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Best Miter Saws

Updated July 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 82 Models Considered
  • 35 Hours Researched
  • 2 Experts Interviewed
  • 223 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best miter saws

    Last Updated July 2018

    For the home handyman or woman, having the right tools available often means the difference between a successful project and a profanity-filled mess. To have more success and less money in the swear jar, consider buying a miter saw.

    A miter saw is one of the handiest power tools available for working with wood. It plows through a series of cuts quickly and efficiently, ranging from simple perpendicular straight cuts to complex miter and bevel cuts.

    If you’re still using a hand saw and a miter box to make cuts, you may wish to consider investing in a power miter saw. This type of tool makes fast, perfect cuts every time. It works even faster than a circular power hand saw, and it will cut all kinds of wood, some plastics, and some pieces of thin steel and aluminum.

    Please continue reading this shopping guide to learn more about miter saws and how to pick the best miter saw for your needs.

    Even if you only plan to make basic cuts at 90°, a miter saw works extremely well for home-based woodworkers.

    How miter saws work

    Using an electrical motor, a miter saw allows you to cut wood at precise angles. The motor spins a circular blade at a few thousand revolutions per minute to make the cut. The blade connects to an arm and handle that extend vertically above the base of the saw. The wood sits on the base of the saw.

    You pull the handle downward while the blade is spinning to cut through the wood.

    Miter saws will make 90° cuts that are perpendicular to the wood’s face. You can also make cuts at varying angles to the wood’s face (30°, 45°, and so on) with a miter saw.

    Types of miter saws

    Manufacturers split miter saws into a few different categories. A miter saw’s features determine the category into which it fits.

    Basic miter saws

    Basic miter saws are designed to handle simple cuts. You can make perpendicular 90° cuts as well as common angled miter cuts with this type of saw. A basic miter saw carries the lowest price point among miter saws of between $100 and $250.

    Compound miter saws

    With a compound miter saw, you can make bevel cuts in addition to straight and miter cuts. The entire saw blade apparatus tilts to create the bevel cut.

    Some compound miter saws can tilt only in one direction for bevel cuts, while others tilt either right or left. If you have a one-way tilting saw, you may have to cut the wood upside down to achieve the desired angle.

    Compound miter saws have a price range of between $200 and $400.

    Sliding miter saws

    A sliding miter has a blade apparatus that can slide forward and backward. This type of miter saw can cut wood with larger width measurements.

    All sliding miter saws can make miter and straight cuts, and some also can also make bevel cuts.

    Sliding miter saws generally cost between $150 and $500.

    Performance

    The DEWALT 12-inch Double Bevel Compound Miter Saw offers a great mix of power and accuracy, making it work well for all kinds of cutting jobs. The 12-inch blade allows for cross cutting 2x10 pieces of lumber at 90° and 45° cuts of lumber as large as 2x8. But it also works well for delicate jobs, such as bevel-cutting moulding and trim wood. The DEWALT saw can make bevel cuts from 0° to 50° either right or left for added versatility.

    EXPERT TIP

    For more versatility in your miter saw, pick one that can tilt either right or left when making bevel cuts.


    EXPERT TIP

    Some miter saws can cut materials other than wood, such as aluminum, thin metal, and plastic.


    A note about battery-operated miter saws

    Some miter saws run on rechargeable battery power, but they are rare.

    If you really need a portable option that can run far from any electrical power outlet, however, you should look for a battery-operated miter saw.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Miter saw blades typically measure 8, 10, or 12 inches in diameter.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    A slow, steady motion when pressing the miter saw’s blade through the wood results in the cleanest cut with the least amount of splintering.

    Sizes of miter saws

    You can compare the size of different miter saws a few ways. As a general rule, introductory miter saws will have less power and use a smaller blade than pricier miter saws.

    But for basic woodworking around the house, you probably don’t need the most expensive saw on the market.

    If you love all kinds of woodworking projects, though, a more versatile miter saw would likely meet your needs better.

