One tool that is versatile, as well as handy, is the compound miter saw (sometimes also known as a “chop saw“). If you are looking for a solid wood cutting machine, a compound miter saw is the best.
It cuts wood to frame cabinet or furniture parts, make doors and windows, or crown molding.
A compound miter saw can help you make a perfect crosscut, as well as a miter cut, angled as you need. It is the best tool to hold for all your DIY activities that are related to woodwork.
Many tools cut wood. However, a miter saw is the one that gives a precise cut. A stable arm helps to achieve accurate and precise cuts just as expected.
Every tool has some limitations, and a compound miter saw is certainly no exception. It cannot wade through lumber. A wide stock can be challenging too.
Adding sliding arms to the miter saw can help to sort it out.
If you want to cut wood like an expert, a compound miter saw is a must.
Choosing one out of the best compound miter saws can be an overwhelming task. With so many brands in the market with many features, it can be tricky to get the one that suits you best.
For expert cuts, many of the miter saws on the market today also have the option to have a built-in laser for more precision.
A little research about the best compound miter saws will go a long way toward helping you zero in on what you’re looking for, and this guide will help you make an informed choice!
What You'll Learn...
- Types Of Compound Miter Saw
- What to Consider When Buying a Miter Saw
- How to Work Safely with a Compound Miter Saw
- How to Use a Compound Miter Saw
- How to Make Perfect Cuts with a Compound Miter Saw
- The Best Compound Miter Saws
- Final Thoughts
Types Of Compound Miter Saw
The first thing to consider while researching the best compound miter saws are the different types and what they’re used for.
They are broadly classified based upon the bevel as a single or a dual compound miter saw. They could also be sliding, portable, and cordless.
Whether it is a sliding, portable, or cordless miter saw you’re looking for, know that each type has its own set of distinctive pros and cons.
Single Bevel Compound Miter Saw
This is the basic type of compound saw where one could make an accurate and precise bevel cut as needed. The arm of the saw swings only on the left side.
Dual Bevel Compound Miter Saw
If the arms of the saw can move on the right as well as the left side simultaneously, it is called a dual bevel miter saw.
They are a bit difficult to operate. It works best for people who use the tool often.
Sliding Compound Miter Saw
Also known as a heavy-duty compound miter, a sliding miter saw has similar features to the compound miter saw, but they have a sliding arm.
This is very helpful for making a wide yet accurate cut.
The sliding compound miter saw is considered to be the most versatile miter saw by far.
The only drawback is that it is costly compared to the other types. However, it is a favorite for professional woodworkers and contractors that use the device often.
Portable Cordless Miter Saw
The cordless miter saw is a handy and portable saw. They suit best for people on the go.
The portability aspect of the cordless miter saw is considered a feature. as these can be any of the types – Single bevel, dual bevel, or sliding miter saw.
What to Consider When Buying a Miter Saw
When it comes to choosing the best compound miter saw, many people might struggle to pick out the best one suited for them.
Reading reviews about the miter saw is always a good idea as it would give an idea of whether or not the tool can be trusted. Here are a few helpful pointers that will help you to make the best choice!
- Application – Always think before you buy. Thinking about how often you would use it and buying helps a lot in shortlisting the saw. This is the most important factor to consider while you buy a saw.
- Blade – The blade is the most important part of any miter saw. It determines the cutting capacity of the miter saw. The diameter of the blade decides the height or depth of the cut. More intentions or teeth in the blade give a finer cut. Usually, blades come in 8, 10, or 12-inch sizes.
- The Miter and the Bevel – The miter saw is basically used to create a bevel cut. The type of the tool must be considered before buying. It is usually adjusted to 45 degrees for a right-angled joint or miter joint. A single bevel or a double bevel must be considered depending on the bevel cut you’ll need it for. For example, for crown molding or furniture making, a double bevel is the best choice as it would let the saw tilt left and right.
