Different Types Of Miter Saws Reviewed

Are you thinking about buying a Miter Saw? There is a lot to consider when contemplating this purchase, I would like to say it’s simple but it’s not. The most important consideration is what you want to do with the Miter Saw or better yet, what you want the saw to do for you.

Do you want a sliding or not sliding Miter Saw, do you need a single or double beveled saw? These are just a few questions I hope this article will answer for you so you can make the best choice for your needs right out of the gate.

It’s so much easier to go shopping when you are well informed about what you want and need and not have to depend on a salesperson that doesn’t always have your best interest at heart.

Miter Saw Comparison

What Are The Types Of Miter Saws ?

Miter Saw Happy Man Cutting

Types of Miter Saws

  • Basic Manual Miter Saw—This would be the old-style method that works with a miter box, usually made of wood, that has pre-determined angle cut guides on one side of the box. You would place the board to cut next to the angle guide and using a miter saw, cut down and through the guide slot you have chosen. They are still on the market but very few people use them anymore.
  • Basic Miter Saw—this would be a miter saw that mainly cuts a 90-degree angle only. The head of the saw is stationary and will just move from its up position and you pull it down to make the cut. It’s not complicated but then it doesn’t do much either. It is electric and will have a dust collection bag but that’s about all.
  • Compound Miter Saw—When we talk about a compound miter saw we mean a saw that will have a revolving vertical hinge. This type of head will allow you to tilt the cutter head and blade to make different angle cut by moving the head sideways. You not only cut 90-degree angles but can also cut other angles that your work requires.
  • Sliding or Non-Sliding Miter Saw—With this type of saw, the head of the saw will slide up and down a horizontal track and rails that allows you to cut boards that are from 5-12 inches, in width. With a non-sliding saw, you will be able to cut up to 5-inch-wide boards only.
  • Single Bevel or Double Bevel Miter SawWith a single beveled miter saw, the head of the saw will tilt either to the right or left for a bevel cut. With a double bevel miter saw, the bevel can be cut my tilting the head of the saw in either direction, right or left. The cheaper miter saw is usually a single bevel and it can cut both directions by simply flipping the material you are working with.

Sliding vs Non-Sliding Miter Saw

When first looking at the miter saw you will notice that the blade is perpendicular to the piece of wood you are going to cutand is connected to the arm of the saw that in turn connects to the motor of the saw. The saw supports its own weight and you activate it by pulling down on the handle until the blade meets the wood.

Right away it sounds safer than trying to handle a circular saw! The sliding miter saw will have a set of metal railings that will allow you to move the saw along as you pull it forward and down so you can cut boards with wider widths. Your non-sliding miter saw has a head that is stationary and is activated by pulling it straight down to make a cut and is limited to the width of boards you can cut.

If you are buying a miter saw for simple cutting such as doing crafts, you can get by with a non-sliding mitersaw forever. They will still make precision angle cuts and beveled cuts, you just can’t cut a 12-inch-wide board, it will only handle up to 5 ½ inch wide boards.

Work FeautresSlidingNon-Sliding
Make Compound CutXX
Cut 5” W. BoardXX
Cut 12” W. BoardX
Cut 45, 90 Degree AngleXX
Start Cut at Wide-Board EdgeX
10’” or 12” BladeXX

Miter Saw vs Compound Miter Saw

Miter Saw Man

The original miter saw was just a three sided, rectangular wooden “MITER box”, that had slots in the back board at 45 degree and 90-degree angles. You would place the board to cut on the bottom of the box and place a hand saw at the desired angle slot and saw away. This is how I learned to first do miter cuts, talk about “old school”!

Around 1964 the power miter saw was introduced to the market that had radial arc spring action and evolved into our present-day miter saw. With the compound miter saw, the head can rotate to create a variety of angles, not just 90-degree cuts. This is the type of miter saw that is most commonly purchased today. So, a compound miter saw can be a sliding, non-sliding, single-beveled or double-beveled, they are all compound because of the different angles they can cut.

What is a Dual Bevel Miter Saw?

Here again, this would be called a compound miter saw because it can cut complex angles and bevels.Just what is a bevel cut? Put as simply as possible, a bevel cut is an angle cut along the edge of a board. Let’s say you need a 45-degree beveled angle cut. With the base plate of the miter saw set at 45 degrees, that’s the angle. Tilt the head of the saw at 45 degrees and you have a bevel cut. Simple Huh?

