Best 12″ Miter Saw

Like most power tools on the market today, there is a high level of competition in the miter saw industry. With the exponential progression of technology today, it only makes sense that there is a wide range of versatility in the market. For 12” miter saws especially, there are a tremendous number of options for carpenters to choose from.

12” saws are the most widely used class of circular saws for professional framing crews as well as the best bet for most serious DIYers. While there are some exceptional 10” saws out there, 12”ers are generally the most versatile miter saws you can find. But when one looks for the “best” of anything, it is important to understand exactly what criteria that analysis is based on.

Top 5 Twelve Inch Miter Saws

ModelTypeBladeRPMMotorMiter Angle
DEWALT DWS780

DEWALT DWS780

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Dual Sliding Compound12"3,800


Our Review
15 Amp50° Left / 60° Right
DEWALT DW715

DEWALT DW715

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Compound12"4,000


Our Review
15 Amp50° Left / 50° Right
Milwaukee 6955-20

Milwaukee 6955-20 Review

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Dual Sliding Compound12"3,250


Our Review
15 Amp55° Left / 60° Right
DeWalt DW716

DeWalt DW716

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Dual Compound12"3,600


Our Review
15 Amp50° Left / 50° Right
DeWalt DW716

DeWalt DW716

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Compound12"4,300


Our Review
15 Amp52° Left / 52° Right

Best By Category

For us, there are 4 different categories to consider when evaluating 12” miter saws: Versatility, Consistency & Precision, Value, and Extra Features

Versatility

12” miter saws have the advantage over other miter saws in this category because the extra inches on the saw blade translate to wider, deeper cuts. But amongst each other, 12”ers have varying ranges that they can cut. Straight across (90º), an outstanding sliding miter saw with 12” blade may be able to cut 16” x 2”, or perhaps more if the material is only ¾” thick. For us, if you go for a 12” miter saw you might as well get one that maximizes the use of that big blade. But sliding models are generally less accurate than non sliding models, which makes sense given the extra moving pieces. That does not, however, mean that all sliders are less accurate than non-sliders as there are so many different engineering solutions being explored by these competing tool companies.

To further differentiate the field we can factor in the miter and bevel capabilities of each saw. Almost all 12” miter saws will miter and bevel to at least one side. However saws that will miter and bevel in both the positive and negative directions are much more versatile. These kinds of tools can really make your projects easier while speeding them up and increasing the quality of work all at the same time.

First and foremost, we like to analyze the range of each. The minimum miter and bevel ranges of 12” saws is 45º, but some will go all the way to 55º or more. Many users prefer positive stops, or solid points at which the saw blade will easily particular common angles. To others it is more important that they can fine tune the angles to very specific requirements. The best saws have large miter and bevel ranges in both directions, sturdy positive stops at the most common angles, and the ability to lock in very precise angles.

Our Most Versatile 12”: The back-cutting design of the DEWALT DWS780 really gives it an advantage over the competition here as it can handle 16” depth at a 2” thickness. It is also a dual bevel miter with plenty of power.

Consistency & Precision

For anyone using a 12” compound miter saw, accuracy is a huge factor in the value of the tool. If you are going to spend real your hard earned money on a equipment like this, you want to be sure that the cuts you make with it are going to be a high enough quality to justify the investment. While the craftsman must take responsibility for things like clamping materials properly, the saw should make quality cuts every time you use it.

Some common issues that affect consistency would be proper calibration, angle lock in mechanism effectiveness, good body design, saw arm steadiness, and power. Poor engineering in any one of these areas can completely ruin the effectiveness of your miter saw. Generally, saws with simpler but more heavy duty designs make the most consistent cuts. The incorporation of miter, bevel, and sliding mechanisms all help to create just a little more wiggle room. For professional finishers, precision is the most important characteristic of any saw. Make sure that you select a saw that will produce cuts that are up to your standards time and again or it will cost you extra money on new materials and a ton of headache.

Our Most Consistent and Precise 12”: For this category, we have a tie between two non-sliding models, the Bosch CM12 and DEWALT DW716. If you need an accurate slider, we recommend the Milwaukee 6955-20.

Value

When we speak of value, we are really talking whether the saw is worth what you have to pay for it. Value is the most difficult component to measure because each saw’s value is going to be affected by what else you can get on the market at the same price. With that said, it is likely the tipping point for your buying decision. With that in mind, we have dedicated an entire section to The Best Miter Saws by Price Range. That list includes all different sizes of miter saws.

Extra Features

Obviously, the fundamental purpose of a saw is to cut and that is why our first two categories deal with cutting ability. But manufacturers sometimes stumble upon extremely unique design quarks that are might really set their particular saw apart from others. The types of features we outline here may really be difference makers for you, depending on the needs and uses you have for a 12” miter saw.

Lightweight Design: As one of the largest commonly used power tools, 12” miter saws are also one of the heaviest. Some manufacturers have tried to address this commonality with minimalist designs or unique build materials. If this is a deal breaker for, we would like to direct you toward our reviews of the DEWALT DW716 (44 lbs), the DEWALT DW715 (42 lbs), and the Bosch CM12 (43 lbs). These reviews will help you further narrow down your search.

Laser Guidance: Laser guidance systems are one of the most common amenities featured in miter saw designs. Many novices feel that laser sightings are a need while some (but not all) professionals look at them like they are a gimmick. If you or the one you are buying this saw for prefer a laser guidance system, your best bet is the DEWALT DW716, as it is compatible with DEWALT’s laser guidance system (sold separately). We would like to note here however, that the Milwaukee 6955-20 and DEWALT DWS780 come with equipped with LED light systems that are NOT laser guidance systems, however they can really increase the ability to see cuts in lower light.

Dust Collection: For anyone using a miter saw indoors, whether that be in your shop or in a client’s home, dust collection is probably one of their top priorities regarding the purchase of a miter saw. Most models include a dust collection system in one form or another but few work well as saw dust is barely weighs anything and must 12”ers have a ton of power. The distinction here is that if they aren’t one of the best in this area, they are a worthless add-on. We have found that the Milwaukee 6955-20 has the best dust collection system of 12” miter saws. With that being said, it only collects about half of the sawdust produced by the saw. Most others are completely useless.

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Best Miter Saw Reviews - 2014 - 2016 Sliding, Compound Ratings © 2014 - 2016

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