The 9 Best Miter Saws in 2020 – Buying Guide And Reviews

A man setting up a sliding compound miter saw to make a cut

This article is a buying guide to help you choose the best miter saw for your projects.

Modern miter saws can be a bit like a swiss army knife full of loads of great features. Picking the right one will ensure you can carry out your work quickly and precisely.

Whether you’re a seasoned professional looking to brush up on current models. Or a homeowner with aspirations of renovating your home. This guide aims to equip you with the knowledge you need to make the best buying choice.

Here’s a quick roundup of the best corded and cordless circular saws:

Our Top Picks for Best Miter Saws 2020

Below are my choices for the best miter saws on the market today. They have a range of different features, making each of them perfectly suited to a range of needs.

Top Premium Pick – Festool 575306 Kapex KS 120 10 1/4″ Sliding compound miter saw

With a pretty hefty price tag the Festool 575306 Kapex is what I would consider a premium compound sliding miter saw. As with most things in life you get what you pay for and this rings true here. The sheer precision and quality engineering that’s gone into the design is evident as soon as you look at it.

The dual bevel adjustment uses a rack and pinion to make precise adjustments to a fraction of a degree. This makes it the best choice if you’re looking to use it for furniture work, cabinetry of high end trim.

With a vacuum attached it captures almost all the dust. Less mess to clear up is always an advantage. This awesome dust collection will come in particularly handy if you’re doing work indoors or around a clients house.

The 10 ¼ inch blade is smaller than you might see on other saws in a similar class. Yet it still boasts a respectable 12 inch cross cutting capacity.

Unlike most sliding miter saws the slide rails point towards the front of the saw. This brings so many benefits including a reduction to the footprint to the rear of the saw. It also reduces head play which gives a really smooth sliding action while cutting.

At only 47 lbs it might be the lightest saws you’ll find with this level of functionally. This is great as it gives you the functionality of a saw that would normally be bound to a shop with the portability to take anywhere.

TypeDual Bevel Sliding Compound Miter saw
Blade Speed 3400 RPM
Amperage13
Blade Diameter10.25 inch
Item Weight47 lbs
Overall Dimensions28 x 19.75 x 18.5 inches
Warranty3 year

Pros

  • The compact footprint
  • Precise bevel adjustment
  • Relatively lightweight and portable
  • 3 year warranty 

Cons

  • Relatively expensive 

Check Price on Amazon

Bosch Power Tools GCM12SD 12″ Sliding Compound Miter Saw

The Bosch GCM12SD comes in as one of the more expensive 12 inch sliding miter saws on the market. However with its large capacity and versatility it’s capable of tackling almost any project.

This dual-bevel sliding compound miter saw is packed full of useful features. Making this saw super easy to use and saving a ton of time.

The first thing that jumps out when looking at this saw is the patented axial glide system. Conventional rails are replaced with aluminium arms and sealed ball bearings. This unique system provides a sliding action unlike any other saw on the market.

Anyone who’s used sliding miter saws with rails will know how the slides can quickly build up with dust. Here the lack of guides means this isn’t an issue so you will save a ton of time otherwise spent on recalibration.

The axial glide system also allows for large cross cuts while keeping the footprint to the back  of the saw to a minimum. This clever design saves 12 inches of working space compared with a conventional rail guided miter saw. This will be particularly useful when working in cramped areas of a building site, a small workshop or in your garage.

Adjusting for each cut is quick and easy with access to the bevel adjustment to the front of the saw. The square lock single touch quick release fences mean adjustments can be made quickly and accurately saving overall time on any job.

It has a horizontal capacity of 14 inches and 6 ½ inches vertical capacity. It also has extendable side supports capable of supporting up to 40 inches. So it all set whether you’re cutting base, crown molding or dimensional lumber.

All the great features come with a drawback, at 65 lbs this is the heaviest saw I reviewed. If you’re looking for a portable saw you can lug around with you day in, day out this might not be the best saw for you.

TypeDual Bevel Sliding Compound Miter saw
Blade Speed 3800 RPM
Amperage15
Blade Diameter12 inch
Item Weight65 lbs
Overall Dimensions31 x 23.8 x 22.5 inches
Warranty1 Year

Pros

  • Easy to set up and make adjustments.
  • The smooth sliding action.
  • Robust and well built.
  • 14 inch cross cutting capacity.

