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Miter saws provide smooth crosscuts—cutting straight across the wood’s grain—but where they really shine is in creating perfect miter or bevel cuts. Andrew Wilson, home improvement contractor and founder of Contractor Advisorly, notes, "Miter saws are perfect for making straight cuts with an angled edge. You can easily shift the saw to the left or right to achieve your desired angle. These saws are also stable enough for easy crosscuts, even through thick wood. They are commonly used by contractors and homeowners alike when doing home improvement projects like installing crown molding and door frames."
We evaluated miter saws based on accuracy, reliability, durable construction, versatility, and overall performance. Our top choice is the Bosch GCM12SD 12-inch Axial Glide Miter Saw, which excels in all areas.
Here are our favorite miter saws.
Best Overall: Bosch GCM12SD 12-inch Axial Glide Miter Saw
Handles large boards but still reasonably compact in size
Bevels and miters in both directions
Highly efficient dust collection system
Our top choice, the Bosch GCM12SD 12-inch Axial Glide Miter Saw, has a lot to offer. This 12-inch miter saw has a patented glide system that lets you adjust the tool to cut much larger materials than most other miter saws—up to 14 inches horizontally and 6-1/2 inches vertically. At a 45-degree angle, you can crosscut a 10-inch board in one pass. That means you can tackle large boards without having to stop and flip the board over to reach the other side, a handy feature when you're busy. But that's not all this Bosch saw has to offer. This highly accurate, powerful, and reliable miter saw is sure to become a mainstay of your woodworking tool collection.
Pre-aligned square-lock fences keep the saw precise, while the clear lower blade guard lets you see exactly where you're cutting the whole time you're working. The markings for bevel and miter settings are very easy to read, and there are presets for the most common angles. You can use this saw for miter cuts up to 52 degrees to the left and 60 degrees to the right. It can cut bevels up to 45 degrees in either direction. All adjustments are very easy to make, and the saw even has an ergonomic, comfort-grip handle that is easily grasped whether you are left-handed or right-handed.
With the highly efficient dust-collection system, which can attach to the included dust bag or to your shop vac, you won't have to deal with too much sawdust and debris. And should you want to increase the versatility of the tool even further, Bosch sells an optional laser guide for this miter saw.
Best 12-Inch: DEWALT DWS779 12-Inch Sliding Compound Miter Saw
Handles larger boards than most
Bevels to the left and the right
Very efficient dust collection system
If you need to cut larger boards, including 4 x 4s or lumber up to 14 inches wide precisely and quickly, you’ll appreciate the size and power of the DEWALT 12-Inch Sliding Compound Miter Saw. This versatile tool has sliding guiderails to allow for larger or longer materials—with a special setup included in the instruction manual, you can even crosscut boards up to 16 inches across, which is especially handy if you are building cabinets, a deck or fence, or preparing lumber for hardwood flooring. But it's not only good for working on large boards; you can of course also use the tool to precisely cut baseboards, moldings, and other trim pieces.
The saw has a 15-amp motor with a no-load speed of 3,800 rpm. It adjusts for miter cuts up to 60 degrees to the right and 50 degrees to the left, and bevel cuts from 48 degrees to the right or left. Ten positive stops on the stainless steel detent plate make quick work of precisely cutting at common measurements. And you won’t need to worry about excessive sawdust; the highly efficient dust collection system captures over 75 percent of dust, although you still need to wear protective eyewear as with any power saw.
Best 10-Inch: Makita LS1040 10-Inch Compound Miter Saw
Accurate and sturdily built
Only tilts to the left for bevels
This 10-inch, 15-amp compound miter saw easily handles crosscuts, rip cuts, bevels, and miters with a direct-drive motor that won't slip or bog down, even when the going gets tough. Electronic speed control keeps the pace steady even at full load; this saw has a maximum of 4,600 rpm. This is a great tool for many larger woodworking projects, including building decks, cabinets, or framing. It's a well-built, sturdy and accurate miter saw that gets the job done without a lot of bells and whistles.
At 90 degrees, the saw can cut 5.1 inches across, and at a 45-degree angle, the maximum cut is 3.6 inches. The maximum cutting thickness is 4 inches, so you can cut a 4x4 in one pass with this saw, but larger lumber will require two passes. The saw only adjusts to the left for bevel cuts up to 45 degrees. Miter cuts to the left are a maximum of 45 degrees, and 52 degrees to the right. At 24 pounds, it's reasonably lightweight, which is a plus if you expect to take it to jobsites rather than leave it in your workshop.
