The Best Miter Saw for 2017 – Complete Buyers Guide & Reviews

Miter saws are a versatile and exceptionally handy power tool for anyone looking to get serious about project work.  

For birdhouses and wood crafts, smaller saws are perfectly adequate. However, if you're ready to tackle more robust lumber and projects requiring more than simple angles, the miter saw is the right tool for you.

Quick Summary: Top Rated Miter Saws​

I believe the natural progression for any professional and DIY'er as they increase their power tool inventory is as follows:

1. Cordless Drill - I'm not really sure what kind of project you can take on without one.  Don't cheap out, you will use this tool far more than anything else.  

2. Circular Saw - Definitely the first saw everyone should purchase.  It's fairly inexpensive and can basically do it all.  

3. Sawzall - Also called a reciprocating saw, this tool is versatile, and the best tool for disassembling pallets.  

4. Miter Saw​ - Functions like a table saw, circular saw, and more.  The best miter saws combine portability with high-functionality.  (Also See: Miter Saw vs. Chop Saw - which one should you buy?) 

Anatomy of typical compound miter saw​

best miter saw

Image Source designsponge.com

Bevel & Miter Adjustments

On/Off Trigger

Blade Guard

Dust Bag

Fence

Safety Clamp

Slide Bar

What Kinds Of Cuts Can Miter Saws Do?

Cross Cut - Perpendicular to the grain of wood.

Miter Cut - Angled cut on face of wood.

Rip Cut - Parallel to the grain of wood.

Bevel Cut - Angled cut to the edge of wood.

Miter Saw Education

Basically, we will focus on 2 types of miter saws: Compound and Sliding Compound.  Over the last ten years the compound and sliding compound have emerged as the standard for the best miter saws.  

Compound Versus Sliding Compound Miter Saw

You're probably wondering, "what's the difference between compound and sliding compound"? The answer is rather simple.  The sliding compound has a sliding arm and the regular compound doesn't. (Here's our full guide to sliding vs. non)

The more apt question is, "why would I need a sliding compound over a regular compound"?​  That question isn't quite as simple...

​Tim Carter of askthebuilder.com had this to say on the subject:

A sliding compound miter saw is a wonderful tool to have around the shop or for a serious do-it-yourselfer. You will use it for many purposes, but don't buy it just to cut crown molding.

There are many finish carpenters who love their compound miter saws and use them regularly to cut crown molding. But realize that the master carpenters of yesteryear installed crown molding without this fancy tool, much less a saw powered by electricity!"

Tim Carter 
Ask The Builder

Tim brings up a few good points.  For instance, don't invest in a fairly expensive tool for one purpose unless it's something you'll be doing often.  For example, a finish carpenter would need the features a sliding compound miter saw provides, while a DIY'er would benefit, but not necessarily "need".  

​The sliding compound miter saw is the best miter saw you can buy without a doubt.  Yet, as I am sure you hear me say often, the best miter saw doesn't mean it's the best miter saw for you.  You will pay significantly more for the sliding version over the regular compound.  

Can you afford it?  

How often will you "need" the sliding feature?

​These are important questions you must answer before making the investment in a sliding miter saw, or even just a regular compound.

 I use the analogy all the time, "why opt for the 4x4 version of a truck if you'll never use it"? ​

Sure it's nice to have 4x4 for the occasional off-roading or Winter snowstorm, but is it worth the additional investment? It wasn't to me (still talking about trucks).

Now just apply the same logic to miter saws.

What about 10" versus 12"?  

Essentially, you're in the same boat with evaluating your needs.  While a 10" will perform adequately for most of your projects, a 12 " will simply expand your capabilities.  ​

Tim Carter of askthebuilder.com loves his 12" compound miter saw, and explains why here:

I own a sliding compound miter saw and must tell you it is a fantastic tool. But the reason I love it is that the combination of the 12-inch blade and the sliding function allow me to make precision cross cuts on material as wide as 14 inches.

I liken sliding compound miter saws to small portable radial arm saws. It can't do everything a radial arm saw can do, but it sure comes in handy most of the time."

Tim Carter
Ask The Builder

​The way I see it is, if you know you will never cut anything wider than a typical 2x4 the 10" saw will be sufficient.  Any sizes beyond that, you may be able to cut with a 10", but will be guaranteed to get the job done with a 12".  