Cons

  • Relatively expensive
  • Very heavy
  • Only 1 year warranty

Check Price on Amazon

Top Pick DEWALT DWS780 12″ Sliding Compound Miter Saw

The Dewalt DWS780 sits in the middle of the road as far as pricing goes. Despite that it comes with all of the power and most of the great features that can be found on more expensive saws. Out of all of the sliding miter saws Dewalt have produced over the years for me this is the best. 

Loads of miters saws offer the feature of a laser line in order to ensure precise cuts. Dewalt has come up with a great variation on this feature which they call their integrated XPS cross cut positioning system. Using a bright light which illuminates the workpiece, the cut line is indicated with a shadow. This enables precise cuts to be made even with bright background lighting. 

One of my favorite features to improve speed and ease of use are positive stops on the miter angle adjustment. In my experience Dewalt mitre saws normally have some of the best positive stops and the DWS780 lives up to that expectation. 

The only drawback is the depth of the saw which is made worse when connecting the dust bag.  The dust collection tube sticks out just past the end of the rails. So when the dust collection bag is fitted it adds another few inches. This should only be an issue when a workbench. 

For some though this might be a price worth paying as the cross cutting capacity is massive. In the standard configuration you are able to make 14 inch cuts. This can be increased to 16 inches with a special set up. 

TypeDual Bevel Sliding Compound Miter saw
Blade Speed 3800 RPM
Amperage15
Blade Diameter12 inch
Item Weight56 lbs
Overall Dimensions32.77 x 23.75 x 18.80 inches
Warranty3 Year

Pros

  • XPS Shadow Cutting Line
  • Massive Cross Cutting Capacity
  • Powerful 15 amp motor
  • 3 year warranty

Cons

  • Deep footprint

Check Price on Amazon

Milwaukee 6955-20 12″ Sliding Compound Miter Saw

The Milwaukee 6955-20 is another mid priced 12 inch sliding compound miter saw. Suitable for professionals and hobbyists alike. The combination of power and precision make it the perfect choice of saw for taking on a range of jobs.

The defining feature for precision is the digital miter angle indicator. This makes it really easy to set the miter angle at a glance. With a resolution of 0.1 degrees you know each time you change the miter angle you’re doing so with repeatable precision for each of your cuts.

The power comes from a 15 amp direct drive motor which can kick out 3.3 horsepower. This is more power than you’ll ever need from a miter saw. Even when cutting large framing lumber and hardwoods. Despite all this power thanks to the soft start you won’t experience much of a kick. You’ll know all about this if you’ve used a saw which delivers full power as soon as you pull the trigger.

It doesn’t come with a laser cutting line, which could be a drawback if you’re used to using one. However two bright lights illuminate the workpiece from either side of the blade. This makes it really easy to set to cut dead on a pencil line.

The solid aluminium construction makes this one of the heaviest saws reviewed – weighing in at 65 lbs. If you plan on using it on a jobsite you might want to consider a suitable miter saw stand.

TypeDual Bevel Sliding Compound Miter saw
Blade Speed 3200 RPM
Amperage15
Blade Diameter12 inch
Item Weight65 lbs
Overall Dimensions22 x 30 x 23 inches
Warranty5 Year

Pros

  • Powerful 15 amp motor
  • Soft start 
  • 5 year warranty

Cons

  • No laser cutting line
  • Very heavy

Check Price on Amazon

Delta 26-2241 10″ Sliding Compound Miter Saw

Look at the price tag and you might be tempted to think it’s comparable to the Dewalt DWS780. Yet if you take a look at the features you’d might be inclined to compare it to the Bosch GCM12SD.

Like the Bosch miter saw the Delta does have an articulated arm slide mechanism. Which is constructed from military-grade aluminium and 18 heavy-duty bearings. This gives a truly awesome cross cutting capacity of up to 18 inches at 90 degrees and with a 10 inch saw!

This combination also means that the overall footprint is kept to a minimum. Particularly to the rear making it ideal for a garage or a small shop.