Best Budget: Metabo HPT C10FCGS 10-Inch Compound Miter Saw
Good for basic DIY projects
Only tilts to the left for bevels
No extension rails
If you only expect to need a miter saw occasionally, or for one big project redoing flooring, making a piece of furniture, or cutting trim, there’s no need to spend a lot of money on your miter saw. Instead, consider the Metabo HPT—that’s the new name for Hitachi—C10FCGS 10-Inch Compound Miter Saw.
While there’s no sliding rails for cutting wider materials—the maximum width is 5-21/32 inches—nor a laser for extra guidance, you do get a saw with a 15-amp motor, a no-load top speed of 5,000 rpm, a bevel range of 0-45 degrees to the left, and a miter range of 0-52 degrees to the left or right. That’s pretty much all you need to tackle most DIY projects around your home or workshop.
The miter saw includes a dust bag, 10-inch 24-tooth saw blade, and vise assembly.
Best Cordless: Milwaukee M18 FUEL 10-Inch Dual Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw 2734-20
Bevels to the left and right
Very long battery run time
If you want a miter saw that doesn't require a nearby electrical outlet, but you are concerned that means sacrificing power and performance, then the Milwaukee M18 FUEL 10-Inch Dual Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw is the answer. When powered by Milwaukee's 18-volt REDLITHIUM HD9.0 battery pack, (sold separately) the saw can deliver up to 400 cuts per charge, meaning you'll get nearly all-day performance before needing to recharge the battery. Plus, the brushless motor means a long life with more power.
This 10-inch miter saw has plenty of capacity for a variety of cuts. Lay a 2x12 board flat, and the saw can cut across it in one pass. It can do the same for a 2x8 board at a 45-degree angle. This saw has a whopping 5-3/4-inch vertical capacity, which is better than even most corded miter saws. You can bevel up to 48 degrees to either the left or the right, and cut miters up to 50 degrees to the left and 60 degrees to the right. The maximum speed of the tool is 4,000 rpm. All in all, this cordless miter saw performs as reliably and powerfully as its corded counterparts.
Best 7-1/4-Inch: Craftsman CMCS714M1 Cordless 7-¼-Inch Miter Saw
Bevels both left and right
Long battery life
LED cut line positioning system
Dust collection system isn't the best
Most miter saws are corded tools with larger blades, but if you want to free yourself from a power cord tether, and plan on using the saw for smaller materials, such as baseboards, crown moldings, crafts, or similar projects, then the Craftsman CMCS714M1 Cordless 7-¼-Inch Miter Saw provides plenty of power and versatility in a more compact package. This sliding miter saw runs off a 20-volt battery and is capable of making an 8-inch crosscut when set at 90 degrees and a 5-1/2-inch crosscut at 45 degrees. It has a LED cut line positioning system for added accuracy, as well.
You can cut bevels up to 47 degrees to either the left or the right, and miters up to 45 degrees in either direction. The tool can cut up to 8 inches deep when used at 90 degrees and up to 5.5 inches at a 45-degree angle. According to the manufacturer, this saw can make up to 585 cuts in 3-1/4-inch MDF baseboard on a single charge. It's top speed is 3,800 rpm. The kit includes the battery and charger.
Best for Trim/Baseboards: Milwaukee 12-Inch Dual-Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw
Very precise controls for bevel and miter cuts
Handles long boards and trim pieces
Bevels to the left and right
Cutting trim, baseboards, siding, and other panels requires a dual bevel for clean cuts on either end of the piece. Since baseboards and other trim are typically long pieces of wood, a sliding dual-bevel blade is the best choice if you'll be taking on such a project. The Milwaukee 12-Inch Dual-Bevel Sliding Saw comes with many handy features in addition to the dual-bevel blade to make cutting trim, baseboards, and similar items quick and painless.
The carbide blade is 12 inches in diameter for wider cuts. When even more width is required, the blade moves back-and-forth on the sliding arm. With a dual-bevel cutter capable of up to 48-degree angles in either direction, this blade is also a perfect choice for people wanting more drastic bevels in their wood cuts. The 15-amp motor is one of the most powerful drivers on the market, capable of up to 3.3 horsepower to chew through denser materials.
