In almost all woodworking or carpentry projects, a good miter saw is vital to workflow, accuracy, and the overall quality of the project.
However, there are so many on the market that it may be a challenge to figure out which is the best miter saw for you. Do you need a basic miter saw? No bevel, single bevel, or double bevel? What about stationary or sliding, and what is zero-clearance?
We’re going to clear up some of the confusion and help you make the decision around the best miter.
We’ll explain types, features, and even explain some specific saws that you can go out and buy today. We’re even going to crown a best overall miter saw, the best budget option, and a few best outliers you might not have known even existed. By the end of this article, you’ll have an idea of what to look for in a saw to meet your needs.
TL;DR – Our Top 3 Picks
What is a Compound Miter Saw?
A compound miter saw is a stationary saw with a rotating blade, used to cut objects to length. They have aluminum beds and fences to secure work-pieces and a high-speed motor that spins a circular blade at 3,000-5,500 RPMs.
They can be used for rough carpentry, fine finish work, plumbing, metalwork, and a number of other uses if outfitted with the correct blade. Compound miter saws adjust to cut compound angles, meaning both the bed and the blade can rotate to specific angles, cutting two angles at once.
What is a Sliding Compound Miter Saw?
Wide boards sometimes require you to flip them over to cut all the way through them with a standard compound miter saw. You can get the job done in one pass with a sliding compound miter saw.
These saws are similar to standard saws but the blades and motors slide on rails to increase the span of the cut. These rails are superbly machined, making the sliding action smooth and accurate. Some sliding miter saws can cut board widths of up to 16 inches.
The DW715 is a well-designed, minimalist style compound miter saw from one of the best-known tool brands in the world. The Dewalt features a 15 amp motor that spins at 4,000 RPMs and it comes with a vertical clamp for holding work-pieces securely. It also comes with a dust collection bag and has a dual-size arbor at both ⅝-inch and 1-inch.
The DW715 is a no-frills workhorse at a good price. It has plenty of speed and power to cut some thick materials like double 2×6 and 4×4 posts. Also, it has 11 positive detents that snap the saw bed into place for easy adjustment.
There are a few things we’d improve upon with the DW715. For one, there’s no laser or even a way to mount one, so you’ll have to cut by eye. Also, some users have reported having issues with bowed or warped fences, so our concern would be with quality control. Outside of these issues, this saw is great at what it does.
- Plenty of power
- Easy to adjust
- No light or laser
- Quality control may be lacking
Make sure to read our full Dewalt DW715 review.
The Ridgid R4421 12-inch sliding saw is a robust machine, capable of tackling any job you throw at it. It has a large cutting capacity, and the most severe cutting angle, of any saw on our list, at 70 degrees. It has a 15 amp motor that runs at 4,000 RPMs, an LED work light and a cutline indicator, as well as a blade brake for making multiple cuts faster.
This Ridgid has a huge cut capacity, cutting a 16-inch board at 90 degrees. Also, the bed swings out of the way, allowing you to make a 70-degree miter cut on either side. There are plenty of detents as well, so transitioning between angles shouldn’t take long.
If we must complain about the R4421, we’ll say that the slides could be smoother. This is an expensive saw so we’d prefer that Ridgid would have that nailed down. Also, there’s a notorious issue with the blade wobbling on these saws, and that can be a very big issue when it comes to safety and making accurate cuts.
- Expansive cut capacity
- Can manage 70-degree miter cuts
- Slides should be smoother
- Blade wobble is a serious concern
Make sure to read our full Ridgid R4221 review.
Ryobi’s TSS102L is a budget-minded 10-inch sliding miter saw that will do fine in any homeowner or DIY’ers shop. It uses a 15 amp motor with a run speed of 4,600 RPMs, offering plenty of cutting power. It has a laser-lit cut indicator, a dust collection bag, and a cut capacity of 12 inches.
For the price, the Ryobi has a lot going for it. The large cut capacity is a real benefit, making short work of 12-inch wide boards. Also, the motor is faster than saws that cost twice as much. The slides are also smooth so they’ll help maintain accuracy when cutting.
Budget-friendly tools often have a few issues, and the Ryobi is no different. The most common issue that consumers have with the TSS102L is that it might not make a complete cut when it’s first taken out of the box. We’re not sure if this is a factory problem or an adjustment issue, but a fair share of customers have complained about it.
Also, dust collection could be improved upon as even with a shop-vac running, tons of dust makes it into the work environment.
- Large cut capacity for a 10 inch saw
- Powerful and fast motor
- Might not make a complete cut
- Dust collection is poorly designed
Make sure to read our complete Ryobi TSS102L review.
