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How to Buy a Compound Miter Saw

Updated on September 9, 2010

Compound Miter Saw

The miter saw is possibly the most useful tools that any carpenter will ever buy. This is most true of a compound miter saw.  Attempting to make a compound cut without one is an exercise in frustration. You really should have a compound miter saw if you have a workshop. There are a couple of things that you should keep in mind before you purchase your miter saw this will help to guarantee that you buy the best miter saw for your needs.

Usually the kind of miter saw that you buy is going to be decided by how much you can afford to invest and how serious you are about woodworking. When it comes to selecting miter saws you do tend to get what you paid for. There often is a substantial difference in cost based on the size and the quality of the saw that you select. It is usually sound advice is to select the best saw that you can afford. This will make certain that you get the most use out of this very versatile tool.

Generally compound miter saws come in three different sizes 8, 10, and 12 inches. When we speak about the size of a miter saw we are really speaking about how big the blade is. The bigger the piece of wood that you need to cut the bigger the blade you will need. The eight inch saw is very limited when it comes to what you can do with it so even though there are three sizes of miter saw available only two of them are worthy of serious consideration. The ten and twelve inch miter saws are really the only ones you are going to need to decide between. It is rare that most woodworkers would ever encounter a piece of wood that is too big for a ten inch saw so that is usually sufficient for most people. The twelve inch miter saw is aimed mostly at professional carpenters who may need to cut through larger pieces.

Whether or not to get a standard miter saw, a compound miter saw or a sliding compound miter saw is another important consideration that you are going to have to make. The standard miter saw is so limited in what it can do that it is hardly worth buying since it can only cut miters. The compound miter saw is significantly more useful since it can cut both miters and bevels. The advantage of a sliding compound miter saw is that after you plunge the blade into the wood you can move the saw through it; this allows you to cut pieces of wood that would otherwise be too big. Of course the price goes up as you step up from a regular miter saw to a compound miter saw to a sliding compound miter saw. It is generally a good idea to pick a compound miter saw but this is really a matter of personal preference.


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