A compact sliding mitersaw might just be the perfect crosscutter for a workshop. Weighing less than 45 pounds, these small-bladed saws accurately crosscut wider workpieces than many of their bigger-bladed non-slider brethren. (Even the "smallest" saw we tested can crosscut a workpiece up to 8" wide and 27⁄8 " thick.) Thanks to smaller, thinner blades, the vast majority of these saws run on the same 18- and 20-volt lithium-ion battery packs as your cordless drills. And a couple still have cords. So let's cut to the chase.
No cord? No problem
To test each saw's power capabilities, we crosscut 2-by pine and 8/4 ash. All but three saws ate through these cuts with gusto. The Metabo HPT C8FSHE(S)—one of two corded saws—and the Craftsman CMCS714M1 and Worx WX845L bogged down a bit in both species, but never stalled.
Cut all day on one charge
The most pressing question about a battery-powered mitersaw is "How long will it cut on a charge?" To find out, we crosscut pine 2×4s until each battery died. As you can see in the chart, below, one saw far outperformed the group in terms of raw runtime. The Makita XSL02Z uses two 18-volt battery packs (not included; we chose 5.0 amp-hour [Ah] packs for our test) to lead the test group with 554 cuts. The Bosch GCM18V-08N14, with an 8.0Ah pack, and the Milwaukee 2733-21, with a 5.0Ah pack, made 350 and 327 cuts each, respectively, to lead the single-pack saws.
So, how do we make sense of these numbers? As shipped, the Bosch saw made the most cuts on a single charge; but the Milwaukee was actually the most efficient, yielding about 65 cuts per amp-hour, compared to Bosch's 44. If you already have Makita batteries on hand, you may go days or weeks before needing to recharge; if you don't own them, you'll need to bite the bullet and buy batteries and a charger, which added $240 to our bill.
To warn of impending battery exhaustion, the LED task lights on the Craftsman, DeWalt DCS361M1, and Worx saws flash; Makita indicates a low-battery condition by flashing the battery's charge-level gauge. The Bosch and Milwaukee saws provide no warning before stopping. The battery packs require 30–90 minutes to recharge fully, but a partial charge of 15 minutes helps you finish a job.
Ridgid and Ryobi were in the process of launching new 7 1⁄4 " cordless sliders at the time of our testing. We could not get these models in time to test.
Size doesn't matter, but accuracy does
We were impressed with how accurately each saw cut miters and bevels at its preset stops without making any adjustments. Should it get out of alignment, we found the adjustable detent plates on the DeWalt and Milwaukee saws, shown below, easiest to calibrate. With the other saws, you must adjust the fence square to the blade—a fussier task.
The DeWalt and Milwaukee saws also use lever-style miter locks, which we prefer over the screw-in knobs on the others. A detent override on each saw lets you lock in a miter angle close to a detent without dropping into that detent. Makita's corded LS0815F cuts up to 60° to the right, the most of any test saw. The cordless Makita and Metabo HPT cut up to 57° to the left.
For bevel-cutting, all of the saws tilt left with adjustable stops at 0° and 45°; about half also tilt a few degrees right. Milwaukee's dual-bevel saw tilts as much as 45° right. Metabo HPT's saw tilts up to 50° left, the best among the group. But tilting to any angle in between requires reading the tiny scales. We found DeWalt's bevel scale easiest to read, thanks to its black marks on a bright yellow background.
To show precisely where the blade will cut, these saws (with the exception of the Makitas, which lack a cutline indicator) use one of two methods: a laser (Bosch and Metabo HPT) or a shadowline of the blade itself created by the LED task lights (Craftsman, DeWalt, Milwaukee, and Worx). We prefer shadowlines to lasers because they show both edges of the cut reliably, and of these, we like the DeWalt and Milwaukee lights that turn on and off automatically with the blade trigger and manually with a separate switch. Bosch's laser and task light also trigger automatically, as does the task light on the Makita LS0815F.
