Milwaukee tops our chart with the most unique miter saw in this series. While they have long been known for having extremely rugged tools, Milwaukee took a new step forward with this saw, in providing a digital readout for the miter angle. This provides miter cutting repeatability to an accuracy of 0.1 degrees, something that nobody else can claim.
The final miter angle is set with a fine adjustment knob, which also has a detent override, making it possible to set exact angles, even by the detents. Although there are no lasers on this saw, there are dual jobsite lights to fully illuminate the workpiece from both sides. The electronic controls provide a soft-start capability and constant speed, even under load. Finally, the saw comes with a five year warranty, to ensure you remain happy with it.
Bosch’s saw comes with a nice set of features, most of which have been added to make the saw easier to work with. All the controls are up-front and the handle is adjustable for four different positions and I believe this makes this saw the easiest to work with in this category. Bosch has also made the table extensions integral to the saw, giving a total width of 40-inches to the table. The fence is also sliding, allowing you to extend it to the side when necessary. There’s also a built in length stop for those times when you have to make repetitive cuts.
The detent system on this saw is unique as well, being a “wedge and slot” rather than a typical ball detent. That will make a difference over the life of the saw, as it will help maintain better accuracy. There’s also an override for the detent as well, for those times when you need to set up a cut that’s just a little off. Also included is a built in an electric brake, which is especially nice for keeping your fingers safe during repetitive cutting. Finally, this saw has an arbor mounted laser, making it easier to get your cuts exactly where you want them.
Ridgid is one of those companies you don’t hear a whole lot about, but when they come out with a good tool, it’s a really good one. This saw is the only one in this class with a blade depth adjustment, meaning that you can use it for dado and rabbet cuts. I think they’re trying to take away the last little bit of the radial arm saw business with that feature.
Like the other saws we’ve looked at, the miter detent is easily to override for those difficult to set-up cuts. It also has a work piece clamp with a quick release lever, providing assurance your expensive piece of trim doesn’t move while you’re cutting it.
One little detail, which is rather unique, is Ridgid finished the fence in a way to make it easy to mark on and erase, saving those of us who are always putting masking tape on our fence for that purpose. A crown molding “cheat sheet’ right on the saw has gotten a lot of positive comments, and you can’t forget Ridgid’s hard to beat lifetime warranty.
As usual, Makita designs their products to be top quality. The slide on this saw runs on four rails, instead of two, with six linear ball bearings to maintain accurate cuts and smooth action. The capacity is huge as well, with the ability to cut 8-inch crown moldings and a 15-inch crosscut at 90 degrees. The fence is sliding for better support on long cuts, and the table extensions come with the saw.
This saw has a laser for aligning your cuts. One nice thing they’ve done is give the laser its own switch, so it can be turned on before the motor is. There’s also a soft start and electronic speed control to make cutting easier and trouble-free along with a double-jointed vertical vice to hold your workpiece in place.
Our final saw is the DeWalt DWS780, an upgrade from the venerable DW718. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not as good as the others we’ve looked at. The difference between one of these saws and another is minimal. An interesting thing they’ve done on this one is to make the stainless steel miter plate with its detents adjustable, which makes up for any inaccuracies that might be found.
The fence on this one is set farther back than most, increasing the capacity to 16-inches. It's also sliding, like some of the other saws we’ve looked at. Some people have complained about the miter cam lock, but the one I tried worked well and the override feature makes it possible to set angles very close to the detents. An integrated XPS cross cut positioning system provides adjustment free cut line indication, improving accuracy.
Hitachi has taken the top spot with their 12 inch dual compound miters saw. They took an incredibly good saw and added a digital readout to it, making it even better. The readout helps you to make sure you're getting your angles exactly right, by showing you what you've got set.
Like many of the other 12-inch saws, this saw has a 15 amp motor while the street price on this one is slightly lower than the DeWalt, while adding a few different features. Hitachi built a laser into this saw, so you can see exactly where the blade will cut. This laser is unique in that you can quickly and easily adjust it to the right or left of the blade, depending upon your need for that cut.
