Top 10 Miter Saws
Miter Saw Comparison
|0.62||1.00||0.62 / 1.00||0.62||0.62||0.62||0.62||1.00||0.62||1.00|
|2.75 x 6.00||1.96 x 8.00||2.00 x 8.00||1.62 x 5.65||2.00 x 8.00||2.00 x 6.00||2.75 x 6.00||4.00 x 14.00||1.62 x 11.62||4.00 x 12.00|
Miter Saw Buying Guide
Miter saws are used for making fast and accurate cross cuts in the material you’re working with. These cross cuts are made at an angle. Most miter saws are used for cutting molding and doing framing operations as well. They are typically small in size and very portable with blade sizes ranging from 8” to 12”. Other names for the miter saw include chop saw and drop saw.
There are four types of miter saws on the market: Basic Miter Saw, Compound Miter Saw, Sliding Compound Miter Saw and Cordless Miter Saw. Each type has specific strengths that make it good for specific applications. Before purchasing a miter saw for yourself, make sure that you know what you need it for.
Basic Miter Saw – Basic miter saws make miter cuts that are used for picture frames, molding, carpentry finish work and other things that require an angled horizontal cut. They can also make accurate straight cross cuts. You will not be able to make bevel cuts or adjust the saw for wider lumber so they are best used for the more basic jobs. If you’re replacing a handsaw or miter box, the basic miter saw is a good choice. A basic miter saw is a good choice for cutting soft ceramic tile easily and quickly, with good results. They are typically lightweight, easy to move around and are priced well too. Before buying a basic miter saw, you might want to consider what you will be doing in the future. If you think you will move beyond simple miter cuts and small pieces, you will want to buy a more versatile saw so you are not faced with having to buy a second one down the road.
Compound Miter Saw – These saws are more versatile and can make straight, miter and beveled cuts. The benefit to compound miter saws is that the blade can be tilted to make these beveled cuts and they come in dual or single modes. A single mode will only tilt in one direction and the piece will have to be flipped to finish the cut. A dual mode will tilt in either direction so the piece you’re working on doesn’t have to be flipped over. This saves time and makes things much more efficient when working on a piece. If you do a lot of crown molding work, a dual mode will be your best bet. Even though the single mode models are lighter and less expensive, the dual mode tends to be a better choice for the simplicity factor alone of not having to reposition the piece you’re working on. This benefit means better accuracy and more speed during a project as well.
Sliding Compound Miter Saw – This type of saw is very similar to the compound miter saw. The only difference is that is has a sliding arm that enables users to cut wider boards. This handy arm moves the motor and blade assembly across a larger width than most other models can accommodate. What this means is that when you are making straight crosscuts in wide material, you can push the blade all the way through so you make the entire cut in one pass. Sliding Compound Miter Saws come in both single and dual mode as well and they tend to be the most versatile of all the miter styles. If you are working with varied widths of materials, a Sliding Compound Miter Saw would be a great fit for your needs.
Cordless Miter Saws – With a cordless miter saw, you will get the convenience of being able to move it around to where you need it without having to worry about having an electric power source. Any kind of miter saw that we listed above can be purchased in a cordless variety. They are usually 18 or 24 volts. The only major drawback to a cordless miter saw is that you may have downtime when waiting for the unit to recharge. This can be reduced by getting backup batteries and also getting miter saws that have rapid recharging systems. Lithium-ion batteries are your best choice for long lasting life and consistent power in a cordless model. Another benefit to cordless miter saws of any type is the ability to take them from jobsite to jobsite. If you don’t have the need to move the miter saw to jobsites, a stationary, corded model will provide the most consistency and power for you.
Common and Useful Features
When you start looking for the right miter saw for your needs, be sure to check to see if they have these convenient and beneficial features.
