In this Guide
Miter saws are probably the most universal cutting tool on the market. You can use them for crosscuts, beveling, and of course, mitering, among many other applications. Whether you’re cutting molding or chopping a 2×4, these little machines can do it all! If you’re going to buy just one saw for your shop, you’ll want to get a miter saw.
However, one downside of the miter saw’s popularity is the fact that there are so many options available. It can be hard for the average buyer to tell the difference between them all, between compounds, sliders, single bevels, dual bevels–not to mention all the different blade sizes. Plus, there are challenges to saw shopping for even the most expert buyer these days.
Most professional woodworkers have their favorite brands, but with so many companies outsourcing their manufacturing and cutting corners these days, it’s hard to know who to trust for a reliable tool that won’t let you down.
In our comprehensive guide, we’ll take a look at the best options in the miter saw market right now. We’ve compared all the latest models, as well as the old standbys. In our in-depth reviews, we’ll talk you through all the specs, features, and extras which make our recommendations better than the competition. After the reviews, you’ll find a quick rundown of which saws are best for which buyers!
Looking for other types of saws? Check out quick overviews of our other guides at the bottom of the page.
Best on a Budget
- Our Rating: 4.5
- Popularity: High
- Our Rating: 4.5
- Popularity: Low
- Our Rating: 4.8
- Popularity: Low
Miter saws usually come in either 10-inch or 12-inch blade formats. Before you start making any buying decisions you should decide which size best suits your needs.
*** 7 1/4” models are also available, but their size makes them a lot less versatile than the larger options, so we don’t generally recommend them. It’s a much better decision to simply spend a few extra dollars on a larger saw that can handle all your projects, not simply the smallest. ***
12 inch models have traditionally been the go-to tools for the shop, since they’re bigger and heavier than their smaller siblings. They can generally get through more wood in one pass, and we prefer them anytime we’re working with larger stock.
On the downside, they’re more of a pain to transport, so they’re not the best for folks who often work on job sites or out of a truck. We think these are the best miter saws for pros who primarily work out of a shop, and cut a lot of larger stock.
10-inch miter saws are a lot more portable, since they’re both smaller and lighter to carry. They can get through most tasks easily, but they tend to struggle with thicker stock, especially hardwoods. They’ve also traditionally had shallower cutting depth. That’s why they’ve generally been associated with amateur or casual woodworkers.
However, 10-inch miters have come a long way in the past few years, and smart compound sliders are increasingly close to being able to cut alongside the 12-inch models. The latest models have motors which rival the bigger saws, and they have smart design features which mean they achieve nearly the same cutting depths as 12-inchers.
We think these are the best choice for anyone working on the go frequently, even pros. And while older 10-inch models wouldn’t be up to working in a shop, we think our to 10-inch recommendations are a smart buy for professionals looking to save space in their shop.
In this guide, we’ll look at both these sizes of miter saw, and we’ve chosen three great models in each size category. We looked at sliding and non-sliding, dual and single bevel models alike. You can compare all their specific features in our in-depth reviews, and get a sense of the applications each is suited to. If you’re not sure whether a 10-inch or 12-inch miter saw is the better choice for you, check out our How To section at the bottom of the page!
Best Miter Saw Reviews 2019
- Hitachi Single Bevel Compound Miter Saw
- Makita Compound Miter Saw
- DEWALT Double Bevel Miter Saw
Best 10 Inch Miter Saw Reviews
Our most budget-friendly miter saw recommendation comes from Hitachi. It’s become a mainstay for many DIYers and home woodworkers thanks to its simple but incredibly effective design. This model has all the basic features you need in a solid miter saw: it has a powerful motor, wide cutting range, and precise adjustments for your miter and bevel cuts.
We also love the adjustable laser system and the built-in clamps, which make it even more of a bargain. It’s highly recommended by Popular Mechanics, and it’s incredibly popular among home buyers. We recommend it to any beginning woodworkers or home handymen with tighter budgets.
For a fixed model, it has a very respectable cutting range. The Hitachi can handle depths up to 2 5/16” thick, and stock up to 5 21/32” across. Previous buyers said they could cut stock up to the width of a standard 2×6”. That’s enough to handle any trim projects, and most framing projects as well!
For miter cuts, you get a range of 0-52 degrees in either direction. The miter stops click surely, and it’s easy to lock down the stop to make more precise adjustments between stops.
For bevel cuts, you can set 0-45 degree positions. There are stops built in, and it’s easy to make adjustments in between as necessary. Even previous buyers who had never used a miter saw before said the releases and locks were very intuitive.
It has a precise laser alignment system (there’s a version with the laser, and a model without it–we recommend the laser version). It allows you to see exactly where you’ll be cutting, so you’re never guessing or eyeballing your cuts. We also love that you can manually switch the laser on and off, so you can use it without the blade running. It’s fully adjustable, as well, so you can set it to the right or left side of the blade as you prefer.
It has a powerful 15-amp motor. That’s a big step up from other entry-priced models! It can run the blade up to speeds of 5,000 RPM. Reviewers said it cut like a knife through butter, with no noticeable lag, even when handling pressure-treated 4X4s.
It has a horizontal handle. For many new carpenters, these are much easier and safer to use while you’re sawing, and they make it easier to carry the saw around while you’re not using it The handle also has a thick, dampening grip which cuts down on vibration to your hand, so you can make safer and more precise cuts. Previous buyers said it felt much more sturdy than the handles on other units at this price. You can also carry the saw by the handle, without putting stress on any crucial parts.
The Hitachi has a sizeable, stable table. For a 10” model, it provides a very reasonable amount of workspace. The base of the table is compatible with most stand mounts and worktops, so it’s easy to install however you’ll use it.
It comes with a flexible, foldable fence which makes working with longer stock very straightforward. You can extend or retract the wings of the fence, and make simple adjustments with the onboard tools. You can also flip it up to get a 4” fence that’s ideal for crown molding.
There are clamps built in, so stock never slips out of place. Previous buyers said the included grips were one of their features, and we’re impressed with them too. They’re a pretty rare amenity at this price, and they work very well. They keep your hands safe, and make for cleaner cuts.
It has an integrated dust collection system, with a bag included in the box. You can also hook up to a compatible vacuum system. To clean out all the nooks and crannies of the machine when it’s not in use, there are some carbon brushes in the box as well.