The fence is pivoting, allowing you to have it upright for tall moldings or lay it horizontal to give you a longer fence while allowing it to cut comparable sized molding as the DeWalt. Finally, there’s a micro-bevel adjustment knob for the bevel angle, allowing you to dial it in exactly. This has to be the most accurate compound miter saw on the market.
Perfectly designed all around, it’s easy to understand why the DeWalt DW716 is the most popular compound miter saw on the market. The miter plate is made of stainless steel for long life, with 11 detents for the most common cutting angles. That’s more detents than anyone else puts on their miter saw.
The other really great thing about this saw is the fence. It’ll support up to 6-5/8-inch cove molding and there’s enough clearance to cut 6-1/2-inch base molding. When you need to cut compound angles using the double bevel feature, the fence slides right out of the way. This is a 12 inch saw, perfect for cutting large molding, with a 15 amp motor. The large D-handle and balance of this saw make it a true joy to work with.
As usual, Makita produces a top-notch product. This 12-inch, 15 amp saw has all the features you’d expect in a compound miter saw, although it’s only a single bevel. That means that it just bevels to the left, not to the right and they’ve also put nine miter stops on it, almost as many as the DeWalt.
The pivoting fence allows the saw to support larger materials, meaning you can easily cut 5-1/2-inch cover molding on it. The control handle is a D handle, a bit rare on miter saws but that's actually much easier to grasp and reduces operator fatigue. The motor even has an electric brake for safety and longer life.
This Bosch saw has been hailed as the easiest model to carry, with a well-balanced, center-mounted carry handle. This 12 inch saw has a 15 amp motor, running at 4300 RPM and also comes with integral workpiece supports, which extend out to a total width of 37 inches. whereas the other saws we’ve looked at have those as an accessory that you have to purchase separately. Like the Makita, it’s a single bevel, but this one uses a 12 inch blade, making it possible to cut the larger moldings. Additionally, the base plate has 9 miter detents and it has an ambidextrous trigger handle.
Skil, the company who invented the Skilsaw, provides a very nice 12-inch saw with a 15 amp motor at a really reasonable price. It should be noted that this saw uses blades that take a one inch arbor which gives more stability to the blade, whereas the other saws we looked at take a 5/8-of an inch version.
Skil has added a few extra, uncommon features such as integral table extension supports, which are nice to have, and a workpiece clamp to hold the molding in place for accurate cuts. It also has a laser for the cutline, for individuals who are worried about their cutting accuracy.
WEN provides a sliding compound miter saw that’s cheaper than the one offered by Harbor Freight. The only thing that this one doesn’t have, which the Chicago Electric model does is a laser to show you the cut line. Other than that, you get all the same features, albeit in a 10-inch saw instead of a 12 inch one. The only problem is when miter cutting to the right, the blade doesn’t go all the way back, unless you are beveling as well. Not a big issue, but something to be aware of.
WEN has also added an electric blade brake, which is surprising for a saw at this price. An arbor lock holds the saw still while you’re changing blades while the hold down clamp and table extensions come with the saw.
I was surprised to find a major brand name saw that fit into this price category. This Hitachi is a fairly basic miter saw, but offered at an excellent price. It’s a compound miter saw, although it just bevels to the left side. Like most Hitachi tools, this one is very easy and comfortable to work with.
The fence pivots for handling taller moldings, something you don’t expect at this price range. This saw even includes a laser which operates on its own switch, not something you usually see on miter saws. A material clamp and the table extensions are also included and at only 26.5 pounds, this saw is easy to take wherever you need it. Like all of Hitachi’s power tools, this comes with a five year warranty.
Skil #3317, 10" Compound Miter Saw with Laser
Skill doesn't seem to receive the press they deserve for the quality of their tools. As the original inventor of the original Skilsaw, they know a lot about designing and building saws, especially models using round blades.
This is a compound miter saw so it will work for cutting those infuriating angles required for cove moldings. The table has extensions on both sides to provide better support to the wood being cut and it's also got a clamp to hold the workpiece in place while cutting. Lock-off switches are also included for both right and left handed users.
Skil uses a "quick-mount" system for attaching their saws to the stand, saving valuable setup time at the jobsite. This one also has a laser to show the cut line, a useful feature that's becoming more and more common.
