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If you tackle a lot of carpentry or woodworking projects, a miter saw is a worthwhile investment. These power saws provide perfect crosscuts—cutting straight across the wood’s width—but where they really shine is with miter or bevel cuts.
A miter cut slices across the width of your board at an angle, creating something like an off-centered point. This is useful for projects such as building picture frames. The sawblade is at a straight 90-degree angle to the board during these cuts. By contrast, the sawblade is at an angle for a beveled cut, which leaves an angled "undercut" edge across the end of the board. Both types of cuts are frequently used when cutting baseboards, crown molding, cabinets, furniture, or decorative trim.
Your specific needs determine the right miter saw for you, so we did the research and assembled this list of the best miter saws for various purposes. Here are our favorites.
Best Overall: TACKLIFE EMS01A 10-Inch Compound Sliding Miter Saw
Crosscuts, bevel cuts, miter cuts, working on boards as big as 13 inches across, slicing through wood, plastic, and metal: the TACKLIFE 10-Inch Compound Sliding Miter Saw does all of these things and more.
This feature-packed saw comes with three 10-inch blades—one with 48 teeth for multipurpose use and two with 40 teeth for cutting wood and plastic—a laser guide for the utmost in accuracy, an extendable table for stability when cutting longer materials, an iron blade shield for safety, and a chip bag plus dust port to keep sawdust to a minimum.
The saw has a 15-amp motor and two speeds: 4,500 rpm for speed, or 3,200 rpm for precision. You can adjust the bevel angle from 0 to 45 degrees, and the miter angle from -45 degrees to 45 degrees. This is a great saw if you are cutting wood for crown molding or baseboards, or make furniture with beveled or angled trim.
Best Budget: Metabo HPT C10FCGS 10-Inch Compound Miter Saw
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 for Crafters: Zona Olsen Saw Miter Box
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.
Best Cordless: DEWALT Flexvolt Cordless 12-Inch Miter Saw Kit
Most miter saws require a consistent power source to work reliably for long periods of time. While this is no problem for garage or backyard projects, it can be a challenge if you are on a worksite far away from an outlet. That is where a cordless miter saw has the advantage. With a large ion-lithium battery, the DEWALT Flexvolt 120-Volt MAX will work in places average miter saws won’t.
The dual compound sliding saw is compact for extra portability. Powered by two 60-volt battery packs, the 12-inch blade will last up to 289 crosscuts on a single charge. Beyond the portability, the saw also includes standard miter settings up to 50 degrees to the left and 60 degrees to the right, and an adjustable back-and-forth slide for wider woods. For longer projects, you can also plug the saw into an outlet with the supplied cord.
Best 12-Inch: DEWALT DWS779 12-Inch Sliding Compound Miter Saw
If you need to cut larger boards, including 4x4s 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.
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. 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 for Alternative Materials: Evolution R255SMS+ 10-Inch Multi-Material Sliding Miter Saw
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 Trim/Baseboards: Milwaukee 12-Inch Dual-Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw
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.
The TACKLIFE 10-Inch Sliding Compound Miter Saw (view at Amazon) can handle just about anything you throw at it, including crosscuts, bevels, miters, large boards, wood, plastic, and even metal. 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 (view at Amazon) 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.
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 8-inch 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.
- Crosscuts are the most basic type of cut; you simply cut straight across the board against the grain of the wood. This cut can be made by just about any type of saw.
- Miter cuts are angled cuts at the end of a board or piece of trim. As an example, look at the trim around your home’s front door; the spot where the trim pieces join together at the upper two corners of the door are miter cuts.
- Beveled cuts are an undercut angle cut. One common example in your home is the spot where two pieces of baseboard meet at a corner.
- 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, so it’s easy to think that they are basically the same tool. But while it’s true that both can be used to make crosscuts—a straight cut across the grain of the wood—there are significant differences between these two power tools.
Circular saws are very useful for straight cuts both across the grain (crosscut) and 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. Circular saws are the best choice for framing or other construction projects. With the right blade, they can also cut masonry, concrete, and even metal.
Miter saws, on the other hand, are best used for angled cuts, including miters and bevels or a combination of those two cuts, although they can also make crosscuts. They aren’t so useful for ripcuts, however, nor are they often used to cut metal or masonry. 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.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written 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.