How to Find the Best Miter Saw for Your Chopping Needs

There are a few must-have homeowner power tools. A cordless drill is essential, but a miter saw is the unsung hero of the tool bench. The best miter saw chops through all sorts of tasks. From making precision cuts of trim work to just hacking a board in two, a miter saw makes quick work of wood cutting jobs.

A miter saw is an indispensable tool for any type of carpentry or framing work. There are lots of wood saw choices. Many homeowners accumulate various hand saws, such as wood saws and hacksaws. Power saws come in several varieties, including jigsaws, table saws, and circular saws. A miter saw shares its rotating circular blade design with a circular saw.

A circular saw is a handheld power tool best for making cuts on wider, thinner pieces of wood, such as plywood. Miter saws excel at making fine angled cuts, which are near impossible to make using a handheld tool. If you want to install crown molding or other decorative woodwork in your home, a miter saw is necessary. But even for those who don’t plan on adding trim work bling, a miter saw is the best tool for cutting 2x4s and other long and narrow wood planks.

Since a miter saw is such a vital homeowner tool, we decided to take a closer look at the various types on the market to help potential buyers find the best out there.

Best Miter Saw Options by Type

Consumers have many choices in a miter saw. If you only use a miter saw every once in a while, you probably would want a product that is inexpensive, but full-featured. Miter saws also have specialized features, such as compound angle capability, sliding blade arms, and dual bevel models. Here are the best miter saw options on the market today.

Best miter saw for the money

The Delta S26-262L is an excellent entry-level miter saw that still packs a punch. It is lightweight, which is a crucial consideration with these tools. Many homeowner jobs require taking a miter saw out of the workshop. Since this is a smaller saw only weighing 25 pounds, it is a breeze to pick up and relocate to your job site. It features a 10-inch blade, laser marking for precision measuring, and a powerful 15 amp motor. The Delta S26-262L also features compound cutting so that you can make angled cuts with a bevel from zero to 47 degrees.

Price range

The price range for the Delta S26-262L is from $100 to $130.

Customer reviews

We chose this model for our best miter saw list because of its strong user reviews. There are a couple hundred reviews, and almost all are either four or five out of a possible five stars. Most of the positive reviews remark that this is the best miter saw for the price. Some noted that while it is an excellent all-purpose miter saw, the included blade is only suitable for rough carpentry work, such as cutting 2x4s or 4x4s.

The Delta S26-262L miter saw has a customer rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

Best miter saw — compound sliding

When you need to make intricate cuts for fancy molding and other applications that require precision, you need a serious miter saw. The DEWALT DWS779 is one of the best professional grade power saws on the market. It features everything that one could need in a miter saw and many features that may go beyond the needs of a typical homeowner. With a 12-inch blade, double bevel, and sliding capabilities, you can cut much larger pieces of wood without having to flip or perform double cuts.

Any 12-inch chop saw will cut straight through a 4×4 landscape-type timber, and can cut through even up to an 8×8 with multiple passes of the blade. A sliding blade, however, allows for single-cut efficiency on boards that are thin and wide, such as floor joists and wide deck planks. This DEWALT is a premium product that allows for angled cuts on larger pieces of wood. With this DEWALT model, you can save time and increase precision by cutting through once, rather than flipping the material to make complete cuts. It’s not the lightest saw in our list, at a whopping 67 pounds, but its many professional features carry a price.

Price

The price range for the DEWALT DWS779 is from $330 to $375.

Customer reviews

DEWALT’s products are well-known and highly-regarded by homeowners and professionals alike. The DWS779 is an Amazon’s Choice product, with over 300 almost unanimously positive reviews. It has a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars. Reviewers call this a “great saw” that is “highly recommended.” Some of the very few negative reviews note that the internal components, such as bearings and gears, are not as high quality as the DWS780, which is a high-end product.

Best miter saw for beginners

Although the Delta S26-262L is an excellent budget-friendly miter saw, for a small bump in price Hitachi offers an excellent entry-level saw. The Hitachi C10FCE2 features a 15-amp motor, 10-inch blade, and a single bevel compound cutting ability with a laser marker. While this saw does not have the largest capacity or the wide-cutting ability of a sliding model, it is exceptionally well built and has the most essential features.

At 26 pounds, it is light and portable, but it also packs serious power and a large pivoting flip fence for verticle crown molding cuts. Its comfortable horizontal handle features vibration-reducing technology — a feature uncommon in beginner’s saws — so you can work longer without getting fatigued.

