Last updated on March 10th, 2021 at 01:29 pm
A compound miter saw is a crosscutting tool framers, finish carpenters, furniture makers, and homeowners engaging in DIY woodworking projects make use of for making crosscuts and miters.
You might have other power saws such as a circular saw or even a table saw in your workshop, but these cannot replace the compound miter saw.
It is by far, the best tool you can use both in and off the workshop for crosscutting materials and making perfect miters.
If you frame homes for a living, build furniture, install trim like base boards and crown mouldings, or even if you’re homeowner who loves engaging in DIY woodworking projects at home, then you probably already have one at your disposal.
On the other hand, if you don’t already have one or if you’re planning to replace or upgrade the one you already have, then continue reading as we’ve put together a list of the 10 best compound miter saw and a guide on how you can choose the right one for your project.
Before you read on though, here are our top 3 picks for handling any woodworking project you have at hand.
Our Top Picks
The mechanism of a compound miter saw consists of a mounted circulars saw blade suspended above a table and used to create quick and accurate crosscuts or trimming of a stationary work piece by pulling the circular saw blade down slow and steadily into the work piece, allowing the blade to slice through it just like a hot knife slices through butter.
It is called a compound miter saw because the base of the saw or the table can be rotated both left and right to allow the saw to cut at different angles or miters, other than 90.
Also the saw head and blade itself can be bevelled in either direction depending on the type of saw, so that you can make bevel cuts with it.
Some call it a chop saw, but chop saws are quite different from compound miter saws. Chop saws are mainly for cutting metal and cannot be bevelled left and right.
Out of all the many brands and types of compound miter saws out there today, we’ve reviewed 10 of the best ones in this article.
Read on to find the best one for your projects.
Here Are The Best Compound Miter Saw Reviews Of 2021
1. Dewalt DWS780 12-inch Double Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw Review | Editor’s Pick
When it comes to designing and manufacturing woodworking tools, Dewalt has proven time and again that they are capable of coming up with some of the best ones. And after testing this Dewalt DWS780 dual bevel compound miter saw, we can say without mincing words, that it’s certainly one of their best.
It’s very obvious that Dewalt put a lot of thought into designing this saw for optimal use. The saw is a crosscutting beast and very reliable just like the DWS718 compound miter saw, but far better.
Although it takes up some space, it gets the job done in a quick, clean and neat fashion. There are many improvements on this miter saw compared to previous versions of the Dewalt miter saw.
Both the power cord and the dust tube now moves along with the dual slides, which makes it easier to use.
The power cord no longer hangs down from the motor, where it normally cause a lot of mess when you are cutting extreme angles with the saw.
Perhaps, the most useful feature of this compound miter saw is the new XPS cutline system. It lights the blades from both sides to casts a shadow of the blade on exactly where the cut will take place.
So, there’s no guessing. You know the exact place your blade is going to shop off. It is very useful and far better than a laser which you may have to calibrate frequently.
It’s also very useful for those carrying out decorative trimming work. The XPS LED system makes it easy for you to set the angle when you only know the line you want to cut.
The stops that come with it are pre-aligned and they’re very accurate. You can check just to be sure using a digital protractor.
The major downside to this tool is the mediocre dust collection system. It’s also slightly heavy.
However, with a rolling miter saw stand, you can get it wherever you want. Apart from that, everything else about the DWS780 compound miter saw is in tip-top condition.
2. Festool Kapex KS 120 Sliding Compound Miter Saw – Best 10 Inch
As of the time of writing this review, the Festool Kapex is the most expensive compound miter saw you can ever get for your projects.
It’s like the Rolls-Royce of miter saws.
It surpasses every other miter saw in terms of price. But why is it so expensive? 3 reasons. Accuracy, easy angle adjustments and the best dust extraction you can ever find in any miter saw.
To me, those are the main reasons why the Festool Kapex eclipses the rest in terms of price.
The Festool Kapex is also very compact when compared to other miter saws. Just like the Bosch gliding saw and the Delta Cruzer saw with robotic arms, you can sit the Kapex against the wall of your shop, saving almost 2 feet of space for you.
It’s so compact because Festool incooperates a rail forward design in the Kapex, where the rails of the saw are at the front of the saw instead of the back of the saw.
Many other miter saws have rails that protrudes out of the back of the saw, consuming more shop space which may be limited.
