When it comes to woodworking, whether you’re a hobbyist or someone who uses it as a trade, there are few tools more convenient than a miter saw.
Smaller saws might work just fine for little projects like birdhouses, hedgehog huts, and basic repairs.
If you’re taking on real woodworking projects, however, you want a tool that’s more versatile, reliable, and powerful that can cut at new angles and work with more types of wood. That’s where a miter saw comes in.
What you’re looking for in a miter saw
There are a few elements that you should be looking for in particular when choosing a miter saw. What you want to do, what kind of cuts you want to perform and what kind of woods you want to work with might depend on what features you prioritize. Here are a few worth considering in particular:
- Sliding or compound: Compound saws allow you to adjust the height of the saw as you cut, but sliding saws also allows you to move the blade closer to or further from the fence. Sliding enables you to cut wider materials.
- Blade width: Even more important is the saw isn’t sliding, this width decides the upper limit of what you can cut.
- Blade guard: An essential safety feature, the more transparent and resilient the blade guard, the better it protects you without getting in the way of your work.
- Electric brakes: In the event of something going wrong, an electric brake allows you to immediately stop the blade and save yourself from the risk of serious damage.
- Marked scales and angle presets: Clearly defined settings and presets allow you to better make a variety of cuts.
- Cutting guide: A laser guide allows you to be precise in your cuts by showing you exactly where the blade’s going to go before it touches the wood.
- Dust-collection ports: This handy feature is going to make cleaning up after woodworking much easier.
Take the above factors into account when making your final decision. You don’t want to jump the gun and buy a saw that doesn’t do what you want it to.
Budget Mitre Saw Comparison Table
This 12-inch compound saw comes with a wider blade than most 10-inch models, a thin carbide blade, and a few extra features like an encompassing dust collection bag and blade wrench. 15-amp provide plenty of power, while a tall sliding fence allows for work on materials as thick as five inches. The adjustable miter detent plate allows for 11 positive stops, offering more range of the kinds of cuts you can make without too much fiddling with the settings and helps you make repeatable precision cuts. Meanwhile, the cam lock miter handle and miter detent override allow for quick angles. Framing and crown molding is made easy thanks to the capacity and the regularity of cuts once you’ve found the cut you need to make.
The single-bevel saw might not be as easy to make compound cuts as with a dual-bevel, but it does help the Dewalt fit in a smaller budget and makes it simpler to operate. At just 42 pounds and with an included dust bag, it’s easier to transport and clean up after, as well. If there’s one thing lacking here, it’s the electric brake for safety’s sake. A cutting guide would have been welcome, too, but if you’re looking for a quality saw for practiced handlers on a budget this might be the one.
- Impressive capacity
- Resilient, thin blade
- Angel presets make for repeated precision cuts
- Quick cutting allows for quicker project completion
- Larger blade and single-bevel increases the range of cuts and kinds of wood you can work with
- Includes: a carbide blade, dust bag, blade wrench and comfortable side handles in the base
- Miter detent override that allows you to override the miter stops and adjust to the desired setting without the saw slipping into the miter detents
- Adjustable stainless steel miter detent plate with 11 positive stops
- Tall sliding fences that support crown moulding up to 5-1/4-Inch. nested and base moulding up to 6-1/2-Inch vertically against the fence while easily sliding out of the way for bevel cuts
- Crosscut capacity up to 2x8-Inch dimensional lumber
Another compound, 15-amp, single bevel saw. The most immediately noticeable difference between this and the Dewalt is the difference in blade sizes. As you might imagine, this means that the Hitachi has slightly less range in the wood that it can cut, but that does help account, in part, for the lower price.
The single bevel has the same range of motion as the Dewalt, but the Hitachi offers a great range of angle on the miter, improving the flexibility of your cuts. If you’re looking for a portable tool, this might be the perfect option for you, weighing at a tiny 24.2 lbs. It’s a powerful saw with relatively no frills and represents one of the cheaper options on the menu, here. The thumb indexing for preset stops are highly intuitive, too, so finding a good cutting angle and keeping it is far from difficult.
- Light, easy to use, and quick
- High-quality, thin blade
- Great value, looks and feels like a more expensive product
- Easy-to-use stops for repeated cuts
- Wrenches attached, making for easier blade replacement.
- Hitachi Power Tools has renamed to Metabo HPT. Same great tools, with only a new name.
- 0 to 52 degree miter angle range to the right and left for increased flexibility , Motor Horsepower 2.57 hp
- 0 to 45 degree bevel range to the left to provide clean and accurate bevel cuts.Thumb actuated positive stops for quick miter adjustments
- 24.2 pounds to facilitate maneuverability and easier transport.Dust collector attachment included to minimize airborne particle
- 15 Amp motor delivers high power for the toughest cutting jobs.Large table for better material support with vice clamping system to secure work piece
With a 12-inch blade, a very similar range of motion, and a powerful 15-amp motor, the SKIL is even closer to the Dewalt, but offers one powerful advantage that explains the slight hike in the average price. This quick mount saw comes with a laser cutting guide that allows you to make sure your blade is going exactly what it wants. A fantastic feature for new users and old-hands alike, you can use it in conjunction with the nine quick stops to make sure that accuracy and repeatable cuts are no issue.
The hardened bevel stops allow for a similar range of control over a single bevel blade. At 45 lbs, it’s relative in size and weight to the Dewalt, but doesn’t have quite the capacity for boards as thick as that one offers. That said, the laser might be a deciding factor for those looking for unmistakable precision that can lower your risk of errors significantly.
- Powerful blade with several easy stops for a range of cuts
- Smooth bevel cuts thanks to presets
- Laser guide allows for highly accurate aim
- Angle markings are precise, no margin of error here
- Big blade allows for a more versatile tool
- Laser cutline guide for fast and accurate cuts
- 9 positive stops for setting common miter angles
- Powerful 15 amp motor with 4,500 RPM
- Table extension with left/right extension rails for long, large work pieces
- Quick-mount system for quick and easy setup on SKIL miter saw stand (3302-02)
Another powerful 15-amp single bevel blade, the Makita comes in around the same price range as both the Dewalt and the SKIL. However, it contains a smaller blade which might urge you to ask where the extra cost is coming in. As a single bevel machine of 27.3 lbs, it seems more in line with the cheaper Hitachi, but the truth is that this is a highly resilient and well-made machine.
You might be limited in the woods you can work with, and the single-bevel and miter presets allow for around the same range of motion as the SKIL. The machined aluminium base, slide rails, and carbine tip blade are made to the highest standards, however, making it one of the longest lived-machines on the list and the powerful blade ensures a smooth cutting speed regardless of load. That said, the other saws mentioned after far from flimsy, so it’s all about deciding whether you’re willing to make that trade-off. It’s a simple, reliable tool for those who know they don’t need a 12-inch blade and want a no-bells-or-whistles approach to their saw.
- High-quality, long-lasting
- Cuts 4x4s in a single pass
- Super lightweight and portable
- Straightforward design with reliable presets
- Lacks some of the functions contained in the other saws