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What is the Best Miter Saw Size for You?

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What is the best size miter saw for you? Let me try that again – what’s the best size miter saw for YOU?

The Dewalt DWS779 12″ sliding miter saw is one of the most popular and best-value miter saws on the market.

The DWS779 has a maximum cutting capacity of 14″ when cutting 2x dimensional lumber at 0°, and 10″ at 45°. This is about the largest cross-cutting capacity you can find in a miter saw.

But there’s a tradeoff – it’s a large and heavy saw.

Dewalt DWS780 Miter Saw vs DW713 Saw

In this image from quite a few years ago, I placed the Dewalt DW713 – which has since been replaced by the DWS713 – next to the DWS780.

The DW713 and DWS713 are single bevel 10″ miter saws, and the DWS780 is a 12″ sliding miter saw.

12″ sliding miter saws are often considered the best you can get, but who are they best for? Larger blade sizes are better for cutting wider trim pieces, such as crown molding or baseboards, either vertically, flat, or nested in the case of crown molding.

Sliding miter saws offer increased cutting capacity for cross-cutting wider boards, such as larger 2x dimensional lumber and boards for shelving or other projects.

Dewalt DWS716XPS 12-inch Miter Saw with LED Shadow Light

This is the Dewalt DWS716XPS, which offers a compromise. It has a 12″ blade and dual bevel capabilities, but isn’t a slider.

It has greater cutting capacity than a 10″ non-sliding miter saw, and is considerably smaller, lighter, and more portable than sliding 12″ saws.

Some will point out that, the larger the blade, the greater the potential for deflection, and this is generally true. With all other things being equal, a non-sliding 7-1/4″ or 10″ miter saw has the potential to deliver higher precision on average than a sliding 12″ miter saw.

Dewalt Cordless Miter Saw on Stand

Then there are 7-1/4″ sliding miter saws, such as this Dewalt 20V Max cordless model.

Smaller-blade sliding miter saws, such as 7-1/4″ and 8-1/2″, can cut wider boards and 2x lumber, but aren’t well-suited for applications such as cutting nested crown molding. If you don’t need to cut trim, your back and arms will appreciate more compact size and lower weight.

The difficult part is that it can sometimes be easier to pick a less than ideal size.

The Dewalt DWS779 is hugely popular partly because it has become the standard holiday season model; volume sales allow for very aggressive pricing.

At the time of this posting, the DWS779 12″ sliding miter saw is $399 at most retailers, with at least one offering it for $349. It might dip back to $349 at more retailers for the Father’s Day shopping season. Even if not, $399 is still a very good price.

The DWS716XPS 12″ non-slider is $355 right now.

While the DWS716XPS has something the DWS799 doesn’t – the LED shadow cutline indicator – the larger miter saw delivers greater cutting capacity for less than $50 more.

There are occasional sales on other 12″ sliding miter saws models, such as the DWS780. The DWS780 is similar to the DWS779, but features the LED cutline indicator, crown stops, and I believe a better starter blade.

Because of volume and promotional pricing considerations, the ideal size of miter saw isn’t always the one we buy.

If a 10″ sliding miter saw is priced at $400, and a 12″ sliding miter saw $350, would you still buy the 10″? Or would you spring for the greater capacity and slightly greater size and weight of the 12″ at a lower price?

Dust collection is a sore point for every miter saw I have ever used. Dust bags collect a little dust, and dust extractors connected to the same port do just a little better. But, dust and chips will still cover the surrounding area. Dust hoods can help contain the coarser spray, but the one I tried was a greater hassle than cleaning up when I was done.

I would gladly accommodate a larger miter saw than I need if it had near-perfect dust collection.

To simplify things, let’s ignore single vs dual bevel considerations for the sake of this discussion. Following are the most common sizes you can buy today.

  • 7-1/4″ sliding
  • 8-1/2″ sliding
  • 10″ non-sliding and sliding
  • 12″ non-sliding and sliding

I have used and tested quite a few miter saws over the years, and if I had to pick one today, it would likely be a 7-1/4″ slider. I might eventually try an 8-1/2″ miter saw that offers better dust collection, but I have other tools for cutting wider boards too large for smaller miter saws.

If I could pick two, maybe I would add a 12″ saw on top of that, or maybe a non-sliding 10″.

Portability has become a high priority for me, and so I wouldn’t want a 12″ slider to be my only miter saw. But, I also don’t cut trim or shelving material on-site. I feel that there’s a mentality that 12″ miter saws are the best one can get, but they just haven’t work as well for my personal project needs as more compact miter saws.

Which miter saw size or sizes are best suited for your needs? Is that the size of miter saw you own?