- Slide – The slide in the compound miter saw will help in cutting wood of greater width. Similar to the blade size, the slide also helps to decide the capacity of the saw. For example, if you are going to cut wood for fencing, a bigger blade with more cutting capacity is required. A sliding miter saw is a perfect choice to make.
- Motor – The speed of the motor will help to decide the power of the miter. For regular use, a saw with the highest motor power is better. It usually varies between a 10-15 amp motor.
- Comfortable Handle – It is very important that the handle feels comfortable for you. If you are planning to buy the tool online, a trip to the local retailer is much appreciated as it will give a good test run before you buy. Also, while working, the handle absorbs a lot of vibration.
- Dust Collection – A dust collector is an ideal addition to any saw. Apart from keeping the station clean, the dust collection feature also protects the saw. If you work in a confined area, it is best to use a dust extractor or vacuum.
Today, the best compound miter saws come with a lot of cool features. Some of these features are not essential. It just makes using the tool easier.
Here are some handy compound miter saw features to consider:
- Laser Guidance – A small red beam of laser lines helps in marking the areas the blade cuts. It is very useful for people who try using the tool for the first time.
- Electric Brake – A very useful feature if you are not a professional. It reduces the risk of accidents.
- Variable Speed Dial – It helps to adjust the speed of the motor depending upon the material that is cut.
- Lights – These are very useful to work on dim-lit areas.
- Extension Arms and Clamps – They help to support your work surface and keep your hands free.
Helpful Pointers For Miter Saw Usage and Maintenance
The most crucial factor while working with a compound miter saw is making sure you are safe and cautious every time.
It could be a hazardous tool if handled carelessly. It is very important to check if the blade is fixed correctly before using the tool.
Always study the instruction manual before starting to use it as it will have important information about the tool.
Also, before using it for the first time, it is advisable to hold the device for some time to get a grip on the handle.
It is critical to know how each feature works before working with it
Cleaning after every use makes the tool more durable. It is good to remove dust and debris collected inside the device after use.
Always seek professional help if the tool does not seem to work perfectly.
Be cautious if the tool gets over-heated, has increased vibration or if the tool emits strange sounds.
Here is a step by step process to clean the saw:
Step 1 – Clean the compound miter saw, removing any loose debris on the saw. Blow-dry the tool using compressed air to remove it
Step 2 – Wipe the remaining dust using a dry cloth.
Step 3 – Focus on the moving parts of the tool. Use a few drops of lubricant to lube all the moving parts of the saw. This step is crucial for improving longevity.
Step 4 – The blade must be cleaned using a soft wire brush and undiluted toilet bowl cleaner. A specialty blade cleaner can be used too. They would be more expensive.
Step 5 – It is essential to check the board, brushes, and power cord every time you plan to use the tool.
The Height of the Fences
It would help if you considered buying a miter saw with tall sliding fences to get great results with crown and base molding projects.
Experts recommend buying a miter saw whose sliding saw fences are tall enough to support cutting crown molding tasks of up to 6-5/8 inches in a nested position.
The fences should also be sufficiently elevated to support base molding of 6-1/2 inches vertically.
Moreover, the sliding saw fences should be able to easily move out of the way to make perfect bevel cuts. The efficiency of work depends a lot on the tallness of the fences.
Size of the Table
When you decide to buy a miter saw, you should think about choosing one with a large miter saw table that can accommodate big workpieces with remarkable ease. The size of the table matters a lot for carpenters who deal routinely with large pieces of lumber.
Besides, larger sizes make it easier for the carpenter to work comfortably and with good speed.
According to experienced miter saw operators, saws with larger tables have a lower risk of accidents than saws with smaller tables.
You may also think about the ergonomic advantage that you derive from a larger saw.
Check the Power of the Motor
The power of the motor should match the type of work for which you intend to perform with the miter saw.
First, you should consider whether the type of work involves ripping or crosscutting wood.
If your job entails a lot of ripping, then you must consider a saw with a larger blade with a low RPM motor.
On the other hand, you need a powerful motor of up to 5000 RPM or slightly more if you want to achieve clean and precise cuts.
