When it comes time to buy a miter saw, whether it’s your first time or your old one finally gave out, the search can be frustrating. If you rush out and buy the first miter saw you see, it might not even be the right size or type that you need. If you start scanning through the list of available saws and comparing them, there are so many options that your head begins to spin. In this article, you can find a breakdown of your options so that you can find the miter saw you need without all the worry.
Different Kinds of Miter Saws
First of all, we need to determine what type of miter saw will be right for the project or work you have in mind. The three main kinds of miter saws are basic, compound, and sliding compound. Each type of saw is better suited to a different type of work, and it is important that you buy the type that meets your needs. The last thing you want is to start working only to realize you blew a ton of money on a saw that can barely keep up with what you need to do. You can find some great saws out there, but you want to make sure you get the best one for you, and here’s why.
The basic miter saw is perfectly suited to miter cuts, cross cuts, and cutting trim. Unfortunately, you can make bevel cuts with a basic saw. You don’t have the widest variety of cutting options with a basic saw, and that is probably its main limitation. However, because they are simple, they are reliable. As long as your cutting tasks are simple, a basic saw will be accurate and prove useful. Plus, they are the most affordable type of miter saw, making them a great choice for anyone on a budget or for beginners who don’t want to risk damaging expensive equipment.
A Compound miter saw offers you a bit more in terms of possibilities. Compound saws have the option of making bevel cuts, making them more versatile than a basic model. For beginners who don’t already know, a bevel cut is essentially a tilted cut. Where a miter cut merely crosses the width of the wood at an angle, bevel cuts are straight wood cuts at an angle through the depth of the wood. Beveling is important because it’s how you ensure that your structures have soft edges, and ensure easy transitions between surfaces.
All compound miter saws can make both miter and bevel cuts, but some of them can do more with beveling than others. Essentially, there are two subcategories of compound saws: a single bevel saw and a dual bevel saw. Single bevel saws can make bevel cuts in one direction at a time. If you want to make a bevel cut in the opposite direction, you have to switch positions. A dual bevel compound miter saw can make bevel cuts to both the right and the left, saving you the trouble of having to move around for a second cut. Compound saws are excellent for picture frames, crown molding, and other projects that require angled cuts on two planes.
Sliding Compound Saws
Sliding compound miter saws, or sliding miter saws, are the most versatile option. Of course, they are also the most expensive. If you’re a beginner, this is definitely not the saw for you. A Sliding saw is a huge investment, and unless you’re regularly working with large projects the return on investment will probably not be worth it.
The sliding miter saw offers everything that the dual compound saws can do, with the added bonus of a sliding arm. The sliding function is useful for cutting larger pieces because you will not have to move your saw as often when you cut through wider or thicker pieces of material. This is what makes the sliding saw the best option for anyone doing serious woodworking or cutting other materials. It’s versatile, efficient, powerful, but expensive, making it a great choice for serious professionals.
Some of the Features to Look Out For
Your standard miter saw has a wealth of useful features that are important for you to understand before you buy.
- The Blade
- Obviously, a saw is not a saw without a blade. Miter saw blades can move up and down, or swivel from side to side in order to make crosscuts and miter cuts. Compound and slider saws can be tilted at an angle to make bevel cuts. If you have to make longer cuts, look for a bigger blade to save time and energy.
- Positive Stops
- Some saws come equipped with factory-preset stops positioned at commonly used angles. If your saw has presets at angles you commonly use, these can vastly speed up your work by making it easy to switch between different angles and depths. Plus, you won’t have to spend as much time measuring your cuts. If the presets aren’t working for you, you can’t change them, so make sure your saw has presets you will actually use for the best results.
- Dust Bags
- Some saws come equipped with a bag for collecting dust. This can really save you time on clean up, and important function for work that needs to be completed frequently and quickly. If you don’t use your miter saw much, you can leave this off without a problem in order to save money on your purchase.
Buying the right miter saw can be a tough decision, but if you keep in mind what projects you want to do, and you understand what each saw can do, the choice becomes clear.