But with the Festool Kapex 120, you save that extra space to create more room for you to work.
Making bevel and miter adjustments is very easy with the Kapex as you can make micro adjustments to the bevel angle using a rotary knob at the front of the saw.
Bevel scale is very large and the the pointers are very fine, making it very easy for you to set up bevel angles to make your cut.
The saw comes equipped with dual lasers which shows you the precise kerf of the cut, helping align the saw and stock and make your cut accurately.
With a dust extraction of 91 percent, the Festool Kapex ensures you work in a healthy and comfortable environment. No other miter saw is as efficient in dust collection as the Festool Kapex.
What I like about it
The accuracy, the ease of adjustments and the dust extraction efficiency are the most lovable features of the Festool Kapex 120.
I’m sure if you get the saw, you’ll fall in love with these features tool. Everything about the Festool Kapex is made in a way so that you can align your stock and complete your cuts as quickly as possible.
This is what makes the Kapex stand out among other miter saws.
Where it can be improved
In terms of cons, there’s very little not to like about the Festool apart from the high price tag it has.
There have also been complains about the quality of the motor that comes with it. Apart from that, the Festool Kapex is every carpenter or woodworker’s dream miter saw.
3. Bosch GCM12SD Double Bevel Gliding Compound Miter Saw | Best Workshop Saw
The Bosch GCM12SD double bevel gliding compound miter saw is one saw out of many that will really make your dreams come true in terms of its quality.
One important feature of this saw that makes it stand out is the axial glide system. The axial glide system does not use the traditional rail setup of other sliding meter saws which can get messed up and usually requires maintenance to keep working perfectly.
Instead, it makes use of a kind of robotic gliding arm that makes it possible to glide the saw to and fro through cuts effortlessly
This makes it possible to sit the saw just against the wall of your shop, helping you save an extra 12” of space behind the saw that could have been occupied with the rails of a traditional sliding miter saw. If you want to use it in a very tight garage, then you will find this feature very useful
The setup of this saw is also very easy and intuitive. It requires only minor alignments out of the box.
It’s equipped with quick-release square lock fences which come aligned out of the box at 90 degrees to the saw’s table, and requires little or no adjustments.
The fences make use of an easy lock and unlock feature which makes it easy to slide the fence perfectly into position for easy and accurate alignment of the work piece.
The saw comes with a 60 tooth Bosh carbide blade which cuts very fast and smooth for a 60 tooth blade.
This blade might not be adequate or may not provide the cut quality and smoothness required by those carrying out cabinet or furniture work, but it’s still very smooth and you won’t have any problems at all with it if you’re into framing and deck building.
Furthermore, if you desire more quality in the cuts, then you can purchase 96 tooth Freud or Forest blade which will give you that extra smoothness you desire.
The downside to the Bosch gliding compound miter saw is the lack of laser lighting to guide your cuts.
But you can actually do without the laser if you know what you’re doing. If you’re cutting all day with the miter saw, the dust bag will not also work for you. Unless you remove it and hook the dust port to a shop vac.
If you going to use this miter saw then you can do well to connect a vacuum for better dust collection. The saw is also fairly big and heavy, making it an excellent choice as a workshop miter saw rather than a jobsite saw.
Overall, this saw is a top notch saw and will get the job done quickly and with great accuracy.
4. Dewalt DHS790AT2 Flexvolt Compound Miter Saw | Best Jobsite Saw
It is both corded and cordless. This is perhaps the greatest feature of the DHS790AT2 flexvolt compound miter saw. It is designed to work on both a 120 Volts A.C power supply, and it can also work on 2 x 60 volts battaries.
Unlike other miter saws, this one features a 120 Volts brushless motor. This is very good because a brushless motor is easier to maintain and it lasts longer than brushed motors.
The DHS790AT2 comes with tall sliding fences. This is very useful because they are able to support crown moldings up to 7-1/2 inch and base moldings up to 6-3/4” placed vertically against the tall fences
Cut line blade positioning system that casts a shadow of the blade on the material, showing the exact width of the blade and where the blade will pass through when the cut is made.
The miter detent plate has 11 detents with 60 and 50 degrees to the right and left respectively.