We love that the brushes, along with all the included adjustment tools, can be stored right onboard. Whether you’re a home DIYer or a working professional, nobody likes having to keep track of scattered accessories. Having everything onboard is a smart, convenient design choice.
At 26.5 pounds, this Hitachi is the lightest in its size class! You can’t beat that for portability. This one’s ideal for home woodworkers who don’t have dedicated shop space, and need to move their tools around a lot.
Previous buyers said that while it was extremely light, it also felt very sturdy and better-made than other entry-level miter saws they’d used before.
It’s very well-appointed compared to others in this price class. For the price you get a very powerful motor, sturdy construction, and lots of extras like the laser, vice grips, and dust bag. Previous buyers said the price-point was one of the best features of the Hitachi. It performs comparably to many models which cost $50 more!
It’s covered by a very solid 5-year warranty. That might be the best warranty coverage we’ve ever seen on an entry-level saw!
You can’t set depth stops. That’s a feature that’s generally reserved for the high-end models, and it’s sadly not one of the Hitachi’s extras.
It doesn’t slide. This one’s a fixed compound miter saw, so it can’t slide beyond its 10” blade spread. That means you are limited to stock under 6” wide.
Some previous buyers weren’t impressed by the dust collection on this one. It tends to spray a lot of chips around, especially if you use the included bag instead of a vacuum hose.
A few reviewers found that they had to align their lasers, since they were a bit wonky out of the box. It’s easy to do, but a bit inconvenient. We’re going to put the issue down to shipping, since most buyers received units with properly-aligned lasers.
It’s a bit awkward to change blades. You’ll need to hold down the blade lock as you unscrew the arbor bolt, which can be tricky. However, most buyers managed it without too much trouble.
Buyers generally agreed that the user manual was less than outstanding. Thankfully, this unit is on the simpler side, and reviewers found it very intuitive to set up and get started.
The included blade is a bit too rough for fine cuts on hardwoods. If you’re planning to do lots of finish work, you may want to buy this one with the optional blade set. Or, simply use an appropriately-sized blade with finer teeth.
Quality control on this one isn’t particularly good. Previous buyers recommended checking your unit thoroughly to be sure it doesn’t have any structural cracks or missing parts. Several reviewers said their units were damaged in shipping. Other buyers thought that some of the metal parts are a bit thin and lightly-built. We found a few reports of snapping aluminum components. You should make a thorough inspection of your saw upon arrival, to make sure you haven’t got a lemon.
This Makita isn’t as zippy or flashy as the Hitachi, but it offers a substantial upgrade in terms of reliability and durability. This one starts fast, blasts through all sorts of simple cuts, and has a rugged build which helps it travel to jobsites without breaking down.
It’s been a lifelong favorite of home DIYers and professionals working in the trim and flooring businesses for years. We think it’s an excellent choice for folks looking for a no-nonsense, back-to-basics miter saw that you can count on for years of regular use.
It has a lot of the same features we like about the Hitachi. There’s a powerful 15-amp motor, machined aluminum table and fence, and a dust collection system with a bag thrown in. There’s also a similar vise grip system for keeping stock in place as you cut. You can make your miter adjustments from a simple knob,
It’s much more reliable than the Hitachi. While the Hitachi has some spotty quality control, and mixed reliability over the long term, the Makita does much better. We’ve seen countless reviews from buyers who have owned this saw for years, both for commercial use and around-the-house tasks. They complimented its reliable motor performance, and sturdier build quality.
The motor is one of the standout features as far as reliability is concerned. Thanks to electronic speed control, the Makita cuts consistently no matter the load. Reviewers said it was good for absolutely anything within its size range, and even contractors who used it on a daily basis had no complaints about starting, stopping, or keeping up with load.
It’s built tougher than the Hitachi, even though they look similar from the outside. This one uses a lot of aluminum parts, but they’re slightly thicker and better constructed to avoid cracks and snaps, which can be an issue on the Hitachi. Reviewers of all skill levels said they thought it felt very rugged, especially when considering its weight. This one can be jostled around in the back of a truck without issue. That’s not something we’d recommend doing with the Hitachi on a regular basis.
It’s much easier to align the bevel and miter systems. The Hitachi’s bevel and miter adjustments are simple to use, but harder to zero-in. The Makita’s are both easy to use and easy to calibrate. That’s a big advantage, since many units get slightly out of whack during shipping. Like the Hitachi, it’s suitable for miter cuts to 52 degrees, and 45-degree bevels. There are 9 positive detent stops built in.
It’s nearly as light as the Hitachi. Even though it’s built more robustly, the Makita still weighs less than 28 pounds all told. It’s just as easy to carry or swing into the back of a truck/work van.
It has superior dust collection. Whether you’re using the included bag or a vacuum feed, reviewers found that this one collected nearly all the dust every time, and didn’t get clogged up or spray like the Hitachi.
This one also has an LED work light built in, which gives you excellent visibility in your workspace. It’s useful for keeping an eye on smaller pencil lines, especially if you’re a contractor working with lots of different markings in a given day.
It starts fast. While this one is marketed with a “soft start” which won’t blow fuses, you wouldn’t know it from the way the blade kicks in. Reviewers really enjoyed the speed at which this one engages, which makes for a very smooth cut as soon as the blade hits the stock.
While all the settings are adjustable and easy to calibrate, this one benefits from superior quality control out of the factory. In terms of both miter settings and fence alignment, buyers found they needed to make far fewer initial tunings than they had with other entry models. In fact, the vast majority of buyers found that it cut dead-on straight out of the box!
Overall, this is one of the simplest, most user-friendly miter saws on the market. While it might not have lots of extra features or tricks up its sleeve, previous buyers of all skill levels found that it quickly became their go-to chop saw, since it was so reliable and fast to use.
There’s a triangular ruler and wrench thrown in.
It’s not quite as fast as the Hitachi. The top no-load saw speed on this one is 4600 RPM, as opposed to 5000 on the Hitachi. However, we don’t really think you’ll notice a difference, especially when they’re under load. We also think that despite the small speed difference, the Makita’s motor is clearly superior, since it doesn’t have a track record of burning out.
It doesn’t have a laser sight. This one’s better suited to people who have done woodworking for a while, and can eyeball their cuts accurately. If you’re a newcomer, or a pro who likes to use a laser sight, you’ll want to buy an add-on guide or go with the Hitachi.