Best for Alternative Materials: Evolution R255SMS+ 10-Inch Multi-Material Sliding Miter Saw
One blade handles most materials, including metal
Only tilts to the left for bevels
Most miter saws require a change of blades if you plan on cutting materials other than wood. Not so with the Evolution Power Tools 10-Inch Multi-Material Sliding Miter Saw, however. Its premium Japanese tungsten-carbide-tipped blade easily handles a wide range of materials, including hardwood, reclaimed wood with nails, mild steel, rebar, aluminum, copper, electrical conduit, plastic pipes, plexiglass, rubber, and composites.
The saw has a 15-amp motor and no-load top speed of 2,500 rpm. It can crosscut wood up to 11.75 inches wide, and cuts bevels up to 45 degrees and miter cuts up to 50 degrees in either direction. And with the included laser guide, you’ll always know that your cuts are precise. The dust bag keeps sawdust under control for a cleaner workshop.
Best for Crafters: Zona Olsen Saw Miter Box
Good for very detailed, small projects
Can't handle large pieces of molding or other materials
If you build dollhouses, models, picture frames, or other crafts that require detailed work on very small pieces, you probably don’t need a large, powered miter saw. Instead, you’ll find a miter box, such as the one from Olson Saw, to be highly effective for your needs and your budget.
Basically, a miter box is a metal box—this one is aluminum—with slots for positioning a small hand saw at just the right angle for making accurate miter cuts. The box has three 0.14-inch slots: one each for 45, 60, and 90-degree angled cuts. You can cut materials up to 2 inches in width and 7/8 inches in depth.
You’ll also get a wooden-handled fine kerf universal saw with a 6-1/2-inch, 42-teeth-per-inch blade. The saw easily cuts through balsa and other soft woods, plastic, copper, and brass, leaving behind smooth edges without any ragged spots requiring further sanding.
The Olson Saw Miter Box is the perfect addition to any crafter’s toolkit, or as a useful tool if you want to cut a few pieces of wood or other materials to use as trim on furniture or around the house.
The Bosch GCM12SD 12-inch Axial Glide Miter Saw can handle just about anything you throw at it, including crosscuts, bevels, miters, and large boards, with high precise, ease of use, and reliability. That, plus its impeccable performance and many great features win it our top spot. But if you’re just looking for a basic miter saw for occasional use, you’ll find that the Metabo HPT C10FCGS 10-Inch Compound Miter Saw is suited to most DIY projects and is very reasonably priced.
What to Look for in a Miter Saw
When choosing a miter saw, you’ll have two choices for the power source: batteries or AC current.
The majority of miter saws are corded power tools that run off your household AC current. The common motor sizes are 10-amp, 12-amp, and 15-amp. But while the lower powers are sufficient for light, occasional use, if you expect to rely on your miter saw for frequent use, cuts through large or thick pieces of wood, or extended cutting sessions, you’ll likely be happiest with a 15-amp motor.
Cordless miter saws generally run on a 20-volt battery. The advantage of these tools is that you can take them anywhere without needing to worry about an electrical outlet or a cord getting in your way. On the downside, they are not as powerful as their corded counterparts and you’ll need to keep track of the battery’s available life to avoid running out of juice midway through a project.
In terms of safety, Andrew Wilson, home improvement contractor and founder of Contractor Advisorly, adds “One of the biggest dangers with corded tools is the cord itself. Along with potentially being a tripping hazard, it can also be an electrical hazard if the cord is damaged in any way. You want to check that there are no cracks or fraying in the cord before each use.”
Whether corded or cordless, most miter saws reach a maximum unloaded speed of somewhere between 2,500 rpm and 5,000 rpm.
There are several different types of miter saws, based on the cuts and angles they can achieve. As the name suggests, all miter saws are capable of a miter cut, which is an angled cut across the width of the board, and a crosscut, which is a simple cut straight across the board, but some miter saws go beyond that to include bevel cuts, which are angled cuts that create something like an “overhang” at the cut edge. The five basic types of power miter saw are:
- Basic: This saw cuts miters and crosscuts, but does not tilt for beveled cuts.