Although Genesis isn’t a big name in the tool market, they do make some descent tools. This 10-inch miter saw allows compound cuts, beveling to the left side. It also includes a laser cutting guide that’s becoming a common of these tool types. The table is rather small, but has feet that extend out far enough to give it stability; the fence is a little low as well. Like the other saws we’ve looked at it comes with the table extensions and a workpiece clamp.
Craftsman #932563, 7-1/4" Sliding Compound Miter Saw
This saw from Craftsman caught my eye because it's a sliding miter saw, but still falls within the price restrictions I set. It uses a 7-1/4-inch blade, so it's not going to be all that great for cutting large crown moldings but on the other hand, if you need to cut a lot of angles on the flat, this one has a nine inch capacity at a 45 degree bevel. That might actually work out better for some people's needs than a larger diameter blade without the slide.
An added advantage with this saw is that the blades are going to be cheaper. The D handle is centrally located, making it perfect for both right and left handed users. Table extensions help with holding longer workpieces in place and nine positive miter stops help ensure accuracy. There is also a slightly more expensive version of this saw, which includes a laser for the cut line.
This Swedish made saw from Plano Systems AB has to be the finest made manual miter saw available on the market with a machined aluminum fence and steel saw holders. Rated at 0.08 degrees, it provides incredible accuracy, along with a vertical capacity of 7-1/5-inches and a horizontal capacity of 7-7/8-inches at ninety degrees, making it the highest miter saw around.
It has a stop for repetitive cutting with a maximum capacity of 28-5/8-inches and there are detents in the miter settings for the most common angles. While it comes with an 18 TPI blade, Nobex also has a 32 TPI blade for the same saw, which I highly recommend, especially for fine cabinetmaking and picture frames. There are also materials clamps on both sides of the fence to hold materials tightly to the fence.
I was a bit surprised when I found this saw, because Logan isn't a tool company. Rather, they manufacture graphics products for artists and commercial artists who of course need picture frames and that's what this saw was specifically designed for cutting.
The most outstanding feature of this miter saw is that it comes with a huge fence which runs 36-inches to the left and 18-inches to the right. The right-hand fence is scaled as well, saving you some trouble on measuring. The rod stressed saw comes with a 24 TPI blade straight from the factory, a finer blade than even the Nobex miter saw comes with.
There are secure clamps included for holding the molding on both sides of the cut and switching between right and left 45 degree miter cuts is done with a quick-release, making it ideal for cutting picture frame moldings up to 2.5-inches wide. A stop is provided for repeat cuts, so you can make sure opposite sides are exactly equal. While not ideal for cutting architectural moldings, this saw perfect for what it's designed for.
C.R. Lawrence refers to this saw as “dual purpose” because it’s designed for cutting both wood and plastic. While I believe any miter saw can do that, they’ve probably kept that in mind for their blade design, which I’m sure not everyone has done. The cast aluminum base and fence combination is machined for exact straightness and angle. The fence isn’t as high on this one, as on the Nobex, nor can you get a 32 TPI blade for it. However, it does have material clamps on both sides of the saw and it’s still a fine saw, with accuracy to rival the Nobex.
Empire Level produces a miter box very similar to the C.R. Laurence, but at a better price. The box itself is machined cast aluminum, which ensures that it’s square and true while clamps are provided on both sides for material hold-down. The miter adjustment is very smooth, with an extended handle for easy changes and a reversible length gauge is provided for making repetitive cuts. The saw blade itself is 21-inches long with saw stops built into the guide so the saw won’t cut into the box.
Stanley provides a similar model miter saw to the high-dollar Nobex and C.R. Lawrence saws, but at a much lower price. Part of that lower price comes from the fact that it’s made from filled plastic, rather than aluminum. While it still does a good job, the plastic just isn’t as tough or as durable.
The other drawback to this saw is that the stroke isn’t as long as the others, making more work out of cutting. To make up for that, Stanley has developed an aggressive three-sided tooth design for 50 percent faster cutting than a normal hacksaw blade will provide. They also have a really unique clamping system, using “quick cams” that I really like. I’ve used the system and find it’s extremely easy to work with and hold the material quite well.