It has a shorter warranty period. This one’s only backed up for 1 year, as opposed to the 5-year period on the Hitachi. However, the Makita has a much better reputation for reliability than the Hitachi does. That means you’re much less likely to need to use the warranty in the first place. Plus, you can add some additional coverage at the checkout if you choose, which can double or triple the manufacturer’s warranty.
It doesn’t provide any improvements in angle range. This one can miter and bevel just as far as the Hitachi, but you don’t get any extra degrees for the price increase.
Like the Hitachi, it’s not a sliding model. The Makita is limited to cutting inside the span of its blade, which gives you up to 5 1/8” at 90 degrees, and 3 5/8” with the miter set to 45 degrees.
Despite the Makita’s limitations, it still costs more than the Hitachi. This one can cost $50+ more than the Hitachi, which may be a hard sell for something that doesn’t offer a great deal of expansion.
The handle is vertical, where the Hitachi’s handle is horizontal. Some folks like vertical handles, so the Makita will appeal to them, but we generally consider horizontal handles more ergonomic to use.
Our current favorite in the 10” category comes from Dewalt. It’s a sliding model which provides lots of extra range for wider stock, deeper miters, and more severe bevels. We think it’s an excellent primary miter saw for finish carpenters who are concerned about saving space. It’s also a great tool for an ambitious DIYer who needs extra range but doesn’t quite have room or need for a 12” unit.
The sliding motor and blade give this one the best range and versatility of the three. This one can cut stock up to 12” wide. Better still, it can even do so at a 45 degrees bevel setting, thanks to the creative fence design! We think this is by far the best 10” model for dealing with larger stock.
It also does very well with large stock aligned vertically. The Dewalt can cut up to 6” vertical molding with ease. Previous buyers were especially pleased with how well this unit did at cutting tall pieces of molding,
This one also excels in terms of miter and bevel capacity. While the Hitachi and Makita have nearly identical ranges, the Dewalt bests them both. It can miter 60 degrees to the left, and 52 degrees to the right. That’s a full 8 degrees more than our other picks.
For bevels, it can 48 degrees–the best of the three–and in either direction! That’s a huge advantage. Plus, it has more positive stops built in for both features, so it’s easier to find your exact angle without adjusting everything yourself. There are 11 positive miter stops, and 4 bevel stops on each side.
We’re particularly impressed by the quality of the adjustments on this unit, especially as compared to the Hitachi. The Dewalt’s miter and bevel knobs move smoothly but keep enough friction to make it easy to hold a custom setting in place while you lock things down. That’s harder to do accurately on our cheaper recommendations. Overall reviewers were very pleased with the firm clicks of the detents, and the easy cam-lock system on the adjustment knobs.
Unlike the other two, this one has a depth stop, so you can cut grooves into stock easily, without having to do any guesswork.
Like our other recommendations, it has a powerful 15-amp motor. It’s the smoothest of the three thanks to a belt-driven system, even though it’s a bit slower overall.
It’s built very solidly. While there are still some plastic parts, like the handle, the metal parts on this unit are the sturdiest of all our 10” recommendations. They’re made from stainless steel, as opposed to aluminum. The slider rails, the table, and the miter and bevel settings are all solid steel. We think this one’s ready for the job site as well as the home workshop!
As with our other recommendations, it has a dust collection system with a bag in the box, as well as clamps for keeping stock in place as you cut.
It has a 3-year warranty. Dewalt also have the longest satisfaction guarantee period of the three companies, so you have 90 days to try out your unit before it’s yours for good.
It’s actually the slowest of the three in terms of no-load blade speed. The Dewalt only gets up to 4000 RPM, as opposed to the Hitachi’s 5000RPM and the Makita’s 4600 RPM. With that said, we didn’t find any complaints about the speed lagging.
The other big motor feature to consider is that this one’s belt-driven. That cuts down on vibration and burnout, but it adds one more part that can wear out. You may want to buy one or two spare belts with your saw, so you’re prepared.
It’s heavier than our other recommendations. This unit weighs nearly 50 pounds, so it may not be for casual home DIYers who aren’t used to lifting power tools often. With that said, if you’re installing it on a table or rolling stand, you probably won’t notice a big difference.
The sliding feature makes it bulkier as well. This one takes up more space than either the Hitachi or the Makita, although it’s not as bulky as a 12” model.
The handle isn’t padded like the Hitachi’s–it’s solid plastic. That means there’s a bit more vibration translated to your hands than with other units of this size, but one benefit of the belt-driven motor is that it creates less vibration in the first place.
As with our other recommendations, dust collection isn’t spectacular. With a vacuum system attached, it’s the best of the three, but it’s far from perfect.
You may need to make a few adjustments out of the box. Previous buyers also weren’t thrilled that they had to tinker with the fence to make wide cuts at 45 degrees. One other downside in the adjustment department is that the bevel gauge is a bit hard to read from above the blade.
It’s expensive. This one costs twice as much as the Makita, and several times the price of the Hitachi. Some buyers were disappointed by how cheap the plastic handle felt for the price. And, unlike some other Dewalt tools, it’s made in China instead of the USA.
Best 12 Inch Miter Saw Reviews
Our most budget friendly recommendation in the 12” category comes from Dewalt. It’s an affordable option for people who need a bit of extra cutting capacity in a miter saw, but don’t want to spend lots of money. It’s a simple, straightforward unit that’s ideal for longtime woodworkers who don’t like a lot of extra features cluttering up their tools. It provides a lot of value for the money, too. The DW715 costs about the same as a comparable 10” model!
It provides a noticeable boost in cutting capacity over the 10” models, without raising the price tag much at all. This one can cross-cut a 2×8 at 90 degrees, or miter a 2×6 all the way at 45 degrees. For all that, it’s not going to cost you much more than our midrange 10” pick (the Makita)!
It also boosts miter and bevel capacity over comparable 10″ models. This one miters in both directions, out to 50 degrees. It bevels to 48 degrees to your left. We like that even though it’s a single-bevel saw, it has a slight bevel capacity on the right as well, to accommodate larger angles (up to 3 additional degrees).
It’s easy to make your miter and bevel adjustments, thanks to machined stops all around the table. There are 11 positive miter stops, and you can use the detent override feature to make more precise adjustments. They’re reinforced, and they make a very satisfying click as you lock into a setting. Reviewers both professional and amateur said they were dead on and repeatable. As with the 10” Dewalt, this one has a cam-lock knob system which is super easy to use, and quick to boot.
