For making angled or beveled cuts, the miter saw is one of the best. However, this type of saw can be expensive and not used very often. There are alternatives available in case you do not want to purchase a powered miter saw for your woodworking shop.
Let’s dive right in.
7 Alternatives to Miter Saw
Following are some of the most common power saws that can substitute a miter saw for cutting miters and bevels.
1. Table Saw
If you are into woodworking you probably own a table saw.
The table saw is one of the most common sights in a woodworking shop for a good reason. You can easily rip wood using the saw.
However, while the table saw is mostly known for making straight cuts, you can make angled cuts (miter) as well when you add a miter gauge. The miter gauge will help you set the required angle for the cut.
For a bevel cut, you can tilt the blade of the table saw. Most newer table saws allow you to tilt the blade, so you can make a bevel cut. You will need to double-check the angle of the bevel cut that you want, so be careful when tilting the blade.
That said, if you do not have a table saw, you should know that a good quality contractor-grade saw is expensive. If a table saw is out of your price range, there are other types of saws (such as the circular saw) available for you to use.
2. Radial Arm Saw
The radial arm saw is essentially a circular saw that is suspended on a sliding horizontal arm. Unlike the table saw, you run the blade through the material instead of the other way around.
In essence, it runs like a circular saw that has a suspended guide.
To create an angled cut, you simply set the angle on the radial arm saw and then slide the blade through the material.
For a bevel cut, you will need to release the bevel lock on the radial arm saw. This will allow you to change the angle of the blade. The result is that you can make a bevel cut into the material at the angle desired.
- Larger cut capacity. The radial arm saw can cut much wider boards.
- Ability to cut long rip cuts.
- Radial arm saws are expensive.
- Limited availability. These days, not many brands make this saw.
- Safety issues. A miter saw with its automatically retracting blade guard is a much safer tool.
3. Circular Saw
The circular saw is more versatile than you might think thanks to its design. While mostly used for making simple, straight cuts, you can make an angled cut if you mark the line properly.
You will need the proper measuring tools to mark the angle, but once that is complete you can run the circular saw as if you were making a straight cut.
For a bevel cut, you should tilt the base shoe (also known as base plate or footplate) until the desired angle is reached. Many base plates have angle marks and preset stops on them for a precise cut.
If your base plate does not preset stops or you want to cut an odd angle, you will need to measure the angle and perhaps make a cut using scrap wood first to assure that it is right.
- Ability cut large boards.
- Highly portable
- Cheaper than a miter saw
- The accuracy of miter depends on the marking and individual’s skill.
- Poor repeatability
- Kickback can be an issue, especially when cutting bevels.
4. Track Saw
One of the major drawbacks of a circular saw is the inability to cut along a perfectly straight line unless you take the time to set up a straight edge carefully. It is time-consuming and seriously restricts your movements. The track saw solves these problems.
A track saw is essentially a circular saw that uses guide tracks. This means that the same principles used on a circular saw to get an angled or bevel cuts will work the same on a track saw.
Simply mark the angle of the cut and run the track saw through the material.
The same is true for adjusting the base plate to get a bevel cut or adjusting the angle of the material so that you get the desired result. Either way, you should have some simple measuring tools available that can mark angles and bevels for the greatest accuracy.
The jigsaw is one of the most versatile powered saws on the market. And while it is best for making curved cuts, you can make straight-line cuts as well using this device.
Miter Cuts: For making an angled cut, use the same principle as the circular or track saw. You should mark the angle of the cut and then cut along the line that you have drawn.
Bevel Cuts: Jigsaws come with tilting footplates that allow you to create a bevel angle. Simply adjust the footplate to the desired angle and then make your cut.
The only downside to a jigsaw is that you may need a guide to create a long cut. This is because jigsaws are handheld, rather small, and are more difficult to keep in a straight line compared to other, larger types of saws.
In my opinion, a circular saw is a better alternative to the miter saw than a jigsaw. You should go for a jigsaw when you want to cut curves and shapes.
6. Hand Saw with Miter Box
Using a manual hand saw with a miter box is one of the least expensive options available. In fact, most woodworking shops own a miter box that allows for simple angled cuts into the material.
You can even purchase specialized handsaws for wood that are still inexpensive but allow you to quickly make angled or bevel cuts.
If you are looking to add a cheaper alternative to the miter saw to your woodworking shop, then you should consider getting a simple miter box. This is especially true if you only occasionally make angled or beveled cuts.
7. Coping Saw
While a coping saw is not a precise tool where you can set the cutting angle accurately, it is a convenient tool for delicate work. A coping saw is useful when installing quarter round, shoe molding, baseboards, and crown molding.
It will not replace a miter saw for professional contract work. However, the saw is a handy tool for small repair jobs.