Similar to the Dewalt DWS780  the Delta uses a bright LED to illuminate the workpiece. The cutting line is then indicated by a show which is cast on the workpiece. Unlike the Dewalt the LEDs just aren’t quite powerful enough. It’s fine indoors but as soon as you take it outside into bright light it can become pretty hard to see.

Another issue is the dust collection, it seems there wasn’t enough thought gone into this. It throws quite a lot of dust forward towards the user while cutting. However attaching a vacuum does help reduce it.

So is it as good as the Bosch GCM12SD? In my opinion no. The articulated arm doesn’t seem to have the same rigidity and does allow the saw head to flex while cutting. Thich is particularly noticeable when fully extended. But depending on your intended use it could be great value for money.

If you’re looking to cut wide boards and you’re not too worried about precision this is a great option for you. If you’re looking for a saw for furniture work or cabinetry you’re better off with the Bosch or Festool miter saws.

TypeDual Bevel Sliding Compound Miter saw
Blade Speed 4000 RPM
Amperage15
Blade Diameter10 inch
Item Weight55 lbs
Overall Dimensions29.5 x 20 x 22.5 inches
Warranty5 Year

Pros

  • The massive cutting capacity
  • The smooth sliding action
  • Power 15 amp motor
  • 5 year warranty

Cons

  • Poor dust collection
  • Saw head flex

Check Price on Amazon

Top Budget Pick – Metabo HPT C10FCGS 10″ Compound Miter Saw

The Metabo HPT  C10FCGS 10 inch miter saw is a great option for those who are on a tight budget. Despite the price it is constructed from quality materials and has the quality look and feel of more expensive saws. This is supported by the fact Metabo offers a 5 year warranty so they must be pretty confident in the build quality. 

The assembly instructions aren’t the best and the diagrams are pretty hard to follow. Despite this, assembly time should be 30 minutes. 

If you often find yourself struggling with limited space in the garage, at 18.5 x 23 x 21.5 inches it should sit neatly on your bench. 

With storage space also often at a premium, it can be folded by turning the bevel and miter adjustment to a 45 degree angle. It’s then easily stored in the back of a truck or a garage. 

Not only is it compact, at only 24.2 lbs it’s one of the lightest saws I reviewed, making it one of the best compound miter saws for portability. 

Of course this compact size does come with its drawbacks. Due to the 10 inch blade and lack of sliding action the cutting capacity is pretty small. It can manage 2 x 4 in a single cut but in order to cut through 2 x 6 you’ll need to turn it around and make a second cut.  

The box wrench and hex bar wrench supplied for changing the blade are conveniently stored in a rubber holder on the top of the saw. For me this is the icing on the cake for this compact, portable package. 

TypeSingle Bevel Compound Miter saw
Blade Speed 5000 RPM
Amperage15
Blade Diameter10 inch
Item Weight24.5 lbs
Overall Dimensions18.5 x 23 x 21.5 inches
Warranty5 Year

Pros

  • Affordably priced
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Powerful 15 amp motor 
  • Tool storage
  • 5 year warranty

Cons

  • Small cutting capacity 
  • Poor assembly instructions 

Check Price on Amazon

Top Value Pick – DEWALT DWS715 12″ Compound Miter Saw

If the Dewalt DWS780 is slightly out of your price range, or  you don’t need some of the features, the Dewalt DWS715 might be a better choice for you. Despite the smaller price tag this 12 inch miter saw still has the robust quality that everyone has come to expect from Dewalt products. In terms of value for money, for me, this has to be one of the best compound miter saws I reviewed.

The cutting capacity is decent; it has a cross cutting capacity of  2 x 8 inches at 90 degrees, 2 x 6 inches at 45 degrees and up to 6 ½ inch base molding vertically. This is thanks to tall sliding fences.

When using the vertical clamp on the right hand side of the work table close to the cutting head the motor can clash with the handle. However the worktable is plenty big enough to to move the clamp over so this doesn’t happen. 

It comes with a spring lock system which is set to lock the saw head position when it’s pulled all the way down. This is a safety feature – if you pull the saw head up while the blade is still rotating the offcut can become wedged sending it flying off in your face.

