The 7 Best Miter Saws for Beginners [Updated for 2021]

Last Updated on July 13, 2021 by Paul King

Miter saws are a common first tool for new workshops thanks to their versatility and durable designs. A great miter saw might not be able to rip through a long section of lumber, but they’re irreplaceable when it comes to shorter precision cuts.

But, just like any saw strong enough for your workshop, miter saws for beginners should have some extra safety features to make them easier to use. More importantly, miter saws need to be durable and powerful enough to last, no matter how many projects you throw at them.

We’ve put together this review of the best miter saws for beginners with those important safety and durability features in mind. We’ll go over the most important features of each saw, including what makes them a great option for beginners.

Let’s get started!

DeWalt is a brand that offers consistent power and accuracy, along with high durability. That’s one of the reasons this brand is so popular with professionals, hobbyists, and beginners. The consistent performance of these saws helps make them safer and more effective, no matter how much experience you bring to the table.

This saw has a 15-amp motor and provides a 4,000-rpm rotation speed to help the saw power through whatever material you throw at it. An extensive blade guard helps keep your hand safe while you’re working, while still providing plenty of airflow to keep the blade in good condition between uses.

The miter detent plate helps ensure cutting accuracy, making this saw significantly easier to use. The 14 stops give you a wide range of cutting options, while sliding fences provide the support you need for more delicate work.

If you’re looking for a miter saw that’s suitable for cutting dimensional lumber as well as crown molding and other more delicate materials, this saw is a good choice.

A vertical clamp, integrated dust bag, and a blade wrench are all included with the base kit. Along with the carbide blade, that’s everything you need to get started using your miter saw. That does mean that you’ll need to keep the blade wrench safe to change out blades while you’re working.

Pros

Cons

Our Verdict

This miter saw’s combination of high-quality components, good safety systems, and a well-designed beveling system make it easy to use and highly effective. Its intuitive control system is easy for beginners to use, while also keeping users safe.

Our Rating

5/5

Metabo is another brand whose reputation for dependability and durability makes them a favorite of professionals and beginners. This miter saw is a well-designed tool that works as a beginner tool but has the additional features and functionality of a professional saw.

That means that this miter saw can grow with you as your skill level and needs grow over time. The larger table on this miter saw also means that you have a wider range of project options right from the get-go.

Just like the DeWalt saw we’ve already reviewed, this model from Metabo features a powerful 15-amp motor. Its 10″ blade is large enough to handle most miter saw projects. Since you’ll also have access to a wide range of blades that fit the miter saw, it’s fairly flexible and works with a wide range of materials.

The miter function on this saw gives you flexibility between 0-52 degrees. Its fully functional bevel system offers up to 45 degrees beveling in either direction. That gives you a lot of angles to work with, plenty of versatility for even the trickiest projects.

A large-table design means that this miter saw takes up a little more space than some alternatives. However, it also provides better stability, and a lot more clampable surfaces to help hold the saw in place while you work. The larger size is a good tradeoff for added stability. Especially since this model still has a reasonable weight for portability between job sites.

The included saw blade also helps you get up and working that much faster after you’ve pulled this saw out of the box.

Pros

Cons

Our Verdict

This Metabo miter saw is a great option for experienced users who know how to maneuver the saw to achieve the greatest possible precision. It’s a little less effective for beginners since it doesn’t have quite as many guides and assistive technology to help you get started. However, the power and effectiveness of the saw are both good, and it offers clean cutting power for a wide range of materials as long as you choose the right blade.

Our Rating

5/5

This miter saw model from Makita is relatively similar to the other two miter saws we’ve already discussed, but with a few key differences that might make it a better option for some users.

For one thing, this model uses a slightly more compact table design and an aluminum base. That means that you sacrifice a little stability from the saw itself, but it’s a more lightweight and portable version. We also appreciate that this smaller design still has a good number of potential clamp points, each of which adds some stability back to the design.

Like the other miter saws we’ve discussed so far, this design uses a 10-inch blade. That’s great because it means you have a lot of blade options to choose from, but it does limit the functionality of the saw a little. Smaller blad0es mean smaller materials, but this blade size seems like a good balance for the other features of the saw.