It might be necessary to consult with a reputable dealer before choosing a saw with the appropriate motor power.
Buy a Miter Saw with a Laser Guide
Buying a miter saw with a laser guide gives you an enormous advantage in accuracy and efficiency.
Laser guide systems help you direct the blade on the marked area to get a perfect and precise cut.
Different laser systems have varying levels of visibility. The degree of error is lesser if you are using a miter saw with a laser system.
Some laser guides may not work well in outdoor sawing, but many laser guides help you to execute tasks without straining your vision.
Ultimately, you need a highly functional laser guide to enable you to make clean cuts without compromising on time.
How to Work Safely with a Compound Miter Saw
Before you start working with your compound miter saw, you should ensure that all the safety measures are firmly in place.
Miter saws are designed to deliver excellent power for making quick, accurate, and clean cuts.
However, these machines can be hazardous if you operate them without care.
1) Use Safety Glasses and Ear Muffs
Your eyes and ears are some of the most important parts of the body that require enough protection when operating a miter saw.
The speed and power of the coasting blade often cause sawdust or specks of material to fly around your face.
Some of them may get into your eyes, causing severe discomfort and a possible health condition in the long term.
In order to protect your eyesight, always use standard safety glasses while sawing.
You should also use earmuffs to protect yourself from intense noise from the motor.
The earmuffs prevent sawdust from getting into your ears, as well as protecting them from the deafening roar of the machine.
2) Clamp the Miter Saw on a Stable Miter Saw Stand
Usually, every miter saw has a recommended miter saw stand that is specially designed to hold it in place during the sawing process.
However, designers of the best miter saw stands have made universal miter saws that can be used by nearly every type.
The bottom line is that miter saw stands are very crucial for ensuring the stability, accuracy, and safety of the machine.
The risk of accidents is higher when a miter saw is held on surfaces that lack special features for firm holding.
High-quality stands are designed to prevent falls, movements, or general disorientation, which may cause injury.
3) Always Use the Recommended Blade Size
You should use the recommended blade size to avoid accidents that result from technical flaws and mismatches.
Secondly, it is very important to check and tighten the saw blade regularly to ensure that it is in perfect form before you begin the sawing.
Loose saw blades are among the leading causes of injuries involving miter saws at the workshop.
Therefore, you must maintain the habit of checking the blade for consistency before making your miter cuts, crosscuts, bevel cuts, or any sawing task.
Apart from guaranteeing your safety, tightened saw blades always have a higher level of precision.
4) Maintain a 6-Inch Clearance from the Blade
The slightest loss of concentration can be very dangerous for any miter saw operator.
Standard safety regulations require the operator to ensure that the hand is at least six inches away from the miter saw blade and the cutting area.
It is also necessary to ensure that the material is completely against the back fence of the miter saw.
The arrangement prevents accidental movements of the stock and reduces the risk involved in the sawing process.
For safety purposes, it is recommended not to cut very small pieces because they could compromise your safety.
5) Stop the Blade Before Lifting It
Some miter saw blades achieve a spinning performance of 5000 RPM or more. Such incredible spinning requires high levels of care on the part of the operator.
Once you have finished cutting, you should release the trigger and wait for a moment until the miter stops completely.
Do not endanger yourself and others around the workplace by lifting a spinning blade from the piece of lumber.
Such a move may also lead to scarring, which can easily diminish the quality of your work.
For safety purposes, ensure that the blade is disengaged and motionless before lifting it from the wood.
How to Use a Compound Miter Saw
Miter saws are indispensable tools around the workshop because of their high utility value in making crosscuts, bevel cuts, miter cuts, and compound cuts.
Other miter saws are specifically designed for cutting aluminum sashes and soft steel.
However, it is important for every miter saw operator to learn about the most effective ways of making clean and accurate cuts.
If you want to truly become a master of the compound cut, you must master some of the crucial safety measures to avoid incurring injuries in the line of duty.
Check out some of these essential steps that you should take in order to make perfect cuts and get the most out of your compound miter saw!
