If you’re into woodworking, you might need a miter saw sooner or later for accurate angles, cross-cuts and trim. As the younger brother of a pro woodworker, I was privileged to closely see the right use of miter saws with different techniques.
Although he used hand saws and miter boxes initially, it cost him a lot of time and effort. Right after getting a quality miter saw, things got easier for him and he could smoothly cut woods and other materials even from the most complicated angles.
You need to get well-familiar with the different types of miter saws and their specific cutting purposes. Also, there are enough miter saw models in the industry to keep you looking for the best one for a long time. To make the process a bit easier for you, the Drillly team reviewed a number of these versatile woodworking tools and nailed down the perfect miter saw for you and your workload.
Why Do You Need a Miter Saw?
A miter saw is an essential equipment for miter cut, crosscut, bevel cut, and many other cuts when you work with wood. They’re one of the most useful tools for fine carpentry practitioners because they enhance precision and accuracy of the cuts.
You can easily line up a cut line with a miter saw and cut any board in half. You can cut a wide variety of angles with the compound type. It ensures high-quality smooth cuts.
You can even perform bevel cuts at complex angles on a wide board with compound miter saws. Apart from these cuts, you can trim down framing components, wall studs, fence pieces, and roof materials with a miter saw. You can also try cutting miter joints.
Miter saws are surprisingly an easy power tool to use. You can make complex cuts comfortably and quickly, even if you’re using such a saw for the very first time.
Miter Saw - A Comprehensive Buying Guide
1. Durability and Reliability
Your miter saw is effective only when it’s reliable and durable. Its performance also depends on these factors.
You should get a power tool that’ll meet the highest standards to ensure safety. This is one of the most important concerns for miter saws. The motor power ranges between 10-15 AMP.
Compound miter saws are great for bevel or tilted cuts. You can try miter cuts making some adjustments. You can use compound miter most effectively for cutting crown moldings.
Sliding compound is the most versatile and costly type here. Along with providing all the benefits of a compound miter saw, it additionally can cut thick and wide pieces of wood.
Unlike all compound miter saws, they can cut both ways for bevel cuts. All other functions are the same as the compound type.
- Original miter box and saw
You can use a miter box for a perfect angle cut. The original miter box consisted of a three-side box that could cut at a 45° and 90° angle.
The powered version is designed for 45° straight cuts on any piece of work.
Laser miter saws are used for more precise cutting. A disk shaped washer is used to make the laser that is attached to the saw blade and illuminates the line. Some saws feature LED for better illumination.
4. Bevel Adjustment
Each single bevel saw usually has a similar cutting capacity and can cut a 12 inch wide board. The weight ranges from 36 pounds to 42 pounds.
You can make opposite bevels by double bevel saws without reorienting the piece. This saves you time. The weight of double bevel saws ranges from 43 to 55 pounds.
These types of saws come with different blade sizes. For wider boards, you need larger blades. The average blade size is 10-12 inch.
The best choice of a blade guard is an articulated one that you can keep out of your way when not in use. Such guards will cover your blade as soon as you lift the saw.
You don’t need to change the blade often for a miter saw. But it’s better to have a saw that allows you to easily and quickly change the blade.
The most desirable feature of a miter saw is its accuracy. For framing a building or just carrying out carpentry at home, accurate cutting is of paramount importance.
7. Ease of Use
Your miter saw should be user-friendly. The bevel scales and miter should be visible and clearly marked for easier cutting and adjustment.
The portability of your miter saw is an important factor when you need a jobsite saw. In that case your saw needs to be lighter. But if you want to use it only in your workshop, you don’t have to worry about its weight and portability.
Capacity is another major factor for miter saw because the horizontal capacity determines the width and the vertical capacity determines the length and the thickness that you can cut with it.
The handle provides you grip to hold and transport the device. It can be mounted either horizontally or vertically. You’ll get a power switch or trigger built into the handle.
11. Slide Bar
This is an exclusive feature of sliding miter saws. It guides the saw arm’s sliding motion.
12. Depth Stops
Depth stops help you adjust the blade’s height to control how deep you cut into the wood.
13. Electric Brakes
This is an important safety feature. By hitting its trigger, you can reverse its electricity flow, which instantly stops the motor.
14. Laser Guides/ Guide Lights
Both these features aid in accurate cutting by projecting a beam on your workpiece.
There are either flip or slide fences that provide you additional support for cutting taller wood pieces. But they flip down or slide out of the way when you work with larger wood pieces.
16. Dust Collection
The dust produced by miter saws needs to be collected for a clean working environment and for ensuring accurate cuts. You should have blowers and dust chutes to get off the saw dust from your work table.
17. Table Extensions
These accessories add space to support large wood pieces.
18. Shaft Locks
You need shaft locks for changing the saw blade. They lock everything into the place and allow you to easily change the blade.
Care & Maintenance Tips
Miter saws are a valuable tool for any woodworker. So, to make your one last longer, it’s important that it is maintained and taken care of regularly.
Here are few valuable tips for you to maintain and clean it properly:
- Clean debris from the surface of the tool regularly. You can use compressed air and a piece of dry cloth. You can also use a shop-vacuum for clearing away debris.
- Clean the cutting table and fence with a scotch-bright pad after every use.
- You have to clean the blade carefully since it is sharp. Use a brush or wear a pair of thick work gloves. After cleaning it, you should apply cutting oil on the surface.
- Sharpen the blade with the right sharpening tool if it becomes blunt.
- Don’t overlook the exterior moving parts of your miter saw. Lubricate them regularly to reduce friction.
- Always check for cracks or breakages on the power cord and brushes. Replace any worn out parts as soon as possible.
You should prioritize on your safety when using any power tool. The sharp blade can cause you serious injury if you’re not careful.
- Keep protective blade guards in place at all times
- Unplug your saw when you’re not using it
- Remove scraps from the machine before operation
- Make sure your workpiece is set firmly against the fence and table before cutting
- Wear the right protective eyewear and hearing protection
- Make sure your blade guard is transparent to easily see through
- Let the blade stop completely before lifting it
- Operate the machine with your right hand and hold the material on the left side with your left hand so your arms don’t cross
- Maintain a 6" distance from the blade
- Use a vice or clamp for holding the workpiece in place
Wrapping It Up
In this miter saw buying guide and review, we selected the best miter saws out of hundreds of available options so it becomes easier for you to find the right match.
Once you know your specific cutting needs and the size of your workpiece, coming to a final decision will be a matter of a few moments. Don’t forget to share your experience with the Drillly team.