10-inch vs 12-inch Miter Saw: Which is More Versatile?

Last Updated: by Peter Lynn

When I first started as a woodworker, I wanted the best of everything. So, naturally, I went for the biggest, most impressive 20-inch miter saw I could find. It was a thing of beauty — it chopped through carbon fiber like a hot knife through butter.

The thing was that I didn’t need to cut carbon fiber — ever. Eventually, my pride and joy became a huge hunk of junk that was taking up too much space in my workshop. Learn from my lesson, unless you’re using it for industrial purposes, you don’t need something that size.

Anyway, I got rid of that 20-inch monster and started pondering the 10-inch vs. 12-inch miter saw conundrum instead. In this post, I’ll go through what I learned during my research. I’ll also review some of the models that I looked at and let you know what I eventually chose as the top option.

I recommend the Dewalt DWS780 simply because you don’t have to choose between a 10-inch vs a 12-in blade — this model is versatile enough that you can use both. There you go.

Our Top 10″ and 12″ Miter Saws Are:

ProductDetails
1. DEWALT DWS780

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2. Makita LS1018 10-Inch Dual Slide Compound Miter Saw

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3. Bosch CM10GD Compact Miter Saw

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1. DEWALT DWS780 — Best Overall

This sliding compound saw, for me at least, settles the 10-inch vs. 12-inch miter saw debate. The XPS positioning system sets this model head and shoulders above the others. If time is of the essence for you, you’ll appreciate the fast and accurate cuts you get with this model.

Dewalt has equipped this model with a powerful 15-amp motor and made the casings from stainless steel for additional durability. It comes with a 12-inch blade, but you can also use a 10-inch blade.

Pros

  • High-quality build
  • 3-year warranty
  • Portable
  • Powerful

Cons

  • Should have adjustable bearings
  • Sometimes sticks when sliding

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2. Makita LS1018 10-Inch Dual Slide Compound Miter Saw

This 10-inch model is powerful, accurate, and priced very well. It’s got enough power for professional users. It’s light enough to take to a job site if need be. DIY enthusiasts will love the compact design and sharp cutting edge.

Pros

  • Affordably priced
  • Compact
  • Lightweight
  • High-quality build
  • Clear markings

Cons

  • Not intuitive to operate
  • Limited usability with large projects

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3. Bosch CM10GD Compact Miter Saw

Speed through your projects with this powerful, 4,800 rpm motor. This 10-inch compact saw will find a place in even the messiest workshop. It’s highly accurate and efficient. It’s a great value option for pros and DIY enthusiasts alike. The axial glide tech makes for better alignment and broader cuts.

Pros

  • Uses axial glide tech
  • Made to last
  • High-build quality
  • Clearly marked

Cons

  • Heavy to carry
  • Manual needs work

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10- vs. 12-inch Miter Saw: What’s the Difference?

You might think that there’s no difference between a 10-inch sliding miter saw vs. 12-inch miter saw other than the size of the blade. You’d be partially right.

The 10-inch models are great for use around the workshop. They’ll handle most small projects with ease. Their smaller circumference means that they spin faster than their 12-inch counterparts. That leaves you with a cleaner cut. The average hobbyist will find that a 10-inch is more than enough for their needs.

That said, the 10-inch will drive you nuts if you want to cut wood thicker than 6 inches. For that, you need a 12-inch blade and the more powerful motor that comes with it. If you’re only interested in larger projects once in a blue moon, then it could pay you to rent the large saw.

If you’re in a setting where you’re dealing with large projects regularly, it makes sense to invest in the 12-inch model. It might also be an idea to consider getting the 12-inch model if you’ll be working with it daily.

It’s not capable of the kind of fine cutting that a 10-inch blade is, but it can stand a lot of abuse. Your motor is better able to stand the strain of consistent use.

Want the best of both worlds? Look for a 12-inch saw that you can also fit with 10-inch blades. That way, you have the brute force when you need it but can still finesse the fine cuts.

Pros and Cons of Miter Saw Sizes

When it comes to the 10” vs. 12” miter saw,there are a few significant differences. In this section, we’ll look at the pros and cons of each option.

