If you’re cutting molding or doing other projects that require precision cutting, you need a miter saw. However, we all know that not all manufacturers make their tools with the precision that will allow you to have the precision you’ll need on your projects. That can make shopping online very hard, as can be difficult to tell what models are worth the money, and which ones will leave you wishing you had kept your hard-earned cash instead.
If you are into tools, you know how easy it is to get swayed into buying the latest and greatest miter saw with all the bells and whistles – and there doesn’t even have to be a salesman present. The following saws scream, “Take Me Home Now”. They have so many cool features it is hard to resist.
- Best Overall: DEWALT DWS780
- Runner-up: Makita LS1016L
- Best Value: DEWALT DW715
- Best compound: Hitachi C10FCE2
- Premium choice: Festool 561287 Kapex KS 120
- Best Portable Miter Saw: DEWALT DCS361M1
1. Best Overall: DEWALT DWS780
Featuring precise cutting without recalibration, this DWS780 model offers solid construction and has the new XPS cross-cut alignment system with an improved ultra-bright LED light, which allows the user to see precisely where the blade will come in contact with the material by casting a laser-like shadow. This powerful, 15-amp, 3800 RPM tool features durable guards precision-machined castings, fences, a bevel system, and rugged stainless steel detent plates that are designed to hold up to the rigorous demands of the job site.
- Simple, swift adjustment of angle and bevel
- Precise cutting. Great torque holding blade speed throughout the cut
- 3-Year warranty
- Easily portable
- Highly accurate gauges
- LED light to enhance accuracy
- It does not feature adjustable bearings
- Blade needs upgrading if working with very fine detail
- Can be awkward to slide at times
- No soft start option available
VERDICT: If you are seeking a pro-level miter saw which can also be used in the home and your budget will stretch to it then the DeWALT DWS780 could very well be your best bet for a miter saw of this size and type.
2. Runner-up: Makita LS1016L
It is the best 10-inch miter saw available and is only slightly smaller than the Dewalt. While The Makita LS1016L has a smaller blade, it has a lot of features that make it a great saw as well. It has a compact design and only weighs 53.3 lbs which makes it one of the lightest saws in its class. Its lightweight feature makes it easy to move around a job site. It comes with a 15 amp direct drive motor that is capable of pushing over 3200 rpm. Also, it comes with a 4- steel rail sliding system that provides a stable cutting platform.
- Compact design
- Clear markings
- Stable cutting platform. Precise miter and bevel cuts.
- Adjustable even at small angles, so Makita LS1016L is class leader for crown molding cutting
- Large cutting capacity
- Complicated to operate
- Fences bend occasionally
- Pay attention to 0 degree bevel stop
- Instruction manual unclear and has generated complaints
VERDICT: This Makita slide compound miter tool cuts precisely and slides smoothly to handle any type of woodworking project.
3. Best Value: DEWALT DW715
If you are looking for a miter saw to be used at home with a lower price then the DeWALT miter saw (DW715) is well worth considering.
This saw is well worth the price. The 15-Amp motor is perfect for cutting bigger boards and the cuts are beautiful, smooth and perfectly straight.
- Accuracy, versatility and power in one package. Accuracy, versatility and power in one package
- Excellent price
- Great miter capacity
- Cam lock miter handle
- Only single-bevel
- On the heavy side
- Poor dust collector
VERDICT: The DEWALT DW715 has a good capacity, is lightweight, and has a cam lock miter handle, and since you can get it for a fraction of what you’d pay for the top models on our list, it’s the best value for the money.
4. Best compound: Hitachi C10FCE2
Whether you are a carpenter, woodworker or framer, the Hitachi will offer you a professional grade experience. The Hitachi C10FCE2 is both simple to use and easy to maneuver. The vibration-reducing handle makes it a pleasure to work with and the substantial miter saw table acts as a great steadying guide. It’s very well-supported with the clamping system built into the unit.
This saw is a 10-inch single bevel compound miter saw. Its 15-amp motor provides an intense amount of output to help you power through the toughest jobs. It only weighs 33.6 poundsand its compact size is easy to carry to and from the job site. This saw comes with several cutting features as well; it has a 0 – 52-degree miter angle cutting range. It is also equipped with a 0 – 45-degree bevel range to the left that allows you to make most beveled cuts and has adjustable stops to allow for precision cuts no matter the angle.
