Miter Saw vs Compound vs Sliding Miter Saw: Guide for Newbies

If you can’t decide which instrument you need, miter saw vs compound vs sliding miter saw, this article is for you. While there is no difference between miter saws for many newcomers, this tool has a wide range of features based on the type. To ease your work, you have to learn the difference between a miter saw and a compound miter saw vs a sliding miter saw.

Guide on Different Types of Miter Saws

This is a detailed overview of different miter saw types. I am going to compare miter saw vs compound miter saw vs compound sliding miter saw so that you can learn the benefits of each type. You will be able to pick a dual bevel or compound miter saw based on the cross cuts you need to do.

yellow miter saw

Specific Features of Each Type

To understand the difference, you should accept the fact that we are talking about one family united by the “miter saw” name. Originally, it was created as a saw that makes direct crosscuts and miters.

In brief, this tool makes angled crosscuts. The angle depends on your preferences and the tool. The most popular options are 15, 30, and 45 degrees. Once the angle is chosen, you need to hold the material against the fence to make the cut smooth with the circular blade.

Sometime later, several types of classic miter saw appeared. Nowadays, it is crucial to know the difference between a sliding vs compound miter saw. They both have their pros and cons, unique features, and the gap in prices.

The most popular comparison is a compound vs sliding compound miter saw. Let’s start with these tools. It is crucial to understand how each of them works and which one you need for your projects.

Compound miter saw

While a compound miter saw is considered to be a standard tool, you will find lots of benefits working with it. You might have heard its other name, “bench miter saw.” It combines features of a miter and bevel, offering compound cuts. You can use a mitering feature while rotating the blade around its base. There is a scale on the base with the angle indication.

What does a compound miter saw do? The benefits of the tool are:

  • this saw offers you bevel cuts and miter cuts;
  • the great cutting arc which is even better than a sliding compound saw can offer;
  • it works perfectly with crown molding and any materials that are installed on the wall.

Cons:

  • this saw has a limit of width for the material it can cut. If you use a 10-inch miter saw, the cut can be up to 6 inches wide.

You can buy this type if you need to cut lots of wood. It must not be too wide, or the saw will be useless. This is a reliable and helpful tool for making different types of cuts of any angle.

yellow compound miter saw

Sliding miter saw

This is a type of miter saw that creates rails for sliding the blade over the wood. These rails provide you with extra benefits, including the deeper cuts and the ability to reach any place you want. When choosing between a sliding vs non-sliding miter saw, think about whether you need a compound cut. The major difference is the rail or even several rails you can’t find on other tools. You can repeat your moves, sliding from one side to another until you cut the wood of any depth.

The main benefits of a sliding miter saw:

  • the rails that allow you to make cuts across the wood of any width;
  • it can do everything that the compound model does;
  • it works splendidly on the wider boards.

Cons:

  • these saws are more expensive than compound models;
  • it requires lots of space.

If you aren’t sure about the details of your next project, you might not need to buy the sliding saw. Once you find out the width and materials, you can decide. If you don’t have enough space for this tool, you can choose another model. Yet, if you want to cut through materials like 1×12 and 2×12 logs, you will need this miter saw.

gray sliding miter saw

Compound sliding miter saw

If you can’t decide between a miter saw sliding or not, there is always a third option. This model can be slightly pricey, but it has the benefits of both sliding and compound saws. It provides the functionality of both sliding and compound types, but it has several flaws, such as the size and price. This saw also contains rails for crosscuts.

The main features of a compound sliding model:

  • it can cut through logs of deep width;
  • it makes accurate cuts on the right angle you pick;
  • it provides the left bevel for compound cuts and offers cross-cut capacity with the rails;
  • it offers high flexibility for any angle you need.

Cons:

  • it costs more than a standard compound saw or sliding miter saw;
  • the tool is as bulky as a sliding miter saw.

This miter saw is required for work with big lumber. If you need to make 1×12 and 2×12 accurate cuts with the angle you pick, this is the tool for you. This model is widely used by professionals.

compound sliding miter saw

Dual compound sliding miter saw

This miter saw has numerous features. It consists of specifically designed sliding rails, the beveling that works in both right and left directions, and the miter table. Its left bevel excludes the need to move the wood back and forth just to make opposite cuts. It can save you lots of time. This model is highly recommended for newcomers since it does almost all the hard work for you. No matter what you are up to, it can deal with the base and crown molding cuts.

Here are the benefits of a compound sliding miter saw:

  • it offers the base flat and bevel cut crown in the direction you need;
  • it has the features of both sliding and compound miter saw models;
  • it saves you time since you don’t need to rotate the wood.

Cons:

  • it is one of the most expensive models;
  • you might not need the bevel for right and left directions.

This saw will be helpful for professional carpenters who usually need both directions bevel. This instrument is used for the bevel cut crown too. It is highly unlikely that you may need this model for your home projects. Yet, if you work a lot with different types of wood and have numerous tasks in front of you, you may choose the dual compound sliding tool.

dual compound sliding miter saws

Main difference

These models have lots in common, as you might have noticed already. They all cut wood. Yet, they do it differently. Carpenters usually distinguish only two main types: sliding and compound saws. Here are the basics in short:

  • the sliding tool has rails moving back and forth, cutting the wood deeper and deeper. The compound miter saw blade simply will not reach such depth;
  • compound models are more compact since there are no rails. They can make cuts at different angles since the cutting arm is free of anything.

Bevel cuts or miter cuts: which of them to choose

You might need bevel cuts for the finish or crown molding cuts. They can be both horizontal and vertical. Meanwhile, miter saw cuts are great for any type of joining. They are precise and allow you to form the corners in the end. In reality, you might need both of them. It often happens that a carpenter jumps from one project to another. If you are planning to extend your practice or hobby, you might think of complex tools.

Miter Saw FAQ

Here are the most popular questions I have found online. You can answer some of them after reading my description. Yet, I hope my answers will help you to understand the specifics of each miter saw type better.

Which miter saw is better, sliding vs fixed?

There’s no universal answer. It depends on the work you perform with a saw. A fixed saw does not slide from one side to another, but it can be more compact and allows you to cut precise angles. A sliding saw makes deep cuts. You still have to learn how to use a saw.

Is there a difference between a miter saw and a compound miter saw?

Many carpenters confuse a miter saw with a compound miter saw. A compound model is the type of miter saw that rotates horizontally and pivots laterally. A basic miter saw pivots to 45 degrees in each lateral direction.

Do I need a sliding miter saw?

It depends on what you are going to do with it. If you need deep cuts and work with logs, it is better to use a sliding miter saw. You can repeat your moves using this model. Yet, you have to make sure that you have plenty of space for the tool.

Are sliding miter saws less accurate?

If you need to perform accurate work on a board not too wide, it is better to use the compound model. It offers a crosscut, angle, and bevel. If you need less tricky work, but deal with thicker wood, it is better to use a sliding model.

Also read:

Final Thoughts About Best Miter Saw

Now, when you know the main difference between all types of miter saws, you can choose the one you need the most. Many professionals have several types or change models during the years. I can’t suggest you a specific model, since it depends on the project.

I recommend you pay attention to the basic features, pros, and cons. Compare details, read the reviews, and pick the tool. If you have more recommendations to share, do it in the comments below. Which miter saw you use?

My ultimate goal is to provide insights that will help you effectively determine whether this or that tool or product suits your needs/budget or not. I test out home improvement tools at work on a daily basis and enjoy sharing my knowledge with D.I.Y-ers who have similar questions to the ones I used to have. I realize how important choosing the right tools is, that’s why my approach to every review I publish is very responsible.

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