- Single Compound: The simplest compound miter saws cut miters, crosscuts, and tilt to the left for bevel cuts. The one-way tilt means that you’ll need to turn the board over to create a bevel from the other direction.
- Dual Compound: Like a single compound miter saw, this tool cuts miters, crosscuts, and bevels, but can tilt in both directions, making it a much more convenient choice if you cut a lot of bevels.
- Compound Sliding: These single compound miter saws have extended rails so you can cut longer boards.
- Dual Compound Sliding: The most versatile choice, these miter saws are capable of crosscuts, miter cuts, bevel cuts from either direction even on longer boards.
The two most common sizes of miter saw blades are 10 inch and 12 inch, although there are also saws with smaller blades for detailed work.
If you only expect to use your miter saw for cutting trim or siding, and don’t plan on cutting anything more than an inch thick or 6 inches wide, a 10-inch miter saw should be sufficient. But if you need to cut larger boards, or just want more versatility, a 12-inch miter saw is the better choice.
What is a miter saw used for?
While miter saws can cut straight across a piece of wood, their main use is in cutting wood at various angles, which comes in handy when making furniture or picture frames, cutting various types of trim, constructing cabinets, or trimming flooring. There are four basic cuts you can make with a miter saw: crosscut, miter cuts, beveled cuts, and compound cuts.
Crosscuts are the most basic type of cut; you simply cut straight across the board against the grain of the wood. Miter cuts are angled cuts at the end of a board or piece of trim, like where the trim meets at the upper two corners of a door. Beveled cuts are an undercut angle cuts, like where two baseboards meet together in a corner. Lastly, compound cuts combine both a bevel and a miter. These cuts are often used on crown molding to achieve perfect joinings at corners.
What's the difference between a circular saw and a miter saw?
At first glance, miter saws and circular saws look rather similar and can be used to make crosscuts. However, there are significant differences between the two.
Unlike miter saws, circular saws are also useful for straight cuts with the grain (rip cut). They are an excellent choice when you need to cut a large piece of plywood down to size or perform other basic cutting activities. They are generally used on framing and other construction projects and can cut masonry, concrete, and even metal.
Meanwhile, miter saws are best used for angled cuts, including miters, bevels, and compounds. Miter saws are the best choice if you need to cut a lot of angles; for example, when cutting baseboards, crown molding, trim for cabinets, or when building furniture.
How do you change the blade on a miter saw?
If your miter saw blade becomes dull, it’s time for a change. The process is not difficult, and should only take a few minutes. While the specifics can vary from brand to brand, the following guidelines are fairly common to most miter saws:
- First, unplug your miter saw or remove its battery.
- Loosen the screw holding the plastic blade guard in place, and lift the guard out of the way.
- Press the spindle lock to keep the blade from moving while you work. The spindle lock will be on the saw housing, either at the front or the back depending on the brand. Depress the spindle lock so it remains down.
- With an Allen wrench, turn the bolt that holds the blade in place in a clockwise direction.
- Remove the outer washer and the bolt. If there is an inner washer, leave it in place.
- Carefully remove the old blade.
- Lubricate the inner and outer washers with a drop of machine oil.
- Place the new blade into position with the teeth facing down.
- Put the outer washer back into place and tighten with your fingers.
- Screw the bolt back into place with your Allen wrench, turning in a counterclockwise direction until the blade is secure.
- Wipe away any excess oil from the blade.
- Lower the blade guard into place and tighten its screw.
How long do miter saws last?
How long your miter saw will last will largely depend on how frequently you use it. If you use it almost every day on large projects, then you may only get a few months out of your miter saw. However, if you only use it from time to time, it can last a lot longer, usually years at a time. No matter how often you use it, you can also increase its lifespan by properly cleaning and maintaining it after use.
Can you cut metal with a miter saw?
In short, yes. You can cut metal with a miter saw, however, you must change its blade to a metal-cutting blade. Miter saws usually have a standard blade that is meant to cut wood, not metal.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article is edited and updated by Michelle Ullman, the tool expert for The Spruce. She has extensive experience not only in writing about all things related to the home, but also in carrying out various DIY projects, including landscaping, painting, flooring, wallpapering, furniture makeovers, and simple repairs. For this roundup, she considered dozens of miter saws, evaluating each for basic features, extras, and customer feedback, as well as input from Andrew Wilson, home improvement contractor and founder of Contractor Advisorly.