The 60V flexvolt batteries can also power your normal 20V max tools such as your dewalt drills and the rest tools you have that operate on 20V. The 60 volt batteries changes to 20 volts automatically immediately they are plugged into the 20V tools. I don’t know how they did it, but I think it’s very cool.
Who is it for?
The DeWalt DHS790AT2 is the best miter saw I have seen, but it’s more of a work-site saw. If you’re just a hobbyist, who needs a miter saw for little home renovations, then this one is just an overkill for you.
Though you can still get it if you’re looking for flexibility and quality. The freedom to choose between cordless and corded, and to use your miter saw anywhere without worrying about being limited by power, or the thought of dragging cables around. You can use the DHS790AT2 in the middle of nowhere.
While it is too much for hobbyist, it is the perfect miter saw for professional craftsmen looking for total control of their power tool.
What I like about it
I like a lot of things about this miter saw. First of all, when you’re on the work-site with this saw, you’re really appreciate the cordless feature. Just get it on a rolling miter saw stand, then you can get your miter saw around the work-site. You have it where you want it. You’re never limited by cords dragging along with you.
Secondly, the saw performs the same way both in cordless and corded modes. To be frank, the first time I heard about this saw, I thought that the batteries cannot last long in the cordless mode. I thought it would be powerless and it will require frequent charging. But that’s not the case with the DHS790AT2 compound miter saw.
The fexvolt batteries are just fantastic. You can actually work all day with this tool without the batteries running down. If you’re worried that the batteries will run down because of the volume of your work, then you can get an extra set of batteries just in case.
The precision is another thing I also like about it. It is very accurate right out of the box. You don’t have to make any adjustment to it. Just set it up and start working.
Where it can be improved
The shadow of the blade that is usually casted on the material to show the precise position where the cut will take place usually disappears in very bright environment. Though, it’s not a big problem, but I think this is something that Dewalt needs to look into.
Apart from that, this saw is the best example of what any compound miter saw should be like. Precision, power, easy adjustments, just name it. Everything is perfect.
5. Delta 26-2250 10 Inch Dual Bevel Sliding Cruzer Saw
If you want something a little more robotic, then you should look no further than Delta’s revolutionary Cruzer saw with robotic arms that helps you glide the saw effortlessly through cuts.
The robotic Cruzer arm is made of military grade aluminum with heavy duty bearings that allow it move with a smooth fluid motion during cuts.
You can even adjust the tension of the robotic cruzer arm to make it glide just the way you want it.
With the Delta Cruzer miter saw, you can make crosscuts up to 16 inches wide and crown moldings up to 6.25 inches wide.
It’s a dual bevel saw that bevels 45 degrees left and right, and miters 50 degrees left and 60 degrees right, with 10 miter detents to help you make quick adjustments at commonly used angles.
Every adjustments is easy to make with an easy to read miter scale. The molded handle and full size trigger makes the saw very ergonomic and easy to handle
If you’re thinking about getting one, the latest model of the Delta Cruzer saw is the Delta 26-2250. Although the Cruzer saws are available in 12 and 10 inch blade versions the the Delta 26-2250 is a 12 inch Cruzer saw, so if you’re going for that, you should know beforehand what you’re getting.
6. Metabo HPT 12 Inch Sliding Compound Miter Saw
Previously known as Hitachi, the Metabo HPT 12 inch sliding compound miter saw is one of the best 12 inch miter saws you can ever get today.
It’s a top of the line saw with all the features you need to make quick accurate cuts repeatedly.
The large sliding fence of the saw allows you to accommodate and cut large crown moldings up to 7-1/2 inches in size vertically.
You can make miter cuts 45 degrees and 57 degrees to the left and right respectively, while you can make bevel cuts 45 degrees to both left and right.
The Metabo HPT 12 inch sliding miter saw is also a very compact saw, because unlike other miter saws which have the rails at the back of the saw, the Metabo HPT has its rails at the side of the saw blade blade, eliminating the need for rear clearance while cutting with it.
Equipped with a powerful 15 amp motor, the Metabo has all the power you need to tackle tough cutting tasks without any difficulty.
It also features a laser marker which helps you align your work and make repeated accurate cuts.
Overall, the Metabo HPT is definitely right there among the best sliding compound miter saws, and I would recommend it to anyone without a moment’s pause.