Makita’s miter saw also has a good range of safety systems to help keep you safer while you work. It’s got a good blade guard that auto-retracts as you move the blade into the work area, just like you’d expect. A taller fence on the back of the work area also gives you improved security for your materials while you work.

You can expect Miter cuts 0-45 left and 0-52 right, which is a pretty wide range for a saw this size and price range. Its bevel system is also fairly flexible, moving up to 45 degrees. However, the beveling system only moves to the left, so you may sometimes have to flip your materials around to get the angle you need.

The one big drawback on this design is that it doesn’t have a laser sight. That means you’ll need to be a little more careful if you want to get high-precision cuts, which can mean it takes just a little longer. An experienced miter saw user can probably overcome the laser problem, but it might be more of a hindrance to new miter saw users.

Pros

Cons

Our Verdict

This miter saw is a good option if you’re looking for a portable option or need a smaller saw design to work in a limited space. It’s got a good balance for working on standard workbenches and tables, and a good set of safety features to help prevent injuries. The beveling and miter systems aren’t anything special, but they work well and are effective options for most users.

Our Rating

5/5

This miter saw is the first model we’re looking at that really adds a lot of new features and functionality to the mix. It’s a larger saw, with a 12-inch blade instead of a 10-inch model. That might not sound like a huge change, but it can actually be a significant change, especially for contractors and construction professionals. A 12-inch blade can handle thicker materials that a 10-inch blade really shouldn’t touch.

This miter saw is also a sliding model, which means that the saw itself can move forward and backward during operation. That means that you can work with significantly wider materials on this miter saw as opposed to the standard miter saw arms.

The miter detent plate comes with 10 different positive stop points, which adds quite a bit to the safety of the saw. It’s also easier to customize the saw’s function to the needs of your project, which means you’re getting more functionality from the saw itself and will need to do less on the fly accommodation to finish your projects.

The machined base and miter fence are also a great addition since they both add stability to the saw while it’s working, no matter what angle or combination of features you’re using. The fence in particular makes tricky cuts safer and much more precise.

The beveling system on this miter saw is also a good bit more flexible than many other options. It can be adjusted up to 48 degrees in both directions. That added versatility makes it a lot easier to get the right angle for your projects, without having to think outside the box.

DeWalt has also included a helpful dust collection system built into this miter saw. It captures up to 75% of sawdust produced while you’re working, making workshop cleanup much easier at the end of a long day. Efficient dust collection systems also help reduce the risk of fire from sparks and other accidents.

However, all the additional functions and versatility of this model can also make it a little overwhelming for newer users. There’s a lot going on, and that can make it easier to make mistakes until you get used to the different functions. We’d recommend taking some time to practice with scrap wood if you’re a newer miter saw user starting with this model.

Pros

Cons

Our Verdict

If you’re in the market for a more advanced miter saw that has a wide range of uses, this is one of the best available options. It’s got a lot of bells and whistles, but all of those bells and whistles are functional and well designed. DeWalt also has a good reputation for durability and consistency in their products, making this saw a good choice for anyone looking for a long-lasting option. Its biggest downside is that it can be a bit too complicated for beginners, and all the additional features can take some getting used to.

Our Rating

5/5

The next miter saw on our list is more similar to the DeWalt model than the other miter saw’s we’ve looked at so far. Like the DeWalt, this miter saw offers a few more functions and has a few more options than a more basic saw. It’s also a 15-amp motor and comes with a 12-inch blade suitable for larger projects and a wider variety of projects.

This model is also a sliding miter saw, which means that you can cut significantly larger project materials with ease. This design has 14 inches of forwarding sliding capacity and 6.5 inches of height range. The blade housing is also compact, which gives you a little more room to work and maneuver.

Like the DeWalt model, Bosch has built a wide range of flexibility into this miter saw for both miter cuts and bevel cuts. It’s able to turn up to 45 degrees both left and right to give you the maximum possible versatility.

This saw does have one serious standout feature though, even compared with the previous DeWalt model. Its design features one of the most effective dust collection systems out there. It’s rated to collect up to 90% of the dust produced by the saw’s operation. That’s 15% better than the DeWalt system, and neatly lands this saw top marks in that category.

