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What is a Mitre Saw & Do I Need One?

Posted by Katy | Toolstop on 13th Jan 2022

A Mitre saw is a type of stationary saw designed to make precision cuts at multiple angles. In this Toolstop guide, we explain their exact uses and compare mitre saws to circular saws.

What is a Mitre Saw?

What is a Mitre Saw Used for?

A mitre saw is a type of stationary saw designed to make precision cuts at multiple angles. The blade is pulled downwards onto the material, unlike with a circular saw where it feeds through the material.

Mitre saws are best for cutting longer boards thanks to their large cutting capacities. Typical applications of a mitre saw include making quick and accurate miter cuts (such as at 45 degree angles for making picture frames) or for making cross cuts for moulding.

You can make cross cuts, mitre cuts, bevel cuts and more all with this one versatile tool. Unsure what each of these terms means? You can refer to our bevel, mitre and cross cuts guide where we explain each in depth.

Mitre saws come in a variety of sizes. The size of the blade determines the cutting capacity of the saw. The larger the cutting capacity needed, the larger the saw you should opt for. The most popular sizes include 165mm, 190mm, 230mm and 260mm.

They are also available in corded or cordless versions. To find out the pros and cons of corded and cordless power tools and which you should opt for, you can refer to our guide.

mitre saw parts diagram

Types of Mitre Saws and Their Uses

There is a huge range of mitre saws available on the market. Single bevel, double bevel, sliding, compound etc. We have summarised each below, but for a more in depth explanation on each of the following, you can refer to our mitre saws buying guide.

Single bevel - Can make miter cuts and bevel cuts in a single direction.

Double bevel - Can make bevel cuts in both directions. Double bevel mitre saws are better for when you need to make multiple angled cuts as they save time on switching the direction of material.

Compound miter saw -  Allows you to make compound cuts (when you make a miter cut and a bevel cut at the same time).

Sliding miter saw - This type of miter saw slides on a bar to allow the blade to move forward instead of just straight down. They are capable of cutting wider boards than non-sliding models.

miter and bevel cuts explained

Mitre Saw Vs Circular Saw

Unsure whether you need a circular saw or mitre saw? We have listed the differences between a mitre and circular saw along with some pros/cons:

  • A mitre saw will do most of the same tasks as a circular saw, only a mitre saw is stationary and the blade is pulled downwards onto the material rather than pushed through it
  • Mitre saws are best for longer boards, circular saws for sheet materials
  • Mitre saws are often more precise and are safer to use as they are stationary
  • Circular saws are more versatile
  • Circular saws are typically less expensive than mitre saws
  • You have to bring the material to a miter saw, you can take a circular saw to the material

With a mitre saw, you can typically only cut up to about 6" wide (or 13" ish if its a sliding model) due to the fact that the blade only moves up and down. Because of this, you will be unable to perform jobs like cutting boards lengthwise. A circular saw on the other hand will be able to do this no problem.

Many tradesmen like to have both options in their tool kit. But while each has its own specific uses, you do don't need to have both.

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