A miter saw is a tool whose biggest strength is creating angled cuts with a high level of precision. While it is most commonly used for woodworking projects, it can also be used on a variety of other materials, such as plastic pipes. This makes it an all-around handy item for DIY projects or home repair and maintenance.
Of course, there are various other methods for making angled cuts, such as using a hand-held saw and a miter box. But if the precision of the cut matters, the go-to tool is a miter saw. It achieves this by having a fixed blade combined with a variety of means to manipulate the wood so as to achieve the desired result.
This is not a general use saw. Additionally, it has limits on the size of lumber it can handle. For example, a 12-inch miter saw can handle a maximum width of around 15 inches and a maximum thickness of 6 3/4 inches.
Best Miter Saws Reviews
1. DEWALT DWS779 12″ Sliding Compound Miter Saw – Editor’s choice
DEWALT DWS779 12″ Sliding Compound Miter Saw
This is a fairly basic model. It is well calibrated and should work right out of the box to make both straight and bevel cuts.
The blade that it comes with is adequate for basic work. But some people feel the need to upgrade the blade to meet their performance standards for their work.
It is both powerful and quiet. You can expect it to work smoothly and produce smooth cuts.
It is not cordless, does not have a spacious dust bag and does not have a laser guiding system. However, it is possible to add on a laser guiding system.
Alternately, for a bit more money, you can purchase the DWS780. They are extremely similar tools, but the DWS780 comes with a laser guidance system and this one does not.
This model weighs in at 56 pounds, making it fairly heavy. This is a negative if you are looking for a portable saw. It is positive if you are looking for stability.
The 15 Amp motor runs at 3,800 RPM. It is powerful, quiet and has staying power. The back fence allows for dimensional lumber up to 2×16 at 90 degrees and 2×12 at 45 degrees.
Recommended if you are looking for a basic model that does the job without wanting a lot of bells and whistles.
- Powerful, stable design.
- It’s basically the DWS780, but without the laser. You can save a few bucks if you like that one, but don’t care about the laser.
- Includes blade wrench and users guide.
- No laser guidance system is available.
- It is not cordless.
- Fairly heavy, so not very portable.
- The dust bag is not very big.
2. Bosch Power Tools GCM12SD – Best Usability
Bosch Power Tools GCM12SD
The manufacturer would like you to know that the patented axial-glide system allows for wider cross cuts while being compact enough to save you about a foot of workspace. It boasts a cutting capacity of 6 1/2 inches vertically and 14 inches horizontally.
However, consumers simply rave about the fact that the axial-glide system doesn’t get clogged with sawdust over time the way other designs do. This means it is a low maintenance tool over the long haul because it doesn’t have to be cleaned out and re-lubricated periodically to keep working properly.
This fact improves both safety and performance. The cuts remain smooth and precise while the risk of accident due to gummed up works also remains low.
There are two safety switches for ambidextrous operation, which is always a good thing. The operating manual is both well written and easy to understand.
It cuts smoothly and adjusts easily. The scales on the bevel and miter are very easy to read. There are bevel detents at 0, 33.9 and 45 degrees both left and right.
The controls are easy to use and designed with safety in mind. There is no need to reach behind the saw and the fence locking mechanism is a one touch, quick release design.
Recommended for weekend woodworkers who want something they can rely on without fussing overly much with maintenance. Recommended for anyone in need of a wider capacity miter saw.
- Axial-glide system is resistant to being.
- Excellent instruction manual.
- Ambidextrous safety switches.
- At 88.2 pounds, it is heavy and awkward, not very portable. You will want a stand for it.
- Some people recommend upgrading the blade.
- It is not cordless
3. Black+Decker M1850BD 7-1/4″ Compound Miter Saw – Best Ultra Lightweight Portable Model
Black+Decker M1850BD 7-1/4″ Compound Miter Saw
This small, lightweight model is the most portable one on our list. Made from lightweight die-cast aluminum and with a compact design, it comes in at under 17 pounds.
It’s great for a crown or base molding jobs, trim and craft projects. However, it may not be precise enough for making custom picture frames or similar work. The detents are “mushy,” not tight.
This model has nine positive stops, plus a miter range from 0 to 45 degrees, left and right. However, due to its small size, you will face challenges with trying to get through 2x4s for wider angles.
Like a lot of miter saws, it also doesn’t do a good job containing the sawdust. You may want to have a shop vac on hand to handle cleanup with this model. You may also want to wear a mask, especially if you have allergies or respiratory problems.
