How To Use A Miter Saw Buying Guides

Types of Miter Saws: Training the Apprentice

So you’re ready to buy a miter saw, but which one? With several different types of miter saws available, it’s more than just picking the right brand and features. Let’s start with the basics and look at the different classes you’re likely to run across in your search.

10-Second Summary

  • Miter Saw: Has a mitering table that adjusts the cross-cut angle
  • Sliding Miter Saw: Has a rail system that slides the blade from front to back and extends the maximum cutting length
  • Compound Miter Saw: Has an adjustment left and/or right to cut down through the wood at an angle
  • Compound Sliding Miter Saw: Gives you mitering, beveling, and sliding functions
  • Dual Compound Sliding Miter Saw: Gives you all three functions with beveling to both left and right


Major Types of Miter Saws

Miter Saw

In it’s most basic form, the miter saw (or chop saw) has a table that pivots to the right and left, allowing you to change the angle of the cross cut you’re making. The blade drops straight down and your cut capacity is limited by the blade’s diameter. The capacity will be smaller than the blade diameter since the arbor gets in the way of letting it drop all the way through.

Sliding Miter Saw

A sliding miter saw is a type of miter saw that adds rails to let the saw blade slide back and forth. It gives you a much greater cutting capacity than a miter saw that doesn’t have rails.

Makita 10" Cordless Miter Saw XSL06 Review

Compound Miter Saw

Compound cuts are those you make that have both a bevel and miter. A compound miter saw adds the ability to make bevel cuts in addition to its mitering ability. You’ll want to make sure you have this feature anytime your working with crown molding or other trim that you install on a wall.

How To Use A Miter Saw

Compound Sliding Miter Saw

The compound sliding miter saw takes the best of both worlds by giving you a miter saw with rails that increase the cut capacity and a left bevel to open up compound cuts.

Dual Compound Sliding Miter Saw

On a dual compound sliding miter saw, you get a mitering table, sliding rails, and beveling that goes both left and right. The left bevel eliminates the need to flip your material around to make the opposite compound cut, saving you some time and frustration.


What do Our Pros Recommend?

Without a doubt, a dual compound sliding miter saw is going to give you the most versatility. Depending on what you cut, you’re likely going to get the most benefit out of a 10″ or 12″ model.

More Miter Saw Basics

How to Use a Miter Saw

What to Look for When Buying a Miter Saw

Buying a Miter Saw? Read this Pro Guide First!

How to Calibrate a Miter Saw

How to Calibrate a Miter Saw: Pro Guide


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