Updated March 2023
Reviewing a sliding compound miter saw is a fair complicated endeavor. There’s a lot to discuss and the technical details are important. This article provides an in-depth analysis of these remarkable woodworking tools.
I’ve focussed on great brands and made a particular effort to review sliding compound miter saws that are known to be accurate and reliable. Since these tend to be expensive machines, this review has been well-researched and I’v also relied on my personal insight as well as customer reviews.
When it comes to any type of woodworking equipment, one brand stands head and shoulders above the rest. Ask any carpenter, and I’m sure he’ll agree, Festool is the number one brand in woodworking tools. It seems obvious then, that when discussing the best sliding compound miter saws, Festool will top the list.
Okay, I’m sure most DIY woodworkers are saying: “Yeah, Festool saws are the best, but look at the price!”. Yes, Festool is a phenomenally expensive brand. The best power tools are always going to be the most expensive and will usually be the first choice for professionals, prepared to pay a premium for top-rated tool brands.
But what about the rest of us? Not everyone can afford the very best. More importantly, we don’t necessarily need the very best, most expensive miter saw in our home (or even professional) woodworking shop.
Even in a home shop, most of us want a high-quality sliding compound miter saw, that’s going to give us accurate results. Moreover, I’m sure durability is key.
When you’re spending anything from around $200 to more than a grand, you want to know the miter saw that you’re buying is going to stand up to the test of time. To this end, I’ve included some more reasonably priced sliding compound miter saws that still make the grade as good quality machines.
In my home shop, DeWalt tools feature most prominently. It should come as no surprise that the DeWalt DWS779 12-inch sliding compound miter saw is featured in this review. It’s also a best seller on Amazon. So, it’s certainly a popular saw and well worth considering. Though, my top choice is the Bosch GCM12SD 12-inch sliding compound miter saw, with its fantastic patented glide system.
From time to time, Bosh come up with power tools that become legendary. Anyone familiar with the Bosch Bulldog rotary hammer drill will attest to this. I believe the GCM12SD sliding compound miter saw has earned a spot amongst the most legendary saws of all time.
If you’re a beginner or occasional woodworker, you may want to consider something a little cheaper. I have to qualify the use of the word cheap here. I never recommend tools that are cheap and nasty. I love tools and insist on brands that deliver on quality – both in the design and manufacture of the product. To this end, I can highly recommend the Metabo HPT C10FCGS as the best compound miter saw under $100. Okay, this is not a sliding compound miter saw, it doesn’t have sliding rails. The 10” blade also doesn’t allow for particularly large cuts. With that said, the nifty little Metabo is excellent for bevel and miter cuts on crown moldings and the like. It’s wonderfully cheap and the Metabo/Hitachi brand is one that I hold in the highest regard. Let’s get real here, a high-quality precision compound miter saw under a hundred bucks, that value if ever I’ve seen it.
Okay, let’s get down to business, our review of the best sliding compound miter saws for 2019.
Festool 561287 Kapex KS120 Sliding Compound Miter Saw
- Rail forward design increases precision and creates a compact footprint while preventing head play for accurate cuts.
- Easily align cuts from left to right with dual laser.
- Micro-adjustable bevel angle with up-front rotary knob, large bevel scale and fine pointers make it easy to set precise angles.
- Special cutting depth 45°/90° right ¾” X 4¾”. Crown molding 90° X 90° 6⁵⁄₈”
- Saw Blade diameter 10¼”.
I’ve never owned a Festool saw, I’m not that much of a carpenter to warrant such an expensive tool. I have, however, had the privilege of using a Festool sliding compound miter saw several times.
When I have a specific woodworking project that requires tools above my pay grade, I visit my carpenter buddy and use his shop which is decked out for designer commercial woodworking. What a pleasure it is to use tools like this. My first impression of the Festool KS120 sliding compound miter saw is how eerily quiet it is. Saws just aren’t supposed to be this quiet or smooth. It’s an amazing saw to use. The best I’ve ever experienced.
While the 10¼” 60-tooth carbide blade isn’t the largest you can get, it is undoubtedly the best. You won’t get a smoother., cleaner cut from any other saw. The clever Festool design gives this compact miter saw an amazing cutting capacity of 4¾” (120MM). That’s way more than you’d think of getting from any ordinary 10” miter saw. It has a crown nested capacity of 10¼”.
Bevel and miter angles are incredibly easy to set and perfectly accurate. Maximum bevel angle: 47° to both left and right; miter range: 50°/60°. It has a dual laser system to help you with precision alignment and everything is so beautifully convenient. The knobs and press levers are exactly where you want them, and you get a reassuring feeling every time you feel these lock into place. Festool build quality is impeccable, quite sublime. It’s also a synch to transfer angles with the handy included tool for accurate angle transfer from the workpiece to the saw.
The easy-to-use Kapex trenching system, allows you to make precision trench cuts by simply flipping the trenching knob for the exact depth of cut that you require. Festool dust extraction is amongst the best I’ve experienced, the Kapex sliding miter saw has a 36mm (1.4”) hose connector at the back of the saw hood which is ingeniously designed to prevent sawdust from going all over the place. They claim up to 91% dust extraction, and I can believe it. Another great thing, especially for contractors, is the delightfully lightweight design. The Festool Kapex K120 weighs a mere 47 pounds.