The head lock is released by pulling a knob to the rear of the saw. If you don’t like this feature you can turn the knob a half turn and it will stop it from engaging.

It doesn’t come with a cutting line laser guide and as far as I can tell there isn’t one available as an accessory. Unless you’ve become particularly dependent on a laser this shouldn’t be a deal breaker. There are so many other great features for your money.

TypeSingle Bevel Compound Miter saw
Blade Speed 4000 RPM
Amperage15
Blade Diameter12 inch
Item Weight36 lbs
Overall Dimensions26.77 x 21.85 x 18.9 inches
Warranty3 Year

Pros

  • Decent cutting capacity 
  • Easy set up
  • Powerful 15 amp motor
  • Great value for money 
  • 3 year warranty 

Cons

  • No laser cutting line 
  • Clamp clashes with saw head

Check Price on Amazon

Makita LS1040 10″ Compound Miter Saw

The Makita LS104 is a middle of the road single bevel compound miter saw. You can tell Makita has had a good think about what’s important when designing it. A simple solid construction and smooth reliable drive motor.

The defining feature of this miter saw is the powerful 15 amp direct drive motor. Most other miter saws which transfer rotation from the motor to the blade by a belt. With the Makita LS1040 the motor is hooked right up to the blade. A dynamic electronic control system ensures the speed remains constant despite varying loads.

The lack of a drive belt means power is transferred way more efficiently. As there’s no belt it won’t begin to bog down or slip with wear.

You can really feel the power when making a cut. With a 60 tooth blade fitted it really does feel like a knife through warm butter.

It may not have too many bells and whistles but that means there’s less to go get in the way or go wrong. It also helps to keep the whole package lightweight. While it isn’t the lightest miter saw I reviewed at 27.3 lbs it’s not much heavier. Still perfectly suitable for hopping from jobsite to jobsite.

Makita specify a max cutting capacity 2 ⅜ x 5 ⅛ inches  at 90 degrees and 1 ⅜ x 3 ⅝ at a 45 degree miter angle either left or right. In reality it is a little more than that, although annoyingly it falls just short of being able to cut through a 1 x 6.

TypeSingle Bevel Compound Miter saw
Blade Speed 4600 RPM
Amperage15
Blade Diameter10 inch
Item Weight27.3 lbs
Overall Dimensions20.86 x 18.75 x 21 inches
Warranty1 Year

Pros

  • Lightweight and portable 
  • Solid construction 
  • Powerful 15 amp motor
  • Smooth power delivery 

Cons

  • Not many aids and accessories 
  • Only 1 year warranty 

Check Price on Amazon

Delta S26-262L 10″ Compound Miter Saw

The Delta S26-262L is a great saw if you’re on a tight budget or you’re looking to get into woodworking as a hobby. It’s compact and lightweight making it perfect for moving around the house or from job site to job site.

Despite the compact size and lack of sliding action it has a reasonable cutting capacity. Capable of cutting 4 x 4 and 2 x 6 in one pass at 90 degrees. The powerful 14 amp motor means it will cut through most materials with ease.

Blade changing is really easy thanks to a spindle lock that holds the spindle securely. This leaves your other hand free to loosen the nut. This is really useful if you change blades frequently for different kinds of work.

Overall most components are well made. The only detail that feels a little ‘cheap’ is the knob to lock the miter angle. You have to tighten it really hard to ensure the rotation is properly locked. 

It has a cutting line laser guide which is a nice feature for ensuring precision cuts. However it will need calibration from time to time so make sure to pay attention to this. Also it is a little bit underpowered so if you’re using it outside on a sunny day you might need to find a nice shady spot.

TypeSingle Bevel Compound Miter saw
Blade Speed 5500 RPM
Amperage14
Blade Diameter10 inch
Item Weight31 lbs
Overall Dimensions14.53 x 17.52 x 22.05 inches
Warranty3 Year

Pros

  • Affordably priced
  • Lightweight and portable 
  • 3 year warranty 
  • Easy blade changing

Cons

  • Underpowered laser
  • Miter angle knob

Check Price on Amazon

Which Type of Miter Saw?

All miter saws share some common features such as a circular saw blade, a rotating saw arm and a backstop known as a fence. However there are a number of different types of miter saw with differentiating features. 