Previous buyers and professional reviewers loved the cam-locks, which are so much easier to use than traditional tightening knobs. Lots of older knob systems make it hard to get a precise, custom adjustment without wiggling the detent out of place. That’s not a problem with this one.
The fence design is spacious, and still easy to work with. The tall fence is extendable, thanks to sliding parts. It can support crown moulding as large as 5 1/4”, and base moulding as large as 6 1/2” lined up vertically. The sliding components also make it easy to get the fence out of your way when you’re making trickier bevel cuts. All in all, reviewers found it extremely flexible.
We’re especially impressed with how light this one is for the build quality. It’s just 42 pounds! The fence and miter/bevel plates and stops are all stainless steel, which usually adds a lot of weight over aluminum parts. However, this is even lighter than the 10” Dewalt we’ve recommended above!
Previous buyers said all the rugged metal parts could handle lots of knocking around. We’d recommend it for new DIYers who want something that can handle the learning curve, as well as working professionals on a tight budget who need something that will hold up.
Like the 10” Dewalt we looked at above, this one has a powerful 15 amp motor which achieves a 4000 RPM top speed without a load. It’s belt-driven, so it doesn’t cause nearly as much vibration as direct-drive motors at this size. Reviewers said it cut easily through pretty much anything, even when powering metal-cutting blades or slicing PVC.
One of the nicest features on the motor is the brake. It stops the blade very quickly after a cut, which makes all your work safer, and cuts down on the time you’ll have to wait on the machine in between each cut.
It ships with a carbide blade. Previous buyers said it was a nice step up over the usual factory blades which ship with miter saws. It’s good for all sorts of basic framing cuts, though it’s not fine-toothed enough for finish work.
As with our 10” recommendations, it has a dust collection system built in, with a dust bag included in the box.
It has a very well thought-out set of handles. It has a horizontal handle for ergonomics and safer control of the blade. There’s a secondary handle built in for portability. The vertical carrying handle lets you carry the saw by your side, and doesn’t put unnecessary pressure on the main operating handle. There are also convenient handles built into the base, so you can lift it on and off of tables or stands without having metal cutting into your fingers.
It has excellent warranty coverage for an inexpensive unit. This one’s covered with a 90-day satisfaction guarantee and a 3-year warranty, just like the more expensive Dewalt’s. We’re also very pleased to see that it includes one year of paid service, so you don’t have to worry about paying to have it calibrated or repaired during the first year you use it.
It’s not a sliding saw. That means you won’t be able to cut anything bigger than a 2×8 on this one. That’s enough capacity for most of us, but if you cut a lot of larger stock, you might want to go for the sliding Dewalt model we’ve recommended as our top quality pick.
There’s no laser sight guide or LED work light. Some buyers were disappointed that this one didn’t include either feature. This one’s definitely better for people who are good at eyeballing cuts. You could also use one of Dewalt’s add-on laser kits, if you like to have a guide onboard, but buyers warned that this one isn’t compatible with all the brand’s models.
As with most units, you may have to make some adjustments to the table settings and knobs out of the box. While most buyers found that their saws cut straight out of the box, some found that theirs were slightly wonky.
Some buyers also had more general quality control concerns. They noticed stray bolts in the box, and a few buyers had units which didn’t run properly from the start. Thankfully, any issues in the first few months are covered under the satisfaction guarantee.
It doesn’t have very good dust collection, even when you hook it to a vacuum system. That’s one downside of a lot of Dewalt’s current lineup, and we’d love to see them step it up in the cleanup department with their next units.
This Makita is a very popular unit among working professionals. It’s a 12-inch version of the Makita we’ve recommended in the 10” category, and we love it for a lot of the same reasons. While it doesn’t have a lot of extra features or conveniences, all the features it does have work extremely well, and hold up very well over time. We recommend it for budget-conscious pros, as well as DIYers looking for a solid long-term investment.
It comes with a lot of the same key features we liked on the Dewalt DW715: a horizontal trigger handle for ergonomics, a solid metal base, a dust collection system with a bag included, and vise grips for keeping stock in place as you cut.
It’s lighter than the Dewalt. This one weighs just 37 pounds all told. That’s mostly because it uses aluminum instead of stainless steel in the base. However, unlike some cheaper aluminum units, we couldn’t find any complaints about the structural integrity of this one. Just like its 10-inch sibling, the 1221 is ruggedly built.
Even though it’s lighter and more compact than the Dewalt, the Makita has nearly the same cutting capacity. At 90 degrees, it can handle a 2×8, and even at 45 degree miter you can still get through a 2×6. It has a similar flexible fence system, which allows you to cut crown moulding as tall as 5 1/2”.
It’s a direct-drive motor, as opposed to the Dewalt’s belt-driven system. We don’t have a strong preference for one or the other: belt drives are quieter and can be smoother, but they can also slip, and the belt is one more part to maintain. On the other hand, direct drive systems are often more powerful, but they place more stress on the motor itself, which makes repairs more expensive. For those who prefer the low maintenance, zippy speed of a direct-drive system, the Makita is an ideal choice.
This particular direct-drive system is one of the best we’ve seen on a miter saw. It has electronic speed control built in, so it’ll cut at a constant 4000 RPM no matter the load. Reviewers of all experience levels said they were impressed by how smoothly and easily it cut, especially through hardwoods which make other models struggle. It’s definitely better than the DW715 for thicker hardwoods.
It’s more reliable than the Dewalt, and has far fewer complaints about quality control. Reviewers said they had limited expectations of this model, but soon found that it far surpassed their hopes for accuracy, reliability, and resistance to being knocked around in the back of a truck. They found that it cut straight for years running, and didn’t have any issues with lags, jams, or breakages. So, while this isn’t the most elaborate or versatile 12” miter out there, it’s probably the best choice for working pros who don’t need lots of extra features, but want something that can be used on a daily basis.
It’s easier to install a laser guide on this model. The Dewalt DW715 is technically compatible with Dewalt laser guides, but you’d need to hunt down an older model, since the company’s latest offerings aren’t compatible with that specific model. The Makita is compatible with the latest Makita lasers, and a lot of third party brands as well.
Dust collection works a bit better on this one than the DW715. While neither machine is perfect, the Makita controls dust flow a bit better, and its outlet design doesn’t get clogged as easily. Previous buyers said that the bag wasn’t any better than the competition, but the vacuum outlet worked great.