Price

The price range for the Hitachi C10FCE2 is from $120 to $170.

Customer reviews

The Hitachi miter saw has made hundreds of customers rave over its performance. Reviews refer to this product as a great no-frills saw, with a highly-accurate laser and quality construction. Customers comment about the portability and compact design that works well in homeowner workshops. The few negatives noted that the standard dust collecter only stops about 50 percent of wood dust.

The Hitachi C10FCE2 has a customer review of 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

Best miter saw — cordless

Sometimes you want a saw that is powerful without having to worry about wires. It was once unthinkable to power a chop saw with a battery, but advances in lithium-ion battery technology mean that portable power is now a reality. The DEWALT DCS361M1 packs a 20-volt punch, which translates into freedom from power cords without losing cutting power. Since the saw uses DEWALT’s 20V MAX battery system, you can swap the battery with your DEWALT cordless drill, impact driver, worksite radio, or any other of the over 180 DEWALT cordless products.

This miter saw has many more features than just a powerful battery. The DCS361M1 has an integrated XPS cross-cut positioning system to ensure super-accurate cuts. It is light at only 36 pounds, but it is not flimsy. Also, it folds up for easy carrying from site to site. This saw has a small 7 1/4-inch blade, so it is not going to mow through large pieces of wood, but for small pieces of trim, its an ideal saw.

Price

The price range for the DEWALT DCS361M1 is from $350 to $400.

Customer reviews

This saw doesn’t have as many reviews as some of the others on the list, but there are enough to gauge quality. Reviews are quite positive, with the only negatives being what one would expect in a battery-operated product — battery life. Since the 20V MAX system is universal for DEWALT tools, several of the commenters noted that it’s a good idea to keep a spare battery or two. A few customers said that a full day of trim work cutting would require two batteries.

The DEWALT DCS361M1 has a customer rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

Best dual bevel miter saw

If you plan on making a lot of angled or beveled cuts, you will find yourself continually flipping your pieces of wood to get the job done. This is because most compound miter saws only feature a single angle. With a single bevel design, the saw arm can only pivot on a bevel in one direction, usually to the left side. To make an opposite bevel, you have to flip the wood. A dual bevel miter saw allows for more complex cuts without having to reposition your material.

DOIT’s 12-inch dual-bevel saw is an inexpensive but full-featured homeowner tool. It has a powerful 15 amp motor, 0 to 45-degree blade tilting range for both sides, and a vibration-dampening handle. Its 12-inch blade powers through large pieces, and is a strong contender for the best miter saw for the homeowner with broad needs and a low budget.

Price

The price range for the DOIT saw is from $130 to $160.

Customer reviews

This saw also does not have a ton of online reviews, but the ones we researched were comprehensive. Customers call it an “absolute steal,” with a price tag that is a third of the price of other compound dual bevel saws. Several note that it is not pro-quality, but also concede that a homeowner likely doesn’t need to waste money on a professional saw. Notably, some of the reviews noted that the customer service from the manufacturer was highly-rated, which is an important consideration for those who might be unfamiliar with the DOIT brand.

The DOIT miter saw has a customer rating of 3.9 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

Best mini miter saw

What if you just want to make only small cuts, but want the precision control of a miter saw’s design? The TruePower 919 is a small Dremel-like rotary saw that works for wood, metal, and more. Perfect for cutting pipe, it also excels in cutting small pieces of trim work. Why invest in a tool like this? At only three pounds with an ultra-compact design, this saw can go anywhere easily. Keep it in your truck, and you have a lightweight cutting tool at the ready.

If you do hobbyist work, even a small-bladed miter saw can be overkill. The 2-inch blade on the TruePower 919 won’t cut through wood that is bigger than an inch or so, but you can flip material to cut through the other side cleanly.

Price

The price range for the TruePower 919 is from $30 to $50.

Customer reviews

This saw has mixed reviews, but most are positive. The positive reviews note the speed and clean cutting capability, and the low price and portability. Negatives mostly indicated that the saw is as good as you can expect for under $50.

The TruePower 919 saw has a customer rating of 3.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

Best Miter Saw Buying Guide

After reviewing these six different miter saw models, its notable that there are a variety of available features, but few options that hit every mark. Because of this, it is important to understand each miter saw function fully. This way, you’ll know what tool you’ll need in most situations, and you can plan your purchase accordingly.