This is a fairly basic model. It won’t have some of the “extras” you might find in more expensive models. But it’s a good value for the price.
Recommended for both hobbyists wanting to do crafts and weekend DIY types. Recommended if you need a highly portable miter saw for on-site work.
- At just under 17 pounds, it is very lightweight and portable.
- Great for weekend DIY or small crafts.
- The affordable basic model makes a great “first” miter saw.
- May not be adequately precise for some jobs.
- It is not cordless.
- As is common with miter saws, the sawdust bag doesn’t work well. Expect to do some cleanup.
- it cannot handle large widths. Even 2x4s will have to be flipped for some jobs.
4. DEWALT DW715 15-Amp 12-Inch Single-Bevel Compound Miter Saw – Best Easy Setup
DEWALT DW715 15-Amp 12-Inch Single-Bevel Compound Miter Saw
This single-bevel, the compound model has positive bevel stops at 0, 33.9, 45 and 48 degrees. This provides adequate flexibility for a variety of woodworking jobs.
Between being easy to set up and relatively lightweight, this is a no-fuss, portable tool. It is a great option for both the hobbyist and the professional.
The 15-Amp motor runs at 4000 RPM. The adjustable stainless steel detent plate has 11 positive stops, supporting a wide miter range from 0 to 50 degrees left or right.
This model has a lot of flexibility and can readily handle framing lumber. It’s the ability to handle a variety of cutting jobs helps save time by preventing you from having to change tools constantly.
The built-in handle and ability to function even with generated power make it a great choice for on-site work. The tall sliding fence is easily removed and makes this tool a great choice for molding work.
Recommended for a new hobbyist for its ease of set up. Also, recommended for on-site work due to its portability. If you need a more generalist tool that covers a wide variety of cutting jobs adequately this item will suit great, so you don’t have to change tools so often.
- Makes clean, precise cuts.
- Is easy to control.
- Locks solid.
- Can handle both miter cuts and crosscuts.
- It’s discontinued.
- The dust bag is not very good.
- Clamp not included.
5. DEWALT DWS780 12-Inch Double Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw – Best Mid-Range Model With Built-In Laser System
DEWALT DWS780 12-Inch Double Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw
This model has a built-in laser guidance system and is designed to cut boards up to 16 inches in width, depending upon the cutting angle. Some people buy it specifically for the extra-wide cutting capacity.
The cross-cut capacity is 14 inches but can go up to 16 inches with special setup. The max-width for a 45-degree miter cut is 8 inches.
It boasts an efficient sawdust collection system. However, the bag is on the small side.
The stainless steel miter detent plate is adjustable. It comes with 10 positive stops.
It comes with a perfectly serviceable, but the average quality blade. You can improve the quality of your cuts by simply upgrading the blade for a few bucks after you get it home.
It has a handle designed to help make it portable, but it is also fairly heavy. It can be moved, but doing so frequently will get old fast.
The motor is 15 Amps and 3,800 RPM. It is relatively quiet while delivering power and durability.
Has an exclusive fence design. This feature is critical to its ability to make wide cuts.
Recommended for someone looking for a built-in laser guidance system. Recommended for someone needing to make wider cuts.
- Comes with built-in XPS laser guidance system.
- Comes with a blade wrench, vertical clamp, and operating manual.
- Some customers complain of poor packaging resulting in damage in shipping.
- It is not cordless.
- It is a bit of a space hog. Make sure you have adequate room for it.
- Does not include stand.
6. DOIT 12-Inch Dual Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw – Best Affordable 12 Inch Model
DOIT 12-Inch Dual Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw
If you are looking for the power of a larger miter saw without paying a king’s ransom, this is a great option. It’s quite affordable yet doesn’t scrimp on anything. To the surprise of a lot of customers, it comes complete with a clamp, a wrench, and two extension bars.
The 15 Amp motor runs at 3,800 RPM and provides both power and durability, yet it is still compatible with a standard electrical outlet. You won’t need to provide special wiring to use this model, though you will want to make sure the extension cord is properly sized for the job.
Handles cross cuts of up to 13 3/8 inches for lumber up to 3 1/2 inches high. Maximum capacity of 6 5/8 inches for vertical crown molding.
It is a dual bevel model with easy-to-use controls and an ergonomic handle. It also has vibration-reducing features to help reduce noise and increase handling comfort.
Comes with a built-in laser guide to help you make accurate cuts from the get-go. Includes a dust collection bag, though do keep in mind that miter saws have a fairly poor reputation generally for their dust collection systems.