- Out of the box functionality perfect for the beginner
- Works great with small or large pieces of wood
- Excellent five-year warranty
- Built-in dust collector is extremely effective
- Carbon brush easy to replace
- Highly durable blade
- Easy to adjust for bevel or miter cuts
- Ergonomic handle with simple motion to pull down
- Manual is difficult to follow
VERDICT: This is a good saw that comes with a 5-year professional warranty. This tool has pioneered modern technologies enhancing the quality of craftsmanship across the world.
5. Premium choice: Festool 561287 Kapex KS 120
The Festool 561287 Kapex KS 120 upholds the company’s reputation for making high quality tools that work well with the brand’s other equipment. This saw is loaded with many different easy-to-use-and-switch-between features as well as some extra safety features. Don’t let the price tag scare you away, between the incredible accuracy, cut quality, and customer service package, you will certainly get your moneys worth.
The manufacturer boasts that they have packed ‘the cutting capacity of a 12” saw into a small and lightweight footprint’. Indeed, it does rival some 12” saws in cutting range, though not necessarily beating the best ones.
The mechanism for adjusting miter angles on the Kapex KS 120 is easy to use and sturdy. Over-sized angle indicators allow you to eyeball your angles to a half or even a quarter of a degree. As far as range goes, the Kapex will go as far as 50° to the left and 60° to the right and has 4 detents on each side as well as one at 0°.
Festool increased the cutting capacity to 12” with only a 10” blade by applying a setting that allows the carpenter to lower the depth of the cut to the extent that the barely used back of the blade finally gets to play a role. It is easy to switch on and off and it is a very clever way of gaining width in cuts.
At only 47 pounds, it is portable beyond belief and the unique forward rail design lets it fit into tight spaces and directly against walls. With all of the bells and whistles on this machine, it is very important to read the manual before you get to work. Take your time and read the manual.
The bevel angle indicators are also over-sized and easy to read. This is a dual bevel saw and of course Festool included the angle graphics on both sides. A simple knob and lock operates either side and the arm is counter-balanced so it doesn’t move even before you lock it in. They included 3 settings, left side from 0° to 45°, left and right to 45°, and then the max bevel range of 47° either way.
- The Festool 561287 features a rail forward design that creates a compact footprint while preventing head play for accurate cuts.
- Features a micro-adjustable bevel angle with the up-front rotary knob.
- Easily align cuts from the left or right side using the dual lasers.
- Lasers clearly define the material to be removed during the cut.
- Offers dust extraction up to 91% with behind the cut dust hood and pivoting 36mm hose.
- With all of the bells and whistles on this machine, it is very important to read the manual before you get to work.
- The storage for the accessory gets in the way when trying to miter beyond 40° on either side.
- Small hand cannot use it.
VERDICT: This saw clearly has two best uses. The first is the serious finisher looking for the highest quality on trim work and indoor jobs. The second is for DIYers who either take their hobby very seriously or are new to home improvement and really want their tools that will help them develop quality.
6. Best Portable Miter Saw: DEWALT DCS361M1
When portability is in question, the DCS361M1 takes the win. In fact, it's probably your safest bet if you're looking for a highly portable power tool. It utilizes a 20V battery which delivers enough power for 183 cuts of 2x4 pine wood or 275 cuts of 3-1/4-inch pine baseboards.
The max crosscut capacity is 8 inches. It's a decent number, but far from impressive. However, because it uses a single battery as a power source, it's a pretty good cut width, to say the least.
- The adjustable miter detent plate features ten positive stops so that you can adjust and fine-tune the unit with ease.
- Pretty lightweight.
- Well-designed dust collection
Miter saw Buying Guide
Above I have labeled what I believe to be the five best miter saws on the market today, you may be asking how I came to this conclusion. As a contractor, I have a great deal of experience in using these saws, so I wanted to look at several features, and I have listed what I believe to be the best features to help finish a project as quickly as possible. The first thing I wanted to talk about is the difference between a compound miter saw and a sliding compound miter saw. While they may sound and appear similar, they provide you with two different options and depending on the project; you need to know what saw will do the best job.
If you plan to work with multiple blades, you should focus on searching for the best miter saw that offers an easy blade replacement feature. This is necessary when you work with varied materials which require the use of different compound blades.
