For most users, a "basic 10-inch miter saw is accurate enough and durable enough for a lifetime of woodworking," say editors at Popular Woodworking. Able to cut 4.25-inch crown molding standing up, or crosscut a 2-by-6 lying down, this miter saw size is capable of tackling the most common woodshop and homeowner projects. Many owners also prefer a 10-inch miter saw because it fits better in the shop, costs less, weighs less and can share blades with the table saw.
The Craftsman MiterMate 21226 (Est. $200) stands out among 10-inch miter saws because of its unique design, which eliminates test cuts and tedious calculations. The included angle finder locks in measurements and transfers them directly to the adjustable V-fence system, automatically setting the cut for the matching trim piece at the same time. "It is downright simple to setup for imperfect angled cuts," says Stuart Deutsch at Popular Mechanics, who recommends the MiterMate for "first-time miter-saw users and homeowners looking to tackle trim installation and basic home-improvement projects." For standard cuts, preset miter and bevel stops lock the fence securely. A laser, hold-down clamp and telescoping extensions come with the saw, making it a great value. Craftsman covers the MiterMate with a one-year warranty.
For professionals and advanced users, reviews say the durable DeWalt DW713 (Est. $220) is more suited to heavy-duty use. The saw head tips and turns like a standard compound miter saw, unlike the MiterMate, but users say the DeWalt's controls are straightforward and easy to adjust. "Not one saw I used in the past 25 years has come close to the precision found on this one," exclaims an owner at HomeDepot.com. The DW713 includes a one-year free service contract, a three-year limited warranty and a 90-day money-back guarantee.
Though both the MiterMate and the DW713 weigh about 35 pounds, reviews say the DeWalt is far more portable and jobsite friendly. The MiterMate's design requires more floor space than most 10-inch compound miter saws, hindering the saw in crowded spaces and preventing it from easily mounting to a universal stand. Still, because it is so easy to use for the do-it-yourselfer and packed with included accessories, the Craftsman MiterMate 21226 earns our recommendation as the best 10-inch compound miter saw for most buyers.
Sliding compound miter saws can make crosscut and bevel cuts, just like a regular compound miter saw, but use rails on a frame to move like a radial arm saw -- forward and back. This increases cutting capacity significantly, adding as much as six inches to the saw's crosscut reach. Brett Martin of Popular Mechanics says, "If you're planning on doing a lot of fine woodworking, it's worth spending the extra money and upgrading to a sliding miter saw." Compared to a radial arm saw, a compound miter saw is much easier to use and capable of making bevel cuts, explains Thomas Klenck with Popular Mechanics. Wood Magazine editors say that "a 10-inch sliding compound miter saw [sic] provides the best combination of accuracy, cut capacity, power, price, and portability."
Reviews say the dual-bevel Makita LS1016L (Est. $500) , with cutting capacities similar to a 12-inch saw, is one of the best. It has plenty of power to saw through thick lumber with a smooth motion, aided by a stable four-rail system and a soft-start motor.
The bevel angle "can be set by reading either of two scales, giving you good visibility no matter which way you tilt the saw," say the editors of Wood Magazine, who pick the LS1016L as the top performer. They also praise the Makita's laser guide, saying it "works great and adjusts easily for spot-on cut placement." With 10 miter detents and seven bevel stops, the LS1016L has more settings than most, though some owners find the adjustments awkward at first. "The miter lock takes some getting used to because there's not only a finger-lift to bypass the detents, but also a push-and-twist lock," say Wood Magazine editors. The majority of reviewers say the Makita is well built; however, a number of owners report problems making adjustments to the fence and other parts. Makita includes a typical one-year warranty with the LS1016L.
DeWalt's DW717 (Est. $500) is a well-built saw, according to users, and is backed with a longer three-year warranty. Wood Magazine editors find it has the largest miter and bevel range, with a vertical cutting capacity nearly double that of most saws in their comparison. Reviews say the DW717, with its solid-lever miter lock and smooth-sliding rails, is durable enough to withstand heavy-duty use for many years. Power-wise, the DeWalt doesn't quite match the Makita, as it bogs somewhat on thick hardwoods. Both are great saws, but we recommend the Makita LS1016L as the best 10-inch sliding compound miter saw for its impressive performance, easy controls and overall long-term value.