In includes side extensions in the box. You can use them to work with longer stock, and store them easily when you don’t need them. They’re a nice extra that you don’t get with the Dewalt.
It doesn’t have as solid a warranty period as the Dewalt. As with most Makita tools, this one’s only covered for one year from purchase. With that said, its superior reliability means you’re less likely to need to use the warranty on the first place. We found that the only issues buyers reported with this model were a result of poor shipping from the vendor, rather than a design flaw or lackluster quality control.
It doesn’t offer any cutting capacity upgrades over the Dewalt. In fact, it can’t cut quite as wide a bevel, and it doesn’t have quite as wide a miter range. However, the differences are negligible, and this one actually accommodates a slightly larger moulding height. The only disappointment is that for a more expensive tool, you don’t see much of a difference in cutting range.
There aren’t as many positive stops built into the adjustment table.
It can be tricky to change the blade. You have to keep the cover over the blade nut out of the way, and there’s no clasp to lock it open while you work. However, it’s just an annoyance, rather than a significant design flaw.
Our top quality recommendation in the 12” category goes to the Dewalt DWS780. It might look like a slightly larger version of the Dewalt we recommended at the top of the 10” range, but this one offers a huge leap forward in quality, usability, and versatility. It has the best cutting range, angle capacity, and build quality of the 12” units on the market right now.
Plus, it has our favorite guide system onboard! This one’s our top recommendation to ambitious DIYers and professional woodworkers who want a miter saw that can do absolutely anything, and do it for years!
This one keeps a lot of the same features we loved on the DW715: it has twin handles (horizontal for sawing, and vertical for carrying) as well as handles in the base. The table and base are made from machined steel, with hardened bevel stops and miter detents. There’s a powerful 15-amp motor, with a belt drive and electric brake. Plus, the fence is flexible, to allow both longer and wider pieces of stock.
It has the best cutting capacity by far. With the fence in its normal position, you can cut up to 2×14 boards at 90 degrees, and molding as high as 6 3/4”!
You can also use the “back fence” feature to get even more range out of this one. With the fence pushed back, this one can easily get through a 2×16 at 90 degrees, and a 2×12 all the way at 45 degrees! That’s a best-in-class capacity for larger lumber, and it makes the Dewalt the most versatile 12” model we’ve found so far.
It also has the widest miter and bevel range, too! The DWS780 miters 60 degrees to the right, and 50 degrees to the left. There are 10 detent miter settings cast into the plate. You can use the adjustment knobs to lock them into place, or override the detent to make precise, lockable adjustments.
This one also has the advantage of dual bevels, like our top recommendation in the 10” category. It bevels from 0-49 degrees in either direction, and there are 5 stops built in each way. Overall, it has a pretty superb range of angles that we can’t find anything to complain about.
This one also has the cam-lock knobs we love on the DW715 and other Dewalt miters. They make it super easy to make custom adjustments between detents without wiggling your angle out of place as you lock the knob. Buyers loved them as well, and said the Dewalt’s plate achieved a perfect balance of enough tension to stay in place, but enough flexibility to make custom adjustments smoothly.
This unit features Dewalt’s new XPS guide system. It’s designed to provide the same helpful alignment you get with a laser guide, but without all the adjustments and misalignments that can occur with lasers. The LED light in the XPS system shines onto one side of the blade, which casts a shadow on the board, showing you exactly where the blade will cut.
We love this system because you never have to adjust it, even when you get a new blade! Lasers, on the other hand, often get wonky, and the wide strip of light means you’re always somewhat inaccurate. This gives you a perfectly clean edge to cut against.
Reviewers raved about the XPS system–amateurs and professionals alike! Users appreciated how the LED eliminated all the sources of error that traditional lasers pose. They also loved how little maintenance it required, since it can’t be bumped out of alignment, and LED bulbs last a very, very long time.
The bevel gauge is the best we’ve seen so far on a 12-inch model. It’s brightly-colored, and exposed much better than the ruler on the DW715, which is somewhat hard to read. This one’s easy to see from where you’re working at the saw, without craning your neck.
It’s relatively cheap for the amount of versatility and power it packs. This one is available for just over the $500 mark, which is a bargain considering how many tasks you can use this one for.
It’s quiet. The DWS780 is belt-driven, like the DW715, which means that much less vibration is translated to the handle, and much less motor noise is produced.
It has better quality control than other Dewalt units. That’s probably down to the fact that the DWS780 is one of the models that Dewalt assembles in the USA, which means that quality control is markedly better than factories abroad. Many buyers found that their units cut dead on out of the box, and we didn’t
The dust collection system, while imperfect, is a lot better than the DW715. Previous buyers said that the vacuum tube worked quite well, even though the included dust bag didn’t do much to help on its own.
Like the other Dewalt’s we’ve reviewed here, it’s covered by a three-year warranty, and a 90-day satisfaction period. This one also features the year-long paid service period.
All these features have made it a favorite among woodworking professionals and serious DIYers who don’t want to be limited in their projects. Buyers said that because it was so versatile, the Dewalt quickly became the most-used saw in their shop! We think it’s the most versatile portable saw you can buy right now.
It’s the biggest and heaviest unit here. The sliding feature adds a good 6” to the base, and this one weighs 56 pounds all told. Since it’s somewhat cumbersome to move, we’d suggest that users who don’t have the strength to carry it frequently install it in a home workshop, or on a stand that you can set up on your worksite.
Some buyers had issues with the bearings in the sliding rails. They thought the bearings were stickier than they ought to be, and weren’t able to fix the problem with silicone lubricant. We’re going to put that down to quality control rather than a design flaw, since the vast majority of buyers didn’t report problems, and most reviewers actually complimented the smoothness of the sliders. We’d recommend using some motor oil or other lubricant on any sliding rails.
It’s belt-driven, and it has the lowest no-load blade speed of our 12” recommendations. We didn’t find that reviewers had any issues with the blade speed, but it’s always disappointing when a more expensive unit isn’t quite as powerful as less expensive competitors.
While most users found the XPS guide system very helpful, some had trouble seeing it in bright sunlight. It’s not quite as sharp as a laser in sunny conditions, though most reviewers didn’t have any issues.
