Anyone looking to make precise, accurate cuts, over and over, needs to own a mitre saw. However, the challenge – as always – is making sure you’re getting the best mitre saw for your cash.
Understanding the key features of a mitre saw, plus extra benefits like laser and dust extraction will make sure you’ll own the mitre saw that will do the job you want it to each time, every time.
In this guide to buying mitre saws, we’ll explain what you need to know about:
We’ve also got a list of mitre saws we feel you should consider, based on your job site needs.
Mitre saws are known for precision and accuracy when it comes to cutting through long pieces of wood and other materials (for this guide we will refer to wood). Looking a bit like a circular saw on a swivelling base (or table) there are many features and styles to become familiar with.
What is a Compound Mitre Saw
A compound mitre saw is a specialist saw that is designed to let you make cuts at angles, bevels and angled bevels…You’ll be able to mount it on a bench, table or preferably a leg stand, and then depending on the blade size you’ll be able to make cuts in broad, thick pieces of materials.
Again, depending on the blade, a compound mitre saw will cut non-ferrous metals, plastics and of course wood.
Some mitre saws will bevel – or swing the blade – to one side only. Others will bevel both ways – double bevel. And ideally, you’re looking for one that has some sort of rail function that allows the blade to be drawn out towards you and then down through the material. The mitre saw will usually have a blade guard which, for safety, allows the blade to only become exposed as the blade moves towards the wood. The blade will move in a direction away from the user, channelling the sawdust away from them and the workpiece. For the sake of safety, mitre saws come with the switches positioned and controlled in a manner which keeps hands away from the high-speed cutting blade.
What to Look Out for When Choosing a Mitre Saw
The blade is what determines the depth or height of the cut. Mitre saws normally come with 8, 10 or 12-inch blades. Click to see the range of mitre saw blades we stock.
There are various types of blades for cutting different styles of material including some which are multipurpose for multi-materials. There are blades for wood, aluminium or mild steel. The more teeth in a blade generally mean you get a finer cut for finishing.
Normally a new mitre saw will come packaged with a middle of the range blade for wood.
As the name suggests, a mitre saw is a saw which cuts mitres or angled cuts. The saw is normally preset to adjust to various popular angles such as 45º for right angle joints. Some saws will only mitre to one side, most will mitre to the left or the right making it quicker to use.
Cutting on a sliding action allows you to cut pieces of wood with greater widths. As with blade size, check the specs of the saws you’re looking at (see below) to see the capacities of cut they will do for you. If you plan to be cutting mainly dado, you won’t need to slide too much and the capacity needed will be less.
However, if you plan to be cutting fencing posts you’ll need a bigger blade and a bigger width of cut capacity and therefore a sliding mitre saw is for you.
Saws without a slide function are sometimes referred to as chop saws or cut-off saws.
In other words, the saw head will tilt to the side as well as rotate on the saw table.
Some saws are single bevel and some are double bevel meaning they will tilt left or right. This means the wood doesn’t need to be turned depending on the angle you will cut. This bevelling action allows complex angled cuts to be performed in tasks like crown moulding or furniture making.
As with a sliding mitre saw, there is more potential for things to go wrong and more chance your saw will lose alignment because of the added feature of bevelling. It is a good idea to choose a respected brand if you are looking to buy a mitre saw with these features.
Mitre saws these days come with a variety of features and gimmicks.
Many now come with lights which are handy when working in bad lighting conditions and some come with built-in laser lines which will show a red line across the wood where the blade will cut, making it handy for lining up with your pencil line. Most saws will come with adjustable rear fences, extension arms and workpiece clamps. These are great for supporting your wood and keeping your hands free and out of the way of the blade.
Recently, new mitre saws have been seen with a variable speed dial. This helps you set the speed of the motor which best suits the material you will be cutting.
As mentioned before, there are different styles of blades on the market. When choosing a blade, the packaging will tell you the type of material it is for and the type of cut you can expect. Make sure you choose the right diameter blade for your saw as well as the right bore size (the hole in the middle).
You may also want to buy a stand if you plan to transport your saw onto a job site Stands are available in a universal style which is just like a folding table for your saw to sit on. Or, the can come in a leg stand style which is a foldable style with long extensions and various features such as clamps, roller carriers, supports and adjustable legs. These are perfect for worksites where many cuts are required.
Dust extraction and management
One area of sawing which I wanted to mention was the amount of dust which is generated. If you’re in a confined area you will almost certainly want to use a dust extractor or vacuum which will attach to your saw and reduce the sawdust in the atmosphere.
Some saws these days will do a very good job of managing the dust without a dust extractor but it is inevitable that legislation will be that a dust extractor is mandatory on the job site soon.
Check out these great deals on Mitre Saws:
Use Your Mitre Saw on a Leg Stand
Any mitre saw hugely benefits from being used on a leg stand. Not only do you get great stability, it allows you to work at the most comfortable height, and they’re ideal for setting your saw up in one place on-site. See our range of leg stands here.
What are your thoughts on mitre saws? Share them with us, or ask a question in the comments section below.