Get Your Settings Right
Miter cutting is one of the most common tasks for a miter saw operator. In order to make a perfect miter cut, you must ensure that the saw is set at the appropriate angle.
You should use the knob and lever at the front of the saw to adjust to the desired angle before you lock down the set-up for accurate results.
Always ensure that you have marked the piece of lumber at the exact place where you want to make the miter cut.
Do not start the saw before you are satisfied with the alignment of the blade with the marked area on the piece of work.
Bevel cuts are made by setting the miter angle at zero and the bevel angle at 45 degrees.
Making Compound Cuts and Crosscuts
A compound cut might, at first glance, appear to be the most complex of all cuts…but the truth of the matter is, you could end up with astonishing accuracy by merely getting your adjustments right.
Generally, a compound cut is a combination of bevel cuts and miter cuts.
How to Make Perfect Cuts with a Compound Miter Saw
The best compound miter saws are engineered for quick, clean, and precise cuts. However, the quality of the results depends on how well you use its features and other enhancements.
It is important to study all the features of the compound miter saw and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations about their usage.
Before you begin the cutting process, you must ensure that the miter saw is in perfect working order and properly positioned on its surface.
You should also check the workpiece for any defects that could damage the miter saw or compromise the quality of the results.
Hold the Stock Firmly Against the Fence
Positioning of the stock determines the efficiency of the sawing process and the precision of the cut.
Any workpiece that you intend to cut must be rested firmly against the tall sliding fence of the miter saw.
This prevents movements of the workpiece, which might alter the alignment of the blade to the marked area.
The best compound miter saws are designed with clamps, which are crucial for maintaining a firm hold on the workpiece in order to stabilize the sawing process.
Once the piece is held in place, the cutting process becomes faster, easier, and more accurate.
Confirm Your Angle Settings
To make perfect cuts with a compound miter saw, you should always make sure that the settings are perfect before you embark on the cutting process.
To get a perfect crosscut with a compound miter saw, always ensure that both the miter angle and the bevel angle are set at zero, before setting the miter angle at 31.6 degrees and the bevel angle at 33.9 degrees.
Ensure That the Blade is Aligned with the Marked Area
Before you begin the cutting process, make sure that the blade is in line with the marked area. You can do this by lowering it until it touches the marked surface.
Once this process is complete, you only have to start the saw and lower it gently into the stock so that it cuts the workpiece completely.
It is not necessary to apply excessive force when you are cutting through the stock.
The Best Compound Miter Saws
There are numerous compound miter saws in the market that will offer you fantastic service and quality of work.
Below are some of the best miter saws ever made. Read through their different features and select one that will satisfy your every need!
For woodworkers, aside from their skills, they also need to utilize power tools that will support and make them produce quality woodwork output.
One of the power tools that they might want to consider is the DEWALT DWS780- it’s one of the best compound miter saws out there!
The DEWALT DWS780 is best suited for people whose work is related to woodwork, such as cabinet makers, framers, installers, trim carpenters, and contractors.
What We Like
There are a lot of things that were praised by consumers about this powerful tool. One of these is its durability, which enables the user to use it on any type of wood works even those that already use thick materials.
The DEWALT DWS780 can withstand even the roughest types of jobs and still function well after long and constant hours of operation, which is made possible because of its powerful 15 AMP motor and can run at 3,800 RPM.
Another thing that is widely praised about DEWALT DWS780 is its efficient system for dust collection that is capable of capturing more than 75% of the dust and particles generated by the saw.
Hitachi is one of the most well-known power tool brands in the market today. All of its saws, specifically the compound miter saws, have been considered as highly competitive tools for carpentry and woodworking.
The Hitachi C10FCH2 compound miter saw is one of the best among them, and therefore earns its rightful spot as one of the best compound miter saws! The C10FCH2 gives a remarkable performance that few other saws can hope to achieve!
The Hitachi C10FCH2 compound miter saw is designed for individuals who require consistency, reliability, and precision, such as framers, woodworkers, and trim carpenters.
