Miter Saw vs Compound Miter Saw — Which Do You Need?

Last Updated: by Peter Lynn

Only a few things can dampen your creative energy more than realizing you bought the wrong miter saw for your trim work. The design of miter saws helps you create cleaner cuts at various angles and bevels in a fraction of the time it would take any other type of saw.

First, what’s the difference between a miter saw vs. a compound miter saw?  As the name implies, compound miter saws do more than just miter cuts. Unlike a standard miter saw, the blade of a compound miter saw has a pivoting arm that can be tilted to angles besides just 90 degrees, allowing you to make bevel cuts in addition to miter cuts.

We would actually recommend a compound miter saw over a standard miter saw, just for the sake of versatility and ease of use.

However, depending on the width or thickness of the material you are working with, you might find yourself also contemplating the features and benefits of a sliding miter saw vs. a compound miter saw.

A sliding compound saw has rails that enable the saw’s blade to move forward and backward. This feature allows them to be used on wider pieces of materials. Non-sliding compound miter saws, on the other hand, do not have rails, and that means they won’t work on pieces wider than 6 inches at a time.

Since nothing restricts the cutting arm of a non-sliding miter saw, non-sliding compound miter saws are better at cutting through thick material.

The takeaway, therefore, is that if you are working on projects that require cuts on boards wider than 6 inches, you will need a sliding miter saw. Nonetheless, sliding miter saws are typically more expensive and take up more space than non-sliding miter saws.

To get the facts, check out our reviews of the best products in each category.

This DEWALT DW713 15 Amp 10-Inch Compound Miter Saw is non-sliding model that is second to none when it comes to ease of use. It allows you to create accurate cuts at various angles in a very short period. It is a powerful saw that is capable of both miter-cutting and cross-cutting.  You will also enjoy the smoothness of its performance.

Our Top Non-Sliding Compound Miter Saws Are:

ProductDetails
1. DEWALT DW713 15 Amp 10-Inch Compound Miter Saw

  • Powerful 15-amp motor
  • Blade speed of 5,000 RPM
  • Tall, sliding fence
  • Positive bevel stops at 0° and 45°
  • Adjustable, stainless-steel miter detent plate with 11 positive stops
  • 90-day money-back guarantee, one-year free service, and 3-year limited warranty
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2. Makita LS1221 12-Inch Compound Miter Saw Kit

  • Positive miter stops at 9 settings
  • Pivoting fence to support larger material
  • Large cutting capacity
  • Carbide tipped blade
  • Powerful 15- amp motor capable of 4000 RPM
  • Electric brake
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3. Hitachi C10FCH2 15-Amp 10-inch Single Bevel Compound Miter Saw with Laser Marker

  • Adjustable pivot fence to support a large stock
  • Large table for enhanced stability
  • Spindle lock for easier blade replacement
  • Thumb-actuated positive stops for quick and easy adjustments
  • Dust guide to collect chips
  • Laser guide technology
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1. DEWALT DW713 15 Amp 10-Inch Compound Miter Saw

The DeWalt DW713 is a single-bevel compound miter saw that can create quick and accurate cuts, regardless of whether you are cutting crown molding or baseboards. The DW713 comes equipped with a powerful motor that enables it to take on demanding miter-cutting or cross-cutting applications.

Additionally, it features an adjustable miter handle plus a laser-guided system. All these features allow this saw to be stable, as well as fast and accurate, all while making smooth cuts.

Specs

  • Powerful 15-amp motor
  • Blade speed of 5,000 RPM
  • Tall, sliding fence
  • Positive bevel stops at 0° and 45°
  • Adjustable, stainless-steel miter detent plate with 11 positive stops
  • 90-day money-back guarantee, one-year free service, and 3-year limited warranty

Pros

  • High quality and durability
  • Compact and lightweight

Cons

  • Lacks electric brakes

We love the DeWalt DW713’s smoothness of performance and ease of use. It is an excellent non-sliding saw for inexperienced DIY enthusiasts.