Adjustable lumber support
Although they're smaller than those on 10" and 12" mitersaws, the tables on these compact sliders provided adequate workpiece support. Five saws include extension wings that lengthen that support. Craftsman, DeWalt, and Milwaukee have no extensions, and thus less support for workpieces. And five saws (Bosch, Craftsman, both Makitas, and Worx) have an adjustable foot underneath the pivoting miter arm (shown below) to prevent the saw from tipping toward you when cutting a wide workpiece.
Because the smaller-diameter blades reduce thickness-cutting capacity, the saws' fences stand shorter than on larger saws. Milwaukee's fence tops the test at 3" tall, and because the motor mounts to the blade at an angle, it requires less clearance when tilting to either side, so the taller fences don't get in the way.
With the other saws, we prefer the models that allow the top portion of the left fence to either slide or rotate out of the way for beveled cuts, while providing better support for the 99 cuts out of 100 that don't require bevels. Fixed low fences on the Craftsman, DeWalt, and Worx saws provide motor clearance when beveling without moving the left fence.
Six saws sport traditional workpiece hold-downs, shown below, that work well. We found the hold-downs on the DeWalt and Worx saws less effective.
Most dust gets captured
Each saw comes with a dust-collection bag. Bosch and the cordless Makita fared best using the bag, with Milwaukee and Metabo HPT close behind.
Attaching a shop vacuum improved each saw's dust-collection effectiveness, some more than others. For example, the vacuum pressure sucked inward the soft rubber flaps around DeWalt's intake chute, resulting in only a slight improvement. Small ports on the Craftsman and Worx saws clogged up frequently using either the bag or vacuum. Ports on these saws vary in size from 1" to 2", so you might need an adapter to connect your vac hose.
Blade size, quality matter
Most of the saws come with a clean-cutting 40-tooth 7 1⁄4 " or 8 1⁄2 " blade, which makes them easy to replace with aftermarket blades when needed. The Bosch and Metabo HPT come with a 24-tooth blade better suited to construction than woodworking. Makita's corded saw comes with a 48-tooth blade that also cuts cleanly, but that company's cordless saw comes with an uncommon 7 1⁄2 " blade. That means when you need a replacement, you'll have to either buy a replacement from Makita or get a 7 1⁄4 " blade and sacrifice 1⁄8 " of thickness cutting capacity.
We found blade changes easiest on the Bosch and Milwaukee saws. The arbor wrench included with each saw stores on the saw body for all models except Metabo HPT.
■ The Makita LS0815F incorporates a handy cord wrap; the Metabo HPT does not.
■ All of the saws utilize a safety switch that must be pressed before pulling the main trigger to power the saw. Left-handers might have difficulty activating the Metabo HPT safety switch.
■ You can carry all but the Craftsman and Worx one-handed by a top-mounted handle (which those two lack). However, Bosch's hinged handle makes it trickier to carry one-handed.
■ The DeWalt and Milwaukee saws lack a depth stop, useful for cutting dadoes and half-laps.
■ The pin that locks the cordless Makita's head down rests beneath the battery packs; we found it difficult to access.
Cordless rules the mini-mitersaw roost
Although the corded saws perform well enough, we like several cordless models better. The Makita XSL02Z cuts longest and has the greatest cut capacities, but its $550 price tag doesn't include the two required batteries or a charger. The Milwaukee 2733-21 actually outperforms the Bosch GCM18V-08 on a cuts-per-amp-hour basis and bevels both ways. But Bosch betters the Milwaukee by 2" in width capacity and nearly 1⁄2 " in thickness, and out of the box delivers more cuts. You can't go wrong with any of these three, so they share Top Tool honors.
The DeWalt DCS361M1 earns Top Value honors thanks to very good performance for at least $180 less than the Top Tools.
Click on this link to review comparison compact mitersaw chart.