Last Updated on August 29, 2020 by builder Aaron Barnett
The best miter saw has a compound and sliding action, a 12-inch blade, and compatibility with a portable folding or rolling stand. Makita and Dewalt both have great options but you want to pick the tool that will last the longest without maintenance. Pick a tool with a spring stiffness on the retractable blade that suits your needs.
The accuracy and speed miter saws have to cut fast square and angled-cuts are what keeps a building site moving smoothly. Although some older saws might have difficulty setting angles accurately and quickly and can affect the pace of a project.
The compound and a sliding mechanism will let you cut more accurately by pushing rather than dropping the blade on your cut. And the sliding arm lets you also cut wider boards.
Compatibility with a portable stand also saves a lot of time from having to set up planks and saw-horses every time you move your working area to the next, aluminum stands are very light and will tidily fit inside your car or van.
Best compound miter saw [12-inch blade]
#3 Best Makita sliding compound miter saw
Makita LS1219L sliding compound miter saw with laser, 12-inch 15-amp
#4 Best Milwaukee sliding compound miter saw
Milwaukee 6955-20 sliding bevel miter saw, 12-inch 15-amp
Best sliding miter saw [10-inch blade]
#3 Best Metabo sliding miter saw
Metabo HPT C10FSHC sliding miter saw with laser marker, 10-inch 15-amp
#4 Best Hitachi compound miter saw
Hitachi C10FSHPS sliding compound saw with laser, 10-inch 12-amp
#5 Best DIY sliding miter saw
Delta S26-263L slide miter saw with laser, 10-inch 15 amp
Best miter saw [Single-bevel]
#3 Best Dewalt single bevel miter saw
Dewalt DWS715 single bevel miter saw, 12-inch 15-amp
#4 Best DIY single bevel miter saw
Metabo HPT C10FCGS single bevel miter saw, 10-inch 15-amp
#5 Best Skil compound miter saw
Skil 3821-01 single bevel compound miter saw with laser, 12-inch 15-amp
Best miter saw [12-inch with a stand]
#3 Best Makita miter saw with stand
Makita LS1219LX 12-inch compound miter saw with folding stand
#4 Best Makita miter saw with rolling stand
Makita LS1216LX4 12-inch sliding miter saw with rolling stand
Miter saws are the most important tool that keeps a building site running fast and smooth, due to this tool’s low required-effort for fast and accurate cuts on even tricky angles.
With your adjustable clamps you can use a technique discussed below to bulk cut timber pieces to the same size without being slowed down by individual measurements.
Miter saws are commonly a shared tool on a building site because of the large workbench fold-out size that can take up a bit of floor space. And for this reason, everyone should have a portable power saw but a miter saw is needed for important cuts and bulk cutting jobs.
A miter saw is a type of saw that is typically used for making crosscuts and miter cuts in framing, and finishing timber. These tools have a circular saw blade that is lowered to the workpiece to make the cut. The downward motion is the reason why miter saws are often referred to as “drop saws”.
A similar tool fitted with abrasive attachments is instead known as “chop saws”.
The electric miter saw was in 1964 by Ed Niehaus, who worked as a tool designer for the Rockwell Company. From the earliest version, Niehaus’ invention had many features that are still commonly seen in modern miter saws, such as the radial arc spring action, blade brakes, and even a dust collector.
Because the design was never patented by Rockwell, several manufacturers soon came out with their own miter saws, many with notable design improvements.
Miter saws are specialized tools that can make cuts at different various angles. Although the blade is lowered to the workpiece, it can also pivot to either side by way of the swing mount. This sideward movement is what enables miter saws to make angled cuts.
Miter saws are pretty versatile tools that can handle a wide variety of tasks, from making crown molding and picture frames to door frames and window casings, and a lot more. They can also make regular board cuts and can be used for flooring and remodeling work, as well as trimming.
Compound miter saws are even more versatile, allowing woodworkers to cut bevels and miters, and even both simultaneously. In many compound miter saw reviews, builders report using miter saws to square-cut boards so that they are precisely the same length a lot quicker than a circular saw.
Many of the cuts that a miter saw can make can be done with other tools as well. However, no other tool can do such a wide range of jobs with the same quality results as a good miter saw.
Sliding compound miter saw vs. Single bevel saw
The most basic miter saws are single-bevel designs that allow you to cut only in one direction. Although this may seem adequate for many DIY jobs, you will find that you will quickly outgrow the capabilities of a single-bevel saw.