Types of miter saws

At its purest form, a miter saw is a circular saw attached to a stable base and a movable blade arm. The arm can move up and down in a chop motion, and most offer some amount of angling for making various wood cuts. Besides chop saw capabilities, there are several different miter saw types.

The word “miter” refers to cuts that allow for connecting to other pieces, such as with a picture frame. A simple miter cut might involve two 45 degree cuts that are opposite. When the project becomes more complex, so too, do your miter saw needs. The most complex saws feature compound angles, so the wood can be cut not only at an angle but also at a bevel. This compound cutting is necessary for applications such as crown molding and finely-detailed finish carpentry.

In addition to a compound cutting capability, a sliding miter saw allows the cutting arm to move horizontally in addition to vertically. A sliding operation can cut wider strips of material. Sometimes, a project might require wood pieces that are larger than the blade diameter, such as is the case with a 2×16 board. Without a sliding miter saw, cutting this board would require flipping the material to finish the cut. When you are dealing with large lengths, flipping can be a huge inconvenience. Fully featured, professional-grade miter saws feature both compound and sliding cutting, but the best miter saw for you may not require all of these features.

Saw blade size

Another feature to consider is blade size. In general, the larger the blade, the more wood you can cut at once. For most interior trim work and framing, a 10-inch blade is sufficient. If you plan on cutting larger pieces of wood, such as 6×6 landscape timbers, a 12-inch blade can help you reduce the number of cuts needed for one board.

Some prefer a smaller blade, however, as a smaller blade spins much faster than a larger model. So, if you do not need the cutting capacity of a 12-inch blade, it may make the most sense to stick with a smaller blade. Saw blades come as small as 7 1/4-inch for traditional miter saws, with some hobby saws featuring even smaller blades. Some 12-inch models allow for swapping in smaller blades, which is an excellent option for those looking to maximize power and versatility.

Corded vs. battery powered

Most power tools get their juice from standard home AC power. These corded devices are reliable and consistent but can be a hassle when a job is far from a power source. For example, if you were looking to construct raised flower beds in your backyard, you might have to run a hundred-foot extension cord. With a cordless saw, there are no concerns over finding an outlet.

Today’s modern 20 volt and higher lithium-ion batteries provide performance on the same level as corded power. Of course, these batteries can run out relatively quickly, especially if used all day long. The best miter saw for professional work might likely be a corded model, but if you need ultimate portability, a battery model may be for you.

Most jobs that require miter cutting don’t require eight hours of work. So, a battery-powered option is actually a great idea. Major manufacturers such as DEWALT, Hitachi, Makita, and Black and Decker have universal battery systems with high powered, interchangeable battery packs. If you like the portability offered by a battery operated, miter saw, opt for a system that you already use for other battery-powered tools, such as for your cordless drill and garden tools. This way, you can keep a charging station in your workshop with fully-juiced batteries always at the ready.

Laser cut guide

Many miter saws add some space-age technology into the power cutting mix. With laser marking and sighting, you know exactly where your saw blade will strike. The golden rule in carpentry, and any building maintenance job is to measure twice and cut once. This rule applies in many areas of life, where success requires double-checking your perceptions. With laser-guided cutting, you can measure twice, and then let the accuracy of the laser give you a third opinion.

Most laser guides are simple, battery operated disks that attach to the blade housing. You can turn them off when not needed, or to save battery life. Most only activate from the centrifugal forces of a moving saw blade.

Sawdust chutes

A final and often-overlooked miter saw feature is a sawdust collection system. Once you start using a miter saw, you will note that a ton of sawdust gets kicked up in the process. It’s impossible to collect all of the ambient dust, as the blade will force some debris away from the saw. A sawdust chute, however, gathers dust that comes from the immediate cutting area. The best miter saw models feature a removable, high capacity dust bag with an integrated filter. Although sawdust can make a mess of your job site, large particles can be quickly picked up with a shop vacuum. Microparticles can damage an operator’s respiratory system, so a filtered system is an excellent choice to keep your work clean and safe.

A high-quality dust collection system is also easy to clean, while also remaining connected during high-volume work. Since clean up and job site safety should always feature in power tool shopping decisions, make sure that your miter saw has this option.

Finding the best miter saw ultimately requires a homeowner to identify their needs. The best tool, after all, is the one that meets these needs, no more and no less.

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