How To Use A Miter Saw Buying Guides

Types of Miter Saws: Training the Apprentice

We asked our Pros for recommendations on when sliding, compound, single-, and dual-bevel features really make a difference when looking at which types of miter saws to buy. If you’re ready to buy a miter saw—which one? With several different types of miter saws available, it’s more than just picking the right brand and features.

10-Second Summary

  • Miter Saw: Any wood-cutting saw with 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

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.

Editor’s Note: A chop saw is similar to a miter saw, but with no ability to adjust the miter angle from 90 degrees. Most chop saws are designed to cut metal.

Sliding Miter Saw

A sliding miter saw is a type of miter saw that adds rails to let the saw blade slide front to back across the wood. It gives you a much greater cutting capacity than the same size miter saw without rails.

Makita 10" Cordless Miter Saw XSL06 Review

Compound Miter Saw

Compound cuts include 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 you work with crown molding or other trim that gets installed on a wall.

How To Use A Miter Saw

Compound Sliding Miter Saw

The compound sliding miter saw includes the best of both worlds. This miter saw uses rails to increase the cut capacity and adds a left bevel to enable compound cuts.

Dual Compound Sliding Miter Saw

On a dual compound sliding miter saw, you get a miter 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 delivers the most versatility. Depending on what you cut, you’re likely going to get the most benefit and capacity from a 10-inch or 12-inch model. Once you choose, the next step is to practice to use a miter saw like a Pro.

More Basics

How to Use a Miter Saw

How to Use a Miter Saw: Training the Apprentice

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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