It can be incredibly frustrating to be limited to making cuts in only a single direction and then have to flip the workpiece over to cut the other way if the blades to small for the cut.
A much better option is a sliding compound miter saw, which allows you to freely cut different angles. The best compound miter saws also allow you to make much wider cuts with a greater degree of accuracy as reported by many other users in sliding miter saw reviews.
Even if you only plan on using your miter saw for DIY work, I strongly recommend that you go for the best sliding compound miter saw you can find instead of a single-bevel model.
Cordless vs corded miter saw
Like many power tools, miter saws come in corded and cordless versions. Either type can be useful for DIY and professional use, although you might prefer one or the other depending on how often you need a miter saw and what you will use it for.
If you frequently need to cut a lot of material, a corded model is almost always the better option. It is a lot more convenient to have unlimited access to power with a miter saw if you rely on it constantly, instead of having to stop and change batteries or recharge your tool every time the charge runs down.
Of course, corded miter saws are better suited for situations where you have access to a power outlet and you don’t have to move your tool to different locations frequently. If you have to do a lot of cutting in remote job sites where there is no power source nearby, you will have to go for a cordless model.
Cordless miter saws are also better suited for small jobs and landscaping work, which doesn’t really require you to have your saw constantly running. The lighter weight and portability of a cordless miter saw also make it a better choice if you frequently have to travel to different job sites.
Dewalt vs. Makita miter saw
DeWalt and Makita are among the most reputable power tool manufacturers in the business. You’ve probably noticed that most of the power tools reviewed on this site are made by these two companies.
Both companies are known for high-performance tools that provide excellent features and functionality, with the durability to go the distance.
Although DeWalt and Makita tools are a bit more expensive than tools made by other manufacturers, they also provide excellent value for money considering their quality.
You generally can’t go wrong with a miter saw from either of the two brands, but DeWalt saws have a slight advantage in terms of the range of board widths they allow you to cut.
They also run a lot smoother than saws from many competing brands and are a lot quieter besides. Keep in mind that the springs used in DeWalt saws are quite tight, so pushing the blade down will require a bit of effort.
Ultimately, however, this gives you better control over the cut once you get used to it.
Makitas generally have softer springs and are easier to control right out of the box. However, the springs can weaken over time, and they won’t spring back as readily.
You might be able to prevent his from happening by clearing out the dust and debris from the mechanism, but keep in mind that you will likely have to deal with this problem sooner or later if you go for a Makita drop saw.
Workbench or a dedicated miter saw stand?
You can make do with a DIY workbench in a pinch if that is all you have. If you don’t plan on doing a lot of cutting work, a scaffold plank and two sawhorses should let you get the job done without any added expense.
At some point, however, you may want to look into purchasing a dedicated miter saw stand, which will make your work a lot easier. Dedicated stands are more convenient to transport and to store, and they will reduce the amount of time it takes to set up your rig.
Folding stand vs. Rolling stand
One of our top picks in this review–the DeWalt DWS780–comes with your choice of a folding stand or a rolling stand. Each has its benefits and drawbacks, and you could certainly do a good job with either one.
Folding stands have the advantage of being lighter and more compact, which makes it easier to fit into a car or a van. They also won’t take up much space when folded down, which makes them a better choice for storage and portability considerations.
On the other hand, rolling stands are better suited for situations wherein you can’t have your cutting rig permanently set up in one spot. Rolling stands have wheels that make it easy for you to move them around from one area of a room to another if necessary. Of course, rolling stands tend to be heavier and bulkier than folding stands, so they aren’t really suited for working in remote locations.
Best miter saw to buy?
There are quite a few excellent miter saws available on the market, the best of which are featured in this review. But these models stand out in particular: the DeWalt DWS780 and the Makita LS1219LX.
The DeWalt DWS780 is available in two kits: one with a folding stand and one with a rolling stand.
The DeWalt DWS780 12-Inch Compound Miter Saw with Folding Stand is an excellent choice for pros and DIYers who prefer a system that remains in one spot.
The miter saw combines a state-of-the-art gearbox and belt drive design that allows for a much wider range of vertical cutting actions.
The innovative back fence design provides a wide range of cutting angles, from 45° to 90°.
The DWS780 although it has a convenient XPS cross cut positioning system that provides a helpful cut-line indicator without the need for adjustment. The 15-amp motor is one of the most powerful in its class, maxing out at 3,800 RPM.
The folding stand is a heavy-duty model that supports workpieces up to 16’ wide, weighing as much as 500 pounds. Despite its carrying capacity, it is remarkably lightweight due to the aluminum construction.
