How to Differ a Miter Saw and a Compound Miter Saw

When you’re standing at your local hardware shop looking at miter saws, you’re likely to have a few questions that you’d like addressed before making a purchase. You probably already know you’ll need a saw that can handle both bevel and miter cuts, which means you’ll need a compound saw.

Miter saws of all types, including standard miter saws, dual bevel compound miter saws, and sliding compound miter saws, are all members of the same miter saw family. But what’s the difference between a sliding miter saw and a compound miter saw, and which is better for you at this stage in your woodworking career?

difference between a miter saw and a compound miter saw

A power miter saw is just a circular saw with more power. It’s mounted on a hinged frame and lets you make accurate, repeating vertical cuts in tiny boards, timber, and molding, either straight or at an angle. The key is repetition, which makes the power miter saw a significant time-saver!

A compound miter saw not only cuts at an angle but also allows you to tip the blade to the side, thereby giving you two angled cuts in one. This feature gives the compound miter saw a significant edge when cutting moldings, particularly crown moldings.

What Makes a Compound Miter Saw Better Than a Sliding Miter Saw?

A miter saw is a specialized tool that lets you make cuts at a variety of angles. The saw has a blade mounted on a swing arm that pivots left or right to produce angled cuts. While compound miter saws tilt in only one direction, dual compound miter saws can tilt both left and right.

Let’s go over some of the fundamentals of miter saws in general before delving deeper into each of these unique saws.

Sliding Miter Saw

Similar to a compound miter saw, the sliding miter saw can do both miter and bevel cuts.

The distinction is in the material breadth that each can handle.

The term “sliding” makes all the difference. In addition to having rails that allow you to slide the saw back and forth, a sliding miter saw can virtually accomplish everything a compound miter saw can.

The sliding function has the advantage of considerably increasing the capacity of your cuts, allowing you to cut much thicker pieces of material.

Compound Miter Saws

Compound miter saws work similarly to normal miter saws, but they have one distinct feature. Their blades include pivoting arms that may be angled at other angles than 90 degrees. Because of this functionality, it can produce bevel and miter cuts.

It outperforms a normal miter saw because it is more flexible since the ability to create bevel cuts expands the range of jobs you can do.

The Pros and Cons

Sliding Miter SawsCompound Miter Saws
The capacity to cut over large material areas without having to relocate your work. 
Cutting over large material becomes a breeze thanks to the rails. 
A sliding miter saw can come in handy if you’re working on a project that requires a lot of miter and bevel cuts on large boards.
One of the compound miter saw’s most notable benefits is its larger cutting arc. 
Because there are no rails, you can cut thicker material than with a sliding miter saw, even with the same blade size. 
They take up less space than sliding miter saws. This provides you some extra space in your workspace to stand about in.
Not the most cost-effective option. A sliding miter saw would be an excellent purchase if you want to use your saw for large projects or if cutting is your job. 
However, if you’re a hobbyist or want to use the saw for DIY projects, a sliding miter saw may be out of your price range. 
Sliding miter saws take up a lot of room as well. Because sliders are meant to travel back and forth, you’ll need a lot of space to run your sliding miter saw.
You can only use narrower pieces of wood. 
When it comes to the breadth of the workpiece, a compound miter saw falls short.

The sort of saw you desire is also heavily influenced by your budget. Compound miter saws are less expensive than their sliding miter saw counterparts.

Because sliding saws are not only heavier but also take up more room in your workshop, the ideal miter saw for the amount of space available should determine you. As a result, the optimum option will be chosen by the needs and resources available in your workshop.

Can I Use a Compound Miter Saw on the Ground?

On the floor, a miter saw may be used, but it might be difficult to keep the board you’re cutting level and in position. To make working with your miter saw on the floor simpler, you may always buy or build a miter saw stand.

Regardless of how simple or handy it may appear, I would never advocate using your saw on the ground.

Here are some of the reasons why…

  • It’s a potential tripping hazard.
  • It may result in a back injury.
  • Water and electricity are incompatible.
  • It makes bolting/clamping down your miter saw difficult.
  • It’s possible that it’ll be far less accurate.


It is, however, not as popular as a standard miter saw. So, what distinguishes a compound miter saw from a regular miter saw?

Carpenters and do-it-yourselfers require a variety of saws in their workshops. In their workplace, the miter saw and compound miter saw are the two most frequent cutting instruments. They have a lot in common, and one may easily transition from one to the other.

A miter saw and a compound miter saw are almost identical in most ways. They’re both miter saws, as the names imply, but they’re of a somewhat different variety for slightly different reasons.

A compound miter saw can do everything a miter saw can do, plus a few more. A miter saw is a fantastic place to start, but a compound miter saw will take you further than you ever imagined.

Keep in mind that the lines between the two are becoming increasingly blurred. This is because the firms who create these items are attempting to squeeze just one more feature or usefulness into their equipment without exceeding their budget to get an advantage over their competitors.

About This Writer

David Rowan Author

Hello, I am David Rowan. I am a professional contractor with 10 years of experience in home building, different tools used, construction, home remodeling, and other home improvement work. I have already built many custom homes and continued to do several woodworking projects along with how to deal with all categories of tools.

Hello, I am David Rowan. I am a professional contractor with 10 years of experience in home building, different tools used, construction, home remodeling, and other home improvement work. I have already built many custom homes and continued to do several woodworking projects along with how to deal with all categories of tools.

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