What I like about it
The saw cuts nice and smooth, slides pretty well, and it’s really well-made. I really like the side rail system Metabo HPT (Hitachi) employed on this saw which really makes it compact.
You can sit it close to the wall like the other compact miter saws like Bosch, Festool Kapex and Delta Cruzer.
Where it can be improved
The dust collection could use some more work. Although, if you’re able to connect it with a good dust hood to your shop vac, you can get it working properly.
7. Makita LS1018 – Dual Bevel Sliding
If you’ve had the Makita LS1013, then you must surely be thrilled with the new Makita LS1018. The Makita LS1018 dual-bevel sliding compound miter saw is an upgraded version of the LS1013 model.
As competitor manufacturers are making major improvements in their tools, Makita also stepped up their game with the LS1018 compound miter saw. The LS1018 is a very good quality saw with a very reasonable cutting capacity.
Compared to the LS1013, this saw is lighter making it suitable as a jobsite saw as it can be easily transported from one position/location to another. The handles in the base of this saw are rounded, large and are very easy on the hands when carrying it around. It just weighs a little over 50lbs.
Equipped with a powerful 13 AMP directed drive motor which delivers up to 4300 RPM of speed, the Makita LS1018 saw cuts through wood like a hot knife through butter.
Also, you’d really have any maintenance problem with it, as direct drive motors require very little maintenance for them to function properly.
The miter table and lock system of the Makita LS1018 works like a dream. All you have to do is set it to the angle you desire and turn the knob anticlockwise, a spring loaded lock pops into place and you have a solid setup right away.
One very important feature that sets this compound miter saw from other miters saws is the characteristic soft start of the blade. The blade does not just start turning at constant speed but it accelerates from rest and quickly into full speed with absolute smoothness. You won’t even notice any recoil on saw as the blade starts to spin.
Another important feature of this saw is that it automatically increases its torque to overcome the resistance of cutting through the material. This means the harder the material, the more torque the saw produces to overcome the resistance.
One other feature you’re absolutely love about the Makita LS1018 compound miter saw is its quietness during operation. Makita were very clever not to use a belt to transfer torque from the motor to the blade. They chose to use a sealed gearbox instead, resulting in a very quiet machine during operation.
Is the cuts produce by this saw smooth? Absolutely. It cuts polish smooth. You just don’t have to force it. Just lower the saw head on the work piece and allow the sharp blade to go through it like a hot knife on butter.
The only downside to the Makita LS1018 compound miter saw is that it doesn’t come with a laser. Not that it’s a necessary feature, but it’s a pretty useful feature especially for newbie woodworkers.
The movement of the rails smooths out after several use, so it’s not really a big problem. As for the shabby dust collector, you can just remove it and connect the machine to your shop vac and you’re good to go.
Overall, the Makita LS1018 dual bevel sliding compound miter saw is up there among the best compound miter saws, and will live up to your expectations if you happen to purchase it, and it will serve you for a very long time.
The unit come with a blade, extension wings for long workpieces, triangular rule, a vise and a wrench for assembly.
8. Dewalt DW715 – Single Bevel
The Dewalt DW715 is a single bevel compound miter saw and it’s equipped with a 12 inch carbide blade, driven by a powerful 15 amp motor which has a no load speed of 4000 rpm. That is why it is capable of cutting through any kind of framings and moldings.
The blade is large enough and thin, and the motor is very powerful to make any kind of cross cuts and bevel cuts.
It is equipped with a miter detent plate that is made up of stainless steel. The miter detent plate has 11 positive stops which makes it very versatile and setting up your miter cuts very easy.
For easy adjustments of the miter plate, it is fitted with a cam lock miter handle plus a miter detent override which makes it easy to set up miter cuts at angles different from the detent angles.
The fences can slide freely and are tall enough to support large crown moldings up to 5-1/4” and base moldings as tall as 6-1/2” vertically against the saw fence.
Bevel cuts can be made from 0 to 48 degrees to the left and the fences slides out of the way easily when making these bevel cuts. You can even slide the fence off totally when making extreme bevel cuts.
Setting the saw for bevel cuts/making these bevel cuts is very quick and easy because there are 4 hardened bevel stops at the angles which are frequently used viz 0, 33.9, 45 and 48 degrees respectively.
The stainless steel miter plate can rotated from 0 to 50 degrees both left and right.
