Best Compact Miter Saw for 2020
A compact miter saw is a model that falls under a 10″ blade diameter. They’re fantastic tools for jobs that require smaller workpieces and the sliding models can still get you 12 inches of cross-cut on 2x material. You can forget 4x material here, though—at least on a single cut. The 7-1/4″ to 8-1/2″ blades won’t make that without rotating the workpiece. The best compact miter saw still functions as a compact, capable power tool for Pros.
Best Compact Miter Saw Overall
There are two basic components when it comes to the cut: the blade and the motor that turns it. There’s room to play with speed and torque in any motor, so we can’t just give away an award for the biggest motor or fastest no-load speed. Once you put that motor under load, a completely different ending can be written than the story on paper. The Bosch CM8S 8-1/2 inch sliding miter saw gave us excellent cutting performance, letting us power through both thick and detailed cuts with ease.
The Bosch also gave us some of the best cutting capacity. It cut 12-1/4″ at 90 degrees and 8-5/8″ at 45 degrees. We also loved the Bosch’s miter detent override. This thumb actuated feature lets you smoothly bypass the miter stops when needing to cut a non-standard angle.
Finally, at 37 pounds, the Bosch CM8S doesn’t appear to be a lightweight, but the top handle makes it extremely portable. This became one fo the easiest saws to move around the job site by hand. When connected to a dust extractor, it also noticeably picked up more sawdust than other models tested.
You will find it hard to beat this saw at $429.
- Makita LS0815F
The Makita LS0815F miter saw slices through 2x12s while retaining decent rigidity for more sensitive beveled crown cuts. This jack-of-all-trades miter saw quickly moved to the top of our list for its power, capability, and ergonomics.
Get it for $419
Best Compact Miter Saw for Woodworking
Metabo HPT C3607DRAQ4
We really enjoyed testing the Metabo HPT C3607DRAQ4 MultiVolt 7-1/4″ sliding miter saw. This saw has some of the best build quality and exhibited the most accuracy of most miter saws we’d tested. While that all comes with a premium price, we know several woodworking Pros and carpenters who would pay for that level of performance.
One other reason we voted this the best compact miter saw for woodworkers has to do with clearance. The Metabo HPT MultiVolt 7-1/4″ miter saw uses a zero clearance rail system. You can set the saw right up against a wall and get your maximum crosscut capacity. Considering this is a 7-1/4″ miter saw, Metabo HPT gives you a pretty solid cut capacity. You’re looking at a maximum depth of 2-9/32″ and slide cut of 12-13/64″.
Combining power, precision, capacity, and features, this premium-quality hybrid corded/cordless sliding miter saw works if you can afford it. It matches those with a skill level and reputation for high-end work. Plenty of other options exist for those who may not need this level of accuracy.
This saw comes at a hefty $1,249 before you add batteries or the AC adapter.
Best Compact Miter Saw for Construction
A keen eye instantly notices that this isn’t merely a shrunken down Milwaukee 10-inch cordless miter saw. Rather, some key design differences exist between the two saws. Most notably, the top-rail design finally brings the dust port closer to the blade. Dust collection is much improved.
The Milwaukee 2733-20 miter saw offers dual bevel functionality with stops at 45° and 48°. It miters 48° in both directions with cam locking detents. There’s a 3-1/2″ vertical cutting capacity with the base against the fence and a 2-5/8″ nested crown capacity. Remember, this saw has a 7-1/4″ blade! It can also cross-cut a 2×8 at 90 degrees.
Beyond that, the bare tool weighs an incredibly light 28 pounds! That makes it, by far, the lightest compact miter saw we’ve ever tested. It also uses an LED cut line indicator that works in broad daylight. With its overall excellent performance in cutting trim, this best cordless compact miter saw really impressed our team.
Best Cordless Compact Miter Saw
We already pointed out the excellent Milwaukee M18 FUEL 7-1/4″ miter saw above, and it remains our favorite compact cordless model as well. Another great option, however, is the Bosch 18V Cordless 8-1/2 Miter Saw (model GCM18V-08N).
Bosch GCM18V-08N 18V Cordless 8-1/2 Miter Saw
Bosch built this saw on the capable CM8S platform—and it shows. The Bosch GCM18V-08N 18V cordless 8-1/2 miter saw weighs a reasonable 31.5 pounds and offers some excellent capacity for its size. You can crosscut a 2×10 at 90 degrees and tackle 3-5/8″ nested crown. The saw miters to 47-degrees in both directions, and you get 45-degree bevel cuts.
This saw excels in power. Using the Bosch Core18 batteries and its brushless motor, you really do get corded performance. You can also cut over 350 2x4s on a single 8.0Ah battery. The saw comes with a laser guide system, to help line up your cuts (at least indoors).
Best Compact Miter Saw for the Money
DeWalt claims that you can get up to 183 cuts in 2×4 pine on a single 4.0 amp hour battery. Based on the varied material we cut, I’d have to believe it. What’s more, the cuts felt smooth and this saw delivers plenty of cut capacity. It can vertically cut 3-5/8 in. nested crown and 3-1/2 in. base.
The DeWalt 20V miter saw makes mitering look easy. You get positive stops for each of the common angles and they lock in authoritatively. For odd angle cuts, the miter lock works easily as well. Beveling does require you to endure the standard reach around for locking or unlocking.
We felt the slide a tad rough on this saw—but easily overlooked for the price. Entry-level trim carpenters and flooring installers will particularly find this to be a useful addition to their DeWalt 20V Max tools due to its weight and ease of use.