Dewalt’s DHS790 is a cordless brushless 12-inch miter saw with a lot of pro-level features. This saw runs on two Dewalt batteries or a corded transformer pack for versatility and flexibility. The saw runs at 3,800 RPMs, so although it is the slowest on our list, it still has plenty of power. It also features Dewalt’s shadow-line cut indicator.
The DHS790 is an expensive saw, but if you consider the features, the price seems fair.
It can run on two 60v Flexvolt batteries with an extremely long run time or be switched to house current with a corded transformer adapter. There is no change in performance between the two options so this is an awesome feature. It has a huge cut capacity at 6 ¾ inches vertically and 13 ¾ inches for crosscuts.
Also, the shadow-line cut indicator that Dewalt has perfected is a tremendously accurate system for lining up cuts.
If we’re being fair, there are two things we’d like to see improved upon with the DHS790.
For one, all 12-inch saws experience some blade deflection, but this saw seems prone to it. Unless you really take your time, you may find that your cuts aren’t as accurate as you wish. Also, the dust collection port is a repurposed split, two-piece design that has been known to crack on past models.
- Choice of corded or cordless operation with no change in performance
- Large cut capacity
- Shadow-line cut indicator is extremely accurate
- Blade deflection is an issue
- Dust collection port is susceptible to cracking
The Milwaukee 2734-21HD is another brushless and cordless miter saw option. The Milwaukee is a 10-inch sliding, dual-bevel compound miter saw that uses the company’s M18 battery packs, however, it runs on one pack instead of two. It features all the standard detents as well as a very effective and easy-to-use detent-bypass system.
The 2734-21HD is a feature-rich saw that will get nearly every job done. It has a 4,000 RPM motor, highly adjustable cut angles, and it’s lightweight. Most saws of this caliber weigh at least 10 pounds more than the 2734-21HD’s 45 pounds. It has a 6-inch vertical capacity and can cut a 2×12 without flipping it over.
Another significant benefit with this saw over others is that it runs on one battery pack, allowing you to maintain and charge fewer batteries.
There are a few areas where the Milwaukee falls a little short.
For one, there’s no corded option with this saw at this point, putting it at least a few steps behind some of its competitors right off the bat. Also, while saw dust collection is a common issue with all miter saws, this one is particularly bad. Prolonged use leaves a ton of sawdust on the floor and walls and very little in the supplied dust collection bag.
- Highly adjustable angles
- Lightweight at 45 pounds
- Runs on one battery
- No corded option
- Very poor dust collection
The Kobalt SM3017LW 12-inch sliding compound miter saw is a budget-friendly option for someone looking for a capable saw without spending a ton of money. The Kobalt uses a 15 amp motor that spins up to 4,200 RPMs. It has a crosscut capacity of 16 inches and enough 45-degree capacity to cut a 2×10.
For the price, the Kobalt is a pretty good deal.
Due to its slide, it can cut most width materials for the same price as a non-sliding saw from another brand. The laser is helpful for lining up cuts and is easily adjustable to really nail down its accuracy.
Our favorite feature is the front-positioned bevel lock that makes bevel adjustments easier than almost all other brands that place their lever in the rear.
There are a few issues with this saw that you need to be aware of, and most of them are centered around quality control.
Several users have stated that when they unboxed their saw, the bed, blade, and fence were very misaligned. While it might not seem like more than just an inconvenience, some of those same users stated they couldn’t get enough adjustability out of the saw to make an accurate cut, requiring them to modify their saw.
- Sliding saw capability for non-sliding saw price
- Front-position bevel lock is very convenient
- May require extensive adjustment to achieve accuracy
- May require modification to square the components to each other
If over-engineering and over-building are your things, the Bosch CM10GD is the saw for you. The CM10GD is a 10-inch dual-bevel compound miter saw with an awesome sliding mechanism. It features a zero-clearance slide system that requires less space than a conventional slide. It has a 12-inch crosscut capacity and runs at 4,800 RPMs.
Bosch makes some great tools and this saw is definitely one of them!
Everything on this saw is built for durability and ease of use. It features a front-positioned bevel lock so you don’t have to reach behind the saw to adjust for a compound cut. It has excellent dust collection, and the zero-clearance slide system is incredibly smooth, accurate, and compact.
There are a few issues with the Bosch that you should be aware of before you spend a lot of money on one.
There’s no laser for a cut-indicator, which seems strange to us at this price point. Also, because it’s so overbuilt, the CM10GD weighs in at over 75 pounds. That makes it too heavy to be dragged around a job site, relegating this saw to mostly shop service.