Additionally, the DW715 compound miter saw is portable and lightweight because it’s just 42 lbs in weight. It is also easy to carry around because it comes equipped with built-in handles.
What I like about it
First of all, this miter saw is tough and it is very clear from the way it looks the first time when you unbox it, that it is something that is built to last for a long time.
Secondly, it is very powerful. Never get a miter saw that has a week motor. The motor that comes with the DW715 is a very powerful 15 amp motor that runs at a speed of 4000 RPM. It cuts through any kind of wood with ease. You don’t need to apply any pressure on the blade, just lower the saw head on the wood, and the blade will go through it like hot knife on butter.
The cuts are very clean and the precision is top notch out of the box. You don’t need to do any tweaking or adjustments to get it working properly.
The blades that come with this bad boy are pretty standard and they produce smooth cuts, but if you really want the glass smooth cuts, then swapping the blades with an 80 tooth Freud blade will do the magic.
Overall, the Dewalt DW715 is the perfect tool for a hobbyist/DIYer who’s looking for a good miter saw that will help him to become more productive and effective in his everyday woodworking tasks. The saw is complete. It’s got a good and powerful motor, it’s got the precision to go with the power, it is tough and sturdy and will stand the test of time, it also user friendly.
I think all this is what makes a good miter saw. So, if you’re a hobbist or a DIYer, and you are in the market shopping for a not-just-any single bevel compound miter saw, this is your best bet.
Where it can be improved
Even though the saw works so well, the dust collection system is not something to rely on. More than 70% of dust still spills on the grand. Meaning the dust bag that comes with it is kind of useless. However, if you happen to have a shop vac, just hook it to the dust collector, and that will do the trick.
The machine is relatively low price considering all the wonderful features and the quality it boasts, so I don’t expect everything to be perfect.
9. Metabo HPT C10FCH2S 10 inch Single Bevel Miter saw
The price tag of the Metabo HPT C10FCH2S single bevel compound miter saw is very enticing, considering it’s quality and performance when compared to other miter saws.
Having a laser guide is not the most important feature of a compound miter saw, yet it’s certainly one of the coolest features any miter saw should possess.
While the Dewalt DW715 has no laser marker, the Metabo HPT C10FCH2S is equipped with a laser marker which you can use to line up your work piece to make easy and accurate crosscuts.
It actually helps a lot having a laser marker, because you don’t have to guess where the cut will take place. All you have to do is take your measurements, mark the position you want to cut on the workpiece, activate the laser and make sure it’s in line with the position you’ve marked on the workpiece. Then you can make your cut knowing fully well that the blade is going directly to where the laser line is.
It is a single bevel compound miter saw, and bevel cuts can be made between 0 and 45 degress to the left of the saw table.
While miter cuts can be made between 0 and 52 degrees, and the saw is very easy to maneuver between these angles to make these cuts. Thanks to the thumb actuated miter stops.
This is not the biggest compound miter saw you can get, but it’s powered by a powerful 15-amp motor which spins a decent TCT 10 ½ inch saw blade at a no-load speed of 5000 rpm to enable it produce perfect clean cuts.
I will not forget to mention the large extended flip fences that comes with the Metabo HPT C10FCH2S compound miter saw. The fences are pretty large which is very good when you’re cutting large work pieces.
What I like about it
All a builder, carpenter or cabinet maker needs is a saw that can really cut squarely and truly. This is not some fancy looking saw, but its precision is really great and the performance is just unbelievable, and that is what I like about it.
Considering the price, one would normally think that this saw will be a piece of crap, but this saw will actually prove you wrong if you think so.
The saw miters well and bevels effortlessly, the fence is great and everything is just set up right out of the box.
Apart from all that, it’s really cheap. It’s the perfect saw for anyone who’s just starting up with woodworking or framing of any kind. You don’t need to break the bank to get it, and you don’t need to be an expert woodworker to use it.
The laser guide is another feature of the C10FCH2S which I find very important and helpful, especially to anyone who’s a newbie in using these kind of tools.
Where it can be improved
The METABO HPT C10FCH2S performs very well, but I think it needs a lot of improvement in some areas which I would like to point out to anyone contemplating on purchasing it.
First of all the metal used for making the body is not really that strong. The saw needs to be handled with care to prevent it from falling. If it falls or any unintentional force is exacted on it, the metal can actually break.
