Your Guide to the Best Miter Saws in 2019
Determine Your Usage
What kind of miter saw you plan on going with largely depends on what exactly you’re planning on doing. Someone who’s just buying one to do hardwood crown molding at home is going to have different needs than a professional framer, and they’re not likely to need the same saw as someone who does cabinets either.
There are two main types of miter saw in production: regular and sliding.
Some DIYers will want the capabilities as well, especially if their hobbies require the cutting of larger pieces of wood at an angle.
You’ll also need to consider the bevels on the saw itself. Keep in mind that single bevel saws work quite well for the most part, you just need to switch the piece around manually. Meanwhile, double bevel saws allow you to quickly get both sides of a piece but are more expensive and tend to be less accurate.
For this reason, many people prefer single bevel saws. They’re getting hard to find these days, however, as the technology that powers the saws has advanced to the point where a double bevel saw can be just as accurate as a single bevel.
Comparing Miters and Bevels
- Straight Cut –Cutting straight across the workpiece in question.
- Miter Cut – Cutting across the piece at an angle, 45 degrees is the most common but other angles are used in framing and some DIY projects.
- Bevel Cut – Like a straight cut but the edge is angled either inwards or outwards.
- Compound Cut – A compound cut is a combination of a miter and bevel cut, consisting of angles in two plains.
Most people will find themselves using primarily straight cuts and miter cuts, but there are a ton of uses for the other two types. We’ll detail some of them later, just be aware of the different kinds of cuts that can occur as we introduce you to our favorite miter saws.
How We Selected Our Saws
Fortunately, despite the amazing complexity of cutting which a miter saw produces they are relatively simple devices in the end.
We looked for all of the following when making our initial selections for testing.
That meant the durability of the saws we picked out was one of the biggest factors. While we didn’t test enough to actually break any of the saws, it’s pretty easy to tell when the build quality is going to stand up to the test of time.
It sometimes gets kind of hard to compare saws when it comes to power.
Judging how powerful a miter saw is a simple matter of two factors: a higher amperage motor is more powerful, and higher RPMs means faster cutting.
We primarily picked out double bevel saws, since they’re common and quite accurate these days. If you’re hoping to save some money then you’ll want to go with a single bevel saw, just be aware that you’ll have to manually flip your workpiece around.
They’re also more expensive.
We primarily reviewed the 12” saws, since they’re suitable for a wide variety of tasks, but nearly all of the saws we tested had a 10” variation as well. You may want to go that route if you’re only working with known lumber, like 2x4s or if you’re primarily cutting harder materials.
The reason for this is fairly simple: smaller blades spin faster. Higher RPMs will give you a smoother cut.
Which you go with is up to you, but a 10” saw will be enough for most people, particularly if you invest in a sliding model.
Some of us do need to move our saws around, however. For that reason, we took the weight and any portability features of the saw in question into account.
Remember when we noted that these saws are workhorse saws? Well, it’s true, and it means that if you’re planning on heavily using your saw you’ll want to make sure it’s warrantied. Miter saws aren’t a small investment, after all.
Limited warranties cover manufacturer defects and sometimes some other small occurrences. A full warranty protects your piece of equipment from all but the most egregious misuse.
Quality of Life Features
At the heart of the matter, a miter saw is mostly defined by its durability and whether it’s a single bevel or double bevel, followed by whether or not it’s a sliding saw.
- Laser guides are quite nice for accuracy. You’ll still want to line the saw up, however.
- “Sticking points” in the miter and bevel at common angles are extremely useful. It can be nice to have a smooth, floating adjustment but it can also be a pain and uncommon angles aren’t used very often.
- The fence of a saw can have a lot of effect on its use.
- Accessories such as included clamps and board holders can make life a lot easier for the would-be carpenter.
None of these are essential, and many can be bought after the fact if you need them down the line, but they’re nice things to have when you’re using your saw on a regular basis.
Don’t ever forget the basics, power and durability, for a couple of useful accessories. Even without the above, you’ll be able to use your miter saw just fine.
The Best Miter Saws of 2019After a fairly intensive testing process, we ended up putting six of the ten saws we tried out on our list. There’s something here for everyone, of course, so make sure you read all the way through to figure out which one is the best for your situation.
Best Overall Sliding Compound Miter Saw
Undoubtedly our favorite of the chop saws that we delved into is this double bevel, sliding miter saw that absolutely outperformed the competition. This is a 12” saw which comes with a 15 amp, 3,800 RPM motor.