That said, dust collection is only a small part of the total operation of a miter saw and not a strictly necessary one. It’s a nice feature to have, but the other aspects of the saw’s function should generally be more important in the long run.

One other area where this miter saw shines is its ease of use. The buttons, triggers, and releases for the saw’s different functions are all relatively intuitive. Like the DeWalt saw, we’d recommend a beginner use some scrap wood or other materials to play around with this saw and really see what it can do.

Pros

Cons

Our Verdict

This model is a good option for a permanent workstation thanks to its advanced dust collection system and many features. However, its heavier base design means that this miter saw is not well designed for portability. Bosch is another brand with a solid reputation for the durability of their power tools as well as having overall consistent performance.

Our Rating

5/5

Delta is a little less well known, but they still offer a good product that has high-performance values and quite a bit of versatility. The brand being a little less well known makes consistency a little less predictable, but overall this design very predictable and effective.

Like the last two miter saws we’ve discussed, this design is a little more feature-rich than the first couple of saws we went over. That means it’s a more advanced option that can do more, but it also means that the saw is less beginner-friendly and needs a little more experience to use safely.

One notable difference with this saw is that it has a little more of a guide for where the blade is about to cut than the other advanced feature saws we’ve discussed. It doesn’t have a laser guide, which would be even more precise, but the shadow guide works well for giving you a little better indication of where you’re about to cut.

A molded handle and full-size trigger also work to help make this miter saw a little more comfortable in your hand. They’ll help reduce hand and arm fatigue when you have to do a lot of cutting all at once. It’s also a good adaptation to make it easier to move and maneuver the blade while you’re working.

This model has relatively wide beveling features. It’s able to tilt up to 47 degrees in either direction, making it one of the most flexible options in this review.

With a maximum speed of up to 4,500 RPM, this model also offers good cutting strength for most materials. It’s well designed for hard and softwoods and is reliable for PVC and even some harder materials.

Pros

Cons

Our Verdict

This option combines some of the best traits of the other saws we’ve discussed in one package but doesn’t come from a brand as well recognized or trusted as some of the other options. However, Delta’s record of 100 years producing high-quality woodworking tools is just as consistent and durable as many other more recognized brands. This saw is a good addition to their lineup and is a good option for users who value comfort and ease of use.

Our Rating

5/5

For the last saw, we want to review on this list, we’re going back to DeWalt. This brand produces a wide range of saws, so it should be no surprise that they have two miter saws that are worth consideration for beginners. This model is also the smallest miter saw on our list, which can work to make it a better option for beginners since it’s easier to store and better for small projects beginners are likely to try.

At 7 ¼ inches, this model is significantly more compact than the 10-inch blade models or the 12-inch blades. That limits its ability to work with larger materials or to make larger cuts into material, but it makes it easier to use for more detailed work.

This smaller design is also a little safer for very inexperienced hands, the dangerous area under the blade is smaller.

The cut line cross-section included in this miter saw is also an important safety measure. Plus, it functions to make it incredibly clear where the blade will be when it’s in operation. In addition to the regular blade guard and other safety features like the miter saw fence, it’s a very safe option. A shadow guide also provides clear visual indicators of the blade’s trajectory.

Despite the smaller size of this miter saw, it actually has 11 positive stops, 1 more than the average of 10 for the other saws on this list. That gives you a lot of added precision with this model. It has 8 inches of cross cut capacity, which is still fairly wide for a saw this size.

One big standout difference about this miter saw, vs the others included in this review? This miter saw is a battery powered option. Specifically, this miter saw is part of DeWalt’s 20V battery powered line, which means it’s compatible with the DeWalt 20V batteries you may already have.

Pros

Cons

Our Verdict

This smaller miter saw from DeWalt is probably the best option on our list if you need a portable miter saw but don’t need a large miter saw. Its smaller size and battery power source both make this saw a lot easier to take from place to place, and it’s the only one of these saws that can work without a nearby outlet or generator. Since this is a small option, it’s a little more limited in terms of the workspace and the size of materials this saw can handle, but it’s still versatile enough for most kinds of craftspeople.

