What Is A Compound Miter Saw?

A miter saw, often confused with a chop saw, is often the first power saw woodworkers choose for their workshop. With a miter saw you can quickly make repeated cuts at the same length as well as cutting accurate angles. It is important to choose the best compound miter saw for your needs, here we have reviewed the best to help you make a decision.

There are three main types of miter saw; standard, compound, and compound sliding miter saw.

The main difference between a standard miter saw and a compound saw is the ability to perform bevel cuts. A compound sliding miter saw builds on this further with rails for the blade to move along so that it can cut wide pieces of material.

There are pros and cons to a compound miter saw instead of a compound sliding saw. When choosing a compound miter saw there are many different variations and functions to look out for. We have collected the main points you should keep in mind.

What To Keep In Mind When Picking A Miter Saw

Saw Safety

Whenever you are choosing a power tool it is essential that it has all the recommended safety functions. A miter saw should always have a top and bottom blade guard, a trigger switch, and a fence to rest your material against whilst cutting.

What Are You Cutting?

An important factor when choosing a miter saw is what you will be cutting. There are various different saw sizes, fence heights, and table sizes to help with different materials and be useful for the various applications.

Cutting Angles

A miter saw is perfect for making angle cross-cuts, especially at 45-degrees. However, not all miter saws have the option to rotate a full 45 degrees to both the left and the right. Make sure you check this feature before buying yours.

Where Are You Using It?

One of the benefits of a miter saw is that they often weigh around 50 pounds. This makes them ideal tools to place in your truck and take to the worksite. However, if you plan to only use it at home, you might find a cheaper saw that is slightly heavier.

The Top Compound Miter Saws

Best Overall


Key Features

–       Machined base fence to support lumber
–       Detent plate to improve productivity and accuracy
–       Bevels 48-degrees to the left and 3-degrees to the right

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The DW715 12-inch single-bevel compound Miter saw is powered by a 15 amp motor to drive 4, 000 RPM, delivering Extended power and durability. Features stainless steel Miter detent plate and cam Miter Lock that provides repeatable accuracy and durability with easy adjustments.

Tall sliding fences support 5-1/2 in. Of base molding vertically and 5-1/2 inches of crown molding vertically nested. Lightweight design and built-in carry handle for portability.

Best Budget

2. Metabo HPT C10FCG

Key Features

–       10-Inch saw blade
–       15 Amp motor to cut the toughest materials
–       Carbon brush access allows user to replace brush as needed

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Our Take

The Metabo HPT C10FCG is one of the most popular miter saws that Metabo sells. It is a lightweight saw making it easy to transport and move around. This saw has a 0 – 52-degree miter angle range to both the left and the right, as well as a 45-degree bevel range to the left. This gives you some flexibility, however you might find that only being able to bevel to the left frustrating.

It comes with a large table and a vice clamping system that secures your material in place. A 15 Amp motor provides a no-load spin of 5000 RPM which creates a very straight cut through the toughest of materials. It comes with a 10-inch saw blade and a dust collector attachment. This makes sure that there are fewer airborne particles in your workshop.

Best for Features

3. Genesis GMS1015LC

Key Features

–       Electric brake stops the blade in seconds
–       Laser cutting guide, great for quick alignment
–       9 position stops at commonly used angles

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The Genesis Compound Miter Saw with Laser Guide is extremely strong for the weight and everything about this stand is made of the highest quality well thought-through. This miter saw by Genesis is light enough to pick up and very sturdy as well. The saw is accurate when cutting angles as it comes with a laser guide for precision.

4. Shopmaster S26-260L

Key Features

–       Laser guide to help align work piece
–       Lightweight at only 25 pounds
–       15 Amp motor and electric brake

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Fourth on our list is the Shop Master 10-inch miter saw with a battery-operated laser. This is is a great addition that makes aligning the blade to the material quicker and precise.
It features a spindle lock that stops the blade from rotating when replacing the blade. With its 15-amp motor and 10-inch blade, it is perfect for everyday tasks.

It has positive stops at 0, 15, 22.5, 30, and 45 degrees, and the battery-powered laser ensures an accurate cut every time. The saw can make bevel cuts from 0 to 47 degrees, however, this is only possible on the left-hand side. It also comes with a 3-year warranty to give you peace of mind.