Overall Rating – 4.8 out of 5 stars

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2. Makita LS1221 12-Inch Compound Miter Saw Kit

The Makita LS1221 is an extremely powerful non-sliding compound miter saw that has a large cutting capacity. This capacity allows it to tackle a variety of applications, such as framing, deck-building, and cabinetry.

The Makita LS1221’s design combines power, performance, and ease of use to make precise but straightforward cuts. These attributes are thanks to several features, including nine positive stops, an easy-to-read miter gauge, a carbide-tipped gauge, two extension wings, a socket wrench, and a dust bag.

Specs

  • Positive miter stops at 9 settings
  • Pivoting fence to support larger material
  • Large cutting capacity
  • Carbide tipped blade
  • Powerful 15- amp motor capable of 4000 RPM
  • Electric brake

Pros

  • Powerful
  • Accurate
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Bevel gauge could be upgraded

The Makita LS1221’s large cutting capacity makes it the ideal saw for someone who works on a wide variety of projects.

Overall Rating – 4.7 out of 5 stars

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3. Hitachi C10FCH2 15-Amp 10-inch Single Bevel Compound Miter Saw with Laser Marker

Hitachi designed this non-sliding compound miter saw for the ultimate professional and, therefore, it features enhanced form and function.

The Hitachi C10FCH2 can create smooth and accurate cross-cuts and miters for a variety of workpieces, including plywood, wood, soft fiberboard, panels, hardboard, and even aluminum. This saw’s compound cutting capability and adjustable miter angles also work to provide you with unparalleled levels of versatility.

The Hitachi C10FCH2, therefore, is ideal for woodworkers, framers, and trim carpenters who require accuracy and reliability.

Specs

  • Adjustable pivot fence to support a large stock
  • Large table for enhanced stability
  • Spindle lock for easier blade replacement
  • Thumb-actuated positive stops for quick and easy adjustments
  • Dust guide to collect chips
  • Laser guide technology
  • Soft and vibration-reducing grip
  • 1-year warranty

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Laser technology for enhanced accuracy

Cons

  • Changing the blade can be cumbersome

Hitachi C10FCH2’s capabilities make it the ideal tool for professionals.

Overall Rating – 4.7 out of 5 stars

If your projects require a sliding miter saw, you need to pick the most appropriate one.

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The Hitachi C12RSH2 Sliding Compound Miter Saw is your best bet when working on projects that require you to make cuts on oversized baseboards. It is sturdy and comes with a laser marker, allowing you to make precise cuts at a fast pace. It can also make cross-cuts.

Our Top Compound Sliding Miter Saws Are:

ProductDetails
1. Hitachi C12RSH2 15-Amp 12-Inch

  • Powerful 15-amp motor capable of handling tough jobs
  • Compact slide system
  • Large sliding fence
  • Easy-to-read measurements
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2. DEWALT DWS779 12″ Sliding Compound Miter Saw

  • Tall sliding fences
  • Dual horizontal steel rails with an innovative clamping mechanism for enhanced stability and accuracy
  • Cam lock miter handle for quick and accurate miter angles
  • Adjustable stainless-steel miter detent plate
  • 10 positive stops for improved efficiency and productivity
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3. Festool 561287 Kapex KS 120

  • Laser technology for more precise cuts
  • Angle transfer capability
  • Micro-adjustable bevel angle
  • Rail forward design
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1. Hitachi C12RSH2 15-Amp 12-Inch

The Hitachi C12RSH2 is a dual-bevel sliding compound miter that comes equipped with a laser marker. When compared to other saws with laser-guided technology, the Hitachi C12RSH2 is head and shoulders above them.

This saw is capable of making accurate compound cuts thanks to its powerful motor and laser-guided technology. Additionally, it’s capable of cross-cutting large pieces and supporting crown molding.

