shop tools #1: Do I need a miter saw?

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Blog entry by woodklutz posted 08-22-2011 11:33 PM 4643 reads 0 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of shop tools series Part 2: A craigs list bargain..hurry up, this is a steal. »

I have a table saw I have a few sleds, but do I need a miter saw. I make small items, boxes etc. A Hitachi 10 inch saw on Amazon is $140 cheap enough and a good brand, but do I need it for my shop?.
Thanks for your input it is most welcome.

-- honing my craft one mistake at a time.

18 comments so far

View Sarit's profile


549 posts in 3165 days

#1 posted 08-23-2011 12:14 AM

If you need to do compound miter cuts I would get one.
If your wood is usually in lengths > 4ft then probably would get one.
If none of the above, then no.

Although some miter saws can be tuned up to do precision cutting, most people don’t trust them and only use them to do the initial rough cut. The final dimensioning is done at the tablesaw.
If you do a lot of home improvement, then they are a great time-saver for things like wood flooring, moldings, framing.

One note is that to get good use out of it, you’ll want to make your own extended base/fence to get nice straight repeatable cuts. This usually means that it will take up much more shop real estate than the original footprint of the machine.

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 2948 days

#2 posted 08-23-2011 12:17 AM

Buy an Incra se1000 and be done with it.
My 12” compound mitre saw gathers dust. Haven’t used it in over a year.

-- Life is good.

View canadianchips's profile


2602 posts in 3022 days

#3 posted 08-23-2011 12:17 AM

I have a cheaper Delta miter saw, I use it a lot more than I thought I would.
My advice to you is go for it ! (A person ALWAYS needs more tools) ☺

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2794 posts in 3463 days

#4 posted 08-23-2011 12:22 AM

Another reason you might get one.

I have an older Delta/Rockwell table saw. It is great for ripping wood in my jointing/planing process but not so good for precision work especially in the crosscut area. I have a Bosch 12” compound miter saw. It takes up the slack that the table saw can’t handle well.

I know some people that have super nice cabinet table saws. Like the sawstop of my nephew. You can do anything with a good quality and well set up table saw so in that case a miter saw is merely a convenience.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View Towtruck's profile


70 posts in 2634 days

#5 posted 08-23-2011 01:48 AM

I don’t know a lot about this company, but I’ve never seen a better price on a new compound miter saw.

-- I cut it off 3 times and it's still too short!

View MoshupTrail's profile


304 posts in 2506 days

#6 posted 08-23-2011 02:21 AM

The problem with those cheap miter saws is they are cheap. To get a real nice miter saw you need to spend more – I suspect $400 or more, IMHO. So I agree with Sarit (first poster), you are probably better off if you can do precision cuts using a sled on your table saw. But if you need to cut larger boards you’ll need a slider – and they start around $500.
So what’s wrong with cheap miter saws? 1. rapid start motors literally JUMP the tool when you start it, 2. lack of detents for locking on common angles like 45, 22.5, etc., 3. noisy, 4. looseness in the assembly leading to inconsistent cuts. You get the idea. Cheap miter saws are adequate for construction lumber, not fine woodwork.

-- Some problems are best solved with an optimistic approach. Optimism shines a light on alternatives that are otherwise not visible.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2715 days

#7 posted 08-23-2011 04:11 AM

I cant really add to what Sarit said. It depends on what you do in your shop. If you expect precision, you will be disappointed.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2867 days

#8 posted 08-23-2011 05:10 AM

I have a Rigid table saw and a miter saw. Since getting my Osbourne miter gauge, my miter saw is now collecting dust on a shelf under a table.


View cloakie1's profile


204 posts in 2580 days

#9 posted 08-23-2011 05:16 AM

personally i think it is the handiest tool i own…but that is just my opinion. partically if you are set up for cuting on another machine and you need to dock some timber to lenght…saves a lot of mucking….but keep the blade sharp

-- just get stuck in and have a go!!!

View a1Jim's profile


117115 posts in 3602 days

#10 posted 08-23-2011 05:23 AM

I can’t imagine not having a miter saw. It’s one of the basic tools most folks should have. Can you get by with out one yes ,just like you can get by with out a table saw, but who want’s to ?

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 2665 days

#11 posted 08-23-2011 07:46 AM

@Towtruck, I have that Klutch 10” in my home shop and use it nearly every day. I reviewed it here and still agree with my earlier comments on the saw:

In my work shop, we also have two 12” Dewalt’s and one 7 1/4” Craftsman. None are junk.

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View Lotidus's profile


110 posts in 2698 days

#12 posted 08-23-2011 09:48 AM

I am on the oposite end of this arguement. I have a miter saw but no table saw so naturally I’m biased. I bought a cheap miter saw at Menards for 80 bucks. I dont know what brand it is off hand but it has proven to be a rugged little work horse in my shop. The comment about accuracy is true but you can overcome that with a protractor and tri square pretty easily. I disagree that you have to spend a mint on a tool for it to be good. True the more expensive tools are built to perform with precision and ease but if you maintain a less expensive tool it will do the same job just as well.

-- Lotidus

View Tedstor's profile


1643 posts in 2658 days

#13 posted 08-23-2011 10:49 AM

A miter saw my first woodworking powertool. Its an entry level Craftsman 10”. I think I paid $110 with a stand. I bought it 4-5 years ago to complete some household flooring, trim, and framing jobs. Works great. I still use it all the time. I have a small shop, so I have to store my table saw agianst a wall when its not in use. Anytime I need to quickly crosscut a few boards, its easier to grab the miter saw than it is to wheel-out the TS, install the proper blade, and find the crosscut sled. With a good stop-block, the miter saw is also tough to beat for making numerous pieces of identical length.
If you already have a decent TS, then a miter saw isn’t necessary. But I think you’d still find a lot of use for it and would be glad you owned it. Of course, its not necessary to own a high-end miter saw in conjunction with the TS. That said, the model you’re considering looks like a great option.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2592 days

#14 posted 08-23-2011 09:49 PM

I have a miter saw from when I did remodeling. It sits on a table next to the RAS. I’ll bet I haven’t used it twice in the last 6 months. If you’ve got a good table saw with a miter sled, I’d say spend the money someplace else. If you see one for $50 or less, then maybe grab it.

On the other hand, If you plan to do trim work type carpentry, its invaluable. I would never sell mine because I do like the capability to grab it and go.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View AbranV's profile


30 posts in 2512 days

#15 posted 08-23-2011 10:23 PM

I have a cheap HF 10in miter that is a little beast. It took a little time and a lot of lumber to get it dialed in but it serves me well. Can’t beat it for quick cuts, and building patio furniture. When I step up to working on more precise/detailed work I hope to one day transition to a table saw, but room and money are both tight.

-- I'd rather be making sawdust.....

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