A mitre saw is the tool for you if you are wanting to complete angled or mitre cuts into numerous pieces of wood. Perfect for people wanting to complete joinery work to a high standard and to get the job right the first time – and every time! A mitre cut is simply an angled cut into any piece of material (usually wood but it can be other materials such as metals). These specially designed saws work to complete a finish a cut above the rest!
Invented in 1964, the design was never patented, which means that there have been a number of models and changes over the years but the basic design is a spinning, circular blade fixed onto a swing arm which can then be used to cut angles into different materials in a more controlled method than using hand tools!
We have researched all of the best mitre saws on the market, to provide a comprehensive Buyer’s Guide with everything you need to get cutting!
Only Got 5 Minutes?
If you are looking to purchase a mitre saw it is likely you have a job in mind – maybe fitting some flooring or building furnishings for your home. We appreciate that you will want to get started asap, so we have compiled all the most important information you could need to best inform your purchase and put it in this section of the article for easy reading!
Types of Mitre Saws
There are three main types of mitre saw on the market available to be purchased. Although these all come with smaller variations and features, we have considered the main three types below.
Standard Mitre Saw
This is the most common type of mitre saw – used simply to complete angled cuts into materials (usually wood). This is closest to the traditional type of mitre saw and will simply cut straight into the material you are working with, but with pre-set angles to choose from that will allow you to complete a number of jobs such a photo frames, window frames, etc.
The main downside to this model of mitre saw is that you are limited to cutting straight into the piece of material that you are working with. Although this will produce an accurate, precise cut – if you are looking to cut numerous pieces of wood for numerous jobs (chances are this is correct if purchasing a mitre saw in the first place!) then you are likely to also want to cut into the wood at more of a side angle for certain jobs, such as skirting boards etc. This is something that you cannot do with even the best standard mitre saw, so you could end up making the purchase and it not being up to the task!
Compound Mitre Saw
Also known as a bevel mitre saw, this type of mitre saw could be the answer to your problems if you are wanting more flexibility in your cutting options, as discussed above. This type of mitre saw will “tilt” either to one side or both, meaning that you can cut into the width of the material that you are working with, as well as completing straight angled cuts when the saw is vertical to the board.
Compound mitre saws can then be broken down into two further groups – single and dual. Single compound mitre saws will only pivot one way, whereas dual compound mitre saws will pivot both ways. Obviously they will both be able to complete the same jobs, as you can simply rotate the piece of material that you are working with if you purchase a single-pivot model – however a dual model will save you considerable time and fuss when completing large quantities of cuts.
Sliding Compound Mitre Saw
A sliding compound mitre saw is essentially the same as a standard compound mitre saw – just with one major difference. The sliding mitre saw will not only pivot on its column to allow for angled cutting but can also move forwards and backwards. This means that you have the option to cut longer pieces of material while ensuring that the angle is exactly the same for the whole length.
Although we appreciate that everyone is working to a budget – in our opinion if you are wanting the best mitre saw for your money, we would most definitely recommend a compound mitre saw over a standard mitre saw, due to the additional jobs and functions that it can complete.
Arguably one of the most important features of a mitre saw, the blade will determine exactly what jobs you can complete. Blades usually come in sizes 8”, 10” and 12” and the size of the blade will decide the depth of the cut. To give you a better idea: a 12-inch blade will have a max cut of around 7 ½ inches and be able to cut a thickness of 3 ½ inches.
It is also worth considering that the more teeth on the blade, the neater the cut that you will be left with – however, blades with more teeth do tend to be slower. Make sure to think about what material you will choose for your blade – some blades will be able to cut through just wood, whereas others will be able to cut through some types of metal as well.
We would always recommend having a range of blades available to change depending on the job that you are completing. Although this does mean more expense, it means that you will be able to use your mitre saw for plenty of different jobs.
Most mitre saws will be powered from mains electricity, however, there are now some models that are cordless. This can be advantageous in that it means that you can work anywhere, however, to provide the amount of power needed for the saw, they can be considerably more expensive.
Almost all mitre saws will come with cutting guides built into the base. These are there to help you know where to position your material depending on what angle of cut you are wanting.