The rolling stand that comes with the DeWalt DWS780 with Rolling Stand is equally impressive, with wide rubber wheels that provide excellent grip and performance.
It supports workpieces up to 8’ wide, weighing as much as 300 pounds. It also has a three-position pneumatic system that allows you to raise and lower the surface as needed.
The Makita LS1219LX 12-Inch Compound Miter Saw with Folding Stand offers a high capacity solution for accurate cutting.
It has a 2-rail sliding system that lets you place it right up against the wall so it won’t take up too much floor space in your workshop.
The unique direct-drive gearbox and guard system allows for a good range of vertical cuts, and it even lets you make crosscuts at 90° angles in pieces up to 15” wide.
The stand that comes with the kit supports up to 500 pounds. It weighs a very modest 65 pounds and can easily be moved to different areas of the worksite.
And with a large aluminum base, you have a solid foundation for more efficient cutting work.
Makitas inward sliding compound miter saw?
Sliding compound miter saws provide you with all the benefits of a compound miter saw plus a few others besides. These saws have sliding mechanisms similar to the radial arms found in other saws, allowing you to move the blade back and forth along a rail as needed.
This lets you cut boards that are wider than the blade’s diameter, giving you more versatility to handle a wider variety of tasks.
The Makita LS1219L has the sliding mechanism opposite to most other saws, which lets you set it up flush against a wall. Although the sliding component does block your line of sight somewhat, you might appreciate having that extra bit of space to work with. Unlike what the older model allows for.
Whats jobs are best done with a miter saw
Miter saws can handle an impressively wide range of cutting jobs, from regular board cuts to compound angle cuts and everything in between. They are especially useful for making angled, miter cuts, which would be difficult or even impossible with many other types of saws.
Miter saws are excellent choices for general DIY work such as flooring and remodeling. They are also handy for trim work and finishing, which makes them perfectly suited for builders and carpenters that need to work on architraves.
The flexibility of a good miter saw allows workers to cut architraves around windows and doorways, which most other tools would struggle to accomplish with the same speed and accuracy.
Miter saws can also be used to cut baseboards or cladding systems for a house or a shed. These tools are especially useful for framing work, which typically requires cutting wood at different angles.
Miter saws are particularly suited for tasks wherein you need to cut different pieces in precisely the same way or to the same length.
One other task for which miter saws are perfectly suited for is timber cladding, which involves creating a more visually-impressive exterior for houses or buildings.
Also known as weatherboarding, timber cladding requires that the timber be cut to specific lengths and angles, which is what miter saws are particularly good at.
Finally, you can use your miter saw for decking, which often involves making straight as well as angled cuts. With a good miter saw, you can create pretty impressive designs that combine different cuts that are set perfectly flush against the deck posts and frame.
Can I cut metal with a miter saw?
You can cut some types of metal with a miter saw, provided you use the proper blade. The best miter saws can cut through aluminum, and even brass and bronze fairly easily if you use a blade designed for non-ferrous metals.
These blades use carbide material for cutting into metal and are especially effective when used with a lubricant.
Of course, the range of materials you can cut with a miter saw is fairly limited. If you frequently have to cut through harder metals, a metal cutting chop saw is a better option.
What is the best DIY miter saw
If you are looking for a miter saw strictly for DIY use, any one of the models reviewed here should do the job just fine.
If you are planning on using your saw only occasionally and want to spend the least amount of money possible, the models lower down the list provide excellent value for money.
If the cheapest DIY sliding miter saw is what you are after, you could have a read of my dedicated ryobi miter saw review.
In general, most miter saw reviews suggest going for a sliding compound miter saw even for DIY use. The convenience of being able to cut at different angles is worth the added cost, and they aren’t that much more expensive than the DIY models anyway.
I recommend the DeWalt DWS780 for a DIY-friendly miter saw that will continue to be useful even for heavy-duty tasks.
Should I get a 10-inch or 12-inch miter saw?
Miter saw blades come in a range of sizes, with 10” and 12” blades being the most common. If you are doing mostly finishing work, a good 10” should be all you need for most of your projects. They are light and easy to handle and can perform basic tasks with good results.
However, if you are doing a lot of framing or more heavy-duty work, a 12” blade is the better option. The larger diameter allows for longer cuts, and they can handle finishing work just as well as a 10” blade.
Before you buy a compound miter saw…
our miter saw should be able to handle a high volume of cutting jobs and remain in perfect working condition.