Our Rating

5/5

Miter Saw Buyer’s Guide

We’ve talked about some of the best miter saws for beginners already in this list, but that doesn’t mean we’ve talked about all the features that make those saws great. We’re going to really dive into the features that matter most for miter saw performance, with a special focus on the features that make the biggest difference for beginners.

The Blade

The blade that comes with your miter saw is probably more important than you realize. This starter blade can impact the saw’s initial performance, as well as how confident you are using that saw. Later on, when it’s time to buy more blades for your miter saw, knowing the differences between materials becomes even more important.

Blade Size

Blade size is probably the most important consideration when you’re buying your miter saw for the first time. That’s because most miter saws are really only compatible with 1 blade size. The size of the blade largely determines the size of the cuts the blade can make, as well as the size of materials the blade can safely handle.

Larger blades generally mean larger material compatibility and a larger cutting range. However, the saw around the blade also needs to get significantly larger to make sure the blade has enough room to maneuver and to clear the materials you’re working with. That’s because the blade shouldn’t be touching your materials when you start the saw.

That means that as your blade gets larger, the saw must do the same. That’s one reason many craftspeople prefer 10-to-12-inch blades. These blades are large enough to have a lot of range and versatility, but not so big that the saw must be huge to accommodate them.

Smaller options are also effective, but a little more limited. Blades in the 7 ¼-8 ½ range are not generally suitable for construction or other heavy work with large materials. However, they can still be a good option for smaller materials and some craftspeople.

Larger blades are also available, but less common. Once you’re working with a blade larger than 12 inches, it might be a good idea to switch to a table saw, band saw, or another more powerful tool.

Blade Materials

There are a wide range of blade materials, here’s a quick rundown of the most common options and what they’re best for.

Carbide Tipped Blades

Carbide tipped blades are some of the most common options for your first blade. These are stainless steel blades with a carbide coating on the edges. The carbide is a more durable and hard-wearing material, so tipping the blade with it helps the blade last longer and stay sharp longer. These are a reasonably good all-purpose option, but they are especially effective for cutting lumber.

High Speed Steel Blades

High speed steel blades, HHS blades, are heat-tempered and designed to handle more friction and higher temperatures without dulling or warping. That makes these blades a good option for miter saws with faster maximum RPM or working with materials that produce a lot of friction heat.

Diamond Blades and Abrasive Discs

Diamond blades are hard on miter saws, like abrasive discs. There are some options available, and they are good if you have to work with materials that only cut well with diamond blades. The problem is that the miter saws don’t handle the level of friction very well.

Miter Saw Fencing

Having a good miter saw fence is important for making your miter saw more reliable and safer to use. Basically, your miter saw fence is the backstop your materials should be pressed against while you’re using the saw. That backstop helps provide some added stability and prevents the blade from grabbing the materials and moving them instead of cutting through.

A good miter saw fence is hard, durable, and should be slightly taller than the material you’re cutting. That means that a short miter fence will actually limit the function of your miter saw, even if the saw and blade themselves can handle larger materials.

Look for options that are tall, made of a durable but lightweight material like aluminum, and that have a reasonable sized gap for the blade.

More advanced fences are also mobile and can be moved to different positions on your base without losing their stability and grip. These are typically the most useful with miter saws, especially if you’re buying a more feature rich saw design. Mobile fences aren’t 100% standard, so it’s a good feature to look for if you know you’re going to be tackling some more complicated projects with your new miter saw.

Base Design and Stability

Your miter saw’s base is one of the more overlooked features of these saws. They’re a critical component, but because they don’t have many moving parts most people don’t think about how important a good base really is.

Like most stationary power tools, having a wide well-balanced base is one of the biggest safety features of your miter saw. Lighter models that are made with cast aluminum still should weigh at least 10-15lbs (depending on the size of the saw) in just the base to help make sure the saw doesn’t tip while it’s working.

Steel and cast-iron bases are usually heavy enough to work well.