If you are going to be using your mitre saw regularly and to complete large jobs then it is worth considering what dust extraction methods are part of the device. Some will come with adequate dust extraction methods included, such as a bag and suction, however, others will not come with a bag so you will have to purchase this separately. Equally, sometimes even this might not be enough if you are completing really large jobs – so it may be worth purchasing an additional dust extraction device.
Soft start motors and speed control
Soft start motors are used to slowly increase the speed at which the saw rotates. This is important as a saw that starts rotating slower will stop the material that you are working with from “jumping” and affecting the accuracy of the cut. This is the same for speed control – choosing a model with speed control means that you can use a slower speed when starting with the job, working up to a quicker speed once you have started the cut.
Power and RPM
Power and Rotations Per Minute (RPM) are important and come hand in hand when purchasing a mitre saw. This is because a device with low power but high RPM will struggle to function in harder pieces of wood. Consider both the power and the RPM together when purchasing a device to see whether it will be up to the task! As a general rule, the higher the power and the higher the RPM, the more capable the tool will be at completing different tasks. For a mitre saw suitable for most everyday tasks we would recommend around a 4000 rpm speed.
How to Use a Mitre Saw
SAFETY NOTE: It is important to make sure that you check your blade brakes work before use. If the blade stops almost immediately after releasing the trigger button then your brakes are working – any longer and you need to check them!
- Place your mitre saw on a workbench or stand and make sure that it is secured firmly and at waist height.
- Fit the correct blade for the job that you are completing, switch on the tool and make sure that the brakes are working (see above).
- Mark a line on the piece of material that you are working with to show where you are wanting to cut.
- Use the cutting guide to line up your piece of material (ensuring that your hand is away from the trigger!) and clamp to the workbench.
- If you have a model where the safety guard has to be pulled down, then this is the important thing to do next – some will come with an automatic guard that will drop when you switch on the device (this can be checked in the manual).
- Switch on your device, pull the trigger and the saw should slowly start to increase in speed. Once the saw has reached its top speed you are ready to lower the blade through the material to complete your cut.
- Make sure to release the trigger once the cut is complete, but while the blade is still in the material. Only lift the saw once it has stopped completely.
Staying Safe When Using a Mitre Saw
- Choose a model with electric brakes – this will stop the saw quickly by reversing the flow of electricity going to the saw.
- Blade guards – these are incredibly important. Some come with manual blade guards whereas higher-end models will come with automatic blade guards that will lower to cover the blade as soon as it is in use.
- Always wear goggles, a dust mask, and possibly even gloves when using a mitre saw.
- It may also be worth considering using hearing protection as well as some devices can be quite loud.
- Make sure to turn off and disconnect the saw from the mains electricity when changing the blades.
- Read the manual fully as each mitre saw will be different.
Extra Purchases to Consider
- Clamps – these are a must for when using a mitre saw! Without using clamps you are at high risk of not only ending up with inaccurate cuts into your material and wastage, but you are also risking injury to yourself!
- Mitre saw stands – As much as many mitre saws can just be placed on a standard workbench, this isn’t always the most ideal surface to use. Therefore we would recommend buying a specific stand for your device, especially if you are going to be moving your mitre saw to different locations. Many of them will have clamps attached, can be folded away, and make it easier for you to stand in the perfect position for cutting your angled pieces.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does a laser mitre saw affect the job I’m working on?
Many models now come with an additional laser. The purpose of this is to see the exact line that the blade is going to cut, so increases accuracy. A red laser line will show across the material that you are working with showing exactly where the blade will come down.
How do I pivot my compound mitre saw?
All compound mitre saws will have a knob that fixes the head of the saw into position. Simply loosen this knob, and pivot the blade to the angle that you are wanting to cut, then tighten the knob again. Make sure that it is plenty tight enough for when you switch on the device, to avoid any accidents.
Can I also use my mitre saw for bevel cuts?
If you purchase a compound mitre saw or a sliding compound mitre saw then chances are you will be able to use it to complete bevel cuts as well as mitre cuts – although this does take some practice! Check with each individual model description to be certain before purchase!