The cost could be prohibitive for some DIYers. This one will cost you at least $500, and we only recommend it to people who will really get their money’s worth: ardent home users or working professionals.
Which is the Best Compound Miter Saw & the Best Sliding Miter Saw for You?
In the 10-inch category:
The Hitachi is the clear choice for new woodworkers, aspiring DIYers, and folks on a tight budget. Its laser alignment and user-friendly features make it more accessible for people who haven’t spent their lives doing carpentry, and its budget makes it easy for you to make a big upgrade from your hand tools without breaking the bank. However, it’s not quite as reliable as the Dewalt or the Makita, and the lack of a sliding motor assembly means it’s limited to stock smaller than 6”.
The Makita is our top midrange choice for people who don’t need a lot of frills, but value a solid, repeatable, and durable machine that can handle just about anything. It’s sturdier than the Hitachi, but it’s just as light and compact to carry around. We highly recommend it to professionals as well as home DIYers, since it’s such a great little workhorse. With all that said, the lack of laser sights and vertical handle means it takes a bit more finesse to use properly. And, as with the Hitachi, it’s limited to smaller stock.
The Dewalt is our top choice for the working professional or ambitious DIYer who needs maximum range in as little footprint as possible. It has the widest miter range of the three, and its dual bevel means you can cut edges in both directions. Plus, the sliding blade assembly means it can cut wider stock than either the Makita or Hitachi. On the downside, it’s the biggest and heaviest of the three, so it takes some strength to move around. It’s also rather expensive, so we don’t recommend it to people who won’t use it frequently and get their money’s worth.
In the 12-inch category:
The Dewalt DW715 is the clear choice for people on a budget, since it’s the least expensive of the three by a fair bit. It has a very impressive cutting range for a fixed 12” saw, and it’s built much more solidly than other inexpensive options. The only real disadvantages to this model are the lack of laser compatibility, and the poor dust collection system. We think it’s a great saw for DIYers on a budget, but we wouldn’t recommend it to most professionals.
The Makita is our top pick for working professionals and serious DIYers who like to keep things simple. It’s a good choice for folks who make a living in carpentry or construction, but don’t have a big budget. This one might be a bit short on extra features, but it ticks all our boxes for a great, dependable saw. It’s very solidly built, and it’s the lightest of the three.
That makes it the best for people who will be loading it in and out of trucks on a daily basis. It also has an excellent reputation for reliability, and a motor which has an impeccable record for cutting smoothly every time. The only downside is the fixed motor. This one can’t slide, so you shouldn’t expect to cut anything larger than a 2×8 in one go.
The Dewalt DWS780 is our top quality pick for anyone who’s simply looking for the best 12” miter saw on the market right now. It’s the best of the three for working with wide boards, and it’s the best for making wide-angle cuts, especially bevels. It’s the perfect choice for the professional woodworker or the DIYer with serious ambitions.
Plus, it’s the only one of our recommendations that can handle really wide stock–up to 2×16’s. That’s twice the capacity of the Makita. However, this one’s heavy, and it’s bulky. Make sure you have the strength to lift it, a shop counter to bolt it to, or means to carry it on wheels before you commit to hauling it around with you.
How to Choose the Right Miter Saw for You
Know what a miter saw does:
A miter saw is basically a souped-up chop saw. It’s most frequently used for quick crosscuts, chopping lumber down to the proper length by slicing across the grain. That’s the opposite of a table saw, which is meant for ripping lumber along the grain, to size it down to the proper width. You’ll find that whether you’re making simple projects or complex molding, the most frequent use your miter saw will see is quick cross cuts.
However, miter saws, as the name suggests, are a bit more specialized than simply chopping wood. They make two specific cuts which simple chop saws can’t easily make: miter and bevel cuts. These two cuts both involve using your saw to make precise angled edges, but they have some key differences, and use different features of the machine. Make sure you know the difference before you start comparing models.
Miter cuts are what these machines were designed to make. They’re when you cut at an angle to the grain, as opposed to a perpendicular crosscut directly across the grain. To achieve these cuts, the motor and blade assembly of a miter saw sits like a sundial at the central axis of the circular table, and rotates by degrees to the fence which runs straight across the back. The blade slot in the deck rotates at the same time, and so does the laser guide.
When you’re looking at miter functions, you should look for an easy to use adjustment knob, and a deck with a slight amount of tension to keep the angle from changing accidentally. You should also expect the table to have detents (or “positive stops”) built in. These are common angles you’ll use on a regular basis, and they’re set into the table so that you can find them easily.
Many models have quick-release switches, thumb buttons, or other simplified catches to make it easier for you to change the miter degree of the cut. You should also look for detent overrides, which let you choose a custom angle in between the preset slots.
Bevel cuts are similar to miter cuts, but they represent an angle along the plane of the board’s edge, rather than its grain. When you make an average crosscut, you simply slice across the grain. The blade is perpendicular to the grain, making a right angle, and it slices straight down, creating a second right angle. Miters change the first right angle, and bevels change the second angle.
So, while miters rotate the blade around an axis, a bevel feature tilts the blade to slice into the board at an angle, wherever it’s positioned in relation to the grain. Most miter saws have bevels which work in only one direction. Dual-bevel features are reserved for top-of-the-line professional models, and they’re the gold standard for professional woodworkers who need lots of versatility.
The most sophisticated cuts, especially in molding and trim, require both bevel and miter adjustments. You should know the kinds of angles you’re working with before you shop, so you know that your saw will be able to tackle them all.
Look at cutting capacities:
Now that you’re thinking specifically about what you’ll be using your miter saw for, it’s time to get all your numbers on paper so you can set down some benchmark capacities to look for in your new unit. To do so, get out your tape measure or t square, and start measuring your stock and your commonly-used angles. Getting some hard numbers on your woodworking habits will help you nail down how much cutting capacity you need from your tool.
First, look at the size of the stock you work with. Regardless of whether you’re making a miter cut, a bevel cut, or a straight crosscut on a piece of wood, you need to make sure the wood fits, and can be cut easily in one pass for a seamless edge.
With that in mind, you’ll have two basic dimensions to consider when you’re shopping: the width and depth capacity of the tool. Each miter saw will have both a maximum cutting depth and maximum cutting width listed in its specs.
Compare those specs to the stock you typically work with, to make sure the saw can handle all your cuts. Some saws list several capacities: both at the standard 90 degrees, and at 45 degrees. It’s a good idea to check both, especially if you cut a lot of wider angles.
