Help me choose a miter saw

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Forum topic by rpearlberg posted 12-13-2011 05:06 PM 5907 views 0 times favorited 32 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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26 posts in 2917 days

12-13-2011 05:06 PM

I want to buy a miter saw. My first project will be installing crown molding, but otherwise it will be used for general household upgrades and repairs.

I’d like to stay under $300…


32 replies so far

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3635 days

#1 posted 12-14-2011 09:16 PM

At one time, a miter saw was primarily a carpenters saw for cutting framing material and, perhaps, crown molding. Earlier models did not offer the clean, accurate cut woodworkers often need.

That’s changing. There are now miter saws that rival table saws for clean, accurate cuts. That’s still not true in my shop.

With your budget, you can either get a cheap sliding compound miter saw or a more upscale non-sliding miter saw. Unless you have a big need for a saw that can cut a wide board (more than 8”) I would stick with a non-sliding saw.

I’m not going to get into brands because I don’t know enough to make a good recommendation. Mine is a Makita SCMS but I don’t recommend it.

As an FYI – I think miter saws are one of the worst tools in the shop with respect to generating dust. I’ve not seen a dust collection set up that works very well with a miter saw. In general, Festool gets very high marks for dust control and their miter saw (which costs $1,300), when connected to their dust extractor, still only captures 90% of the dust, according to their claim.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View rpearlberg's profile


26 posts in 2917 days

#2 posted 12-14-2011 09:27 PM

Thanks for the responses. That is one of the things I’m trying to decide…
Get a cheaper saw that has all options (slider/laser, etc) or one for the same price, but a better saw without some of the options…

Right now I’m looking at the DeWalt DS713 10” non-slider, but am open to other options.
I can get this one for about $180 on amazon or $200 at HD.

There is also a Ryobi at HD for $179 that is a slider….

View ShaneA's profile


7084 posts in 3159 days

#3 posted 12-14-2011 09:31 PM

That 10” dewalt is a nice saw, I have used one few times. Very smooth. The Ryobi, not so much. Blade choice will be a big impact .

View rpearlberg's profile


26 posts in 2917 days

#4 posted 12-14-2011 09:35 PM

You think that the 10” DeWalt is more than enough saw for doing crown molding and other random household projects?

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3263 posts in 3236 days

#5 posted 12-14-2011 09:37 PM

I have a 9” Rockwell from the ‘70’s and a 12” Bosch slider from the 2000’s. I bought both of them used when they were in like new condition. The Rockwell is as plain as they come. It is as solid as they come. It still makes very clean accurate cuts. I still use it. The Bosch makes more sawdust than a lumber mill. It makes good cuts but weighs a ton when it needs to be moved. I got it for $300 so it is not out of your range. When I bought the Rockwell, I paid $175 (probably more in today’s money than I paid for the Bosch). Not everyone had a powered miter saw in those days. I like both and use them both. Buy a good saw and forget the gimmicks. The blade you install makes the cut. You get what you put on it.

View mikema's profile


180 posts in 3147 days

#6 posted 12-14-2011 09:57 PM

I have a 10” miter saw, non-slider. Don’t buy one, it is far too limiting. Get at least one with a 12” blade, and get one with a good reputation, like the Dewalt or Bosch. I have gotten to the point where I don’t trust the angle scales on mine, and check it every few cuts. In fact I don’t even use it where precision is needed, I go to the table saw. For me, the next miter saw I get will be a high-end 12” slider. With your budget, look at criagslist, saws like this often show up within the budget you have… Just don’t let them sit too long as they will get snapped up quick.

Whatever saw you get, toss the blade it comes with and put a good one on it.

-- Mike ---- Visit my woodworking blog:

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3635 days

#7 posted 12-14-2011 11:15 PM

IMO – The laser is of very limited value. Sometimes they are built into the package and, in theory, cost very little extra. However, if you could get a slightly better saw for the same money by giving up the laser I would do that.

In the interest of full disclosure, I bought a laser for my miter saw and installed it. In retrospect, I regret spending the money.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Bertha's profile


13568 posts in 3254 days

#8 posted 12-14-2011 11:18 PM

I see DeWalts all over the WV craigslist. $300 would buy your two of them. Good luck!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 3530 days

#9 posted 12-15-2011 12:30 AM

Don’t buy the Ryobi unless you want to chuck it away when it breaks. You can’t get spare parts for love nor money.

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3629 days

#10 posted 12-15-2011 02:11 AM

What size crown are you installing? Is it stain or paint grade?

$300 isn’t going to get you much of a miter saw unless you can get lucky and score a used one that hasn’t been used to death.

A simple miter saw (non-sliding) will work fine for crown if it can be cut standing straight up against the fence. The max size of the crown depends on the clearance between the table and the saw blade.

If you’re planning to paint your crown you don’t need a top of the line miter saw. Less than perfect joints can be filled and sanded. If you’re going stained crown, don’t go cheap on your saw.

The laser can be handy – if you take the time to get it dialed in just right. I have mine set to cut on the left side of the laser beam and it can make things easier. Contrary to popular opinion, Ryobi makes pretty decent tools. I use Ryobi for my on site work and can do almost anything I can do in the shop.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View Abe Low's profile

Abe Low

111 posts in 4407 days

#11 posted 12-15-2011 06:51 AM

Look into a used radial arm saw. You can get a great one for your budget. Don’‘t skimp on the blade.
The only reason for the miter saw is if you need to transport it to job sites. A 12” slider takes up more floor space than a radial arm saw. Do your own research and follow your results.

-- Abe Low, Fine furniture, Sacramento, CA

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5234 posts in 4521 days

#12 posted 12-15-2011 04:47 PM

I have a DeWalt 10” non-slider with a Freud 80 tooth blade. Smooth, accurate, and relatively inexpensive. Used it to trim our new home. I used 7 1/4” crown which was too wide for the saw. Another fellow installed the crown with 12” slider. Other than the really wide crown, the DeWalt has been a great buy.
Whatever ya get, put a good blade on it.

-- [email protected]

View rpearlberg's profile


26 posts in 2917 days

#13 posted 12-15-2011 04:51 PM

Thanks Bill. For now I plan on using basic 3 5/8” crown so the 10” non-slider should be plenty….still can’t make a decision!!

View agallant's profile


551 posts in 3447 days

#14 posted 12-15-2011 05:04 PM

I would stay away from Rayobi. I have the ‘nice’ sliding CMS from them, it is OK but my biggest complaint is that the degree markings are not accurate, 45 is more like 42….

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 3512 days

#15 posted 12-15-2011 05:30 PM

I own the Ryobi SCMS and like others have said, I would advise you to stay away from it. You’d be better off with a better brand non-sliding CMS in the same price range. To be honest, I don’t even use my miter saw much other than for molding or angled cuts on long boards. I usually cut all my miters on the table saw.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

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