If you are a woodworker, or you just like to use electric saws for your small projects, then it would be important to know how to choose a miter saw. Miter saws are compulsory to make precise cuts from any angle.
It’s an essential cutting tool if you want to make straight and splinter-less cuts.
Unlike a band saw, a miter saw has a swing arm which oscillates. It is adjustable to move the blade right or left to get an angled cut. It is undoubtedly a needed tool for people with such work, but choosing the right miter saw can sure seem daunting at first.
One needs to understand the key features as well as the extra features that come with paying extra. Deciding whether or not you need the extra features is another point to think of. You can check this guide to know more about how to use your miter saw.
There are many types of Milter Saws:
There are mainly three types of miter saws. Based on your need and project type, you can choose the one that most suits you.
Simple Miter Saws
Simple miter saws are lightweight and therefore easily portable. For projects where you need to take the miter saw outside, this is a good option. These are also the cheapest among the three.
If you only make vertical cuts which don’t need any compound angles, this is a good one. In addition to that, if your cuts are usually at a 2x6s or lower, this is good to go.
Simple miter saws have a blade that runs by a motor. The blade hinges into the surface to make every cut. The simple miter saws used to be very popular back in the days, but these days the production has decreased due to the invention of newer and better models.
Compound Miter Saws
The compound miter saws are similar to simple miter saws, but with slight differences. The blade of the compound miter saw can be inclined at different angles, unlike the simple miter saw. Compound angles can hence be cut, as the compound miter saw can move in two directions.
Consider buying a compound miter saw if you are okay with a little weight and higher rate. If your projects involved working with trimming, framing etc. then you should get this miter saw. Basically, this can widen your range of projects compared to the simple miter saw because of the two directional angle cutting option.
Sliding Compound Miter Saw
If you don’t care about the weight and if the budget is not an issue, you can definitely go for this type of miter saw. It goes well with cutting wide wooden boards. The blade of these miter saws can move backward and forward.
They can also tilt from side to side. They can also swivel in the downside to make cuts. This is the most versatile type of miter saw among the three mentioned.
However, because various parts of this miter saw can move, it can make the cuts less accurate. So if you need smooth and clear-cut finish in your cuts, it will be best to avoid getting this miter saw.
Some Important Things to Consider
There are mainly four things you should consider before choosing a miter saw that best suits your need.
A blade is a compulsory part of a miter saw. The blade controls how deeply you can make cuts. Miter saws generally have blades in 8, 10 and 12 inches sizes. In most cases, a miter saw will include a mid-range blade. This blade should be suitable to cut wood.
The blades can be of many different styles and sizes which allow you to make different types of cuts. Some are also multipurpose blades with which you can cut different sorts of materials.
For example, other than wood, miter saw’s blades can also cut through aluminum and thin steel. The precision depends on the number of teeth in a blade. The higher the number of teeth, the better the finish of the cut.
In case you ‘re interested, here’s how to replace the blade on your miter saw:
This is the most important part of the saw, hence the name. A miter saw differs from a regular saw because it can make angled cuts. When you buy a miter saw, chances are, it will be preset to adjust to different types of angles. The most popular one is the 45 degrees angles as it can make right angle joints.
Some miter saws can only make angles to one side. But most miter saws can make angles both to the left or right, which makes it easier and faster to work with. Based on your project’s need, choose one. It will be wiser to go with the one that can make angles on both sides because of ease and to save time.
Miter saws with the sliding feature are capable of cutting into the wood with more width. These are called the Sliding Compound Miter Saw, as previously mentioned. Based on your need, you may wish to choose a miter saw with either bigger or lesser sliding capacity. For example, if you are working on a fence and need to cut through the posts, you need a big blade with bigger slide capacity.
But for working on something like a table or closet, the sliding option might not be necessary. So based on your need, choose the one that suits you. Keep in mind that this feature will cost you extra.
Some miter saws come with the bevel option. A bevel option gives you the choice to cut two angles at a time. The miter saws with this feature can both tilt and rotate over the saw table. There are two types of bevels in miter saws – single bevel and double bevel. Read about the difference in detail here.
A miter saw with single bevel can only tilt to one side. A double bevel, on the other hand, can tilt right and left. This is helpful when you don’t want to turn the wood to cut in an angle you wish to. For making furniture, this is a good option to have, as complex cuts are essential in furniture making.
Make sure you are ready to spend money if you want this feature. Be sure you go with a name brand, otherwise, you might end up with a miter saw that moves in the wrong way.
Look Out For The Extra Features!
Like all other tools available in the market, miter saws also come with added features. Whether or not you are willing to pay more money for these features, are up to you.
One of the accessories that might be suitable for you if you work outside of your home is a stand. Stands are basically folding tables where the miter saw can sit on. There are also some in leg stand style. This is nothing but a folding table with longer extensions.
They also come with different parts such as roller carriers, adjustable legs, and clamps to support the miter saw better. If you work on outside projects with excessive levels of cuts to work on, this is a good accessory to buy.
If you work in congested places, the dust accumulated from sawing can get too much. This will be harmful as you might inhale them. Over time, it will become an issue for your health. To stop this from happening, consider getting a miter saw with a dust blower option.
A dust blower or dust vacuum is a machine that is assigned with the miter saw. This machine can help to clear out and lessen the dust from your work area.
But keep in mind that there are newer models of miter saws in the market which can manage the dust even without the added machine. However, for working on different sites, it’s better to invest on one to be on the safe side.
Some miter saws come with some other features, which are merely marketing gimmicks to get more money from you. It’s better to steer clear of these features unless you see something you are sure that you will really need.
For example, some miter saws have inbuilt lights for working in the dark or congested areas with bad lighting. Some even have laser lights in them which show a straight line where the blade will cut.
Newer models of miter saws often come with variable speed dials. This is best if you want to set the speed to cut through a different material.
Miter saws are a tool that comes extremely handy in making cuts through different materials.
Based on the project and material, as well as keeping your budget and needs in your mind, choose the one that best suits you.
Since now you know how to choose a miter saw, make sure you check my top picks for 2018, where I have also included a short review for every product.