Picking the perfect tool can be a real head-scratcher. Especially when that tool is a miter saw, they come in many different styles – each with their own pros and cons. If you’re in the market for one, you have a lot to consider:
- Standard vs compound?
- Single vs double bevel?
- Sliding vs non-sliding miter saw?
We are here to help you pick the best miter saw for your cutting needs.
Different styles of miter saws – understanding the basics
To understand the difference between a sliding miter saw and a non-sliding miter saw we first need to understand what a regular miter saw brings to the table.
The Standard miter saw
This is essentially a chop saw that allows you to pivot the blade to create angled cuts or miters.
The compound miter saw
Has a pivoting arm that can be tilted to other angles than the standard 90 degrees. This makes it capable of performing bevel cuts.
The difference between a miter cut and a bevel cut is simple. A miter cut is an angled cut along the width (or face) of the workpiece whereas a bevel cut is a cut at an angle through the thickness of the material.
The Single Bevel Miter Saw
Has a blade that tilts in one direction only, either to the left or right-hand side. If you need to make a cut in the opposite direction, you have to turn your workpiece around and go at it from the other side. Working backwards and upside down can be difficult for novice woodworkers.
The Double Bevel Miter Saw
To make this process smoother, a saw was designed to tackle this specific process. This is called the double bevel miter saw. This tool comes with a blade that tilts both left and right, a great way to increase the productivity and accuracy of your job.
What is a sliding miter saw?
A sliding miter saw is very similar to a compound miter saw in that it does both miter and bevel cuts but it comes with the added feature of rails attached to the blade. These rails or sliders move both forward and backward and allow you to handle far wider types of material.
While useful, these rails significantly increase both the size and the weight of your saw. This affects both portability and storage.
The portability issue can be tackled by pairing it with a rolling stand but that could set you back a couple hundred, provided you go for a decent one.
The second downside as you could have probably guessed – is the increased cost a slider comes with. While you can get a single bevel compound miter saw for around 200 bucks, the price of a sliding miter saw will be around double that.
A variation on the sliding miter saw: Bosch GCM12SD
The Bosch GCM12SD took the rails most sliding miter saws have and improved it with their own technology: an axial glide arm. While it is more expensive than your traditional miter saw, it does come with some revolutionary benefits – and we aren’t even talking about the satisfyingly futuristic look.
The glide arm technology has the exact same function as the sliders, in a far more compact design. This allows you to put this Bosch miter saw directly against the wall, something impossible with your conventional dual-bevel miter saw due to the design of the rails.
Additionally, unlike your average sliding miter, the axial glide arm does not have exposed grease joints. Sawdust often makes its way into the exposed joints on sliding miter saws making the joint sticky and require cleaning
If you’re looking for a quality sliding miter saw, the bosch gcm12sd is worth looking into, we know we love it – which is why it made it into our top 5 miter saws in 2020.
Sliding miter saw vs non-sliding miter saw
A sliding miter saw allows you to cut wider boards, double of what the compound version would be able to do. Meaning a 10” sliding miter saw will allow you to cut boards up to 12” wide while a 12” sliding miter saw is capable of going up to 16” wide.
Decision time, how do I decide which miter saw to pick?
Ask yourself the following four questions to help pick which miter saw is most fitting for your needs.
What am I going to to use it for?
Do you just need a tool that will help you cut baseboards, perform occasional miter and bevel cuts? If so, a basic 10” compound miter saw will be more than sufficient. However, if you plan on cutting many boards that are wider than 8”, you will need a sliding miter saw for that.
Do I have enough space?
Sliding miter saws are substantially bigger and heavier than their non-sliding counterparts. This means they are better left in a semi-permanent or even fixed spot. You need to make sure you have enough space in your shop to store it.
Am I going to move it around?
Another important question to ask yourself when looking into the purchase of this tool. Sliding miter saws are a pain to move. They are heavy and moving it by yourself without a rolling stand is near impossible.
This is not the saw you take with you on job sites (unless it is a big job and its safe to keep it there). If you need a portable miter saw there are much better options for you like the DWS715.
And last but definitely not least: do I have the budget?
As previously mentioned, these come at a significant price increase. Especially if you’re pairing it with a stand.
By now you should be able to choose the best miter saw for your needs. Check out our buying guides:
- Top 5 miter saws of 2020