It weighs a bit over 59 pounds. So as is the norm for larger models, it is not super portable. Most people buy this type of saw with the expectation that they will screw it down to their workbench, not carry to various sites.
The miter range is 0 to 45 degrees both left and right. The bevel range is also 0 to 45 degrees both left and right.
Recommended for someone in need of a larger 12-inch miter saw on a budget.
- The great price point for the size of the saw.
- Comes with a laser guide.
- Comes with unexpected extras, such as two extension bars.
- Poor dust collection.
- It is not cordless.
- It is heavy, so not very portable.
7. Hitachi C10FCH2 15-Amp 10-inch Single Bevel Compound Miter Saw – Best Lightweight Yet Serious Model
At just 26.5 pounds, it is very lightweight. This makes it great as a portable model. If you are looking for something that works well for on-site work, this may be it.
Yet it is not a strictly basic model. It comes with a few extras, such as laser guidance and a high RPM motor.
The 15 Amp motor for this model has a speed of up to 5,000 RPM. This helps make easy work of even tough jobs.
Do keep in mind that the electrical demand means you need the right kind of extension cord. A model like this can easily burn out a standard extension cord. A best practice for extension cords is to keep it short when using a high demand tool.
It includes a laser for superior cutting accuracy. The miter provides a range from 0 to 52 degrees, both left and right. The bevel range is 0 to 45 degrees.
A large fence and thumb-activated positive stops help make this saw easy to while also resulting in quality workmanship. Additionally, it has a low vibration grip on the horizontal handle for added control and comfort.
As is the norm for miter saws, the dust collection isn’t very good. It’s always a good idea to have a shop vac handy when doing woodworking. You may also want to wear a mask so you aren’t breathing in fine particles.
It comes with a perfectly serviceable basic blade, but many picky woodworkers recommend upgrading the blade promptly. There’s a small hitch with that in that it is difficult to replace the blade. The logistics for doing so are somewhat awkward.
Hitachi has an established reputation for having hard-to-understand operating manuals. This model lives down to that expectation. On the upside, we have the internet these days. If you really get stuck, you can probably find the information online in short order.
Recommended for someone looking for a portable model with a few frills.
- Excellent clamping mechanism helps keep your hands safe while producing accurate cuts.
- Comes with a dustbag, extra tall fence, 4mm hex bar wrench, and vise assembly.
- At just 26.5 pounds, it is super lightweight and highly portable.
- The blade is hard to replace.
- It comes with a less than stellar instruction manual.
- The dust collection system is not impressive.
8. Makita LS1018 10-Inch Dual Slide Compound Miter Saw – Best Dust Collection System
Makita LS1018 10-Inch Dual Slide Compound Miter Saw
The dust collection works surprisingly well, but the bag will need to be emptied frequently. These two facts are probably not unrelated.
You can even hook up a dust vac to the assembly to catch around 90 percent of the sawdust and chips. If you have allergies or respiratory problems, the uncommonly good dust collection system may be the single most important reason to buy this model.
The handle works equally well for either right-handed or left-handed use. Keep in mind that ambidextrous design in power tools, like miter saws, is not purely about accessibility. Instead, it is a safety feature.
The controls for this model are generally intuitive and comfortable to use.
In other words, this isn’t simply a feature so a right-hand dominant individual and left-hand dominant individual are both equally comfortable using the same tool. It’s about details like not reaching across the saw blade for safety reasons.
It is reasonably compact. At 43.7 pounds, it is a mid-sized model. It is neither super lightweight and portable nor super heavy and stable. This gives it some flexibility to be moved around occasionally while not being ideal for use as a “portable” tool per se.
It has a 13 Amp motor, making it slightly less powerful than most models on this list. It is not cordless and does not come with a laser system.
Recommended as a good mid-sized generalist miter saw. Highly recommended if dust collection is a priority for you. It’s one of the few models that seem to have a fairly good dust collection system.
- Ambidextrous handle.
- For once, the dust collection system gets good reviews.
- Intuitive, easy-to-use controls.
- This 10-inch model will not make the widest cuts like a 12-inch model.
- There is no laser guide.
- It is not cordless.
There are three general types of miter saws. In order to decide which one suits your needs, you need to know both what each does and what kind of work you do.
Don’t just go “Cool, this is all shiny and within my budget.” Think about your workflow, how often you do woodworking, what types of cuts are involved, whether you work on-site a lot or from your shop and so forth.