I don’t know the kind of metal Hitachi used for it, but what I know is that the metal is definitely not a strong one. This is where the old saying comes in which states that “you get what you pay for”. The saw is very cheap, so I don’t think you should be expecting it to be made with the best quality of steel material.
However, I think Metabo HPT should find a way to improve it.
Secondly, as common with most cheap compound miter saws, the dust collection of this saw is also useless. Prepare to get your shop messed up with dust if you don’t have a shop vac you can hook to the dust port.
Apart from those two downsides, the Metabo HPT C10FCH2S is miter saw rich in features and performance and it’s definitely a saw I would recommend to anyone who is in need of a cheap miter saw that performs excellently.
10. Makita LS1040 – Single Bevel
I don’t think this review will be complete without talking about the Makita LS1040 single bevel miter saw.
Among the single bevel miter saws, Makita actually made theirs stand out due to its beautiful and stylish design. Well, that is that about design, let me focus on the features that really makes this Makita miter saw stand out.
One of the features that really led me to favor this miter saw in this review is the direct-drive motor which Makita incorporated into LS1040.
Unlike belt driven motors which my slip or bog down after several uses, the direct drive motors don’t have such issues. They’re more efficient and energy saving than belt driven motors.
A direct drive motor ensures that constant power is transferred directly to the saw. You also don’t have to worry about belts wearing down and having to replace them. A direct drive motor eliminates all of that. The motor is a 15 amp motor and it spins the blade at a speed of 4600 rpm.
I may have digress a little talking about direct drive motors, but I did that on purpose so that you’ll know what you’re getting in case you decide to opt for the Makita LS1040.
Miter cuts are very easy to make with the LS1040 single bevel compound miter saw because it has 9 positive miter stops at the commonly used miter angles such as the 15, 22.5, 30 and 45 degrees both left and right.
With a dual port compound pivot arm, you can also make bevel cuts easily from 0 to 45 degrees to the left.
The saw weighs just 27.3 lbs. This lightweight design ensures portability and makes it easy to move it around the workshop or jobsite, as the case may be.
Also included is a fluorescent light which works independently of the saw to illuminate the work surface ensuring that you don’t make mistakes when lining up your work piece.
What I like about it
I really like the portability of this saw. It’s so lightweight, it’s the perfect jobsite saw. Larger models, though possess better features which are not absolutely necessary, are far heavier when compared to the LS1040. You may already have a miter saw which is not jobsite friendly. If you’re looking for one that is, then this one is one of the best ones. It’s really lightweight and I love that about it.
The dust collection of this saw is also quite efficient when compared to other saws. Even without a shop vac, it still works good, ensuring your work space is neat and tidy.
Finally, the saw is made of quality material. Considering the low price, it’s not out of place to doubt the quality of the saw. However, once received you’ll discover that it’s clearly built to last.
Overall, the Makita LS1040 is one hell of a saw. It has the power, and the precision and everything to make your cutting job less stressful.
Where it can be improved
Makita said the saw has a soft start, but I’m not sure if they’re talking about this saw, because it starts with a bang and continues making lots of noise.
You’ll need ear protection for this. I think this is something they have to work on. Makita products are usually not as noisy as this one.
This saw is not for fine woodworking or fabrication. The precision is not 100 percent. If Makita can work on the precision, then this would be the perfect single bevel miter saw you can ever get your hands on.
However, the Makita LS1040 is really a workhorse. If you’re involved in jobsite framing or construction work, then this is the perfect lightweight saw you can get your hands on, and it will work wonders for you. It’s tough, rugged, it’s built to last.
How To Choose The Best Compound Miter Saw – Buyer’s Guide
Choosing a compound miter saw today can be quite tricky and confusing, because there’re different brands to choose from. Bosch, Dewalt, Festool, Makita, Festool, you name it.
When you finally jump the huddle of choosing a specific brand, say Bosch, you’re also going to face another huddle.
And that is choosing the type you want. You see, there’re different types of compound miter saws you can choose from.
If you don’t take care to choose carefully, you might choose one that’s too much for the project you have at hand or worse still, you might end up with one that’s inadequate for your project.
So, before you run off to buy a particular one, first learn about your options.
What are these options?
Types of Compound Miter Saws
Before we talk about the different types, note that there’s a difference between a miter saw and a compound miter saw.
