Miter saws are very versatile tools and every carpenter should have one. They are able to make angled cuts by pulling the circular blade down onto a piece of wood or molding with a short, precise plunge. Some people think that these kinds of saws are very varied and complex, but there are basically only three types. The type of miter saw you need depends on what type of your woodworking you will be doing. They were first available to the public in the 1960’s. They were predicted to be perfect tools for carpenters, and definately were. Compound miter saws weren’t considered fine wood working tools until more and more features were added to them. After more models were developed, the accuracy of the saws got better and better. Then, when the sliding compound miter saw was released, it was hard to find a more useful type of saw.
If you are looking for reviews of the best Compound Miter Saws before you buy, you have come to the right place. We have tested the latest miter saws and can give you up to date information on which ones are fit for the job, and which ones to avoid. We can also offer advice on how to get the best out of your miter saw, that will save you time and money.
A Standard or Basic Miter Saw is the least versatile of the three variations, but will still do a great job if you do not require bevel or compound cuts.
Before the compound miter saw existed, you used to have use radial arm saws or table saws to trim boards to the right length. Many carpenters even had to use a hand saw. The chop saw eventually replaced these. It also led to working much faster with higher accuracy. To make it even better, the chop saw was cheaper than both the radial arm saw and table saw. Surprisingly, after fourty years, the modern compound miter saw is quite similar to the original model. You’ll start to see this in the compound miter saw reviews. There are now many more features, but the basic cutting motion of the miter saw is still the same. Today you’ll see lasers, dust collection, bevel swings, and a variety of miter angles depending on the model of saw.
The Compound is much easier to use than the standard miter saw as you can position your workpiece flat for cutting, and it can adjust simultaneously for both bevel and miter cuts. It is suitable for jobs that require cutting of stock that is not very wide or tall, like a picture frame or door or window trim.
The Sliding Miter Saw is the best miter saw for crown molding available. Its motor and blade assembly is mounted on an extendable arm that accommodates wider and longer stock. It works like a basic fixed-head model for smaller workpieces. Some models can only have the blade pivoting in one direction, but the dual sliding compound miter saw enables the blade to tilt to the left or right.
Though models of will vary from brand to brand and within different designs, there are some more commonly found features that should help you when choosing the best model for your workshop.
So what is the difference between a Standard Miter Saw and a Compound Miter Saw?
A power miter saw has a hinged frame that lets you make repetitive and precise vertical cuts, either straight down or at an angle in small boards, timber or molding. The main advantage is that repetition needed in your woodwork is a piece of cake, because the power miter saw saves a whole lot of time. Compound miter saws not only cut at an angle, but also let you position the blade to the side, which basically gives you two angled cuts simultaneously. This feature makes this an excellent tool for cutting moldings, especially crown moldings.
When using a standard saw, a crown molding would need to be placed on the saw table or stand upside down at the exact angle that it is going to be installed at before an angle cut can be made. This is not very practical and it has the added disadvantage of tall crown molding not fitting underneath the blade on a standard miter saw. Even if it did fit, the raised guide along the back of the saw’s frame will often be too short for the molding to lean against it. This means you will need to make your own custom support to lean the molding against. Again, not very practical, as the reason you bought the miter saw in the first place was to save time, not increase your workload. However, it is a possible solution if you have enough patience and diligence.
The compound miter saw makes these problems history. The blade’s angle can be set enabling you to make the compound cut by having the molding lying flat on the base of the saw. This makes the whole operation much easier and a lot more accurate. Wood Magazine at woodmagazine.com, has very helpful software that lets you work out the compound miter angle for items with up to 50 sides. Very few jobs will require you to need anything with quite that many sides and angles, but it’s nice to know that the facility is there if you need it!
There are two different types of Compound Miter Saw; the regular Compound Miter Saw and the Sliding Compound Miter Saw (also known as the Sliding Miter Saw or Slide Miter Saw).
The sliding compound miter saw does not only hinge to make the cut, but also hinges as well as slides or just slides on its own. The main advantage of the sliding miter saw is that much wider and thicker boards can be cut using it. This is the obvious choice for the professional, because it is extremely accurate in cutting angles on most popular sizes of lumber, boards and moldings. You will generally pay more for a compound miter saw than you would a standard miter saw, and more still for a slide compound miter saw. But if you are planning to do a lot of moldings or are prepared to pay a little more for the best tool for the job, it will definitely be worth investing in a compound miter saw or a sliding compound miter saw.
I hope this sheds a bit more light for you on what type of miter saw to go after. Check out our favorite compound miter saws on this site and find out about more great features.