Specs

  • Powerful 15-amp motor capable of handling tough jobs
  • Compact slide system
  • Large sliding fence
  • Easy-to-read measurements

Pros

  • Powerful
  • Accurate
  • Small footprint
  • Quiet

Cons

  • Its dust collection system is not very efficient

The Hitachi C12RSH2 allows you a higher degree of accuracy thanks to its laser system technology.

Overall Rating – 4.8 out of 5 stars

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2. DEWALT DWS779 12″ Sliding Compound Miter Saw

The DeWalt DWS779 sliding compound miter saw is the ideal tool for cabinet, molding, or flooring projects. Even though this saw is not equipped with laser technology, it is still capable of making accurate cuts. Nevertheless, you will need to take your time to maintain the quality of your cuts.

A  welcome feature of this saw is its quiet operation.

Specs

  • Tall sliding fences
  • Dual horizontal steel rails with an innovative clamping mechanism for enhanced stability and accuracy
  • Cam lock miter handle for quick and accurate miter angles
  • Adjustable stainless-steel miter detent plate

Pros

  • Quality cuts
  • Great price
  • Quiet
  • An efficient dust collection system

Cons

  • Lacks laser technology

We love this product for its ability to take on enormous workloads without compromising on quality.

Overall Rating – 4.7 stars out of 5 stars

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3. Festool 561287 Kapex KS 120

The Festool 561287 might be highly-priced, but it is one of the best sliding miter saws on the market. This saw comes with an extremely durable and efficient 60-tooth carbide blade that can cut both wood and plastic.

The Festool also features an angle-transfer device, a hold-down clamp, and a wrench for easier unit adjustments.

It has a compact design that allows you to make bevels both to the left and right. Additionally, its blade makes thin kerfs, thus reducing motor load while improving the quality of the cuts. It is also quite quiet during operation.

Specs

  • Laser technology for more precise cuts
  • Angle transfer capability
  • Micro-adjustable bevel angle
  • Rail forward design

Pros

  • Lightweight and compact design
  • A high degree of accuracy
  • Excellent bevel system

Cons

  • Pricey

This tool is as useful as a miter saw can get.

Overall Rating – 4.7 out of 5 stars

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Sliding Miter Saw vs. Compound Miter Saw: Buying Guide

Apart from the width of the material that they can handle, there’s virtually no other difference between sliding miter saws and non-sliding miter saws. As such, the factors to consider when buying either type are the same. These include:

Blade Size

Most blades range between five and seven inches. If you are working on larger projects, you might need a larger blade of up to 12 inches.

Fence

The fence is where you place your load. As such, it needs to flat and sturdy. Look for a saw with a fence that has enhanced stability and flexibility.

Safety Clamp

This feature secures wood during cutting, making it an important safety feature. Look for a saw that has a safety clamp feature.

Bevel Adjustment

This feature allows you to cut you through adjustable angles, especially when looking to join pieces of wood. Both sliding and non-sliding miter saws can be either single or dual-bevel.

A single-bevel saw allows you to tilt the blade only right or left, while a dual-bevel saw will enable you to tilt on either side.

Sliding Rails

For sliding miter saws, you will need to find one with rails long enough to accommodate the width of your material.

Final Thoughts

As mentioned, when comparing sliding vs. compound miter saws, the choice you go for will be determined by the size of your material. Non-sliding compound miter saws are rarely able to handle materials with a width of more than 6 inches.

Therefore, if you are working with a material with a large surface area, a sliding miter saw will be more appropriate. However, sliding miter saws are typically more expensive, in addition to taking up more space than non-sliding miter saws.

As such, if you are going to get a sliding miter saw, first ensure that the materials you regularly work with have a large surface area.

When it comes to non-sliding miter saws, we found the DEWALT DW713 to be the best choice because of its high performance and ease of use. For sliding miter saws, we found the Hitachi C12RSH2 to be the best choice due to its power and ability to handle large loads efficiently.

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