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Miter Saw Shopping Guide:
Miter saws are a staple of craftsman garages across the country. They’re excellent for making clean and miter cuts or for shaving down workpieces to exact lengths. As specialty tools mounted on stable arms and platforms, miter saws play a vital role in woodworking and can broaden a woodworker’s repertoire. However, not all miter saws are made alike. Some are better than others, so check out our miter saw buying guide to make sure you get a tool that’s worth your time and money.
Miter Saw Types
The most important aspect to consider before purchasing a miter saw is its type. There are three types of miter saws: stationary, compound, and sliding compound.
Stationary miter saws are much rarer these days due to their limited cutting ability. They can only do miter cuts in two directions and their blades don’t pivot from side to side. As a result, they tend to be very affordable and are excellent if you don’t use a miter saw very frequently.
Compound miter saws possess blades that can pivot in either the right or left directions. This ability allows you to make angular cuts into your workpiece and can be effective when forging a piece that requires angular shapes or styles (many professional wooden workpieces). Some compound miter saws may only tilt a single direction, requiring you to turn your workpiece around to accomplish an identical cut on the opposite side, while others can tilt in either direction.
Sliding compound miter saws possess a sliding apparatus that lets you pull the blade of your saw along your cut up to a few inches in length. Typically, these are more appropriate for cutting longer workpieces and maintaining your cut across a longer distance of a workpiece. The ultimate miter saw type is the dual compound sliding miter saw, which has all of the above capabilities and a blade that can tilt in both left and right orientations. Naturally, the more advanced the saw, the more expensive the asking price will be.
The best miter saws will need a motor that can produce enough power to get the job done. Motors that are too weak won't be able to maintain a consistent performance or saw through stronger workpieces. A good rule of thumb is to target miter saws with power metrics no less than 15 amps and with a blade that rotates no slower than 3500 RPM. Of course, if you see a miter saw that you really love with slightly less speed or power, it might still be acceptable for your needs, but the above power standards will ensure that your miter saw can tackle most projects without difficulty.
Infrequent miter saw users could settle for a 12-amp motor or so, and a blade rotation speed of 3000 RPM. Alternatively, woodworkers and craftsmen will likely want to target miter saws with even more powerful motors.
Top miter saws will have predesigned positions that halt your workpiece and let you set up a new piece quickly. Positive stops are positioned along common cutting angles on miter saws. These can be switched on or off or alternated depending on your needs. Miter saws that have many positive stops are easier to use for complex workpieces and are great for beginner and expert craftsmen alike.
The size of your miter saw blade determines the length of cuts you can make in single motions. Larger blades usually correlate with higher overall prices for miter saws. Most miter saws come with 10-inch or 12-inch diameter blades. We would recommend that you choose one of these two sizes for your blade if you use a miter saw frequently.
Be aware that most miter saws do not let you switch out sizes of blades. What you choose is what you’re stuck with. Go for a miter saw with a smaller blade if you only do precision woodwork or use your saw infrequently. Larger blades can let you accomplish more work in less time, so go for these if you’ll use the saw all the time.
Additionally, consider the tooth count of your miter saw’s blade. In general, larger saw blades have more teeth than smaller blades. More teeth directly correlate to a smoother finish along the inside of the cut. This is great for precision or bevel cuts. On the flip side, saw blades with fewer teeth can cut through thicker material more easily. Consider what kind of wood you’ll be sawing through and choose your optimal blade based on that.
Don’t forget to consider how the dust from your work will be collected. Many of the best miter saws will have a small basket or collection area that collects wood shavings into a concentrated space or container. These are excellent for making cleanup easier after you’re finished. They can also improve your work accuracy, as dust particles in the air can clog up your glasses and become distracting.
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Navigating the many choices for every consumer purchase can be challenging. Our team spends hours doing research, combing through forums, and reading consumer reviews on even the most basic of household items, and we summarize that information in clear, precise comparisons.
Join the millions that have trusted BuyersGuide.org to help them make smarter buying decisions. We help our readers spend their money wisely and find the right product to suit their specific needs. Our independent expert reviews and data-driven shopping recommendations empower you find the miter saw that's right for you.
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