Cutting depth, or “depth of cut” tells you how thick (vertically) a board you can cut through. It’s mostly dictated by the size of the blade on your miter saw, since depth is roughly equivalent to the distance from the edge of the blade to its center, or wherever the motor head housing will hit your piece of stock. If you need a larger cutting depth, get a bigger saw: it’s that simple. 12” models are your best bet for deep cuts.
Cutting width is relatively straightforward as well, but you have a few more options. On a fixed miter saw, the maximum cutting width is limited by the size of the blade, just like cutting depth. On a sliding miter saw, however, you can often get 50-100% more cutting range out of the same blade. If you work mainly with wide stock like 2×10’s and above, you should probably get a sliding unit.
In addition to taking a look at the adjustment system, you should pay attention to the cutting capacity specs regarding angles. All miter saws will have a maximum miter setting and maximum bevel setting listed in the spec sheet. The wider the angle, the more severe a cut you can make.
Always look for a miter capacity above 50 degrees, with the highest degree ratings being the best. These are marked positively, in increasing degrees. Any saw you buy should be able to miter in either direction, to the same degree limit. Bevel settings are usually only in one direction, but some top-shelf models have a more versatile dual-bevel system. Look for bevels to at least 45 degrees on any miter saw.
Decide on your budget:
Miter saws generally cost between $75 and $1500. At the $75 mark, you’ll find mainly cheap budget units that aren’t worth your money. We recommend spending at least $125 for a miter saw with a powerful motor and sturdy construction, from a reputable power tool brand.
Even hobbyists will be disappointed and frustrated by anything cheaper. Closer to $1500, you’ll find premium-grade miter saws with precise angle adjustments, quiet, smooth motors, and very impressive dust collection. These are ideal for finish work, as well as general framing cuts.
As a general rule, sliding models cost more than fixed models. You can plan on spending as much as twice the price for a good quality sliding model, compared to a fixed unit of comparable quality. You’ll also pay slightly more for 12” models over 10” models, but the difference isn’t quite as severe.
The more you pay for your miter saw, the more you’ll get in several departments:
- Build quality:
The least expensive miter saws tend to have the most plastic parts, something we always like to avoid where possible. If you’re trying to save money, look for aluminum parts instead of stainless steel. You should never compromise so far as to accept plastic parts, aside from the handle, guard, and other more aesthetic components. Your frame should always be solid metal.
The more you pay for your new miter saw, the more solid the build quality you can expect. More expensive units have solid metal bases, usually from steel or thick, reinforced aluminum. They’ll have cast miter stops, and more durable structural components on the slider, hinges, and handles.
Plus, the more expensive units tend to have the best quality control out of the factory. You’re much less likely to find structural flaws or surface cracks on these models, and you can expect them to cut straighter out of the box.
Likewise, the more you pay for your new tool, the more power you can expect it to provide. More expensive units have more powerful (and usually larger) motors, and more efficient drivetrains which translate more of that power into blade performance. If you cut lots of thicker stock or work mainly with hardwoods, it’s a good idea to invest in a saw with a motor that won’t get bogged down.
You’ll also find that the motors and drive systems on the top-shelf models are more convenient and quiet to use, as well as being much safer. You’ll pay extra for low-noise drive systems, soft-start features, and fast electric brakes for stopping the blade between cuts.
All these features make a saw more of a pleasure to use, and they result in smoother cuts. At the top of the price range, you’ll start to see models with skin-detection technology, which is the ultimate in safety. These systems can instantly shut themselves off if your finger contacts the blade, so you don’t have to worry about anything going badly wrong in the shop or on a busy worksite.
Finally, more expensive miter saws tend to be more accurate. They have better machining quality on all the metal parts, so the steel or aluminum miter plate will be better aligned, and more thoroughly reinforced. The reinforcements on each detent make your angles more repeatable than cheaper, non-reinforced detents. They’ll also have better tensioning in the adjustment knobs, which makes setting custom measurements easier.
We’ve also found that more expensive units are put together and shipped more carefully, which means that they’re calibrated better out of the box. You’ll probably have to fiddle a bit with a cheaper miter saw, especially if it isn’t packed perfectly. The top-shelf options are checked more consistently at the factory, and packed more thoughtfully, which means they’ll often cut straighter out of the box.
One final budget note: Avoid cheap sliding models. We’ve found that the most inexpensive sliders have sticky bearings and wobbly rails which make them move awkwardly, erratically, and inaccurately. If you see a sliding model that’s priced suspiciously closely to a comparable fixed model, it’s probably too good to be true. Plan to spend about twice as much for a sliding model that’s accurate and smooth enough to serve you well.
Think about your own needs and preferences:
As with any tool, you want your new miter saw to suit your own woodworking habits, preferences, and requirements. Think about all the features you prefer in your saw, all the things you’ve wished you had on your old model, and how you use your miter saw on a regular basis.
Think about the stock you’ll be working with, and what it demands from your saw’s motor, grips, or angle settings. Consider how often you use your machine, and whether you need something DIY-grade or professional quality. Think about where you use your miter saw, and whether you value portability or sturdiness more for your applications.
It’s worth spending a few minutes brainstorming on a piece of paper so that you make sure your new saw ticks all your boxes.
Look for safety features:
All good miter saws have some basic safety features. You should look for a flexible, adaptive blade guard that keeps your fingers safe without impeding your work. You should also look for grips and fence designs which allow you to hold your stock in place without needing to hold your fingers too close to the blade.
Expect a fast electric brake for the motor, to stop the blade spinning after a cut. It’s also a good idea to opt for a model with a soft-start feature if you don’t have a lot of upper body strength to control the cutting head.
If you’re a newcomer, working with new woodworkers, or simply looking for the absolute safest machine, opt for a machine with skin detection technology on the blade. These units can stop the motor instantly, which can prevent finger loss or even worse injuries.
Check out the dust collection:
Dust collection isn’t the most important feature to consider on a miter saw, but it’s one of those features that can really drive you up a wall over time if it’s not done right. You should expect any miter saw to have some basic dust collection system, with a vacuum outlet tube (2” or 4” standard), and a dust bag. Now, it’s common knowledge among woodworkers that these dustbags are generally worthless, so you shouldn’t buy a unit based on the quality of the bag. Plan to use your machine with a vacuum tube, or simply direct the chute into a barrel or trash bag. You’ll save yourself the headache of trying to make the manufacturer’s tiny dust bag work properly, which they rarely if ever do.