Cutting through a variety of different materials–particularly hardwoods and metals–can put tremendous strain on the blade mechanism, the motor, and the other components of your saw. Make sure the model you go for can withstand rugged use.
DeWalt and Makita make the best miter saws on the market. You can generally expect reliable performance from these brands, along with features and capabilities that enable you to work more efficiently and get better results.
Although saws from other manufacturers may work just fine for occasional use, it is better to go for a miter saw from a reputable manufacturer.
Motor size, or amps
High-amp motors are essential when shopping for a miter saw. A higher amp rating will give you more cutting power, allowing you to work more quickly and more efficiently, with consistently high-quality results.
A low powered saw or a blunt blade can leave burn marks on timber, and not cut perfectly square.
Always choose the right size of the blade for the work you are planning to do. Most miter saws have 10” or 12” blades, which should cover you for most tasks.
If you frequently have to make long cuts, going for a tool that takes a larger diameter blade is advisable.
Look for a miter saw that has positive stops, which are set points that allow you to make angled cuts quickly. These settings can save you a lot of set-up time when cutting angles, make sure you have a quick lock at 45° and 22.5° at least.
It is also a good idea to look into saws with thumb-activated stops that let you make quick miter adjustments when necessary.
As always, I advise you to go for the best miter saw in your price range. Opting for a higher quality model is always better than buying a cheap miter saw, as the added cost will reward you with better performance and a more durable tool that will last you longer.
Tips for useing a miter saw
Using a miter saw seems pretty easy. After all, all you have to do is lower the blade mechanism to the workpiece, right? But there are a few tricks to make drop saws quicker and easier to use. Knowing how to control the blade and maneuver your workpiece will enable you to consistently get excellent cuts.
You can then take this a step further by using a wood clamp, to clamp a piece of timber to create a stop edge, now you don’t even need to align your piece up with a pencil line, simply push each new board against the timber stop edge, and make cut-after-cut the exact same length.
When measuring, you can test your blade placement before committing to a cut. You might want to lower the blade onto the material with the motor off so you can see if the blade is aligned properly. If you are confident that you have your workpiece positioned correctly, you can turn on the motor and make the cut.
Making crosscuts requires a bit more prep work and attention than making straight cuts. Start by lining the workpiece up against the fence, and then draw a line where you need to make the cut.
If necessary, move the piece from side to side to line the mark up with the blade. You can then start cutting into the wood, keeping the blade on the same side of the line as the piece you will discard if you’re doing finishing work.
When cutting framing timber or boards that will be painted or not seen it is quicker to cut to keep the pencil line. This is because pencils get blunt fast when cutting framing continuously, when you cut to keep the line it doesn’t matter how wide your pencil line is, just cut on the precise edge of the line you draw.
This lets you mark your edge to be cut in a scribbling back and forth motion, much easier, and arguably more accurate as you bring your line out slowly to the exact right spot while measuring.
The correct way to re-lubricate the sliding arm is to instead use graphite dust, as it is dry it does not cause dust to stick to it and clog even more. If you don’t have graphite dust readily available, you can have a go at making some with your pencil.
Miter saw comparison
|DeWalt DWS780 with Folding Stand||DeWalt DWS780 with Rolling Stand||Makita LS1219LX|
|Weight:||58 lbs.||58 lbs.||65 lbs.|
|Tool size:||151” wide, extended||Let me know if you know||100.5” extended|
You pretty much can’t go wrong with the DeWalt DWS780, whether you opt for the folding stand or the rolling stand. The increased vertical cutting capacity, the innovative design, and the powerful motor make it a great choice for DIY work as well as more heavy-duty tasks.
The folding and rolling stands support an impressive amount of weight, and even large workpieces.
The Makita LS1219LX is a great choice as well, combining high capacity and accurate performance in an efficient and compact system.
The stand supports a very impressive 500 pounds and the saw has a powerful 15.0 amp motor, so you can expect this system to keep up with the most demanding jobs, but after 4-5 years of consistent use, the spring might start to become a bit soft and need looking at.
Miter saws can only make crosscuts, for ripping timber along the grain you should look at getting the best portable table saw you can read my review here.
Sounds like this can be improved for the next reader.
Please share how this article can be improved?
Hi, my name is Aaron, and welcome to Banging-Toolbox.
As a builder and site supervisor, I started banging-toolbox with the goal to make the #1 building, DIY, and tool review resource on the internet.
Feel free to have a look around, and don’t hesitate to ask me any questions about DIY or building, you can find out more about me here.