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10" Compound Mitersaws

Bob Hunter, Tools Editor
Tools Editor Bob Hunter
Back in the late 1970s, my dad was trimming out new houses, and my brothers and I helped him weekends and summers. I distinctly remember when he bought his first mitersaw, a Rockwell 10" model with a particleboard table. I was amazed at how much easier it became to cut accurate miters.

Fast-forward 20 years, and I bought my first mitersaw—a Craftsman 10" compound saw that served me well for a decade.

If you’re looking for a mitersaw, consider one of the eight models reviewed here. If you rarely need to crosscut more than a 2×6, are trimming out your own house, or are on a tight budget, one of these will fill the bill nicely.

The 5 most important qualities of a mitersaw

Throughout our extensive testing, the four premium-priced “pro”-brand saws (DeWalt, Hitachi, Makita, and Ridgid) demonstrated significant performance advantages over the four lower-priced DIY-brand saws (Chicago Electric, Craftsman, Ryobi, and Skil). That’s not surprising given their price differences, but it’s important to keep that performance gap in mind when considering how you use a saw.

■ Power. All the saws cut through 2×6 pine nicely, but as we started cutting thicker and harder woods, the DIY saws began to bog down, while the pro models powered through all cuts with ease. 

■ Miter accuracy. Out of the box, the pro saws delivered precise cuts at all angles. The DIY saws proved accurate at 90° (labeled as 0° on each saw’s scale), but we could not calibrate these saws to also make accurate 45° cuts (shown below) without losing that 90° calibration.

Inaccuracy adds up
We cut these eight 45° miters on a DIY-brand saw, and because each one was just a few tenths of a degree off, the joints could not come together.

The head on each tested saw pivots right and left up to at least 45°, with some as much as 52°. Detent stops ensure a positive “lock” at commonly used angles. Only the DeWalt DW713, shown below, has a detent override, allowing you to lock in an angle just slightly to one side of a detent without it falling into the notch.

A well-designed miter-scale system
With DeWalt’s DW713, you have the ability to calibrate the miter scale, bypass the detent settings, and fine-tune angles to within 1⁄4°.

■ Bevel capacity. Each of the saws tilts to the left with adjustable stops at 45° (shown below) and 90°. But the Ridgid R4112 also tilts right, a handy feature when it’s difficult to position a workpiece for a left-tilt cut. Accurately setting a bevel angle other than 45° or 90° on any of the saws requires you to align markings on the saw and base, a difficult chore.

Beware the bevel scales
The bevel scales on all the saws prove more difficult to read than miter scales because of their tiny size and location at the rear of the saw.

■ Helpful table and fence. These saws have small tables capable of supporting workpieces 8" or narrower without issue, but wider boards can get tippy. We like that the tables on the DeWalt, Hitachi C10FCH2, Ridgid, and Skil 3317 stand 312 " tall, making it handy to stand a 2×4 on edge for supporting long workpieces.

short-fence woes
The short fence on the Ryobi TS1345L provides little to no support for workpieces cut when held in a vertical position.

The fences on the DIY saws prove too short for use in cutting crown molding at its nested spring angle (shown below). Instead, we prefer the taller fences of the pro saws. Parts of these fences also slide or pivot out of the way to allow you to tilt the blade through its full range.

Double-duty tall fence
The tall sliding fence sections on the Ridgid R4112 can be swapped side-for-side, making it easier to support crown molding in its nested position.

■ Cut quality. All of the saws come with a blade best suited for cutting construction lumber. When we outfitted each saw with a new Freud LU74R010 thin-kerf 80-tooth crosscut blade, the quality of cut improved at least one letter grade. (See the performance chart) After making the blade upgrade, only the pro-brand saws made cuts free of tear-out with only light scoring marks.

Too-wide boards need not apply
The miter-detent lever release on the Chicago Electric and Craftsman saws protrudes above table height, impeding wide workpieces, such as this 2×10 (which you’d have to cut, flip, and cut on this size saw anyway).

Time to pick a winner

You’d be happy owning any of the pro-brand saws in this review, but the DeWalt DW713 and Makita LS1040 rose to the top of that group to share Top Tool honors. The DeWalt is all about accuracy and workpiece capacity. The Makita is accurate, lightweight, and better at trapping its own dust.

The Hitachi C10FCH2, selling for $30–$50 less than the other top performers, earns the Top Value award. It’s accurate, powerful, easy to use, and covered by a 5-year warranty.

