Miter Saw vs Compound Miter Saw

To save you some time, we’ll start by establishing that the miter saw vs. compound miter saw headline does not indicate that they’re different types of tools.

On the contrary, most mitre saws can make compound cuts. Experienced woodworkers figure that this is common knowledge, but it may not be so obvious to a newbie trying to find the right tool for the job.

The best place to start is to learn the different types of cuts a miter saw can make. On your search for the right tool, you’ll discover that miter saws are capable of far more than just compound cuts. The more versatile the saw is, the bigger its price tag will be.

Do you need a regular miter saw or a compound mitre saw? 

What is a miter saw?

A miter saw is a type of power saw with the ability to cut at various angles. This specialized woodworking tool consists of a circular saw blade mounted on a pivoting arm. The pivoting action of the swing arm is what allows it to make angled cuts quickly.

If you’re fabricating items like crown moldings, frames, and window casings, you’ll work faster and more accurately with a mitre saw. The question is, when do you need a miter saw that can make compound and bevel cuts?

Let’s first explore the different types of cuts you can make with a mitre saw.

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Angled Cuts

A regular miter saw can make angled cuts by default because its blade is mounted onto a pivoting arm. Therefore, if your projects need straight or angled cuts and nothing more, you’ll find a regular miter saw to be more than adequate.

Compound Cuts

Miter saws capable of making compound cuts have blades that can pivot left and/or right to make angled cuts. Some of these saw blades pivot in a single direction, while others pivot in two directions. The latter makes what we call compound mitre cuts.

You’d find a compound mitre saw handy for projects that need angled cuts in two planes, such as picture frames and crown moldings. They work much faster since you can use them to make compound cuts in a single pass.

Dual Compound Cuts

A compound miter saw only tilts in one direction, so woodworkers with specialized needs often spring for dual compound miter saws. These mitre saws can make compound cuts in dual directions, left and right, so they work faster and are more flexible.

Beveled Cuts

Most miter saws have blades that can tilt as well. A tilting blade will allow you to make what is called a beveled cut. This is a cut that’s important when creating joints, moldings, and frames. Fortunately, most of the miter saws today have this capability by default.

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How Many Types of Miter Saws Are There?

You’ll encounter the following types of miter saws:

•        Compound mitre saws – these saws have blades that tilt in one direction to make angled cuts.

•        Dual compound mitre saws – the blades on these saws tilt in both left and right directions, so they’re better equipped for a wider range of cuts.

•        Sliding compound miter saws – you can say that sliding compound mitre saws are a cross between mitre saws and radial arm saws. The sliding functionality allows you to move the blade backward or forward to increase the length of the cut.

Which Miter Saws Should You Buy This Year?

If you’re in the market for your first miter saw or an upgrade for your old one, here are some options to check out first.

DeWalt DWS780 Double-Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw

Admittedly, the DWS780 is not necessarily entry-level material, and its price tag reflects that. But in terms of features and build quality, it’s a top-notch selection.

The blade tilts in both directions, so this is a tool capable of making double bevel cuts. It miters 50 degrees to the left and 60 degrees to the right to facilitate increased cut capacity. Thanks to its tall sliding fences, you have an extended cut capacity of up to 7 ½ inches through crown molding and 6 ¾ inches through base molding.

This is a full-fledged tool for professionals. It can make compound cuts, beveled cuts, straight and angled cuts with exceptional levels of precision. You have the adjustable miter detent plate, which features ten positive stops, to thank for its enhanced cutting accuracy.

Other notable features include XPS LED technology that projects light down both sides of the blades, creating a shadow that improves the visibility of the cut line. At 58 pounds, this power saw is compact, light, and easy to manoeuvre and store away when not in use.

Bosch CM10GD Dual-Bevel Sliding Miter Saw

Another professional miter saw to consider is the Bosch CM10GD, which bevels in both directions and features a sliding rail to increase cut capacity. You get high-end features like the brand-exclusive Axial-Glide system for the premium price tag, a mechanism designed to make wider cross-cuts with improved accuracy.

Despite its price tag, the CM10GD is surprisingly beginner-friendly. The bevel controls are large and metallic, and the sliding fences feature a Square Lock for quick adjustments. The tool’s lockable head guarantees accuracy and control at all angles, which gives you more chop cutting capacity for upright nested and base molding crowns.

If it’s comfort you’re after, it provides it in buckets with its ergonomic trigger handle that’s padded with a soft grip. The lower guards are clear to facilitate unobstructed visibility while you cut, and the tool’s compact build will take about 10 inches less space than your ordinary sliding miter saw.

Metabo HPT C10FCGS Single Bevel Compound Miter Saw

For your first compound mitre saw, this Metabo C10FCGS will do just fine. It’s equipped with a 10-inch blade and a 0 – 52-degree miter angle range. It can also make 0 – 45-degree bevel cuts and features a 10-inch TCT mitre saw blade. For its entry-level price tag, it’s a worthy investment for the novice woodworker.

Its 15-amp motor is capable of a no-load speed of 5,000 RPM. The tool comes with a large table that gives you better material support. What’s more, you also get a vice clamping system with which you can secure your workpieces.

Adjusting the miter angle is quick and easy with the thumb-actuated positive stops. The horizontal handle is also easier to work with if you’re just getting familiar with miter saws. All these features come in a compact package that only weighs 24.2 pounds, light enough for most amateurs to handle with ease.

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