Best Compact Miter Saw for Beginners
This saw doesn’t have us singing its praises—but you really can’t beat the value. For around $189 you get a super-compact 7-1/4 inch sliding miter saw. It can cross-cut a 2×10 and bevels to the left from 0– 45° left. It also improves the partial sliding fence and table size from the older TSS701.
You also get one of the lightest miter saws on the market. The Ryobi TSS702 miter saw weighs just 25 pounds! Collapse it in the mitered position and the top handle makes it one of the easiest-to-carry saws we’ve ever picked up.
For DIYers and entry-level Pros who simply want to make cuts on smaller speed base and crown molding, the Ryobi TSS702 should work well. Advanced users may want to opt for something with a bit more power and a brushless motor to keep up speed under load.
This saw runs just $189 at The Home Depot.
What We Look for in the Best Compact Miter Saw
Accuracy and Power
In order to put these compact miter saws through their paces, we needed to test them on a variety of materials. We used both base and crown molding, untreated 2×2, untreated pine 2×4, and pressure-treated 2×8. This gave us an idea of how each saw would cut in common materials where they would have to make cross cuts, mitered cuts, and beveled cuts.
We looked at how smoothly the saws made each cut. Sometimes, a tool can set itself apart by being ahead of the competition in the ergonomics camp by reducing the amount of vibration that the user feels. That’s part of what we noticed.
Using fine finish blades, we checked how clean it left the cuts. We also gauged how accurately the compact miter saws performed tasks like beveling, mitering, and cutting at 90-degrees to the fence. Of course, we calibrated the miter saws before performing all accuracy tests.
What you lose in cutting capacity with a compact miter saw, you gain in portability. Portability is a function of the weight of the saw and the ergonomics of carrying it.
The heaviest of the compact miter saws we tested weighed 37 pounds. We still found that saw easily loaded on and off our sample truck bed. A couple of saws felt like lightweights with one of them hitting the scale at a mere 25 pounds.
For any miter saw, the easiest way to carry it is to swing it all the way to the right-most miter position and lock it down. At that point, the saw packages up nicely for the back of your work truck, van, or trailer.
Though these saws drop the pounds, you don’t have to give up on the features you love. The Pro level saws here still carry much of the miter and bevel capacity of their larger counterparts. In fact, they’re basically just smaller and lighter—which is exactly what our Pro users want.
So where do compact miter saws really shine? In the hands of finish carpenter, flooring installers, cabinet and furniture makers. They excel when cutting case, base, and crown molding. Plus, great compact sliding miter saws deliver a full cross-cut on up to 2×12 material or a 45-degree miter on 2×8.
One area that we were able to set the saws apart was on narrow dado cuts. These are common cuts for carpenters that result in a perfectly cut trench in the workpiece, usually used for joinery. They may be common, but most miter saws struggle with them because the curvature of the blade leaves a raised back end. The fix is to either flip the piece and go back over your cut or (more commonly) use a small piece of 2x material to push the piece away from the fence to give the blade more runout. None of the saws could complete a perfect dado cut on one pass, but some could do it with a sacrificial 1x.
Mitering and Beveling
All of the saws tested have the traditional miter capacity and (at least) single bevel capability. We expect that from a Pro-level saw as well as positive stops at common positions for crown molding. More than that, we also looked at the controls. Saws with easier-to-use controls scored higher and left our Pros working more quickly and easily when changing cut settings.
Lasers and LED Cut Line Indicators
Lasers have been touted as no more than “a feature to raise the price of miter saws” according to some users. We say that it’s all about the laser placement. Lasers mounted above or to the side of the blade can really lead to some accuracy issues. That is unless you’re cutting in the dark, which not even David C. Smith recommends. However, some manufacturers are realizing the benefit of a laser mounted underneath the blade and that has made a world of difference. Combined with the ability to adjust it for left-side, right-side, or center blade cuts, these lasers make a difference.
Even better, LED cut line indicators or “shadow line” systems, place LEDs above the blade which cast a shadow from the left and right sides. As the blade lowers, the cut line shadow solidifies into an exact representation of where the blade contacts the workpiece. Since the LED system works in broad daylight, our Pros highly prefer it to a laser.
Dust collection is a challenge for most compact miter saws in particular. We’ve all used models that make us wonder why they even bother. However, improvements in shroud design have helped to direct more sawdust into the bag than just a few years ago. While each of these saws can connect to a dust extractor for maximum containment, we also looked at how they performed with only their respective collection bags.
All of us want the most bang for our buck. We look at performance, features, weight, and compare all of that to the price point. Value isn’t the price of the tool. Rather, it’s what you get for your hard-earned money. In this way, our value-leader may not be the least-expensive saw. A huge performance lead will allow a more expensive product to look like an excellent value in the end.
To Stand or Not to Stand
With traditional full-size miter saws, we love keeping them on stands. Since we often tend to use pickup trucks, trailers, and work vans, the additional size doesn’t matter. With compact miter saws, however, we typically forego the miter saw stand. It seems counterintuitive when trying to save weight and emphasizing portability.
Remember, you can easily make cuts on a tailgate, porch, or home-made pair of sawhorses. Examine your workflow and see what works for you. We just know that adding a 50-pound miter saw stand to a 32-pound compact miter saw makes little sense!
Disagree With Our Choices?
That’s okay! We know personal preferences take a front seat in determining the best circular saw for you, and every Pro is different. Do Pro Tool Nation a favor and tell us what your top pick is and why you love it. Feel free to put it in the comments below or on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!
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