What We Like
Conscious consumers choose Hitachi C10FCH2 because it features a Laser Marker System for predictable location and exact alignment of the blade.
These people appreciate this feature because it helps them tremendously, speeding up work while ensuring greater accuracy.
You will definitely discover more from Hitachi C10FCH2 when it comes to the advantages that it can provide. Basically, it is reasonably sturdy and well built.
It comes with a powerful motor that allows the saw to cut almost all hardwoods, lumber, framing materials, and more.
The Hitachi C10FCH2 also has stunning features like the material clamp, laser, and extension bars.
3) DEWALT DW713
The Dewalt DW713 Compound Miter Saw stands out because of its marvelous design and exceptional functional capabilities.
Its incredible power and efficiency are part of the many qualities that make it comfortable for many users.
The DW713 is designed with a powerful 5000 RPM motor that provides a great feeling of confidence and reduces work-related fatigue.
The cutting capacity is well-suited for cutting crown molding, cutting baseboards, and a host of other tasks.
I found the machine is exceptionally accurate and user-friendly, and it is one of the best compound miter saws for both tough and light tasks.
The DEWALT DW713 is ideal for both professional and DIY users.
What We Like
- The DW713 is remarkably quick and accurate.
- The Dewalt DW713 is aesthetically enhanced for the positive ambiance of the workplace.
- The miter saw and durable.
- Its shape offers special ergonomic advantages.
- It is easily adjustable.
If you are looking for a portable general-purpose miter saw that would prove to be reasonably accurate and very lightweight, then you should definitely check out the Makita LS1040!.
The 1,650W brush motor of this compound miter saw will provide sufficient power for a variety of specialized purposes, such as cutting crown molding or aluminum.
Not only does the back fence has holes drilled in it for extra support plates, but its left-hand side also features a pivoting section that you can move in and out of position for adequate support.
This compound miter saw comes with a dust bag, material clamp, service tools, and a TCT saw blade.
Do-it-yourselfers and those working from home workshops or professional contractors will appreciate the many features of the Makita LS1040 Compound Miter Saw.
What We Like
- Accurate measurement indicators
- Comfortable grips with barely any vibrations
- Easy to use
- We’re not mad at the price, either.
5) DEWALT DW715
The DEWALT DW715 miter saw is a 12-inch compound miter saw which is supported by a strong and reliable 15 AMP motor that offers a quick speed of about 4000 RPMs.
The design of the DW715 is slightly different from other DEWALT models. This model has a sturdy design which allows it to deliver a flexible setup, achieving optimal correctness for many different uses.
In addition, the DW715 has a basic adaptable lock miter handle that conveys precise and fast miter angles so as to allow detent override.
Both weekend DIY-ers and professional contractors alike appreciate the 4,000 RPM blade speed, which makes tasks of cross-cutting, molding, miter, and frame cutting extremely quick and easy.
What We Like
- Cuts effortlessly and silently
- Miter scale is easy to read
- Cuts through wood rapidly thanks to its 32-tooth blade
Although the DEWALT DWS779 has been discontinued by the manufacturer since 2019, it is still possible to find one of these great compound miter saws on Amazon!
Its 12” carbide blade can achieve smooth cuts to the most intricate of crown moldings and help you get the first cut right on all of your precision projects.
Contractors in trim molding love this saw for its flexibility. It is also a popular choice for those who own their home or make a living from flipping houses.
What We Like
The DWS779 has a 14 Amp corded motor, which is going to give you plenty of power for all of your thickest pieces of material. It also runs at 3,800 RPM.
Even though they are expensive, a compound miter saw is efficient and handy for any project. Consider buying the tool based on the quality, as it would be a significant risk to buy a low-quality saw.
If you often do woodwork or many DIY projects for home improvement, the best compound miter saw is a must-have.
Choose the saw according to your budget and your needs for the best results.
Hopefully, this guide has proven helpful to you in your quest to find the best compound miter saw!