I personally prefer a 10" because of the price difference.  Purchasing a 10" miter saw with the sliding feature will cost you approximately the same as a 12" without the sliding feature.  Anything beyond my saws capabilities (which is rare) I can make do with another saw like a circular or jigsaw.  ​

Miter Saw Safety Focus

Like all saws, safe operation needs to be priority #1.  Click on the image below for some quick statistics about injuries caused by power tools.  

The video below from SRT Wood Shop will give some specific safety tips for operating miter saws.  

Best Overall Miter Saw

DEWALT DWS780 12-Inch Double Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw

Sale
DEWALT DWS780 12-Inch Double Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw
  • New precise miter system
  • Handle design for added portability
  • 90 day money back guarantee
  • Product does not include a stand
  • Integrated XPS cross cut positioning system provides adjustment-free cut line indication

Last update on 2017-11-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

I'm positive after you read what we have to say and the reviews we will feature, you will agree with why we chose the Dewalt DWS780 for our best miter saw overall.  

I'll confess, I didn't want to give the best miter saw overall ranking to a Dewalt miter saw.  My father owns (and only recently purchased) a Bosch miter saw, and in the spirit of loyalty, I wanted to help justify his decision.

Not to mention, I have been digging Bosch tools lately.  They really are an amazing product and I wouldn't discourage anyone from buying even a Bosch miter saw.  Yet, it simply wasn't the best miter saw, and I have to be objective.  

​After reading a ton of reviews, and coming across a few too many referencing some design flaws, I couldn't objectively add it to my list. ​

The Dewalt DWS780 however, I hard a very hard time even finding a bad review.  Which for anyone who reads a lot of reviews, is quite an amazing testament to this saw being the best miter saw overall.  


Key Features

  • Integrated XPS cross cut positioning system provides adjustment-free cut line indication
  • Powerful 15 amp, 3,800 rpm motor delivers extended power and durability
  • Exclusive Back Fence design cuts up to 2 by 16 dimensional lumber at 90-degrees, 2 by 12 at 45 degrees
  • Adjustable stainless steel miter detent plate with 10 positive stops improves productivity, ensures accuracy
  • Super efficient dust collection system captures over 75-percent of dust generated
  • This product does not come with a stand

Precise Cutting without calibration


The DWS780 miter saw features extremely solid construction and the new XPS cross-cut alignment system that features an improved ultra-bright LED light, which casts a laser-like shadow on the work surface and shows the user precisely where the blade will come in contact with the material. This unique alignment system requires no recalibration over time or after changing blades, which makes it more accurate and durable than traditional laser guides.

Hassle-free operation


The dual bevel system is easy to see and use in job site conditions thanks to its high-visibility scale and easy angle adjustment. Bevel from zero to 49 degrees with positive stops at 0 degrees, 22.5 degrees, 33.9 degrees, 45 degrees, and 49 degrees in both right and left directions.

The saw also miters 60 degrees to the right and 50 degrees to the left and features an adjustable miter detent plate with 10 positive stops. A cam lock miter button allows the user to lock angles between detents. A miter detent override is also used to allow precise angle adjustment without falling into detents.

What's in the box


One DEWALT DWS780 12-inch double bevel sliding compound miter saw, one carbide blade, one blade wrench, one dust bag, and one vertical material clamp.


Customer Reviews

Like I mentioned before, I had a difficult time finding bad reviews for the Dewalt DWS780 Miter Saw.  If you don't know already, this is a very good sign.  

Trust me, I know it's hard to ignore negative reviews, but the fact is, with as many saws as Dewalt manufactures, there are bound to be some occasional defects.  The same goes for every brand as well.  Sometimes we just need a little perspective.  

The few negative reviews I read referenced an issue with the bearings in the slide.  For instance, one Amazon reviewer stated "This saw would be pretty kick a*s if they could change one thing on it....the linear bearings on the slide".  

However, this review was posted over 3 years ago, and from what I understand, Dewalt has corrected the issue.  

​I hope my objectivity proves that I'm not just here to sell you a Dewalt miter saw. I'm simply here to give you the "tools" to make the best miter saw decision.