    Blade size

    The most common circular blades in miter saws measure 8, 10, or 12 inches in diameter. A larger blade cuts thicker and wider pieces of wood than a smaller blade.

    Motor power

    Electrical motor power is measured in amps. In a miter saw, a higher amperage equals more cutting power. Many miter saws use 15 amps.

    Blade speed

    Look at a miter saw’s revolutions per minute (RPMs) to determine its speed. Miter saws typically offer between 2,500 and 5,500 RPMs.

    A fast-spinning blade cuts through tougher and harder wood better than a slow-spinning blade. Fast-spinning blades also tend to stay sharp for longer periods of time than slow-spinning blades.

    Weight

    Miter saws may weigh anywhere from 25 to 65 pounds. If you want portability, pick a lightweight model.

    However, you should be aware that lighter miter saws tend to offer less power than heavier miter saws.

    A miter saw uses a circular blade that spins at a few thousand rotations per minute. More speed equals more power in cutting the wood.

    Types of cuts you can make with a miter saw

    The miter saw’s value becomes apparent when you must make a variety of cuts in a piece of wood and need a versatile tool. The variety of cuts a miter saw offers will allow you to complete different types of projects.

    Straight cut

    A miter saw contains a flat edge guide against which you can press the wood to guarantee a straight cut. If you’re making a 90° perpendicular cut against the face of the wood, having the wood squared up to the blade ensures accuracy.

    Miter cut

    If you need to make a cut through the wood at an angle other than 90°, you’re making a miter cut.

    Just set the angle on the body of the miter saw, and the saw will turn the flat edge guide to the desired angle while leaving the blade in place.

    A common miter cut is 45°, allowing you to line up two pieces of wood to make a corner for a frame.

    Bevel cut

    Some miter saws can create bevel cuts. This occurs when the blade goes through the wood at a tilt, rather than remaining perpendicular to the wood.

    The blade on a bevel cut penetrates the wood on the horizontal plane as well as going through the wood vertically at the same time. The bevel cut affects the angle of the edge of the board, whereas the miter cut means the edge of the board still has a 90° angle to the board’s face.

    Potential buyers should understand that some miter saws cannot make bevel cuts.

    For precise cutting, you’ll want to seek out a miter saw that projects a laser light onto the wood. This allows you to see the exact cut line every time.

    FAQ

    Q. What’s the best location for a miter saw?

    A. You’ll want to place your miter saw in a location that allows you to cut different sizes of wood. For example, if you work primarily with 2x4 wood with an eight-foot length (one of the most common sizes of wood), you need plenty of space on either side of the miter saw to accommodate the length. Keep in mind that miter saws generate a lot of sawdust, even if the saw has a collection bag attached, which will be messy.

    It’s also important to note that miter saws put out a lot of noise. This noise output could affect where you place and use your miter saw.

    Q. How do I secure a miter saw?

    A. You should mount your miter saw to a workbench or support frame. Miter saws have holes in the base for placing screws or bolts to secure the saw. If you plan to move the miter saw from location to location, consider securing the saw to a piece of plywood. Then carry the plywood sheet to the new location and place it on sawhorses.

    Q. How can I safely provide power to my miter saw?

    A. Most miter saws run from a power cord plugged into an electrical outlet. That said, most miter saw cords stretch only a few feet. For this reason, you may need to break out an extension cord.

    Make sure you purchase an extension cord that can handle at least the number of amps the miter saw requires. Using an inadequate extension cord could cause overheating of the saw’s motor or the cord.

    A few miter saws on today’s market run from rechargeable batteries, which may fit your needs better.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Alvina
      Alvina
      Photographer
    • Amos
      Amos
      Director of Photography
    • Bob
      Bob
      Writer
    • Branson
      Branson
      Videographer
    • Ciera
      Ciera
      Production Assistant
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor
    • Vukan
      Vukan
      Post Production Editor