Positive stops – You can quickly set miter and bevel angle adjustments with positive stops. The best miter saws to look for are ones that have stops at common angles and also provides a manual override. 0, 15, 22 ½, 30 and 45 are the most common stops and you should be able to lock them in place. If you do a lot of fine material work, look for a digital display model that will allow for extremely fine adjustments.
Sliding Fence – The best miter saws will have a sliding fence that is sturdy and that will provide support for what you are working on. It needs to be able to move out of the path of beveled cuts as well.
Easy Blade Changes – If you are working on a project that requires multiple blades, your best miter saw choice will be one that allows for easy blade changes. Some miter saws have single step blade changes that can make these types of projects much simpler.
Laser Guide – A laser guide will help you line up the blade with the cut much easier and will help ensure accurate cuts. There are single guide models and dual guide models. The single guide styles show the start of the cut and the dual guides bracket the cut on each side. You may pay more for miter saws with guides but it is well worth it for the time you will save and the accuracy you will gain.
Work Stand – There are a few factors that will determine the best work stand for your miter saw. How much room you have in your work space as well as the type of miter saw you have are two of those factors. There are some stands available that have wheels and others that fold up for easy storage. You can even get work stands that have extensions for cutting long pieces of wood or molding.
Electric Brake – This is a great safety feature that stops the blade from rotating immediately when the trigger is released. This also speeds up your work, making you more efficient.
Dust Collection – Whether the miter saw you want has a dust bin or a port that you can hook up to a shop vac, having a good dust collection system in place keeps your area cleaner and free of dust that can mess with your breathing. If the miter saw has a dust port, you can actually empty the port while the saw is running for more efficient and consistent cleaning.
Comfortable Handles – Adjustable handles are the best when searching for your miter saw. If you can test them out to see how they feel in your hand during usage.
Amps – This is what is used to measure the power that the saw motor has. The higher the amps, the more power your miter saw will have. For lighter, occasional jobs, a lower amp motor will be fine, but for contractors and commercial workshops, you will want to invest in a miter saw with a high amp motor.
Different Types of Cuts
There are several different types of cuts that a miter saw can make.
Straight – A straight cut will be a 90 cut straight through the wood
Miter – First the blade makes a 90 degree cut that angles across the face if the wood somewhere between 0 and 45 degrees depending on what it is set for.
Bevel – These types of cuts are made by tilting the blade at an angle and then making the cut. Bevel angles can bet set in combination with a miter angle that will give the user a great combination cut. You will be able to make beveled cuts for complex trim easily and quickly.
A blade’s diameter will determine the power of the cuts you make. Standard blade sizes that miter saws come with are 8 ½”, 10” or 12”. 10” blades seem to be the most commonly used and are good for general woodworking projects such as making picture frames and cutting trim. If you do a lot of crown molding work, you will find the 12” blade works very well for this. The miter saws that can accommodate 12” blades are usually heavier and also don’t move around well either. They are best suited to be put in a workshop and left there rather than toting them around to jobsites.
If you want a lot of control over what you are cutting, then get the smallest model you can that has the right amount of power you need along with the features you like. Overbuying doesn’t always ensure being happy with a choice so try to fit your choice to your needs and you will be much happier with the results.
The Importance of Warranties and Guarantees
When you are looking to purchase a miter saw, most models will offer a guarantee of some kind. These guarantees are typically 30-60 days long. If you’re unhappy at all, for any reason during this time frame, you can return the miter saw for a full refund. This is great because it gives you the chance to test the saw out basically and see how you like it in operation. It’s hard to know whether you’ll like the feel of something just from looking at a box. Guarantees give you the chance to actually use it for a few weeks and if you don’t like it, you’re not stuck with it.
Sometimes guarantees can be a real pain in terms of boxing up the tool and taking it back, which is why it is so important to really read these tips and strategies and the reviews here also before you buy so you can get the best miter saw you can that will be just perfect for your needs. If you take your time during the buying process, chances are you won’t have to worry about guarantees because you’ll love it.