Now what does a dual-bevel miter saw do? It will allow you to cut boards with the bevel going either right of left depending on how the saw head it set up. Your board will stay in the same place as you move the saw to do the work. Check out the Dewalt 780 Miter saw to see what the best one looks like.

dewalt dw713 miter saw

Single Bevel Miter Saw vs Dual Bevel Miter Saw

Miter Saw

When using a single bevel miter saw it will only cut the bevel to the right or to left, not both ways. You will have to physically have to flip your board around and stare at it for a few minutes trying to decide if your board is in the right or wrong position! Eventually, you’ll catch on to the placement of the board but only after a few errors!

We can safely say that the Dual Beveled Miter Saw is easier to use when you need to do bevel cuts and it takes less time to accomplish the cuts. If you just want a simple Single Beveled Miter Saw, you can do the beveled cuts to the right and left, it just takes more thinking!

Work FeautresSingle Beveled SawDouble Beveled Saw
Cut 45- and 90-Degree CutsXX
8, 10, 12 Inch BladesXX
Cuts Beveled Angles Right and LeftX
Cut R & L without flipping BoardsX
Cuts Down on Work TimeX

Different Miter Saw Features

  • Corded or cordless—this would be a personal choice
  • How Long is the cord? —will the cord be long enough to setup in your shop where you have space available?
  • Type of dust collection system—Some dust collection systems can be hooked up to an existing system for better air quality in the workshop.
  • Hobby or professional use—if all you need is a basic miter saw, don’t spend a ton of money on a professional style outfit.
  • What is the Amperage or voltage? —Your corded saws will usually be either 13,14, or 15 amps. Cordless saws will most likely be 18-volt.
  • What size blade does the saw use? —This will either be a 10- or 12-inch blade. Most people will need just a 10-inch blade while professional will use the 12-inch blade.
  • Are there depth stops? —Most saws will have a built-in depth stop that controls how deep the saw will cut but it’s good to know that it is there.
  • Check for proper blade guard—Make sure that the guard moves up and down with the head of the saw for maximum protection.
  • Does it have electric, quick brakes? —This refers to the ability of the saw head to stop as soon as it is lifted after completing a cut.
  • Safe way of changing the blade—Always follow the instruction in the owner’s guide when changing the blade on your saw.
  • Are settings easy to read? —Make sure you can read the settings guide that is printed on the saw itself. You don’t want to struggle with this every time you want to cut a different angle.
  • Can you change angles with ease? —There will usually be a handle that will loosen or depress to change angles. Make sure that this is an easy thing to do.
  • Laser Guide—Some saws come with a laser guide that can be useful but most carpenters clam that they aren’t accurate.

Working Safely with All Miter Saws

I always like to remind everyone about safety when using any power tools, it just takes seconds of not paying attention to sustain a life-long injury.

Safety Issues to Remember

  • Wear Good Eye Protection
  • Use a Face Guard If Needed
  • Have Some Form of Ear Protection
  • Use the Dust Vacuum Provided or Wear a Dust Mask
  • Anchor Your Saw to a Stationary Base
  • Make Sure the Power Cord is in Excellent Shape
  • The Saw moves, NOT the wood
  • After Making a Cut, Let the Blade Stop Before Lifting the Head
  • Never Operate if the Blade Guards are Damaged
  • Use the Lock to Anchor the Boards Your Cutting

You can find a great article here at www.woodmagazine.com that teaches you about using your miter saw safely.

Safety with Miter Saws

Final Thoughts on the Miter Saw

Miter Saw Advantages

Hopefully some of the mystery of the Miter Saw has been solved and you now can start that shopping spree and come home with a new miter saw.  Whether it’s a sliding or non-sliding, a single bevel or double bevel, you will enjoy the precision cuts and angles you can make with this tool and it makes your woodworking job easier and professional looking.

If you just want a “plain Jane” saw for small crafts, mainly cross-cuts, the non-sliding, single-beveled miter sawwould serve you well. A table saw will do the same thing, but we are talking space and convenience for you.

If the jobs you are looking at have a comparative larger volume and repetitive cuts, the sliding, double-beveled saw will save you time and be a better fit for the job. Have fun with your new Miter Saw and work Safe!

If you would like to look at a quality Dual Beveled Miter Saw check out the info in this review on our site.For further information on a Sliding Miter Saw check out this page: and for more knowledge on a Sliding compound Miter Saw, take a look here.


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