Which miter saw is best for you will depend on the type of projects you’re looking to undertake and ultimately the size and type of material you need to cut. 

Standard miter saw 

With a standard miter saw you are only able to make a couple of fairly simple cuts. A cross cut, which is a cut across the width of a piece of material to the required length. Standard miter saws are often incorrectly called ‘chop saws’ as like miter saws chop saws are used to make cross cuts at 90 degrees to the length of the material.  

However unlike chop saws miter saws are also able to make angled, or miter cuts, where the saw arm can be rotated and set at an angle between 0 degrees and 45 degrees. Although it varies between models most miter saws are able to pivot to the left or the right. 

As the saw arm pivots around a single point the maximum width of the cut, known as cutting capacity, is limited by diameter of the saw blade. A standard miter saw is sufficient if you’re looking to cut baseboard or dimensional lumber, although be sure to check the cutting capacity before a purchase. 

Single Bevel Compound Miter Saw

A single bevel compound miter saw has all of the features and adjustments as a standard miter saw with the addition of a pivot to tilt the saw head in one direction. 

Which direction will vary from saw to saw but the most common direction is to the left. The addition of this pivot allows the ability to make bevel cuts, which are basically vertical angled cuts. 

The reason this type of miter saw is known as a compound miter saw is because if the saw head is rotated and tilted to different angles it’s possible to make a complex cut called a compound cut. These kinds of cut can be necessary if you’re looking to cut crown molding and other types of trim. 

Dual Bevel Compound Miter Saw

Again a double bevel compound miter saw has all of the features and adjustments as a standard miter saw however the saw head can be tilted in both directions. 

You can make the exact same type of cuts using a single or a dual bevel miter saw. But it can be a handy time saver as you don’t need to turn the workpiece over to make a bevel cut in the opposite direction. 

Sliding Compound Miter Saw

As well as being able to adjust the miter and bevel angle with a sliding compound miter saw the saw head is mounted on rails that allow it to slide forwards and back. 

The most obvious advantage of having this slide action is the cutting capacity is no longer limited by the blade diameter. For example a non-sliding 10 inch miter saw can normally cut a board around 5.5 inches wide. Some models of 10 inch sliding miter saw can cut up to 12 inches.  

How to choose the best miter saw

As we’ve already discussed, the type of miter saw you should choose will depend largely on the type and size of cut you’re likely to need for your projects. But there are a ton of other factors that you should consider before making your purchase. 

Some of these might conflict, for example a miter saw with a mega capacity will likely be bigger and heavier, so mobility might become an issue. It’s really up to you to weigh up the different factors and choose the right product for you. 

Blade Size and Cutting Capacity

Generally miter saw blades come in 3 standard sizes: 8, 10 and 12 inches. The bigger the blade the wider the cuts that can be made. While cutting capacity can be increased with a sliding miter saw a 12 inch sliding saw will make wider cuts than a 10 inch version. 

As well as the blade diameter the vertical cutting capacity is also dependent on the arm swing of the saw head. The exact cutting capacity will vary from model to model so this is something you should check before making your purchase. 

Power

While amperage isn’t technically a measure of power it’s commonly used to denote the power of a saw. Power is calculated by multiplying the voltage by the amperage and as the voltage is fixed an increase in amperage means an increase in power. 

A 10 amp motor is generally sufficient to cut most types of board. However the majority of the saws I’ve reviewed, and in fact most of the saws on the market, are 15 amps. 

So unless you’re super concerned with your power bills choosing a 15 amp will give you all the power you’ll ever need. 

Precision

Precision has to be the most important factor to consider when selecting a miter saw. I mean after all repeatable precise cuts are one of the great advantages for using power tools. But what makes a miter saw precise? 

The biggest factors are the build quality and the rigidity. Most quality compound miter saws will arrive and cut a perfect 90 degree miter and bevel angle straight out of the box. Generally all miter saws will require recalibrated after use and general wear and tear. 

The frequency will depend largely on the build quality as well as how the tool is treated. The less time your miter saw is in need of recalibration, the more time you’re making precision cuts. 

Ease of Use / User friendliness

Although most of the cuts that can be made on a miter saw can be made on a table saw, one of the great advantages of a miter saw is the ease of use and adjustment. 