The 10-inch Miter Saw

Pros

  • Smaller so spins faster at 5,000 rpm
  • Able to make precise, fine cuts
  • Suitable for work that must be accurate
  • Replacements blades are easy to find
  • The blades are cheaper and come in a broader range of options
  • You can sharpen the blades at a reasonable cost
  • The saw itself is more compact so good for a smaller workshop
  • Most table saws use 10-inch blades so you can multitask

Cons

  • Can only cut through a thickness of 6 inches
  • Not as powerful as a 12-inch model

The 12-inch Miter Saw

Pros

  • The larger blade moves more slowly at 4,000 rpm
  • Usually comes with a powerful 15-amp motor
  • Cuts through large blocks with ease
  • More durable because powerful motor won’t strain as easily
  • It’s better for bigger projects and can cut denser materials
  • It’ll cut through in one to two passes
  • Your projects will go faster

Cons

  • Usually pricier than your 10-inch model
  • The blades are pricy too
  • It can be challenging to find blades locally
  • The motor uses a lot of electricity
  • It’s not able to achieve the same kind of high accuracy cutting

A 12-inch model costs more to buy, maintain, and run. It does, however, allow you to work on more complex projects. With most 12-inch models, you can opt to use a 10-inch blade. You may have to build up the fence, to make up for the difference in blade size.

You can’t use a 12-inch blade on a 10-inch saw, so the 12-inch saw is more versatile.

Down to the Details: Brand, Reliability, and Safety

When comparing 10-inch vs. 12-inch miter saw models, it’s essential to consider how you’ll use the saw. Do you need something durable and solid, or is portability important to you? I’ll go into more detail about each different type of model in the next section.

For now, though, let’s look at some primary considerations to think about before making your choice.

Does Brand Matter?

Of course, it does. You don’t need a top of the line model packed with features that you’ll never use. You do need a model that will cut cleanly, safely, and reliably. DeWalt, Hitachi (Now Metabo), Bosch, and Makita all produce high-quality, reliable models.

They’re an excellent place to start.

Why Is Reliability Important?

Reliability is a no-brainer. Who wants to get started on a project only to find that their saw has broken down again? It’s worth paying a bit more for a good brand in this area.

Another thing to consider here is how reliably you can get replacement blades.

Why is Safety Important?

I remember asking my gramps the same question when I was younger. He didn’t say a word but instead showed me the stub of his pinkie finger. I don’t know how he lost it, but I was careful with his tools from there on out.

Using cheap equipment without adequate safety features is a good way to lose a finger or a limb. Instead, invest in better equipment with proper safety guards.

Types of 10- and 12-Inch Miter Saws

The simplest miter saws have a table that can be pivoted left or right. This maneuverability makes it possible to change the cross-cut angle. The cutting capacity depends on the diameter of the blade. The capacity is slightly smaller than the blade’s diameter because of the design of the arbor.

You can overcome this by cutting against the back of your fence. Now let’s look at some other types of miter saws.

Sliding Miter Saw

This variation has rails that carry the saw. The tracks allow the blade to run backward and forwards smoothly. Use this if you want to cut deeper than usual.

Compound Miter Saw

These saws have a miter and a bevel. These features can be useful when you’re making crown molding or trim with a more intricate design.

Compound Sliding Miter Saw

The compound sliding saw gives you the deep cutting ability of a compound saw. It also allows you to cut bevels and make more complicated cuts.

Dual Compound Sliding Miter Saw

This saw is about as fancy as it gets. You get the table, the rails, and the beveling. You can move the arm left or right. This versatility in movement means that you don’t have to flip your wood over to create the compound cut on the opposite side.

This type is the most expensive model of saw. If you’re a busy woodworker who needs to do a lot of beveling, though, it might be worth the investment.

The Final Call

In the ultimate 10- vs. 12-inch miter saw showdown — it’s hard to pick a clear winner. Why? There are a lot of good options out there. We could say that a 10-inch miter saw comes up tops because it’s priced better.

That’s not a fair comparison, though, considering how much more power the 12-inch has. In the end, we choose our winner based on one simple quality — versatility.

All the models we’ve looked at today are good options. It’s only the Dewalt DWS780 that has a 12-inch blade. As you can switch in a 10-inch blade with a small modification, the Dewalt is our winner.

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