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How to Choose a Miter Saw

How to Choose a Miter Saw
Table of Contents
  1. Types of Miter Saws:
  2. Sizes:
  3. Power
  4. What to Look for When Buying a Miter Saw?
  5. Final Thoughts

Power tools are the crutches of every carpenter or craftsman. Every job needs specific tools, and only with a certain amount of experience, you’ll be able to determine which power tool will get the job done for you.

When we speak about little cuts that need angles in general, then we have entered the area of expertise of a miter saw. A miter saw is an upgrade from a standard chop saw, which will allow you to cut your material in angles so that you’ll be able to create baseboards and frames, etc..

Types of Miter Saws:

Like any other power tool, there are types of miter saws. These types give the market some very needed variation as it allows you, as a user, to be able to choose what you need and what you don’t need in a miter saw.

One thing to keep in mind is that with power tools, bigger is not always better. Bigger can easily be unnecessary and over budget. Hence, there’s no need to buy the biggest miter saw in the market if all you’re going to be making is photo frames.

Therefore, you should always know what kind of material you are going to be working with and consequently choose the suitable miter saw.

1. Single-Bevel Compound Miter Saw

Single bevel miter saws will allow you to turn your saw all the way up to 45° on one side so that you will make your angled cuts. Some might even go all the way up to 60°. 

Now, this is a very affordable miter saw, yet there’s a lot of flipping involved because if you need to get both sides of the material cut, you’ll have to flip it as your saw can angle on only one side.

2. Dual-Bevel Compound Miter Saw

The dual bevel miter saw is an upgrade from the single. It is, of course, a little bit more expensive. However, there’s no flipping required. 

The saw blade itself will go 45° or above; some go all the way up to 60° on both sides. So, you can cut your material, no flipping required

3. Sliding Feature 

The sliding feature adds a lot more length to the blade of your saw, allowing you to play with more prominent material.

It’s 2020, so most single and dual bevel miter saws have sliding features, thus if you are going to work with the bigger boards such as 4X4, then a sliding miter saw will come to your aid.

Sizes:

The sizes here refer to the blade size, and according to the cutting depth of your material, you will choose your suitable saw.

1. 7 and ¼ Inch Blade

Can cut around 2 inches into your material. It’s an extremely compact blade that can be easily stored. Still, it’s not extremely common, as it can only do minor projects.

2. 10 Inch Blade

This blade cuts 3 and ½ inch and is most common for homeowners. It is a middle ground between the small 7 and ¼ inch blade and the 12-inch blade, which is seen by a lot to be way too big.

One additional thing is that most of the time, a 10-inch miter saw blade might very well fit in a table saw and vice versa. That’s definitely a plus if you have a table saw at home then you can switchblades and have more variety for less price.

Important note: table saws might sometimes use ripped blades instead of crosscut blades, so always check the blade type thoroughly before switching back-and-forth between your table saw and your miter saw.

3. 12 Inch Blade

With big projects that require huge boards this will be your guy. However, it is the most massive blade, the most expensive and the rarest. It’s also the one that needs bigger storage. Plus, since it is primarily a costly accessory, it’s maintenance as in sharpening will also be quite expensive.

Power

As the tech era moves forward, you will find that the use of battery-operated devices is overruling corded tools. That’s the case with miter saws you will find battery-operated miter saws in all their varieties in addition to your everyday corded miter saws. 

If you’re a person who is always on the go and you’re just not sure of the presence of a plug where you’ll be, then just go for the battery-operated one. It will be a little bit more expensive, but it will save you a lot of hassle.

Yet, if this is a home/stable workstation and you know that your miter saw will be situated in one place permanently, then save your buck and go for a corded one for a lot less money.

What to Look for When Buying a Miter Saw?

We have now covered the basic essentials of any miter saw on the market. But, some features have the ability to boost the saw up a level or two. These are the features that you might be looking for. You may very well need a miter saw that does a particular thing.

Positive Stops

These are marked grooves that have a locking system that allows you to lock the miter saw at a specific angle. This will allow for cleaner cuts and less effort for the user. They are convenient when you need to work several pieces with the same cut, so you’re just removing one piece, placing the other, and cutting away. No sweat

Laser Guide

This is quite simple. The miter saw will have a laser guide that will be apparent on your piece. You’ll see a line exactly where the cut will be, which is pretty handy.

Side note: always remember that the laser will not be visible in an extremely lit environment, so make sure to keep the lights a little bit dimmed to be able to see the laser beam clearly.

Dust collection system 

This is an absolute lifesaver. Always check for the ports and the practicality of their placement on the miter saw. Attaching a dust collection system will save you a lot of hassle at the end of your project.

Soft start

This determines how fast the blade will be spinning when it starts.

Clearly Marked Scale

This is sort of essential because the main point of you buying a miter saw is making angled cuts. So if the angle scale is not entirely visible and practical, then there’s no point. Always make sure that the scale is perfectly clear to you.

Sturdy Fence Support

No one would ever want to face the disaster of having your material bounce while working on it. That’s why a fence support system is critical. You ought to check for its sturdiness and snugness.

Blade Guard + Trigger locking System

Your own safety is paramount while doing any projects. So always keep your eye open for the blade guard system and the locking system on the miter saw. Make sure that they work in perfect harmony and that you, your hands, and your fingers will be safe at all times.

Tooth count 

You can go for a higher tooth count if you’re going for a clean, sleek look for your project.

However, if that’s not what you’re trying to achieve, then a lower tooth count will be quite sufficient, and it will save you some money.

Available space

A dealbreaker when buying any power tool is the accessible storage place that you can afford for it. If there’s no place for this specific miter saw in your garage, then you cannot buy it. 

Hence, always measure, firsthand, the space that you can allot to your miter saw and then scour the market according to it

Stable/Rolling Stand

Again this relates to whether you’re going to be taking your miter saw to the project or bringing the project to you. Whether you need the stand of your miter, saw to be stable and fixated in your workstation, or you need a rolling stand which you can take with you to the worksite is essential to making your purchase.

Final Thoughts

A miter saw is a very handy tool that allows you to do a multitude of cuts with relative ease. Still, you have to know precisely what you need before you head on to the market because the variety of options that you will see might pull you a little bit off track, and that will cost you. Therefore our advice is to have a checklist, check it all the way down, and take the suitable miter saw back home.

John Graham

My name is John Graham, a 32-year old avid DIY-er. Ever since I was young, my father used to prompt me to help fix things around the house or even building my own cupboards and shelves. That’s why I developed the habit of doing everything on my own. And since this is the only way to reach the unique results I really want, I don’t like depending on any services. With all the projects I’ve worked on, I’ve gained a lot of experience and wanted to gather it all in one place. And that’s where the idea to create “Tool Dizer” dawned on me, and here I am trying to connect with all the DIY enthusiasts out there.

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