Warranties are in place to cover repairs that need to be done. Whatever your warranty is, make sure you’ve done some homework so you will know how to report a problem if there is one and get your miter saw either fixed or replaced.
There are a few things you should remember when it comes to using the miter saw that you purchase. They are typically safer to use than table saws, but there are still accidents that can happen if a user is careless.
- Make sure to keep the protective guards in place at all times, no matter how experienced you are.
- Always wear eye protection and ear protection when operating a miter saw
- Make sure no dangling jewelry, long hair, loose clothing or gloves are worn when you’re operating the saw.
- Make sure that no scraps or other foreign objects are in the way of the miter saw BEFORE operating it. Never try to remove something after you have it running.
- Whatever you’re cutting needs to be firmly against the table and fence before you begin
- Before you actually start cutting your wood, be sure that the miter saw is in full operating mode and at full speed before you actually cut the wood.
- Typically, you will operate the miter saw with your right hand and hold the material with the left. If this is not comfortable for you, switch it but never cross your arms while cutting as this poses a danger to you.
- You should never leave the miter saw until the blade has come to a full stop. Children should never be allowed to play in a workshop around power tools.
- There should always be at least 6” space between all body parts and the blade of the miter saw. This is for safety reasons.
- Remove wood chips, scraps and leftover pieces after the blade has come to a complete stop.
- When working in your projects, use clamps or a vice to hold the piece in place. Secure shorter material with a push stick rather than your hand to prevent any injuries.
- Whenever you are making repairs or changing or adjusting blades and guards you need to always unplug the miter saw.
- Make checking on the blade and tightening it if needed a regular weekly maintenance check for your miter saw
- Never try to cut small pieces; your fingers must be far too close to the saw to do this safely
- Cleaning your lower guard will help movement and keep visibility good. It also helps keep your miter saw looking like new and working well too.
- Long pieces of molding or wood you are using needs to be supported at the same height as the saw table
- Once you complete a cut, let the blade come to a full stop and then lift it up. Injury can occur from a moving blade that is in the wrong place at the wrong time.
- Never pull the handle toward you during operation, but should always be pushed away from you to do the cuts.
- Don’t stare into the laser beam
- Don’t remove the laser, it has a purpose of keeping cuts straight and allowing the user to know where they’re cutting
You can help keep your new purchase looking and working like new a lot longer if you follow the maintenance schedule suggested to you by the warranty company. If you do the maintenance yourself, it’s possible to void your warranty so be careful if it is something you want to keep intact.
About once a week or so, check the power cord for chews, frays and other signs of trouble. Rodents love electrical cords, so mice or rats can be an issue. Make sure the cord is clean and smooth so you don’t get a nasty electrical shock.
Using a blower, dust the entire machine of and keep it wiped down with a damp rag. It may seem like overkill, but if you take good care of your tools, you will have them an exceptionally long time. You can blow dust out of the motor as well, which will keep it in much better working order. Sawdust can really clog a motor and get it running improperly in no time so be sure to do this on a regular basis.
Make sure that the power you have going to your miter saw is sufficient. Your extension cord needs to be one that is for power tools and it needs to ensure consistent power. Using an extension cord that is too small will cause power dips and could cause other issues as well.
Last but certainly not least is the sharpness of your blades. A dull blade will affect accuracy, speed and even the “health” of the unit. If you want your miter saw to last a long time, you need to take the time to check those blades and these other things that will help keep it running smoothly and consistently for you.
Miter saws of all varieties are very popular in DIYer’s workshops and also in remodeler’s shops and on construction sites. They are important tools when it comes to cutting framing material, and other things as well. The tips in this guide will hopefully help you choose the right miter saw for your needs as well as how to take care of it and how to make sure that it lasts a long time.
- DEWALT – http://www.dewalt.com
- Hitachi – www.hitachipowertools.com
- Makita – http://www.makitatools.com/