5. Craftsman CMXEMAR120

Key Features

–       Medium-weight at 28 pounds
–       Powerful 15-amp ball bearing motor
–       Adjustable and foldable for storage and transport

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Our Take

Finally, the last miter saw in our review is the Craftsman CMXEMAR120 10-inch compound miter saw. It is a medium-weight saw at 28 pounds. A powerful tool suited to everyday DIY, and perfect for cutting of trim, framing, and craft projects, this is not one to miss. 

It has a 15-amp ball bearing motor providing more than enough power to cut 2 by 4’s at 90-degrees and 2 by 3’s at 45-degrees.

This saw has dust ports which keep the work area clean when being used with vacuum or the included dust bag. The positive stops at the most used angles are provided, and the saw can be folded for transport or storage. 

Compound Miter Saw Buyer’s Guide

It is important to understand the common features of a compound miter saw before purchasing. It will fit in perfectly in your workshop alongside your drill press, table saw, and hand tools. Here we have gone over the features to help you find the best compound miter saw for your usage.

Saw Motor

The motors used for miter saws are electric motors. Their power is measured in Amps, so it is important to make sure you have a high enough power for your needs. Most compound miter saws have a 15-amp motor which is more powerful than the average user needs. For most common tasks a 10-amp motor will suffice and might mean you can purchase a cheaper saw.

Cutting Blades

Not only are there different blade diameters depending on the saw you choose, but there are also different types of blades depending on what you are cutting. Areas to consider are the number of teeth on the blade and the depth of the gullet between the teeth. Most of the time you will be fine using a multi-purpose or combo blade.

Blade Guards

As mentioned at the beginning of this guide, safety should be your number one priority when choosing a miter saw. Blade guards are essential both top and bottom of the blade. It is best to select saw with an articulated blade guide. These automatically move out of the way when the blade is lowered for cutting and cover once the blade is lifted.

Positive Stops And Laser Guides

One of the main uses of a compound miter saw is the quick alignment and cutting of materials. Positive stops help align the saw to commonly used precise points, reducing the time it takes to adjust the saw. Make quick adjustments and help with precision cuts using a laser guide or guide light.

Electric Brakes

As well as a blade guard electric brakes are an essential safety feature that rapidly slows down the blade. Once the trigger is released the electric brake reverses the motor stopping the blade in under 2 seconds. There are plenty of other resources with more information on using your miter saw safely.


Fences are used to support taller material so that it doesn’t rotate or move whilst being cut. You can clamp or push your material up to the rip fence to keep it in place whilst cutting to make sure of a straight cut. These are often able to slide out of the way when not being used.

Dust Bags

A clean work area is essential to maintaining good safety practices. A dust bag catches the sawdust as it is blown from the table by the rotation of the blade.

How To Maintain A Compound Miter Saw

Maintenance for a compound miter saw is relatively straightforward as there are few moving parts. The two main areas to keep an eye on are the blade and work area cleanliness.

As previously mentioned it is essential to have a clean working area, free from sawdust and debris. Using either a shop vac or a brush and pan remove the debris throughout the day, making sure to pay special attention to any areas with moving parts.

If you have compressed air in your workshop this can be used to blow the dust away from hard-to-reach places before being swept up. Be careful not to blow dust further into the motor.

The blade is arguably the most important part of the saw and it is essential to keep it in good condition to provide a good cut. Make sure to remove debris with a brush, not your hands.

If your blade is becoming blunt or disfigured it may be time to replace the blade.

Once you have finished deciding on a compound miter saw you might also be interested in a cordless impact driver to help with jobs around your workshop.

Miter Saw Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Difference Between A Table Saw And A Miter Saw?

Though both saws use a circular blade to make their cuts, they are often used for very different purposes. Compound miter saws can be used for angle cuts and straight cuts while table saws are primarily for straight cuts.

Should I Get A Sliding Miter Saw?

There are a few areas to consider when choosing between the two types of sliding and compound miter saws. Cost, size, weight, and range of motion. Sliding miter saws are bigger and heavier, but can cut wider material. They sit on rails which can impede the range of motion. Plus as they have more moving parts a slider will often cost significantly more.
At the end of the day, it really depends on what tasks you see yourself using it for.

10-Inch Or 12-Inch Saw Blade?

10-Inch saws are very popular as they will easily cut boards 6 inches wide. This covers you for most materials. 12-Inch miter saws are often more expensive machines due to being larger, also replacement blades are also more expensive.

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