DeWalt DW713, $220

800-433-9258, dewalt.com

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Pros: A robust mitersaw, the DW713 cuts accurately out of the box, but when needed, miter and bevel adjustments prove easiest to make among this group. It has plenty of power, smooth-gliding movements, an easy-to-read stainless steel miter scale, a vernier scale (shown above) for fine-tuning miters to within 14 °, and the tallest (5") easy-slide fence. Because its fence mounts farther back from the blade’s arbor compared to the other saws, it has the most crosscut capacity. The blade-changing wrench stores on the saw.
Con: At 34 lbs, this is the heaviest saw in our test (a con only if you lug it around). You do not get a workpiece clamp as standard equipment.

Makita LS1040, $200

800-462-5482, makitatools.com

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Pros: This saw scored high marks in almost every category: power, accuracy, miter and bevel scales, saw and table movement, cut quality, fence height and ease of use, and dust collection. Plus, it weighs just 27 lbs and comes with a 3-year warranty.
Cons: The blade-change wrench does not store on the saw, and the hold-down clamp prevents the saw from tilting a full 45°; we had to cut without it.

Hitachi C10FCH2, $170

800-829-4752, hitachipowertools.com

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Pros: Sporting plenty of power, easy-to-read and accurate miter scales, a tall fence, and a 5-year warranty, this saw performs well at a middle-tier price. Its electric laser is accurate, shows up well in the shop and outdoors, and has an on/off switch for times you want to bypass it. The blade-changing wrench stores on the saw.
Con: When tilting the blade to 45°, the hold-down clamp interferes with the blade guard; we had to cut this angle without it.

Chicago Electric 69683, $95

800-423-2567, harborfreight.com

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Pros: A lightweight saw, this model delivers few frills for the lowest price in our test group. It performed as well as or better than the three other DIY-level saws.
Cons: The motor creates a hot, burnt smell; though we found no damage, it does make us wonder about the saw’s longevity. Its miter detents do not engage as solidly and reliably as other saws, and the detent release interferes with wide workpieces. Because of limited vertical capacity, this is the only saw in the test that cannot cut through a standard 4×4. The blade-changing wrench does not store on the saw. You get only a 90-day warranty with this saw.

Craftsman 21236, $130

800-349-4358, craftsman.com

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Pros: Nearly identical to the Chicago Electric, the 21236 comes with a full-year warranty, has two miter detents more in each direction than on other saws, and it cuts slightly wider when you tilt the blade.
Cons: It shares the Chicago Electric’s detriments except for the motor smell, and it does not come with table extension wings.

Ridgid R4112, $200

866-539-1710, ridgid.com

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Pros: The angle-mounted motor and bevel gears make possible right tilting and smooth startup without the jerkiness common to the sidewinder-style motors of the other saws. The miter scale has markings in 12 ° increments so you can easily fine-tune angles. When tilting the saw, a rotating stop provides settings for 33.9° (for cutting crown molding lying flat), 45°, and 48°. You can turn the electric laser off when not needed, and it works well when used. The blade-change wrench stores on the saw. Dust collection was excellent. The 3-year warranty becomes lifetime coverage when you register after purchase.
Cons: The horizontal clamp occasionally lifted workpieces slightly off the table, and it won’t work with boards wider than 512 ".

Ryobi TS1345L, $120

800-525-2579, ryobitools.com

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Pros: At 21 lbs, it’s the lightest saw in our test and carries easily. The blade wrench stores on the saw.
Cons: This saw’s shallow miter detents lack the positive lock of other models, and like the other DIY saws, could not all be calibrated simultaneously. The short fence provides little support for cutting workpieces held vertically, and the horizontal clamp won’t hold boards wider than 412 ". The laser, though accurate, has no adjustment if bumped, and runs on a battery.

Skil 3317, $150

877-754-5999, skiltools.com

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Pros: Extension wings on each side and a table extension on the left give this saw the most workpiece support side-to-side. It demonstrated more power than the other DIY saws. The blade wrench stores on the saw.
Cons: Like the other DIY saws, the miter detents on the 3317 proved unreliable. The horizontal clamp occasionally lifted workpieces and won’t work with boards wider than 512 ". The laser proved unreliable and has no adjustment.

Download PDF of 10" Compound Mitersaw performance chart


More Resources

■ Find helpful tips for getting the most from your mitersaw.

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■ Not interested in one of these saws? Read reviews of other mitersaws as well as stands, blades, and accessories from WOOD® editors and readers.

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■ Check out our plans for shop projects to accompany your mitersaw.

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■ Want to learn more about buying a mitersaw? Read our guide.

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