Since the birth of the first chop saw, miter saws have steadily become more advanced, more popular and incredibly more useful. In fact, where precision crosscuts and accurate miters are concerned, there is scarcely a better tool than a miter saw.
Allowing users to work faster and with far greater accuracy, to perform compound miter cuts, bevel cuts and to work with larger pieces of material, the multipurpose miter saw is a tool that little else can contest.
The world of high-performance miter saws, though, offers craftsmen a kind of double-edged sword. Because the tools can perform so many applications, because they’re built in many different sizes with different features, focuses, and benefits, choosing the best miter saw for your life and workload can be surprisingly difficult. Accordingly, I’ve put together the below information (Miter Saw Vs Sliding Miter Saw) to guide you (or compound slide you) in the right direction.
Common Features for Miter Saws include
- Easy-to-read indexes– Check miter and bevel indexes to make sure they are visible for fast, accurate cuts.
- Positive stops– Makes it fast and easy to adjust for common angles.
- Adjustable handle– Allows you to adjust your grip for maximum comfort and control.
- Electric brake– Enhances safety by stopping the blade seconds after you release the trigger.
- Laser guide– Ensures blade is lined up correctly with the intended cut line.
- Stands– Folding stands and stands with wheels provides enhanced portability.
- Wide miter range– Miter saws offer maximum cuts that range from 50 inches to more than 60 inches.
- Easy-change blade system– Features one-step blade changes.
- Dust port– Allows you to connect a dust bag or wet/dry vac to collect sawdust
- Sliding fence– Provides full-height support for miter cuts and slides out of the way for bevel cuts.
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You: Ultimately, the first point to consider is not necessarily on or about the miter saw at all. Instead, your first thoughts should be about how you are going to use the tool. How often will you use it? What will you need to cut? Where (shop, garage, job site) will you work with it? and etc. Having a plan and a budget before you begin looking seriously for your miter saw will help you make a better decision.
Cutting Capacity: The most popular and most universal miter saws typically offer a 10-inch or 12-inch cutting capacity. Though you will find miter saws with capacities that are both larger and smaller than this, I recommend most users stay within those parameters.
Across the board, a 12-inch sliding compound miter saw offers the greatest cutting capacity, but it will also be a more expensive, heavier tool. Choosing between a compound and a sliding compound miter saw, then, requires a few considerations.
[su_heading size=”18″]Compound Miter Saws[/su_heading]
On a compound miter saw, the blade moves in three general directions. First, the blade moves up and down in a chopping motion. Second, the blade moves about 45-degrees to the left and right for miter cuts, and lastly, the blade will lean either to the left or to the left and right to perform bevel and double bevel cuts.
Although compound miter saws are typically more portable and less expensive than sliding compound miter saws, they also have less capacity for wider boards. Most often, a compound miter saw will be unable to through-cut a wide board with a single pass.
[su_heading size=”18″]Sliding Compound Miter Saws[/su_heading]
A sliding compound miter saw does all of the things a compound miter saw does while also adding a few more things to the pot. For starters, a sliding compound miter saw is designed with two rail-like tubes that allow the blade to move back and forth in a larger range of motion. This grows crosscutting capacity by a few inches and allows users to through-cut wider boards (usually with one easy pass).
Because of these tubes, though, sliding compound miters saws are typically heavier, they are less portable and they’re more expensive. With the exception of some Bosch and Makita miter saws that utilize a kind of articulating arm in lieu of sliding tubes, sliding compound miters also require more room (especially at the rear of the saw) to work properly.
To get technical for a very brief moment (and using the average 10-inch compound miter saw and the average 12-inch sliding compound miter saw (opposite ends of the spectrum to bookend your possible cutting capacities), 10 and 12-inch miter saws usually offer the following cutting capacities:
- Max Crosscut at 90-Degrees: 2-1/2-inches by 6-inches – through – 4-1/2-inches by 12-1/2-inches.
- Max Crosscut at 45-Degrees: 2-inches by 8-inches – through – 4-1/2-inches by 8-1/2-inches.
- Blade at 45-degrees: 2-inches by 6-inches cut – through – 3-inches by 12-inches.
- Max Standing Molding: 4-inches – through – 6-inches.
I trust that the information has simplified the various options available and now you can make your decision with ease. The most important aspect to consider is the type of work you intend doing, how often and with what type of material. Once you are clear on that, the decision will be easy. It is a fair investment and you do not want rush into it and have regrets down the line.
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