​Now that we've got that trust exercise out of the way, let's focus on the good stuff.  Which is always a good philosophy to live by...

From the perspective of a handyman or home hobbyist one reviewer discusses his positive experience.

​Joel demonstrates the reason anyone would choose a 12" miter saw with a double-bevel over one with a single bevel.  It really makes a difference when your project requires angle cutting.  

Reinforcing the upgrade to the 12" blade, Joel clearly illustrates the ease of use and efficiency of the Dewalt DWS780.  


If you've come to the conclusion that the 12" blade is just unnecessary for you, click here to read about the smaller version Dewalt DW717.

DEWALT DWS780 12-Inch Double Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw


Best Runner-up Miter Saw

Makita LS1016L 10-Inch Dual Slide Compound Miter Saw with Laser

Makita LS1016L 10-Inch Dual Slide Compound Miter Saw with Laser
  • Powerful 15.0 AMP direct drive motor requires less maintenance and delivers 3,200 RPM
  • Compact design with a patented 4-Steel Rail Sliding System further increases rigidity to produce superior cuts
  • Exclusive 6 linear ball bearings engineered to deliver ""dead-on"" accurate cuts
  • Increased capacity for up to 6-5/8"" crown molding (vertically nested), 4-3/4"" baseboard (vertical), and 12"" crosscuts at 90°
  • Largest crown molding cutting capacity in its class

Last update on 2017-11-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

I have many friends and coworkers who prefer Makita power tools.  It's kind of hard to understand.  I guess it's kind of like those who prefer Ford's over Chevy's...it's really down to a matter of opinion.  

Yet, I have to say, Makita has been making great tools for a very long time.  And if you can trust anyone, trust the contractors and professionals who use them.  ​

Makita is a well-trusted company founded in Japan in 1915.  Much like Hitachi power tools, Makita tools have fast become a household name in the industry.  Makita's commitment to excellence is why the Makita LS1016 is voted our best miter saw runner up.  


Key Features​

  • Powerful 15.0 AMP direct drive motor requires less maintenance and delivers 3,200 RPM
  • Compact design with a patented 4-Steel Rail Sliding System further increases rigidity to produce superior cuts
  • Exclusive 6 linear ball bearings engineered to deliver ""dead-on"" accurate cuts
  • Increased capacity for up to 6-5/8"" crown molding (vertically nested), 4-3/4"" baseboard (vertical), and 12"" crosscuts at 90°
  • Largest crown molding cutting capacity in its class
  • Innovative direct drive gearbox and guard system is engineered for increased vertical cutting capacity
  • Miters 0°-52° left and 0°-60° right, with positive stops at 0°, 15°, 22.5°, 31.6°, and 45° (left and right)

Best in class range of applicatioin


The LS1016L is engineered for finish work, remodeling, trim work, and furniture making. It is ideal for a broad range of trades, including finish carpenters, professional woodworkers, case and base installers, cabinet installers, cabinet manufacturers, closet installers, decking and flooring applications, siding installers, stair installers, and general contractors seeking a best-in-class 10-inch dual slide compound miter saw for the jobsite or on the benchtop.

15-amp power, smoother, higher-quality cutting


The LS1016L has a 15 AMP direct gear box motor that never slips, bogs down, or requires maintenance like belt-driven saws. The soft start feature delivers smoother start-ups, and the Electronic Speed Control maintains constant speed under load for smoother, higher-quality cutting.

What's in the box


Makita LS1016L 10-inch Dual Slide Compound Miter Saw, 60T TCT Saw Blade, Vertical Vise, Dust Bag, Triangular Ruler, Socket Wrench and Hex Wrench.


Customer Reviews

We couldn't determine the best miter saw without testing many of the saws ourselves or without the help of thousands of reviews from verified owners.  

We exist to help you sift through some of the best reviews (not just good ones) that help you make an informed decision.  Besides, a miter saw isn't a small investment...unless you're Bill Gates.  In which case, I desperately need a new truck...hook a brother up.  

I've also recently read that this issue has been resolved and or greatly improved.  However, the slides on all saws are going to be a bit rough at times.  It's kind of the difficult nature of any element involving bearings.  

One thing you can always count on with Makita, you're getting a reliable saw matched with durability.  Easy-reading manual...not so much. 