- DUST COLLECTION
Dust collection is something that not a lot of people consider but working on a job site can put all kinds of dust and debris in the air. I like to see if I can cut down on as much dust as I can, not only is this better for the worker’s health it also makes cleaning up easier. It also allows you to see the area you are cutting by preventing dust from going all over your wood. A lot of the saws have a dust collection area, so as you are cutting the dust is forced down into a basket that will hold the dust until you are done. This makes for the easiest cleanup.
The power of motors for miter saws varies from 10 to 15 amp. A more powerful motor isn’t always necessary as these tools are efficient by default. Larger saws will always have more powerful motors than smaller saws, so don't be fooled by the numbers alone. However, if you plan to run the equipment on a regular basis, you should go for the highest level of power. Either way, you don’t want to buy something that isn’t going to give you the results you want. So I highly recommend you buy a saw that is powerful enough to accomplish any task you may need it for.
- POSITIVE STOPS
Having a strong motor and the right blade is one thing, but most of us are looking for a saw that will make precise cuts at several different angles. One thing you want to look for is what we call positive stops.
This refers to preset notches made in the bevel adjustment mechanism. These are used to set the angle of bevel adjustments quickly. They increase the productivity and speed of your work with the saw. The more varied these stops are, the easier it will be for you to use the tool. However, make sure that the saw does not only offer several positive stops but also offers you a chance to make custom incremental adjustments.
Popular Brands for miter saw
- DEWALT: In 1924, DEWALT Products Company is formed with plant and offices located in Leola, Pennsylvania. Their product is an electric universal woodworking machine known as the DeWalt "Wonder-Worker," which could be configured in 9 different ways. DEWALT also offered a dedicated mortiser and jointer. DeWALT has been around for almost a century. The familiar yellow-accented tools are the go-to choice for many contractors as they have a well-earned reputation for durability. They are also extremely cost-effective.
- Hitachi: In April 1947, Hitachi established in Chuo-ku, Tokyo. In February 2020, Hitachi High-Technologies Corporation name changed to Hitachi High-Tech Corporation. Much like Hitachi Power Tools , Makita tools have fast become a household name in the industry. It all started with the motor over 100 years ago. Makita Corporation was founded in 1915 as an electric motor sales and repair company. Today, as a global brand in over 40 countries, Makita is an innovation leader, manufacturing best-in-class products at 10 plants operating in 8 countries. The unmatched quality and durability of Makita products is driven by the company’s strong R&D capabilities, and have earned the trust of professional users worldwide. Every day, on jobsites around the world, Makita delivers the power, performance and durability that professional users demand with products that are more compact, have less vibration and feel better.
- Festo: In 1925, The company Festo was founded by company partners Albert Fezer and Gottlieb Stoll. They initially concentrate on repairing wood processing machinery and making structural modifications to these machines by converting plain bearings to ball bearings. In 1927, The first transportable chainsaw carries out heavy, previously manual work on site. The idea of the first mobile circular saw: With the SB 126 portable circular saw, you can avoid the tedium of transporting heavy material to stationary tools by simply taking the tool to the material instead. In 1938, The BD 125 portable circular saw from the year 1938 was popular amongst carpenters and joinery firms alike..Theirs production location sits at the foot of the Swabian Alb – in Neidlingen to be precise. It is not only set in an idyllic environment, surrounded by 20,000 cherry trees, but has also already received numerous awards: The Neidlingen plant was given the "Factory of the year" award in the competition run by the trade journal "Produktion", and was chosen in particular for the successful implementation of Lean Management concepts, the consistent philosophy of continuous improvement and for high quality standards.
Lasers are handy for setting up a cut but they are not always accurate so don’t rely on them too heavily. Therefore, pay more attention to the big things that aren’t necessarily flash. How easy is the saw to adjust on miters? On bevels? Do the adjustments meet your needs? Is the saw powerful enough to make the cuts you require? Those are just starters and I’m sure you’ll develop your own priority list. Be smart and be safe.
Technology is continuously evolving. If you are reading this article in 2020 or beyond, some of its information may go outdated, but we will keep it updated all the time. A cutting tool that is excellent today might go obsolete after 5 years.
We hope that our reviews and buyer’s guide have helped you better understand miter saws and their features. Armed with that information, you should be able to find the model that leaves you happy with your purchase for years to come.