A miter saw is just capable of cutting angles up to 45 degrees only by rotating the saw head horizontally. On the other hand, a compound miter saw is capable of making miters or angle cuts and bevel cuts as well.
That means you can rotate the saw head about the base to make miter cuts and you can also bevel the saw head left and right to make compound cuts, especially useful for cutting trim or mouldings.
Now this article is mainly about compound miter saws because ordinary or normal miter saws that are not compound are not that common nowadays.
So, here are the types of compound miter saws. They are 4.
The question now is, which one should you choose among these 4 types?
To hit the nail on the head, the four different types of compound miter saws differ from each other mainly in terms of cut capacity and maneuverability.
Sliding double-bevel compound miter saw
You need the sliding double-bevel compound miter saw if you want a cross-cut saw that offers you a large cutting capacity.
From the name, you can easily tell that you can slide the saw head to-and-fro across the work piece, allowing you to cut much larger work pieces like 4x4s and sidings.
Because it’s double-bevel, you can also bevel the saw head 45 degrees to the right and 45 degrees to the left, allowing you to only maneuver the saw head without lifting the work-piece when making complex compound cuts.
The drawback for sliding compound miter saws is that they occupy a large footprint, due to the sliding rails that protrudes through the back of the saw. When you’re getting one, you need to account for that space and make sure you have enough space to store and operate them
If you don’t have much space in your workshop but you still need a sliding compound miter saw, there’s good news for you though, because not all sliding compound miter saws make use of rails that protrudes through the back for the sliding action. Thus these ones are more compact and ideal for someone with limited work space.
Some of these saws include the Bosch GCM12SD gliding compound miter saw and the Delta Cruzer saw both of which use robotic arms that reduce the overall footprint of the saw.
Another compact sliding compound miter saw you can go for is the Metabo HPT 12 inch sliding compound miter saw which has its rails by the side of the saw head instead of behind it.
Non-sliding compound miter saw
If you think the sliding compound miter saw is too much for the project you have at hand, then you can go for a non-sliding compound miter saw.
With this, the saw head cannot be slid to-and-fro across the work-piece, which means less cutting capacity, but it’s ideal for cutting smaller work-pieces like 2x4s and 2x6s.
One advantage of this saw is that it’s very compact and covers a much smaller footprint in your shop than a sliding compound miter saw, and thus it’s ideal for small shop owners with limited space for tools.
Double-bevel compound miter saw
Talking about compound miter saws, you can either get one that’s double-bevel or one that’s single-bevel.
With a double bevel saw, you can bevel or tilt the saw head 45 degrees to the left and 45 degrees to the right.
This comes in handy especially for woodworkers cutting and installing baseboards and crown mouldings. You can cut really complex angles on your work piece without lifting the piece from the saw table and turning it the other way.
Single-bevel compound miter saw
The saw head or blade of a single-bevel compound miter saw can only be beveled or tilted 45 degrees in one direction, mainly to the left.
This is ideal for making simple cross cuts and not too complicated compound cuts. You’ll find this useful for framing projects and also for simple DIY projects at home.
These are usually non-sliding, compact and thus occupy a small footprint. Ideal for small shop owners.
Now that you know the different types of compound miter saws and who they’re ideal for, you’re in a better position to choose the one best for your projects.
However, there’re still a few things you need to know before making your selection.
Features To Look For In A Compound Miter Saw
Here are a few important features you should look for when buying a compound miter saw.
Look for clearly marked scale
A clearly marked scale allows you to make measurements quickly and ensures your cuts are as accurate as possible.
Without a clearly marked scale, you’ll find it difficult cutting miters and making bevel cuts. So, make sure the compound miter saw you buy has a clearly marked scale.
You shouldn’t need your reading glasses to read the scale.
Make sure the miter angle have solid detent presets
Cutting miters or angles is one of the important reasons of getting a miter saw. After all, it’s called a miter saw, or in simpler terms, angle saw.
Solid detents presets allow you to set the miter table easily and quickly cut the most common miters or angles.
Ensure fence is solid enough to support materials
A very important component or part of a compound miter saw is the fence. It can’t be flimsy. A flimsy or fragile fence will fail and disappoint you.
That’s why I always advice that you go with the well-known brands like Makita, Dewalt, Festool, Bosch, Delta and the rest.
