A couple of months ago, Nathan asked for some miter saw recommendations. I had jotted down some notes for a post, but somehow it ended up idle and collecting dust. Whoops, sorry Nathan!
Nathan had asked specifically for DIYer miter saw recommendations. He wrote:
I told my sister i was watching tool deals and asked if she needed to get anything for her husband. Unfortunately, she said “chop saw”. Unfortunate because I haven’t followed table and miter saws at all, as mobility is paramount for me. I had been following more handheld tools.
So, what would you recommend for a relatively skilled DIY in a miter saw at this time, especially if one or more might be coming on sale? I saw this one from last year, so I’m hopeful.
It will be a few more months before holiday season miter saw deals roll around again, so I’m only going to look at currently available models.
My first miter saw was a Craftsman, and it worked well. My budget was strictly $150, even a little less if I recall correctly. Maybe it was $125.
If I had to buy a DIYer miter saw right now, it would likely be the Hitachi C10FCE2. This saw has dropped to $99 during holiday seasons, and is regularly available for around $120. I haven’t tried it before, but given Hitachi’s status is a value-oriented professional tool brand, I would put more faith in it than similar-priced offerings from DIY brands such as Craftsman and Skil.
Buy Now(Hitachi Saw via Amazon)
Things to Keep in Mind
Here are some factors that you should look at when choosing a budget miter saw:
Blade Size: 10″ saws are much more affordable than 12″ saws, and so are the blades. If you don’t need the capacity of a 12″ saw, keep in mind that 10″ saws are also going to be smaller and more portable.
Smaller sized 7-1/4″ saws are also available, but unless you know you’ll only be working with smaller stock, a 10″ saw will offer much more cutting capacity.
Adjustments: Look for a saw with comfortable knobs and controls.
Squareness: If you’re able to look at miter saws in a store, head to the layout and measuring aisle and pull out a square. Is the miter saw blade square to its base at 90°? Is the fence squared to the blade? If not, are they easy to adjust? If the miter saw is not square, which I’m sure happens with store demo models, and you can’t square it up easily, perhaps consider a different model.
Features and Add-ons: Does the saw have a laser? We don’t like lasers very much for cut line guidance, as they can be off by a little bit, defeating the purpose. Most if not all saws come with a [barely useful] dust bag. Some come with workpiece extensions and hold-down clamps, but sometimes you have to buy these as optional accessories.
Single Bevel: Lower priced saws often offer single bevel adjustment. If you want dual bevel, prepare to spend a lot more.
Sliding Mechanisms: If you have a larger budget, you might start considering sliding miter saws. Personally, I would rather use a better non-sliding miter saw than an entry-level sliding miter saw at similar cost. With a budget sliding miter saw, the cost is spread among additional components and complexity, sometimes resulting in compromises.
Don’t Forget the Stand: You don’t need a miter saw stand, but you might find one to be very useful. $100 to $150 will get you a good stand, $200 will get you the last miter saw you’ll ever need.
The Little Things: Ease of adjustment, common angle detents, and quality of the angle scales can greatly influence the user experience. Take all these things into account.
The Better Starting Point
If buying my first miter saw all over again, I would go with the mentioned Hitachi. But if I had a little more budget flexibility, I would go with the Dewalt DW713 (10-inch) or DW715 (12-inch), both of which can be had for $200 to $220.
With these saws, there’s no compromise. I have a DW713 test sample from a few years ago, and it’s still going strong. It’s pretty much my go-to when testing new miter saw blades. It’s more compact than sliding saws, and definitely more portable.
The DW715 has greater capacity, and usually costs a little less, which would influence me if I were buying my first miter saw. $200 is a lot more than $100-125, but the benefits are hard to ignore. You get better build quality and components all around.
Just keep in mind that a 12″ saw is going to be a little less portable than a 10″ saw, and that the price of a good blade is going to be slightly higher.
Which miter saw would you consider to be a good choice for DIYers?