On top of that, like all of DeWalt’s tools, it’s obviously been built to last. It’s extremely sturdy overall and we can’t imagine it breaking during any kind of normal usage. Add in that’s capable of cutting up to 16 inches across for a straight cut and you’ve got a pretty clear winner.
The back fence of the saw itself is designed to hold quite high objects as well, making it easier to cut molding and baseboards to fit without any serious hassle. It also chops smooth as butter, making it an absolute pleasure to use.
Of course, it’s rather expensive and due to the length of the slider, it’s not as portable as many of the other saws we looked at.
Runner Up for Best Sliding Compound Saw
When it comes down to it, Bosch also makes solid tools. We don’t quite know if we’d recommend it over the DeWalt above, especially as it’s quite a bit more costly, but it’s a solid saw for those who are looking to add one to their workshop.
The Bosch GCM12SD is equal in power to the DeWalt, with a 15 amp, 3,800 RPM motor. Its cutting capacity is about two inches less in a straight cut, however, only coming in at 14” for a 90-degree cut.
It’s a big saw, though, don’t get us wrong. It weighs quite a bit and it can be a bit of a bear to handle around a job site simply owing to the fact that it’s rather large. This is a saw that should likely be used by those who don’t care about portability all that much.
It’s also rather expensive. That said, while it wasn’t as smooth as the DeWalt we did find it to feel even more sturdy. Indeed, of all the miter saws we tested this one is probably the most likely to end up being passed down to your children.
Best Single Bevel Miter Saw
For the home DIYer who wants professional results from their home, and is willing to take the time to learn, the DW715 might be the best choice. It’s a relatively simple, stationary single bevel saw made by DeWalt. That’s important, since their tools tend to exceed expectations in almost every realm.
This solid saw has a 15 amp, 4000 RPM motor, meaning that it’s actually more powerful than our favorite. It does have all of the disadvantages inherent to not being a sliding saw, but frankly most people don’t need the capabilities anyways. It also only bevels one way, so you’ll have to move the workpiece around to make the opposite cut.
Keep in mind it will only cut 8” straight across, however, so if you’re planning on regularly cutting boards larger than that you may want to go with a slider.
It was quite a bit easier to move around than the compound saws we tried out. Indeed, in the right hands this would be an excellent tool for framers, although a double bevel may be wanted by those who value speed.
Best 10” Miter Saw
The Hitachi C10FCG isn’t the most powerful saw on the market, but if you’re used to cutting with the larger 12” saws then you’ll be surprised at just how smooth things stay when you bring the blade down.
It features a 15 amp, 5000 RPM motor that more than makes up for the smaller blade size. With the ~25% higher RPMs the blade will make it through almost any kind of wood with zero issues. It even has an integrated dust catcher.
It’s a wonderful saw for the size. We question the build-quality a little bit, at least compared to the Bosch and DeWalt saws that we tried out, but it seems more solid than most options in the same price range.
The only real downside is its size. It simply can’t cut as much as a 12” saw in one go and it would be nice if it was a slider so you could get around that issue. That said, it’s not a bad choice for anyone.
Best 10” Jobsite Miter Saw
Many framers prefer to use a 10” saw. It’s easy to see why: they’re cheaper, lighter, and more portable than their bigger cousins. In addition that that, they’re also big enough to cut through almost every material used in modern framing without needing to manipulate the workpiece.
The DeltaS26-262L was the most solid of the 10” saws we found, but we’re not sure the jump in price is justified for the home DIYer. On the other hand, for beginning professionals this might be exactly what they’ve been looking for.
Included is a laser guide as well, although we’re not big fans of them. It also lacks detents to hold in common angles, so you’ll need to manually adjust and make sure things are dead on. It adds a little bit to the work process, but not enough we wouldn’t recommend it.
It’s moderately priced, powerful, and durable. All of that makes it enough for us to recommend for those who need a daily use miter saw.
Evolution Power Tools RAGE3
It’s not going to take away the titles from any of the other miter saws we tried, but we felt the RAGE3 held together well enough that it probably warranted an inclusion. This off-brand saw doesn’t do anything super well, but it’s also not as cheaply built and terrible as a few of the others we looked at.
The manufacturers reported that the included blade was a “one blade, cuts all” solution. And… it does a passable job with thin ferrous metals, non-ferrous metals, plastic, and wood. That’s not a bad thing, but we’re not sure the price is justified here.
Indeed, the saw itself seems to be a bit cheap in construction. It’s not going to fall apart after only a few cuts but a little bit more R&D spent on the saw instead of the rather gimmicky blade would probably have been a good idea.