You want to look for features that support your work process. You should be looking for a tool that not only makes the kinds of cuts you need to make but is also compatible with other elements of your overall workflow.
A tool that would theoretically work just great for the job in question, except you are on-site and it is permanently affixed to your workbench back home, isn’t a very useful tool. If you work on-site, portability will matter.
Basic miter saws
Basic miter saws can be relatively light for a power tool, yet have notable advantages over a hand saw. They are less physically demanding than a hand saw while improving the accuracy of your cuts. However, there are no bevel options, so you are limited in the types of cuts you can make.
The lack of bells and whistles translates to lower cost. If you don’t do that much woodworking and don’t have the skills for fancy work, these are a great starter option. Don’t worry that it is a wasted investment in the long run. In practice, the fancier models are routinely purchased as a second, additional model to meet specific needs.
So if you are just starting out, go ahead and get something small and affordable to start getting some experience. If you become a more serious woodworker, you can expect to simply accumulate tools over time. Tools tend to only get outright replaced when they finally die for some reason.
Compound miter saws
Compound miter saws are more complicated than basic miter saws. They require more skill to operate successfully, but also provide superior results and more options. If you use a miter saw regularly and need to make bevel cuts, you may want to skip getting a basic model and, instead, pony up the extra dough for a compound miter saw.
Some models do not offer a dual bevel option. But, generally speaking, this class of miter saw allows you to choose between single and dual bevels. This adds a wider variety of angles to choose from when setting the saw up for a cut. Such saws will do cross cuts, miter cuts, bevel cuts and compound cuts (miter plus bevel).
Of the three types of miter saws, sliding compound miter saws are the most advanced. They include the features of compound miter saws already described above, plus have a sliding arm that extends their ability to work with wider items.
Of course, these additional features generally come at a higher price point as well. At the high end, they can be upwards of $1000. These fancier saws are really aimed at both bonafide professionals and serious amateurs who put a lot of time into a variety of more complex projects.
The blade on these tools can be anywhere from 7 1/2 to 12 inches. These higher-end tools can cut wider boards, potentially crosscutting boards up to 12 inches wide. The ability to cut wider boards is one of the primary reasons to invest in a sliding miter saw.
What about Sliding Miter Saws?
Most people who buy a sliding miter saw already own a non-sliding saw. This is usually an additional tool for a fairly well-outfitted shop or tool kit.
The one consistent weakness for miter saws seems to be dust collection. You may want to wait until you already have a good shop vac or budget to get both a sliding miter saw and a shop vac in one go. You may also want to use a mask to protect your respiratory tract from fine particulates, especially if you already have any kind of allergies or respiratory problems.
Last, sliding miter saws are generally not very portable. They tend to be relatively large and heavy and are frequently simply permanently affixed to a workbench.
If you are looking for a saw to take from one job site to another, this is probably not the saw for you. But if you are interested in upping your game to produce high-quality work and are prepared to set this up permanently somewhere, this may be the perfect answer.
Below are some details about the various features. Some of these features are specific to certain types of miter saws. Others are more generally true for this type of tool.
Cord Or No Cord Saws?
There are both corded and cordless options for all three types of miter saws. A cordless model improves portability.
If you are shopping for a saw that is intended to move around as needed, going cordless can be a good choice. If you plan to permanently mount the saw somewhere, presumably there is a readily available power supply and going cordless wouldn’t add any benefit.
Generally speaking, you want solid detents. Some models conveniently lock into place promptly. Others require additional steps to tighten and lock. This can be an inconvenient hassle and can reduce precision.
Being able to adjust the degree slightly can also come in handy. If you know this is important to the kind of work you do, then you may want to look for that feature. Not all miter saws offer it. If this is something you want, DeWalt and Makita are known to do this especially well.
Some old-timers aren’t fans of lasers. They feel their eyes are more accurate. Lasers may be more useful to people who lack experience.
If don’t care for lasers, then you don’t need to bother to factor them into your buying decision. If you want a laser model, then add it to your list of features and keep an eye out for it when doing your shopping.
Most people are right-handed, so some saws place the lock-off button where it is convenient for right-handed use. Unfortunately, this overlooks the fact that a basic detail of safety is you should never reach across the saw blade.
So, realistically, you need to be able to operate the saw with either hand, no matter which hand is dominant. The best saws provide ambidextrous switches to accommodate this reality of saw work.
In other words, all other things being equal, you should always pick a saw where the safety switch is easily operated by either hand. If you value your fingers, you should look for an ambidextrous switch system, not one convenient for the right hand only.