Even if you’re not choosing a saw from a well-known or recognized brand, make sure the saw you choose is backed with a very good warranty, so you can ensure if it fails before you’ve had any use from it you can have it returned and get a better one or get your money back and still get a better one from a well-known brand this time.
Smooth sliding action
What good is a sliding compound miter saw when the sliding action is as rough as a bad ball bearing? I’d say not good at all.
That’s why when you’re getting a sliding compound miter saw, you need to make sure that the sliding action is very smooth…
You don’t need to force the saw to slide through the cut. If you’re forcing it, it’s not worth it. So, if you’re buying offline from your local hardware or tool dealer, make sure you test the saw and check if it slides well.
If you’re buying online, check the reviews to make sure that there’re no complaints regarding how well the saw slides. If there are, move on from that saw and find something better.
Check dust collection and the location of the dust port
Although they don’t produce as much dust as a wood planer does, miter saws produce a fair amount of dust. And unless the dust is properly collected, your shop and the air around you can easily turn into a huge mess.
With proper dust collection however, that can be prevented. So, make sure the compound miter saw you choose have a simple dust port where you can attach your shop vac to get the dust collected.
Check for good blade guide system
Never operate a miter saw without a blade guard. So, if you see a miter saw without a blade guard, run.
Trigger locking feature – single and ambidextrous trigger locks
Ensure the saw you choose have a trigger lock feature. When the miter saw is not in use, you need to engage the trigger lock.
This will ensure that the saw does not turn on when you or someone else accidentally presses the trigger.
Some saws come with a single trigger lock located at the saw handle, while others features an ambidextrous trigger lock so you can engage the trigger lock no matter which hand you’re using to operate the saw.
Accessories – laser guides and lights
Are there any accessories you need to better operate a compound miter saw? If you do, then check if the miter saw you’ve chosen have these accessories.
Some of these accessories include laser and light guides to help you make sure you cut through where you marked on the work piece.
A miter saw light guide also ensures you’re able to see your mark when the environment is a little bit dark.
Blade size is a very important option you need to choose very carefully when buying compound miter saws.
They come in 3 main blade sizes. The 7-1/4 inch blade, 10 inch blade and the 12 inch blade.
If you want a miter saw for woodworking, then you need no concern yourself with a 7-1/4 inch blade miter saw because it has a very small cut capacity.
10 inch blade miter saws are usually ideal for most woodworking projects that don’t require a large cut capacity.
A 10 inch sliding compound miter saw though will give you a large cut capacity.
With a 12 inch blade you have a very large cut capacity, especially when the saw is a sliding 12 inch compound miter saw.
In terms of blade size, keep in mind though that the smaller the blade the cheaper it is. 10 inch blades are far cheaper than 12 inch blades.
That means, if you get a 10 inch blade compound miter saw, you’ll find it cheaper to replace its blade when it gets bad or blunt than when you get a 12 inch blade compound miter saw.
The tooth count of the blade is also very important. Although you can always replace or change the blade that comes with your miter saw.
A higher tooth counts means clean neater cuts good for fine woodworking projects like furniture making and finish carpentry.
Low tooth count blades produce less neat or clean cuts and are ideal for cutting framing lumber and for DIY projects.
Space or footprint
I’ve talked about this before. You need to consider the space you have in your shop before choosing a saw.
Most sliding compound miter saws occupy a large footprint and thus needs more space to operate them.
Non-sliding compound miter saws however, are more compact and occupy a smaller footprint making them ideal for woodworkers with very limited workshop space.
Corded vs cordless or battery operated
This is another important option you have to consider before choosing a compound miter saw. Do you want a corded compound miter saw or a cordless one?
If you’re going to be operating the saw away from your shop most of the time, then you probably need a cordless compound miter saw.
Today there’re miter saws that are both corded and cordless such as the Dewalt Flexvolt, Makita XSL06PT, the Ryobi ONE+ and the Milwaukee M18 fuel compound miter saws, just to name a few.
As a woodworking handyman, you need cordless tools because you may not always have access to electricity.
Having a corded + cordless compound miter saw with you will really go a long way to ensure you’re well-equipped and that you do your job easily.
So ensure you take note of these features when choosing a compound miter saw for your projects, and I’m sure you’ll end up with the right one.