The Makita LS1016 is certainly worth the investment, and a great alternative for those who prefer a manufacturer that isn't Dewalt.  Or, maybe you just don't like the color yellow...

Makita LS1016L 10-Inch Dual Slide Compound Miter Saw with Laser


Best Budget Miter Saw

DEWALT DW715 15-Amp 12-Inch Single-Bevel Compound Miter Saw

Sale
DEWALT DW715 15-Amp 12-Inch Single-Bevel Compound Miter Saw
  • Sharp and thin saw
  • This product satisfies the customer requirement
  • Manufacture in China
  • Includes: a carbide blade, dust bag, blade wrench and comfortable side handles in the base
  • Miter detent override that allows you to override the miter stops and adjust to the desired setting without the saw slipping into the miter detents

Last update on 2017-11-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

A miter saw on a budget?  Does that really exist?  It does, and it's another great saw from Dewalt called the Dewalt DW715 Miter Saw.  

Naturally, you can't expect to get the same features and power from a budget saw as you would a top of the line saw.  The price difference can be around $300 and that kind of cost difference goes a long way.  

You're going to sacrifice certain features such as, the double-bevel and sliding arm, which are features that really drive the price up.  But, you're still getting a 15-amp motor and 12" blade capacity.  

The simple design of this saw will definitely get the job done.  ​

The simple design of this saw will definitely get the job done. ​

What you should expect from a budget saw is quality and durability.  The Dewalt DW715 provides both of the aforementioned attributes, and will certainly satisfy the amateur DIY'er or beginner handyman's needs.  ​


Key Features

  • 15 Amp motor, 4,000 rpm delivers extended power and durability
  • Adjustable stainless steel miter detent plate with 11 positive stops improves productivity and ensures cutting
  • Precise miter system and machined base fence support optimize cutting accuracy
  • Tall sliding fence supports crown molding up to 5-1/4-inch nested and base molding up to 6-1/2-inch vertically against the fence while easily sliding out of the way for bevel cuts
  • Bevels 0 degree-48 degree to the left and 0 degree-3 degree to the right for increased capacity; 0 degree-50 degree left and right miter capacity for greater versatility

Portability and easy to transport


This lightweight compound miter saw weighs just 42 pounds and features a built-in carry handle, so you can move it around the jobsite easily and lift it comfortably when it comes time to stow the saw at the end of the day.

This 12-inch single-bevel compound miter saw also comes with a DEWALT warranty package that includes a three-year limited warranty, a one-year free service contract, and a 90-day money back guarantee.

Smart, powerful design for quick, accurate cuts


This DEWALT single-bevel compound miter saw's 12-inch blade is backed by a powerful and dependable 15 amp motor. Offering a no-load speed of 4,000 rpm, it makes quick work of cutting framing or molding, as well as other crosscutting and miter-cutting jobs.

This sturdy saw is designed to deliver both a versatile setup and excellent accuracy to handle a variety of applications. The precise miter system's adjustable stainless steel miter detent plate features 11 positive stops for easy setup and improved productivity.

An easy-to-adjust cam-lock miter handle delivers quick and accurate miter angles, as well as allowing for detent override--which allows you to adjust the miter setting without the saw slipping into the miter detents. The saw's wide miter capacity--0 to 50 degrees to the left and the right--adds versatility.

What's in the box


DEWALT 12-Inch Single-Bevel Compound Miter Saw, carbide blade, dust bag, and blade wrench.


DEWALT DW715 15-Amp 12-Inch Single-Bevel Compound Miter Saw

Miter Saw Summary

  • Do the research and determine your needs.  Again, the best miter saw for the money is a relative term.  If you know you won't tackle projects that require large lumber or beveled cuts, go with the budget saw.  If you will be tackling those type of projects, you will definitely get your money's worth out of a double-bevel sliding compound.  
  • All miter saws will struggle with dust collection.  It's an inherent fact.  
  • ​Brand loyalty can sometimes be a hindrance.  I love Bosch tools and have never really had a negative experience with any of their tools.  But, the Dewalt and Makita brands appear to be rising above.  
  • Be smart and be safe.  Good ol' fashion common sense will go a long way with miter safety.  Like I learned in the military, "slow is smooth, and smooth is fast".