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So you’ve already decided that you want to get yourself a power miter saw to make both miter and bevel cuts. That means you need a compound miter saw, at least. But which kind should you go for? There are such a wide variety of saws and options, it can be hard to pick one.
Read on to learn more about the differences between them and find out which types of saw are best suited for the jobs you want to do.
Stationary compound miter saw
Sometimes known as bench miter saws, compound miter saws are specialised saws that can cut more than just simple angles. They have a pivoting arm, allowing the blade to be titled to the side, achieving bevel cuts. This is the reason the saws are called compound saws; they can cut both miter and bevel cuts in one go.
The biggest advantage of this kind of saw is the large cutting arc, which is usually greater than you get from a sliding saw, seeing as there aren’t any sliding rails to get in the way. If you’re planning on cutting things like corner joint mouldings, this is an important point to consider.
The downside is that there is a limit to the width of material you can cut on a compound miter saw. For example, a 10-inch saw can only cut material up to 6 inches wide. It is very rare that you will need to cut anything wider than this, but it is still worth taking into a account.
All in all the compound miter saw is a solid choice that will be able to handle almost all of the jobs you will want to do. It’s perfect for cutting crown and other kinds of mouldings.
Sliding compound miter saw
The main difference between a sliding compound miter saw and a normal, stationary compound miter saw is that the sliding saw has rails that allow you to slide the saw head backward and forward while cutting. The sliding saw can do everything that a stationary saw can do, and adds a large increase in cutting capacity in terms of the thickness it can cut.
For example, a sliding compound miter saw with a 12-inch blade can cut material up to 16 inches thick. If you need to cut bulky pieces of wood like fence posts then the standard compound miter saw won’t be up to the task, while the sliding saw will have no problem. Sliding saws can also handle other large materials like lumber, boards and even logs.
Both of these saws also come in two types. The first and most simple type is the single bevel model, which only allows bevel cuts in one direction, either left or right. To make a matching bevel cut you need to cut one side first and then flip your workpiece, reset the angle and make a second cut.
The second type of saw is called a dual bevel, which features a pivoting arm that flips the saw and lets you get accurate cuts on both sides without having to remeasure. This can save a lot of time in the long run.
So which should I get?
Hopefully now you will have a pretty good idea of which type of saw is appropriate for your jobs.
Stationary compound miter saws tend to be better suited for smaller jobs, and those that involve long materials. Sliding compound miter saws are good at cutting large, bulky or wide materials. It is clear that a sliding saw is more versatile and has a wider range of jobs it can do, but as a result it also comes with a heftier price tag.
Most professionals will choose the sliding saw because they regularly have to cut thick materials. However, if this isn’t an issue for you then the stationary saw is probably the better choice.