Wider bases are also usually more stable than narrower designs that are smaller for better portability. If you want to go with a smaller base for your miter saw, it’s a good idea to try and get one that has several clamp points that won’t interfere with the operation of the saw. That way you can clamp the base to the worktable or counter underneath, helping hold it in place and reducing the risk of the saw tipping while you’re working.

Dust Collection System

Dust collection systems are getting more and more common for miter saws, but they certainly aren’t standard yet. Having a dust collection system makes cleanup easier and can keep your workshop a little healthier by helping manage sawdust and other small particles. Of course, even with a great dust management system, you should still invest in dust masks and other protective equipment to help minimize your exposure.

Miter saw dust collection systems are usually relatively small and uses suction to pull the dust away from the work area. Most will also have a small collection bag that’s removable and can be emptied. However, if the bag is overfull, ripped, or not properly attached to the dust collection system, it can lose effectiveness.

Different dust collection systems have different effectiveness ratings. A good dust collection system should be able to pick up at least 60% of the dust created by the saw. The best systems can pick up 75-90% of that dust during normal operation.

Even with a built-in dust collection system and personal protective equipment, if you’re looking to become a professional craftsperson we would recommend investing in an additional workshop-level dust management system to help keep you safer.

Safety Features

In addition to dust collection and a solid base, your miter saw needs to have several other safety features. For one thing, all miter saws should have an easily accessible emergency stop button. This is the button you’ll use when something has gone wrong and is a complete shutdown for the tool.

Your miter saw should have a blade guard the moves back from the blade automatically as you lower the blade into place. This guard system should move easily and freely to help reduce the risk of a jam.

A good miter fence also works as a safety feature. In addition, measurements or blade markings on the base of the saw, and a laser or shadow guide can help improve both the accuracy of the tool and its safety. A good laser or shadow guide can be a huge help to miter saw beginners.

Bevel System

Beveling is one of the more important features of a miter saw. Beveling essentially refers to the ability of the saw to tilt to cut at a specific angle. Look for saws that can tilt at least 45 degrees for a bevel cut. Ideally, the saw should be able to move both left and right to bevel, but some models will only offer one direction or the other.

Motor Power

For a 10-inch blade, a 15 Amp motor is a good choice. That same motor can also handle 12-inch blades. 15-amp motors are largely the industry standard, and more powerful motors aren’t necessarily any better, especially for beginners. Less powerful motors should be concerning though unless the blade is also smaller.

For battery powered miter saws, the motors are usually also less powerful, which is alright as long as the manufacturer had made efficiency improvements to help compensate. If you’re considering a lower powered miter saw, we’d recommend looking at user reviews and the RPM to make sure it offers comparable performance to a 15-amp motor.

Warranty

It’s a good idea to look for power tools with a warranty. A 1-year warranty is pretty common on most miter saws, but a 5-7 year warranty is definitely the better option, especially since miter saws can be relatively costly tools.

Spare Part Availability

Another thing to consider is whether there are spare parts widely available for your miter saw. All the models we’ve recommended come from good brands and use standard-sized blades that are easy to find and replace as needed.

But if you need to replace other components of your miter saw, like the blade guard or miter fence, using a well-known brand can make getting those parts a lot easier. Otherwise, you might have to replace the whole miter saw instead of just 1 or 2 components that have failed over time.

The Takeaway

When it comes to the best miter saw for beginners, we’d have to choose the DEWALT 12-Inch Miter Saw, 15-Amp, Single Bevel, Compound saw. This design is a little more limited than some of the miter saws we discussed, but that can be a big advantage for beginners. This saw has enough functionality to work for most beginner projects and can even adapt to a lot of more advanced uses. But its simpler design is easier to use and easier to get used to than a more feature rich saw.

At the same time, the DeWalt 12-inch model has enough features to help the saw grow with you as you learn more and want to try your hand at more advanced techniques and projects.

Of course, one saw isn’t going to work for everyone. That’s why we’ve also provided a buying guide to help you learn what features are most important for your needs so you can choose the right saw for you.

Paul King

I have an unhealthy obsession with contracting and renovation. I’ve been a contractor for over 15 years and I love tackling challenging projects to make them look amazing.