Help, I don’t know which miter saw to buy
Choosing a miter saw that is right for you may not be easy, since there are so many to choose from. Of course, the 12 inch miter saws can cut the widest material. But then again, the 8 1/2 inch saws are the easiest to move around. A 10 inch saw combines wide materials and portability. But if you’re looking at a 10 inch, doesn’t it seem like you might as well go with a 12 inch?
It can be surprizing how each size of miter saw can perform compared to the other. Bigger doesn’t always mean better.
Thickness makes the most difference
The biggest difference between the saw sizes is the thickness of board they can handle. All saws from 8 1/2 to 12 inches can handle 8/4 stock (which is 1-13/16″). If you want to take on 4″x4″‘s though,
you’ll have to go with a 10 inch or 12 inch. As far as your stock width goes, all sizes of saws either come close to or exceed the 12
inch width cut mark. Also consider that if you are cutting wide boards around 12 inches or doing base boards, the 10 and 12 inch saws will make things alot easier.
You’ll also find that the amount of space any of these saws take up in the workshop is not that different from one another.
These 3 saws are able to crosscut 2×12. They can also handle 2×12 at a 45 degree bevel cut. Even if you had a 12 inch saw, you could probably also cut most boards on a 10 inch miter saw.
Some interesting info about maximum board width sizes here that may help you.
Small saws can handle big jobs, sort of
Many boards can be cut on the smallest 8 1/2 inch saw, but with a little more difficulty. Here is an example. A 1″x4″ baseboard while standing up against the miter fence on a 10 or 12 inch saw allows you to easily slice off a hair to get to boards to fit properly. A 1″x4″ baseboard on an 8 inch saw would have to lay flat in order to cut of a partial degree. You can still do it, but it’s harder to tune the angle just right. The scale is a lot smaller on the 8 1/2 inch saw so you’d have to be rediculously precise to get it right on the first try. The larger saws have larger scales on them which gives them more playing room. This is really important. There’s no such thing as an entire house having perfect 45 degree angles in them. So quite often you may find yourself shaving off half a degree from time to time. If you expect to do this often, consider a 10 or 12 inch saw with a bigger scale on it.
All three sizes of saws will cut crown molding. However, with the smallest 8 1/2 inch saw, you’d have to hold the board flat while doing a compound miter cut. You’ll need some practice to be able to do that without thinking. On the larger saws though, crown molding is cut with the board up against the fence. When it’s against the fence, it’s easier to picture the cut in your head.
Of course the 8 1/2 inch saws are cheaper than the 12 inch saws. That doesn’t mean the cheaper 8 1/2 inch saw will cut worse. In fact, because the blade is smaller, it takes less horse power to spin it at the same rpm. That means you’ll find the smaller saws cutting through the same hardwood as the 12 inch saws with similar ease.
Features and accesories
Generally speaking, you’ll find the larger saws have more add on options and features. As well, there may be more blade options for the larger saws.
If big and wide stock is common for you, the 12 inch miter saw is your pick. If you really need some portability and big cuts, look at the 10 inch. If 8/4 (1-13/16″) is your max size for your cuts, and you want to be able to carry a 30 pound saw from place to place, then by all means get the 8 1/2 inch. Remember, the 8 1/2 inch still cuts through the hard wood just as well as the big boys.
4/4 = 13/16″
6/4 = 1-5/16″
8/4 = 1-13/16″
12/4 = 2-13/16″
Check out the original miter saws…. chop saws.