Generally speaking, taller fences are better. In some cases, it’s possible to add height to the fence by screwing a board to it, but that’s a second-rate solution. You should also look at details such as adjustability of the fence and locking mechanisms.
The Blade And Blade Guard
Some miter saws come with excellent blades. Others come with only average quality blades. Upgrading the blade can cost around $40 to $90. In some cases, this is a fairly big bump up in the total price. In other cases, it’s a minor consideration and people are happy to spend a few dollars and a little time to make this simple improvement.
You probably won’t change the blade very often, but a nice-to-have feature is an easy blade changing system. For example, some models provide a place right on the saw to store a blade-changing wrench, making it relatively easy to switch out the blade.
Another nice feature is being able to easily see through the blade guard. If you can’t see it through it, you will have to lift the blade guard every single time you make a cut in order to line things up. This gets tedious after a while, especially if you are doing a lot of work. It can really slow things down.
Inexpensive saws frequently tilt one way only and use a knob or lever to allow you to tilt the saw. Some dual tilt models place the controls conveniently at the front of the handle.
Single-bevel models are generally smaller, lighter in weight and less expensive. These are more basic, no-frills tools. They generally are able to cut up to a 12-inch wide board. They frequently come with a laser.
Dual-bevel saws let you finish your cut from the other side without reorienting the material you are cutting. They tend to weigh more than single-bevel models and cost more, but they are worth it if you can afford it as they generally provide superior quality.
Intuitive, Easy-To-Use Controls
Controls that are intuitive and easy to use make a big difference in both the quality of your tool-using experience and the workmanship produced. Miter saws have multiple different controls, from bevel controls to safety switches to locking detents.
Different brands and models use different methods. If you can try out or fiddle with the various models in person via a workshop, some tool-owning friends or in person at a store display, this will be the best method for figuring out how comfortable you are with various controls.
Of course, it can be argued that there is no such thing as intuitive design. Some things that are brilliantly simple cannot be readily figured out and require instruction to use at all. Then, once it is explained, it becomes a slam dunk “simple” answer.
So don’t be afraid to watch a few videos online or ask questions on a forum or otherwise explore this question before committing to a purchase. But also keep in mind that familiarity has its benefits.
There is a reason the QWERTY keyboard is the dominant keyboard on the planet, in spite of being intentionally designed to be inefficient. It was done that way to try to prevent speedy typists from locking up early manual typewriters.
The fact that it was an early design made it a standard design that most people got trained on. Now, it is familiar to millions of people, so it is simply not worth the hassle involved in retraining.
Especially if you are a weekend DIY type or occasional craft person, you may not spend enough time doing woodwork to readily develop new habits. It can make sense to simply go with whatever is familiar as the option that is most efficient and safety-conscious for you.
When You Get It Home
A complex tool like a miter saw requires some setup time. If you intend to affix it to a workbench, you should take measurements after you get it home and determine what will work best for you after you have the tool physically in hand.
It is not a best practice to rely on published measurements to set the height. The measurements of the miter saw are not the only factor in this equation. Your height, arm length and so forth, plus details concerning the layout of your shop, will all impact what arrangement works best.
If you really want to do high-quality work, a best practice is taking some time to get to know your new tools and adjust them to how you expect to use them. You should view this time as a necessary part of the setup process. You can’t effectively use a tool with which you have zero experience.
A good rule of thumb is that you should expect to spend at least two hours on the setup process and on getting to know your new tool. This will be time well spent that will pay dividends down the road in terms of safety, efficiency, and quality of the work produced.
Take some scrap wood and play with it and see how the cuts go, then make adjustments to the vertical scale and detent plate as needed. This can help you optimize the accuracy and precision of your cuts and improve your workflow.
Ideally, this should also prevent you from developing any bad habits rooted in ignorance. For example, take some time to notice if it has two safety switches instead of one. If it has two, practice using them both. Don’t let yourself just fall into the bad habit of using only the right-hand convenient switch because you are right-handed. This is practically an accident waiting to happen.
Our Best Choice
We really like number 1. Bosch Power Tools GCM12SD – 15 Amp 12 in. Corded Dual-Bevel Sliding Glide Miter Saw with 60 Tooth Saw Blade. The unique axial-glide system is a huge selling point that will make this model a joy to use for years to come.
It helps improve safety so you can keep enjoying your woodworking with all your fingers still attached. It also reduces time spent on maintenance while preserving the tool’s ability make a nice smooth cut.