWalt DCS361M1 is a handy and versatile miter saw with a 7 ¼” blade. Don’t let the modest size fool you: this is one compact wonder that provides equal performance to many of the bigger miter saws in this roundup.
The DCS361M1 is powered by a 20V Max Battery Pack that lets you make as many as 183 cuts into 2 x 4 pine on a single charge, and as many as 275 cuts in 3 ¼” pine baseboard.
It also has a useful XPS cross cut positioning system that helps you make clean and accurate cuts without having to make adjustments.
Dewalt’s flex volt explained:
One other thing that DeWalt cordless miter saws have going for them is the flexVolt batteries that automatically adjust for different voltages, some of DeWalt tools can run on 60V or 120V for big power.
The best thing about the FlexVolt batteries is that they run three sets of cells in parallel. This design reduces the load on the batteries during heavy-duty applications, so they will run a lot cooler than most other batteries.
In practical terms, FlexVolt batteries give you longer runtime than batteries with similar capacities.
How do cordless miter saws work?
Cordless miter saws come in a few different varieties, but most work pretty much the same way. They have fast-spinning blades that cut into wood or light metal to make straight or angled cuts.
Cordless miter saws are powered by rechargeable batteries as opposed to mains power, so you can use them in remote job sites even without a power outlet nearby.
In terms of function and performance, most cordless miter saws are pretty similar to corded models.
The most basic miter saws only tilt up and down, which limits the range of cuts you can perform. However, most decent models will allow you to make at least 90° and 45° angle cuts.
Compound miter saws are more versatile, allowing you to cut miters, angles, crosscuts, and even bevels. Sliding compound saws are even more versatile, with arms that move freely, allowing you to make large and broad cuts that you wouldn’t be able to make with other miter saws.
How to cut curves in wood
If you need to cut a lot of curves or intricate shapes into wood or metal, you might want to augment your cordless miter saw with a cordless Dewalt or Makita jigsaw tool.
Jigsaw tools are ideally suited for cutting shapes into workpieces and can even be used to make compound and bevel cuts when fitted with the right blade.
When making anything more than basic straight cuts, it is always a good idea to start with a guide.
Press the saw shoe on the workpiece with the blade positioned away from the edge. Slowly move the blade along the cutting line, working outside it so you can sand the excess off later.
Try to maintain an even pace that doesn’t strain the motor too much. If necessary, make relief cuts on tight curves to keep the saw from binding.
Consider before you buy
A good miter saw should be able to cut through fairly large amounts of material without breaking down. At the very least, you should be able to make close to 200 cuts into pine or similar density material on a single charge.
A miter saw that can cut through light metal sheets as well would be an even better choice.
As with corded miter saws–and most power tools in general–DeWalt and Makita can generally be counted on to provide superior performance.
Purchase a cordless miter saw from either of these two manufacturers, and you are reasonably assured of excellent performance, long tool life, and a host of useful features.
Try to get a cordless miter saw that offers the longest possible battery life.
The more cuts you can get out of a single charge, the less time you will have to spend changing batteries and waiting for them to recharge. The best cordless miter saws let you do close to 200 cuts per charge.
It’s always a good idea to spend more on a quality tool now than to have to keep getting a substandard model repaired or spending money on a replacement.
Cordless miter saws from DeWalt and Makita may cost more at the outset, but you will get more use out of them for many more years as compared to a cheap cordless miter saw aimed at the DIY market.
Tips for using a cordless miter saw
You can use your cordless miter saw a lot more efficiently with a mobile miter saw stand. In fact, many pros wouldn’t even dream of using a miter saw without some type of stand.
You can use your workbench in a pinch if that is all you have in your workshop. But most workbenches are large and heavy, making them difficult to move around if you need more space to work.
And because most workbenches have to remain in the same position, you will find it difficult to move your saw from one position to another.
Try to purchase a cordless miter saw that comes with a laser built-in. Most newer models have lasers that guide you through the cutting line so you can make more accurate cuts.
Having a laser onboard also lets you work faster because you won’t have to keep lifting the blade up to make sure you’re cutting straight.
If you have a cordless miter saw that doesn’t have an onboard laser, you can purchase an aftermarket laser attachment. Most of these can be fitted onto your saw by taking the place of the washer that holds the blade in place.
Finally, if you have to make a lot of repetitive cuts, use some stop blocks to make measuring out successive cuts easier. This can save you a lot of time and ensures that your cuts are always at the right spot.
When it comes to cutting long lengths of timber that are heavy to lift up onto a miter saw stand, consider first cutting the heavy lumber with a cordless or electric saw to make the lift more manageable and easier on your back.
|DeWalt DHS790AT2||Makita XSL06PT||DeWalt DCS361M1|
|Volts:||120||36 (18 x 2)||20|
|Weight:||56 lbs.||60.2 lbs.||31.6 lbs.|
|Cuts per charge:||289||334 (2 x 4 SPF)||183 (2 x 4 pine)|
|Blade size:||12”||10”||7 ¼”|
The DeWalt DHS790AT2 is a powerhouse of a miter saw with a powerful and efficient brushless motor that equips you to handle a wide variety of cutting jobs. It also boasts of DeWalt’s FlexVolt technology, which keeps the battery cool for longer runtimes.
The Makita XSL06PT is a versatile 10-inch model that is widely regarded as one of the best sliding compound miter saws on the market. The dual-bevel sliding design gives you maximum versatility, and you get excellent 36V power and performance in a more compact form.
Finally, the DeWalt DCS361M1 is an excellent choice for DIY use that will prove useful even for heavy-duty work. The 20V Max Battery Pack gives you more cuts per charge than many other cordless miter saws in its class, and the XPS cross cut positioning ensures clean and accurate cuts every time.
And you decide you need an electric miter saw as well have a read of my Dewalt and Makita miter saw review.
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My name is Aaron, and welcome to Bangingtoolbox.
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