There are a load of extra little features that can make the set up, adjustment, and all round better user experience. 

There are a load of different configurations for miter and bevel adjustments and these will vary from model to model. Some have all the adjustments to the front making it easy to make all the adjustments without having to lean over to turn the lever and see the angle indicator. 

Some models have adjustable detent plates which provide positive stops at a number of commonly used angles. 

Integrated table extensions to support longer boards are another great feature to look out for. These are great as they can save a load of time setting up supports. 

Last but not least, you need to consider blade replacement. Quite often you will find you need to change blades depending on the kind of material you’re cutting. If the blade isn’t quick and easy to change it will soon test your patience.  

Portability

Depending on how you plan on using this saw this could be a big deal for you or not. If you’re planning on using this saw in a shop and won’t need to move it around you might not be too concerned about the portability. However if you’re constantly going from jobsite to jobsite, or lugging your tools round to do jobs for friends and family then mobility is definitely something you need to consider. 

There are three main things I consider when assessing the portability of a miter saw: 

Weight

The most obvious one is the weight. Unless you happen to be a bodybuilder it’s unlikely that you want to be hauling a massive lump of metal and plastic around with you day in and day out. 

Handles 

However weight isn’t necessarily everything, how easy something is to carry is also dependent on whether you can get a good grip on something. Some tools manufacturers put a great deal of thought into the size, shape and position of handles. I can tell you now, this makes a massive difference! 

Folding

The final thing I consider is whether the saw can be folded. This is less important if there are handles to grip onto. If not you want to try to find a saw that folds down and clamps up firmly. There’s nothing worse than trying to carry something which is flapping about while you carry it. It means it’ll take up less space in your garage or the back of your truck. 

Extra Features you should look for in a miter saw

There are so many clever, unique features I could write about them all day. But the three main features on top of the ones I’ve already discussed are: 

Dust extraction

No matter whether you’re working on a shop, job site or in your backyard you’re going to need to clean up after yourself. Unless of course you have an apprentice to do that for you. Even so there’s no need to make his life any harder than it needs to be so good dust extraction is a must have. 

While all mitre saws will come with a dust pipe and dust bag you’d be amazed at how much better some are than others at actually collecting the dust. If you’re working in a shop or have a nice portable shop vac this is always a better option than relying on the bag. 

Laser guides 

Laser guides don’t appeal to everyone, particularly if you’re an old school wood worker who learnt your craft years before they were even offered as an option. However for some they can be really handy, particularly if you’re just starting out. A good laser gives you the confidence that you’re making your cut exactly where you intend to. 

As with dust collection some lasers are better than others. The power of the laser is probably the biggest factor, if the laser just isn’t bright enough then you’ll struggle to see it if you’re working outside on a sunny day or somewhere with bright background light. 

The other less obvious thing to consider is the position of the laser. While some work great when getting fair thin boards, they can be less visible when cutting tall pieces of crown molding.

Blade guards

Blade guards are the most important piece of safety equipment on the saw and you should NEVER use one without it. That being said, poorly designed blade guards can be a real pain. I look for a couple of things when selecting the ideal blade guard. Firstly it should be clear so you can see any marking on the workpiece before you start making the cut. And secondly it should lift in a smooth motion as you drop the saw head and make your cut without snagging. 

Warranty

Who doesn’t like a warranty when buying any kind of electrical goods? It gives that extra peace of mind that you’re guaranteed to get a decent return on your investment. It’s also a great indication of the build quality. If you find a miter saw with a 5 year warranty you can be sure the manufacturer is confident in the robustness and longevity. If not they won’t be in business for very long! 

Conclusion 

Miter saws are a versatile tool which enables woodworkers to carry out complex, precise cuts time after time. With a load of innovative features to improve the ease and speed of your work, saying you time and money. 

Whether you’re looking to cross cut dimensional lumber to length or carry out intricate furniture or cabinetry work, there’s bound to be a miter saw to suit your needs covered in this article. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and it’s helped you choose the best miter saw to suit your specific needs. If you have any questions or feedback on this guide, please don’t hesitate to leave me a message in the comment section below.

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