The original miter saw was a stiff hand saw
for use with a miter box, a three-sided box
with pre-cut slots for holding the saw at
45°, 60°, and 90° angles. While
the hand miter saw is still available, the
term "miter saw" more commonly
refers to the power saw version that allows
you to make a precision angle crosscut ±45°
as well as to slant the blade up to 45°
When shopping for a miter saw,
- Pick a "compound" model in order
to be able to slant the blade.
- Since the saw "chops" down from
a single hinge and does not slide through
the material, the blade size and mounting
of the saw determines the maximum dimensions
of the board you can cut. Check the specifications
on the saw if you want flexibility in material
size. 10" models are sufficient for
most work, but 12" models are also available.
- Horsepower is important if you are cutting
dense wood, like oak
- It is helpful if the table has pre-set lock
in's at the common angles (e.g.,
This speeds up changes.
- The newest accessory is a laser line to indicate
the cut line on the material. In concept
it sounds good but is less so in practice.
Good safety practice necessitates securing
the material before cutting, but the line
is only visible while the saw blade is in
motion, so any corrections are hit or miss.
We think this is a feature you can probably
skip without regret.