If you’re trying to judge these systems objectively, look for an effectiveness rating. That’ll tell you what percentage of sawdust ends up in the vacuum chute on a given machine. The best units on the market are between 90-99% effective.
You can also look for molded blade guards and other aerodynamic features which help your vacuum system work more effectively. And, of course, your own success rate will depend on how powerful and how well-sealed your own vacuum system is.
Don’t forget about durability!
A miter saw is probably going to get the most use of any saw in your shop, so it’s important to find a model that can hold up. Look for solid metal bases, miter plates, and detent settings. Steel is best, but reinforced aluminum is a good, portable compromise. In general, look for as many metal parts as possible.
The only places you should accept plastic are on handles, non-structural casing, and switches. Look for enclosed bearings on sliding models, so that dust and dirt can’t get in there and jam the sliders. You’ll want to pay special attention to hinges, joints, and other stress points on the design. Make sure they’re metal, and reinforced.
In addition to build quality, take a look at warranty coverage, and make sure you get solid protection for your investment. Expect at least 1 year of coverage, and check whether you’ll have to pay for maintenance costs during the warranty period.
We also recommend purchasing add-on coverage for these tools, since factory warranties can be rather short, and some power tool companies can be frustrating to deal with. An add-on warranty plan will extend your coverage, sometimes to twice the original length, and allow you to deal with a third-party company, who takes care of talking to the manufacturer and looking after your best interests.
Handy Guides to More Kinds of the Best Saws
Here at Best Saw Reviews, we aim to be your all-in-one source for the best reviews, how-to’s, and info about cutting tools of all types. We’ve focused on miter saws for our homepage, but we’ve also got you covered with special guides to the best of table saws, band saws, and more! Check out the rest of our guides below, and click through to see all our favorite models in each category:
Top Table Saws
Table saws are the most powerful cutting tools on the market, and there’s nothing better for working with big pieces of lumber. They’re also likely to be the biggest investment you’ll make in your workshop, so it’s super important to know what you’re getting and make the right purchase. We’ve created a whole other homepage for table saws, to walk you through all your choices. You’ll find our guides to the best cabinet, contractor, and portable job site models, plus an extra guide to the latest hybrid models on the market. To read more, click here!
Our current top choice in the cabinet category comes from SawStop:
The SawStop combines one of the most innovative safety features on the market with superb power and accuracy. SawStop’s patented brake system stops and retracts the blade within milliseconds of detecting flesh contact. It’s a huge step forward in shop safety, and we think it’s worth every penny.
We’re also very impressed with the overall level of quality the company have brought to the rest of the unit. This machine has a powerful motor, an excellently-engineered cast-iron worktop, precise adjustments, and a smooth, solid fence. Buyers said that while they bought the saw for its safety system, they became lifelong SawStop customers because the unit was so smooth and accurate to use.
Check out our full review of the SawStop, and compare it to our other top table saws here!
Best Band Saws
Whether you’re making long rip cuts, re-sawing a plank, or creating book-matched pieces for a stunning furniture project, a band saw is one of the most powerful, versatile tools you can add to your shop. We’ll look at why band saws are so great, and walk you through our own comprehensive reviews of our favorite models in this guide!
Our current top quality recommendation comes from Laguna:
We love this model because it combines the rugged, steady build quality of traditional cabinet models with a pyramid frame that saves space and weight without compromising precision. It’s a professional-grade tool in every sense of the word. With balanced cast iron wheels, a precision cast-iron table, and an innovative guide system which keeps the blade steady at any length, this one is a great choice for full-time woodworkers.
We especially love the versatile fence system, which helps you make cuts at any width while keeping fingers safe. It’s made in the USA, by a company with an outstanding reputation for quality. If you’re shopping for a band saw, we don’t think you can do any better.
Find all the details you need for the Laguna, including key specs and our full reviews for the best band saws in the market!
Great Scroll Saws
Scroll saws are the fine woodworker’s detailing tool. They can’t be beat when it comes to small lines and intricate designs, and they’re a great starter tool for new woodworkers. Although they’re very reasonably-priced, though, they can be exceptionally difficult to shop for.
Scroll saws are notoriously unreliable, and they need to be built extremely well to provide a smooth, quiet work surface that won’t cause vibration to throw off your cuts. We’ll steer you in the right direction, and give you all our pro tips for shopping for the best scroll saws in this guide!
Our current favorite comes from Dewalt:
It’s a powerful, rugged scroll saw that has one of the most reliable motors on the market: solving a major problem with many competing models. We also love the Dewalt’s spacious, sturdy worktop, which almost completely eliminates vibration, even at the highest blade speeds. It has best-in-class cutting capacity, intuitive controls, and a better reputation for durability than other scroll saws. We recommend it to any professional woodworkers looking for their perfect detailer.
See our comprehensive review of the Dewalt and other top of the line scroll saws, as well as our takes on competition from Delta and Woodtek, here!
Top Circular Saws
There’s not much to say about the circular saw that hasn’t been said already. These are simply the best portable saws on the market for all-purpose carpentry and construction work. You can use them absolutely anywhere, on pretty much any material. They’re a key tool in every woodworker’s kit, whether you’re a weekend warrior or full-time pro.
The only real downside of the circular saw’s ubiquity is the fact that it’s become harder to tell which models are actually professional-grade, and which are the wimpy imitations. We’ve set our team to the task of narrowing down the market to a few high-quality circular saws in each price category, to help you find the best one for your needs!
You’ll find all our choices, along with helpful hints for choosing your ideal tool, here!
Our current favorite circular saw for the professional woodworker or contractor is this Makita:
It’s a powerful, versatile circular saw with some of the best build quality we’ve seen in any portable tool. We’re loving the magnesium shoe plate and guard on the Makita, which provides even better durability than steel at a fraction of the weight.
We also love the ultra-fast motor, which achieves one of the highest blade speeds on the market. It’s also equipped with lots of conveniences like LED worklights, one-handed adjustment levers, and a rip fence included right in the box. If you’re a full-time pro, we think this is the ultimate circular saw for any job.
Check out the full review here, and compare the Makita to the rest of our best circular saw recommendations!
Still searching for your perfect miter saw? Check out the best sellers on Amazon here!