We’ve taken a look at the latest and most popular miter saws and there’s a few that stand out when it comes to the question – what is the best sliding compound miter saw? First we must determine what makes for a good miter saw, then we’ll explain our picks for the best.
What Makes a Good Sliding Compound Miter Saw?
A good miter saw will make it easy to cross cut lumber at various angles and they can be extremely beneficial for people who are working with trim or moulding during home construction or renovation. Outside of the job site, a miter saw can be handy in a woodworkers shop for precision angle cuts when construction furniture or other projects.
A sliding compound miter saw will have both the ability to bevel both left/right (in most cases) and also slide the the blade through wider materials for a wider cross cutting capacity. So, basically, if you are looking for a sliding compound miter saw, you are most likely looking to be able to handle larger cutting capacities than a non-sliding miter saw.
Overall size is a consideration for sure. If you are in a shop with limited space, you might prefer a miter saw with a smaller footprint but sliding action to increase total cutting capacity. If you are working on a job site or a larger shop you may not require as much of a small footprint and can get away with a more bulky saw.
A good miter saw will have enough power to smoothly cut through the types of materials it has capacity for. A 15 amp motor spinning the blade at 4000 RPM or more is common. Most saws we’ve looked at have had plenty of power and there doesn’t seem to be much of an issue with any saw in the cutting power department. Motors can also be of a brushed or brushless design. Battery powered saws will benefit more from brushless batteries due to their power efficiency. Some saws have direct drive between the motor and blade, and some mount the motor further back and use a belt to drive the blade. In the belt driven instances, it’s usually done to provide room for right side bevel tilt.
Sliding action on a miter saw should feel smooth and it shouldn’t be wobbly. You shouldn’t need to fight it to move it. It’s hard to find a miter saw with perfect sliding action, but many are really good. The sliding action should be smooth and there shouldn’t be any lateral flexing, within reason, when you move the slide. No saw seems to be perfect on the lateral flexing issue, but some are more workable than others. You should also be able to lock the slide into any position for chop cuts.
A compound miter means you can adjust both the miter and bevel angles. It’s good to have at least 50 degrees of action to both the left and right on the miter, and at least 45 degrees of action on both sides of the bevel. It’s good to have positive stops available for common cutting angles. It’s also nice if the miter scale is replaceable since they can wear out and introduce slop over time. Both the miter and bevel should be reasonably easy to adjust with accuracy as well.
This is a features that surprisingly not all miter saws have. A depth stop lets you set a stop point for how deep the miter saw will cut into the material, and is used for cutting grooves or slots in most cases. Saws that have depth stops usually have a pretty basic implementation of a stop plate and adjustable screw to set the height.
A good fence will provide enough vertical support for the largest sizes of materials that the saw can handle. It’s common to see taller, two-piece fences and these are usually the best way to go. The two-piece fences can slide out of the way for bevel cuts.
Miter saws with 10 inch blades are usually more manageable in terms of size. Larger saws that have maximum cutting capacity will usually use 12 inch blades. Depending on the type of work you do either size might be more preferable. However, most people find miter saws with 10 inch blades to be preferable unless they for some reason need larger cutting capacity.
All miter saws seem to have a dust port of some type, each manufacturer seems to do something different here. Some saws collect dust better than others. It’s hard to get perfect dust collection with a miter saw, even with a vacuum powered system.
Safety and Efficiency Features
All miter saws will have a blade guard of some sort, most work similarly these days. Outside of the blade guard, safety features can vary. Most of the better miter saws will have a blade brake to stop the blade quickly after cuts. This is good for both efficiency and safety. Soft start features are another thing to look for, they spin the blade up slower and reduce torque on startup. Table extensions are common, and add extra support for longer materials. Vertical clamps are also common and they help hold materials to the table when cutting to prevent kickback or other issues.
This is currently our favorite sliding compound miter saw. It’s a good pick for woodworkers who don’t want to take up a lot of space in their shop and who want to be able to put their miter saw on a workbench against a wall. It is designed to require little space behind the saw and also packs in some good sliding action despite the compact profile.
It’s not an overly large saw, weighing only 58 lbs, and it uses a 10 inch blade. This saw is packed with features such as a single laser guide, dual bevel capability, depth stop, soft-start, blade brake, sliding fence and table extensions. It also has a bevel lock knob on the front so you don’t need to reach behind it to adjust bevel.
This saw is pretty precise, but it does experience a little flexing on the sliding arms if you put too much lateral pressure on it during movements. However, once you get a feel for sliding it without putting too much pressure on either side it’s very accurate.
Overall, we feel this is excellent bang for your buck for an in-shop miter saw with all the bells and whistles. Take a look at our in-depth review for a fully detailed run-down of this miter saw.
The Dewalt DWS779 Sliding Compound Miter Saw
This is our pick for a larger miter saw that has the power and capacity for working with larger, harder lumber. This is the saw you’ll want to look at if you need to cut larger framing materials for construction or building purposes. It has a larger size profile and uses a 12 inch blade. It can cut up to 2×14 inch lumber at 90 degrees and can chop through 4x4s and 4x6s with ease.
Despite it’s larger profile, this saw still only weighs 57 lbs so it’s not overly heavy. This saw has useful features such as dual bevel capability, depth stop, blade brake, sliding fences and table extensions. It doesn’t have a laser or cut line, and there is no soft start, so it’s not fully loaded on features. But it does have the key features for cutting large materials efficiently.
This is precise enough for framing work and the sliding action is pretty solid. For as much angling and sliding action this saw has in all directions, it feels like a sturdy tool with very tight movements all the way around.
At around $500 this is a very capable saw for the money. This saw is going to be better suited for job site or construction use and it’s feature set is geared for that.
This is our pick for a high-precision miter saw for the more demanding fine woodworkers. Festool is know for high quality tools with excellent fit and finish, and in this case that translates to a very nice miter saw experience.
This saw has a smaller profile and size and it weight in at about 57 lbs. It uses a 10.25 inch blade. It’s designed with a flat rear profile so that it can sit on a workbench up against a wall and not take up much space in your shop.
It has a lot of useful features such as dual bevel action, dual laser (laser on each side of the blade), depth stop, soft start and blade brake. It also has a “120 mode” where the blade can tilt forward and lock into position for a larger vertical cutting depth behind the blade. It also has variable speed adjustment, which might seem like overkill for a miter saw but it can help dial in specific speeds that better match the blade and materials you are using, which helps to get smoother cuts with all types of lumber.
This is a very precise miter saw and even the sliding action is a little more tight than the competitors out there. If you want the most trustworthy miter saw in terms of precision, this is it.
At over $1000 this is definitely the most expensive saw we’re recommending. It’s worth it though if you have the budget. This saw is best suited for use in fine woodworking shops but is certainly not restricted to just that.