- Front-positioned bevel lock
- Zero-clearance slide is smooth and compact
- Very heavy at more than 75 pounds
- No laser marker available on this model
If you’re not familiar with the Metabo name, that’s okay. You’ll probably be familiar with the tools that bear Metabo branding, though. In October 2018, Hitachi began marketing their tools under the Metabo name. The tools are the same, they even wear the same color scheme, they just bear a different name.
The 12-inch Hitachi (Metabo) CR12RSH is a good-quality saw at a reasonable price. It’s capable of 12-inch cross cuts and weighs in at 59 pounds. It has a 15 amp motor that runs at 4,800 RPMs.
The CR12RSH comes with a nice laser system that makes making fast, accurate cuts a more intuitive process. We also like that the slide system is compact. It’s effectively a zero-clearance compound miter saw, and the slide design is innovative and customizable.
It’s worth noting that several people have had blade alignment issues with their CR12RSH models. It’s not that the saw won’t cut square, it’s that the blade will actually strike the deck or the blade guard. This can be dangerous so you need to be sure that your blade works through its entire range of motion.
Also, the bevel handle is in the rear of the machine and makes bevel changes extremely awkward.
- Zero-clearance design is innovative
- Laser system makes making quick cuts easy
- Blade misalignment can be dangerous
- Bevel adjustment in the rear of the saw is difficult to reach and awkward to use
Read our full Hitachi CR12RSH review.
The Makita LS1040 is a reasonably capable saw 10-inch saw at a low buy-in price point. This Makita uses a 15 amp, 4,600 RPM motor, capable of handling almost all your cutting needs. It does not slide, giving it a max crosscut capacity just north of 5 inches.
The LS1040 is a very basic, very simple saw, perfect for occasional shop work. The motor is powerful enough to cut through the toughest woods, with 4,600 RPMs being one of the fastest running motors on our list.
Also, this is a very light saw at 27 pounds, so you can place it on your workbench for making cuts, and when you’re done you’ll have no problem storing it on an overhead or under-table shelf.
There are some obvious downsides to the Makita. It has no bells or whistles at all, so an LED cutline is out of the question. Also, the cut capacity is very low for a 10-inch saw, limiting this model’s potential tremendously.
This saw can also be difficult to square the fence, bed, and blade with each other.
- Powerful, high-speed motor cuts through most materials
- Storage is easy due to the LS1040’s minimal weight
- Low cut capacity
- No bells and whistles
What is the Best Compound Miter Saw?
Without a doubt, our choice for the best compound miter saw is the Dewalt DW715. While the features of this saw may not jump off of the page at you, it’s professional quality will speak for itself.
In a world full of sliding compound miter saws full of gadgets and gizmos, the plain and simple DW715 is an extremely reliable workhorse that will take everything you can throw at it. When you factor in the reputation this saw has, you can rest assured you’re going to be getting an excellent quality saw that will do everything that you expect from it.
What is the Best Sliding Compound Miter Saw?
The Dewalt DHS790 has so many great features that it’s almost impossible not to consider it the best sliding compound miter saw. Not only is it incredibly versatile, but it’s also very powerful and can be tuned and adjusted for extreme accuracy.
The shadow-line cut indicator is so simple and accurate that we can’t understand why all the brands haven’t attempted to adopt this. It is by far our favorite method of cut alignment. The DHS790 should be considered the saw to beat in 2020.
Best Budget Miter Saw
When money is tight but you still need a good quality saw that will last you a while, you really can’t go wrong with the Ryobi TSS102L sliding compound miter saw.
If you take into consideration the fact that this little saw has a big saw’s cut capacity, the price is even more shocking. This may not be the most accurate saw on the list, and it’s certainly not the best, but it’s feature-rich and incredibly capable. This would be a great addition in a DIY shop or for a professional that needs a cheap saw to throw on some sawhorses on the job site.
There’s a reason why Dewalt took two of our three best overall spots.
Dewalt is the original designer of the radial arm saw, and their devotion to quality cutting tools hasn’t wavered in the nearly 100 years of the company’s existence. The DW715 and DHS790 are top-notch tools that craftsmen and contractors trust to help earn their paychecks, and that really says it all.
The Ryobi packs a lot of punch in a small package, so it really deserves the recognition we gave it as well.
Also, if you’re not a fan of any of these three saws, we would highly recommend checking out the Ridgid R4421 for its robust design and extreme miter angles, as well as the Bosch CM10GD for its intense attention to detail and over-built construction.
Any of these saws will leave you satisfied and well-equipped to tackle your next project.