Last Updated on October 31, 2021
In this age of do-it-yourself and home wood projects, even novice woodworkers must have a selection of tools handy.
As a versatile all-rounder tool, a miter saw is something everyone who does woodwork somewhat seriously should have. If you are someone looking to get your hands on one of these, then read our article on different types of miter saws.
What Is a Miter Saw?
Essentially, a miter saw is a saw that is used to make crosscuts and miter cuts in a wood piece. Miter saw is an improvement on the basic chop saw and can be used to make precise cuts at different angles. These saws are used by mounting them on a wood piece and then carefully moving the piece around to get the desired cut.
There are three major types of miter saws you can find available on the market, along with a few other rarer types. These saws can be used to make various kinds of smooth cuts such as bevel cut, crosscut, rip-cut, angled cut, etcetera. Special miter saws offer additional features along with these, which are more expensive.
Types of Miter Saws
Primarily, there are two types of miter saws available – the standard miter saw and the sliding miter saw. A third type is made by combining these two, which is called the combined miter saw. The rest of the types are just variations of these three. Each of the types is discussed in detail below –
Standard Miter Saw
A standard miter saw is the most basic and straightforward miter saw, and it has a blade that is mounted to a base. Crossgrain cuts of at least 45° and 90° are available in all the models, in fact, many of them offer a variety of cuts between -45° and +45°.
These are fairly easy and quick to use, and gives a more precise cut than handsaws. The biggest advantages of standard miter saws are the affordability and weight. These saws offer solid functionality for a very low price and are lightweight enough to carry around if needed.
Most of these saws are 10-12 inches in size with an adjustable scale. Standard miter saws are perfect for quick miter cuts. These are invaluable for any woodworking, framing, or molding projects.
They are mainly used for angled cuts, but lengthwise cuts or rips are doable, too, depending on the width of the blade. Keep this type of miter saw in consideration if the saw needs to be transported regularly.
Compound Miter Saw
As the name suggests, compound miter saws are made for “compound” cuts. What’s a compound cut, you say? A compound cut involves not only an angled crosscut (a.k.a. a miter) but also a sloped cut (a.k.a. a bevel). So basically, a compound miter saw is a saw that allows you to make a cut that is both beveled and angled.
The angle options in these saws are the same as a standard miter saw, with an added mechanism of tilting the blade. It can be tilted from 0° to 45° towards both right and left. This tilt function is what allows you to make miter cuts, cross cuts, bevel cuts, or compound cuts.
But there’s more to this. Not all compound miter saws have the tilting blade mechanism available. There are two different types of compound miter saws you can find. They are –
- Single bevel compound: tilts only in one direction
- Double bevel compound: tilts in both directions
And the biggest advantage of a compound miter saw is the added functionality that the standard version lacks. Critical and specialized cuts that are otherwise tough to achieve using hand tools can be gained using a compound miter saw. Crosscuts from this type of miter saw are the most precise.
Aside from woods, compound miter saws also work on thick plastics, non-ferrous metals, and wooden boards. The added function means it can be used for versatile projects starting from DIY home jobs to professional woodworks. You really can’t ask for a more useful tool in your shed.
However, there are some drawbacks. There is a limit up to which a compound saw can cut, and it cannot exceed that limited length.
Moreover, more functionality means a greater price. Before you get a saw of this kind, ask yourself whether you would actually have any use of the functionality this saw offers, or would a standard miter suffice?
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Sliding Compound Miter Saw
If the limited cutting capacity of the compound miter saw is a huge problem for you, then this one is the perfect match. Both standard and compound miter saws are attached to an arm, which is attached to the base. The arm is fixed, which means the width of the piece you can cut is very limited.
To solve this very problem, in comes the sliding compound miter saw. As you can probably guess from the name, the arm of this kind of miter saw is no longer fixed to the base. Instead, the blade and the arm are equipped to rails with a sliding mechanism, allowing the blade to move not only in and out, but also up and down.
Contingent on the length of the slide, a sliding compound miter saw can double or even triple the cutting capacity. As the name suggests, this is also a compound saw; meaning you can get both miter and bevel cuts from this saw with the added bonus of extra space.
So, if you are someone who needs to work on bigger pieces on a regular basis, you should definitely give this type of miter saw a try. The saw can be a bit expensive; make sure to do a cost-benefit analysis before getting one.
Some Other Types of Miter Saw
You can get your hands on some other, more expensive miter saws, which have added functions. The double bevel sliding compound miter saw, laser Miter saw or LED miter saw are examples of this. They are rarer in the market and harder to spot or find. These kinds also cost relatively high compared to the more general types.
That’s all, folks! This is more or less all you need to know about the different types of miter saws so that you can find the one that fits your needs, preferences, and budget perfectly.
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