This is a question that most people ask at one point or another when it comes to miter saws. Unfortunately, the question is pretty much unanswerable on its own without more information to follow it up. What type of job you need to do is what will determine which size miter saw you need.
A miter saw with large sized blade (12-inches and above) can make wider and deeper cuts, while a smaller sized miter saw (10-inches and below) is more economical and easy to handle.
Miter saws, like most saws, come in a variety of sizes. More specifically, the blades on the saws come in different sizes. This is both a good and a bad thing. It is a good thing because it allows for variety and versatility. Different sized saws allow you to tackle a wider variety of jobs and projects. However, it can also be a bad thing, especially for amateurs and woodworking enthusiasts because they are unable to tell which size saw they need to use for different kinds of jobs. What size miter saw should you use for crown molding? How about for laminate flooring?
I was in a similar situation when I went out to buy my first miter saw. Over the years I have learned a thing or two about what miter saw size is perfect for various types of work. In this article, I am going to help you figure out what size miter saw is best for each situation.
Miter Saw Sizes
The size of the Miter saw denotes the diameter of the miter saw blade used. They are available in 8-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inches.
There is even a 15-inch miter saw from Hitachi for those who need a really large and powerful saw.
12 Inch vs 10 inch Miter Saw
If you are looking for a general-purpose saw, it is a bit easier to choose because generally commercial miter saws only come in two different blade sizes. There are 10-inch miter saws and 12-inch miter saws. Nearly all the major brands like Dewalt, Makita, Milwaukee, Bosch, and Ryobi offer 10-inch and 12-inch versions.
Now, the size difference between the two appears small at first but trust me when I say that picking the right size for a job is crucial. There are certain kinds of jobs that are best done with the right sized saw. In the rest of this article, I am going to go through some common jobs that require a miter saw (crown molding, working on flooring, and working on baseboards) and described what the best sized saw is for each.
That being said, I can make some generalizations. For starters, 12-inch blades are bigger and thus make bigger cuts. They are also more powerful. 12-inch miter saws can put a lot more amps of power into each cut. On the other hand, 10-inch blades are less expensive and a bit easier to handle because the cuts that they make are less aggressive and smaller. Plus, 10-inch miter saws tend to be much easier to move from place to place. So, if you are a professional or if you think that you may want to bring your miter saw places, that is something that you will also want to consider.
10 Inch or 12 inch Miter Saw? Comparison
Here is a quick summary of the comparison between the two most popular miter saw sizes.
5.5 inches. Cuts 2 x 6
7.5 inches Cuts 2×8, 4×4
45° miter cut
2 x 4 Lumber
2 x 6 Lumber
Cheaper. Easy to handle. Portable
Powerful. Cuts deeper and wider
|10-inch Best Seller||Top Rated 12-inch|
* The above table is for a simple miter saw (non-sliding). Saw with the sliding arm can cut much wider although the maximum depth remains the same. For instance, a 12-inch sliding compound miter saw will cut 2 x 16 wood in 90 degrees (crosscut), and when set at 45-degrees it can cut up to 2 x 12 lumber.
Best Miter Saw Size according to type of jobs
The size and type of work determine the size of the saw you need. Here are some of the common jobs that require miter cuts and the recommended saw size for each of these jobs.
Miter saw for crown molding
So, let’s say you have to cut some crown molding. In order to do that, you need a good miter saw. But, what size miter saw works best for crown molding? Well, the answer depends on the size of the crown molding in question. Let’s say the crown molding that you are cutting is around 4 or 5-inches. In that case, I would recommend using a 10-inch miter saw. If, on the other hand, the crown molding is on the bigger side; such as around 6 or more inches, then you should use a 12-inch miter saw. If you are cutting really big crown molding (and when I say big, I mean 9 or 10-inches), then you are going to want to opt for a 12-inch miter saw with a sliding saw blade.
The question most people have in this scenario is “can’t I just use a 10-inch, or 12-inch miter saw for all sizes of crown molding?” The answer is yes, but you will be making the job much harder for yourself. Using a bigger saw on bigger materials makes it much easier to make the sort of accurate cuts that a miter saw is meant to make.
And the reason that you want to use a sliding compound miter saw on especially wider pieces of material is because the sliding saw blade makes it a lot easier to maneuver around and accurately cut those large pieces of material. In any case, get a compound miter saw with dual bevel. Dual bevel has the advantage of trimming the required angles without flipping the work-piece and it will make your life a lot easier.
Miter saw for laminate flooring
Much like with crown molding, the same logic applies when deciding what size of miter saw is best to use when cutting laminate flooring. If the laminate flooring is on the larger side, then you are going to want to make life easier for yourself and get a 12-inch miter saw. However, if your laminate flooring is on the smaller side, then you can try and save some money by going for a 10-inch miter saw instead.
However, there is one other factor to consider, and that is the actual strength of the material. Laminate flooring can be on the tougher side, so I would recommend investing in a 12-inch saw simply for the extra cutting power that it offers. You may also want to make sure you have a sliding miter saw as opposed to a regular one; the sliding miter saw will allow you to more easily make cuts on larger pieces of flooring.
If you are professional, I would also recommend you consider getting a flooring saw which is specifically designed for this purpose.
What size miter saw for 4×4 ?
A 12-inch miter saw works best for cutting 4×4 at 90-degree in a single pass. However you can also use a 10-inch miter saw to cut 4×4 if you adjust the blade guard. Personally I would recommend you pass the cut twice instead of messing with the protection guard.
If all you need is a miter saw for cutting few 4x4s, then I would definitely recommend staying with a regular, 10-inch miter saw. For cutting things like 4×4 guide posts and other simple pieces of wood, you do not need anything fancy. Sure, you can use a 12-inch miter saw on wood 4x4s, but that is fairly unnecessary. Save yourself some money and just use a standard 10-inch miter saw.
Miter saw for baseboards
Unless you are cutting very large baseboards, I would recommend sticking with a 10 or 12-inch miter saw. A 10-inch miter saw can very easily and very accurately cut 6-inch baseboards. However, if you already have a 12-inch miter saw, that is perfectly fine for cutting baseboards.
For cutting wide baseboards you will need a sliding miter saw. The other option is to use a table saw.
If you are into woodworking you probably already have a table saw which is ideal for cutting wide boards since it can accommodate large boards easily. Use the miter gauge to set the work-piece at the correct angle and you can make miter cuts on wide boards using a table saw. However, making compound angle cuts on a miter saw is a lot easier. All you have to do is rotate the table and head to the desired angle, place the work against the miter saw fence and do the cutting to get precisions cuts.
Obviously, there are other situations where you might want to use a miter saw, but by now you should have a good idea of when to use a 10-inch miter saw and when to use a 12-inch miter saw. As I said earlier in the article, generally speaking, you can complete most miter cut jobs with a 10-inch or 12-inch miter saw. However, jobs become much easier if you use the correct sized miter saw.