It’s not a bad saw, it’s just not great and the only real draw here is the multi-use blade. Even then, it would probably be better to use dedicated blades for each material since they’ll be able to cut smoother overall.
Do You Need a Miter Saw?
Miter saws are pretty essential for some tasks, but other people may find that a table saw should be added to their workshop first. Essentially miter saws are prerequisite for framing and trim. If those are your plans, then you should definitely take the leap.
The truth is, however, that when it comes to cutting things like paneling or other large pieces of wood you may be better served with a table saw initially.
You’re not likely to be disappointed with the purchase however, miter saws and table saws are both required for any kind of woodworking more advanced than whittling with your pocket knife to take place.
Tips and Tricks for Using a Miter Saw
There are a couple of things to keep in mind that will make life with your new tool a lot easier, however:
- Goggles – Use them. Materials can chip in unexpected ways and investing an ANSI-rated pair of safety goggles or glasses can save you from serious pain or unexpected blindness.
- Lining Up – When you’re using your saw, don’t rely on the laser entirely. Instead, bring the blade down to the mark on the piece you’re cutting without turning it on. Remember that all saw blades have a kerf, which is the amount of material removed, so you want to cut on the outside, or “waste side” of the line to get things exact.
- Go Slow – Always lower the blade slowly into the material being cut. If you go too quickly it can cause the blade to hang up which can cause all sorts of serious problems in a hurry.
- Cut Good Side Down – When you’re cutting wood for aesthetic reasons, place the better looking side of the piece down. You’ll end up with a much better cut and reduce the chance of damaging the wood.
- Screw Down Guides – If you’re cutting crown molding for a large job, it can often help to take a scrap piece of wood and just screw it to the base of the saw itself, allowing you to quickly move between pieces without the need for clamps.
Miter Saw FAQ
We’re here to answer all of your miter saw related questions. Without further ado, let’s dive right in and see what can be done about answering your questions before you need to hit our comments section. Of course, if we didn’t cover anything, feel free to ask.
Q: When should I use a miter saw over a circular saw?
A: Circular saws are great, especially if you only need to make straight cuts. When it comes to angles, however, you’re going to need to go with a miter saw. Whether it’s a miter or a bevel, a miter saw is the best way to get things done. This includes any kind of framing, from picture framing to framing a house as well as any kind of molding, trim, or baseboards that are being installed.
Q: Can I cut materials other than wood?
A: Absolutely, however there are different kinds of blades for different materials. Make sure to match them off when you purchase them, there are blades for ferrous metals (like steel), non-ferrous metals (copper, aluminum), and wood. The wood blades will work quite well on plastic as well, which is used in some cheaper trim and molding.
Q: What’s the difference between a chop saw and a miter saw?
A: You’ll often find the terms used almost interchangeably. Or at least hear miter saws called chop saws. Functionally they’re almost identical, except a chop saw doesn’t allow for cutting miters or bevels. They also tend to be heavier, and they’re most commonly used to cut metals.
Q: What angles do I need to cut for trim or molding?
A: This will vary a little bit from craftsman to craftsman, of course, but mostly 45 degree angles will be needed whether hiding a seam or cutting a corner. The trick is in making sure you make the correct cut every time, luckily DeWalt has a handy cheat sheet.
Q: Should I buy a miter saw for a smaller project?
A: That really depends. We love the things and will go out of our way to use the compound sliding ones but if you really only have a small project you can save a lot of money with a high quality miter box and a regular saw is orders of magnitude cheaper although you’ll be putting in a considerable amount of manual labor.
Q: Can I trust a laser guide on my miter saw?
A: You should be able to, particularly if it’s integrated. We still recommend lining up the saw manually on each cut, and make sure that you’re over the line on the “waste” side, otherwise you’ll end up getting the wrong length for the piece due to the kerf of the saw.
Q: How do I run a miter saw safely?
A: Very carefully. No, there are just two big rules to avoid getting hurt by your saw. Wear goggles, and never cross your arms over each other. As awkward as it is, if you’re left handed you may have to use your right hand to pull down the saw blade to avoid doing this. Other than that, just cut carefully and slowly and you’ll be at no risk.
Make Cutting Angles a Snap
These saws are here to stay. If you’ve been looking for the best miter saw around, then we think you’ll do well with most of our entries. Take a look and see which is the best for you, adding a miter saw to the garage or workshop isn’t an experience that anyone we know regrets.