What’s the best miter saw for the money? I wish I could tell you, but there are many factors that make this very much a personal choice! What I can do instead is tell you about the features shared by the top-rated miter saws so you can think about which ones are essential for your shop.
Good dust collection
The best miter saw doesn’t need to have perfect dust collection, but it ought to be good enough that you don’t have to hook it up to a vac every time you move the saw around on site.
Smooth cuts with no deflection
For fine work, even the best miter saw will be an average performer without a good blade. If your miter saw doesn’t cut through a 2×4 like butter with no tear-out, get a new one. Freud and Forrest have the best ratings by far, but Hitachi scores pretty high as well. If you’ve still got the default blade installed and you’re not 100% happy with your saw’s performance, start here. Check out our review of the Milwaukee 6955-20 12-Inch Sliding Dual Bevel miter saw, as we think this one’s a great pick.
On sliding miter saws, the cut sometimes begins true but then begins to wander as the saw slides. If this happens out of the box, you’ve got bad rails and your machine needs to be replaced. If it happens over time, it’s probably your blade.
Accurate gauge and fences
What use is there for a gauge if it’s not accurate? How can fences be of any value if they’re crooked? The best miter saw is perfectly aligned out of the box, or at least easy to true up, and it stays that way without significant play.
Stops where you need them
If you’re building birdhouses, the default positive stops that come on most saws are sufficient. If you’re working with crown molding, it’s really helpful to have positive stops at the most common crown angles. A good miter saw can be adjusted easily, but the best miter saw will have preset positive stops where you need them.
Your heart should jump every time your miter saw starts. Don’t get complacent about safety! Lock switches will prevent your saw from being powered on until the lock is turned off (essentially a two-stage on-switch), retracting saw blades pull the blade behind the guard when it’s not engaged, and while an electric brake won’t save your finger if it’s already under a blade, it will slow down the blade fast enough to protect the toddler who just flew into the room.
Put it all together
Of course, these are just the big questions. There are dozens of other features that will help you choose the best miter saw for you – blade size, laser guides, portability, mounting, and accessories are just a few. Once installed, it’s not as versatile a tool as many others in your shop, so weighing the options carefully before purchase will ensure you get the best tool for the jobs you do now with enough flexibility for the future.