The Festool Kapex K120 (561287) is, in my opinion, the best 10” sliding compound miter saw that you can get. The saw kerf and blade design, along with an electronically controlled direct drive motor, makes for superbly smooth and blissfully quiet cuts. All Festool products are designed and built for extreme accuracy and incredible durability. At a normal retail price scarily close to $1500, you’d bet you’re getting the best there is. When researching this article, I found the Festool K120 on Amazon at a great discount, taking the price down to a little over a thousand bucks. Even though this is still expensive, it’s a fantastic price for such a majestic and purely wonderful saw.
DeWalt 12” Sliding Compound Miter Saw (DWS779)
- Miters 60° to the left and 50° to the right
- Dual horizontal steel rails with innovative clamping mechanism and linear ball bearings deliver an accurate, durable and compact saw
- Precise miter system and machined base fence support optimize durability and cutting accuracy
- Tall sliding fences support crown molding up to 7-1/2 in. nested and base molding up to 6¾” vertically against the fence while easily sliding out of the way for bevel cuts
- Cam lock miter handle with detent override deliver quick and accurate miter angles
DeWalt have quite a range of miter saws, many of them sliding compound miter saws. Though I can fully understand why the DWS779 12” sliding compound miter saw is the most popular. It provides an excellent balance between high-spec, outstanding quality, and a very reasonable price. In my eyes, this makes for a winning combination. In general, I have huge admiration for DeWalt tools, and this miter saw is certainly amongst my favorites. Albeit second to the Bosch GCM12SD, which is a rare exception as DeWalt is, more often than not, my first choice.
The first question that arises when people talk about DeWalt sliding compound miter saws is: What’s the difference between the DeWalt DWS779 and DWS780? Well, nothing really. The DWS780 has the DeWalt CUTLINE™ laser guidance system and the DWS779 does not. For all other intents and purposes, they’re exactly the same saw. DeWalt has a way of using a different model number for every minor difference in the product ranges.
Right, now onto the DeWalt DWS sliding compound miter saw review. All round, this is a true DeWalt power tool. That means innovative engineering and high-end quality. It’s a hallmark of the brand. So you’re assured of all the power you need from the 15A electric motor. The quite unique gearbox and belt drive design gives you a much better vertical cutting capacity.
As I’ve come to expect from using DeWalt tools for many years, they’ve done an excellent job of designing user friendly controls. This always makes it quick and easy to make adjustments and eliminates silly mistakes. In the end, improving productivity and accuracy. The cam lock miter handle with a simple detent override is a perfect example of this. With 10 positive stops on the miter adjustment, it’s easy enough to set common angles. It has a clearly marked oversized bevel scale, which makes for easier accuracy and it bevels 45° to both the left and right. Miter settings allow for 60° to the left and 50° to the right. I really like a miter saw that offers miter cuts beyond 45°.
The Dual rail system is truly fantastic. Though these rails do extend out the back of the saw. So you need to allow for extra space behind the machine, something that people with limited space don’t always appreciate. It does, however, keep the saw head wonderfully stable. You end up with really accurate smooth cuts. Perhaps not quite as great as the Festool sliding compound miter saw. Then again, Festool is pretty much in a league of their own.
The tall fence makes working with chunky pieces easier and it greatly improves accuracy. In general, the DeWalt DWS779 has a great capacity for all types of miter and bevel cuts. With the back fence in position, you’re able to cut 2 X 16 dimensional lumber with a 45° bevel and the same for 90° cross cuts. Miter cuts at 45°, allow for 4 X 8 maximum. Maximum horizontal cutting capacity is 16” and vertical capacity, with a baseboard against the fence, is 6¾” which is quite typical for a 12” blade.
The dust port is very practical, the pipe extends between the dual rails all the way to the back of the machine. This is said to provide around 75% sawdust removable. Again, this may seem trivial when compared to the insatiable Festool. But, a general comparison to other sliding compound miter saws, makes this a pretty efficient dust removal system.
As always, I’m in awe of DeWalt precision engineering. The DeWalt DWS779 sliding compound miter saw has a superbly machined table with a nice width and excellent fence. All clips, cams, and knobs are easy to use and secure with ease. Bottom line, the DeWalt DWS779 is a really great saw and is backed by the DeWalt 3-year warranty, 1-year free service plan, and 90-day money back guarantee.
Bosch Power Tools GCM12SD Dual Bevel Sliding Glide Miter Saw
- Accurate performance and a space-saving design of the Bosch-exclusive Axial-Glide system
- Pre-aligned Square Lock fences help the saw maintain precision throughout its life
- A soft-grip ambidextrous handle along with a combination dust chute and vacuum adaptor add to user comfort
- Integrated expanding base extensions: 60% more left-to-right material support than leading competitor – 40 In. left to right
- Large easy-to-read uniform bevel and stainless steel miter scales: 52° left/60° right miter capacity; 47° left/47° right bevel capacity with marked detents and roof pitch angles
- Adjustable miter detents: detents at 0°, 15°, 31.6°, 22.5°, 45°, 60° right super-accurate and durable design
- Ergonomic ambidextrous trigger handle with soft grip – large form fitting ergonomic handle provides comfort for all-day use
Bosch have redefined the concept of the sliding compound miter saw with their axial glide system. In effect, this should not be called a sliding compound miter saw. It should be called a GLIDE compound miter saw. This is an important differentiation, so I want talk about this system before reviewing the Bosch GCM12SD sliding compound miter saw.
Conventional sliding compound miter saws use a rail (or dual rails) to allow the saw head to move backwards and forwards. This sliding action increases the cutting width. While sliding rails have worked well for years, they have their issues. Sawdust is an inevitable part of woodworking and this does not bode well for sliding rails. The rails need to be kept clean and, even in the cleanest of shops, sawdust and other abrasives work their way into the bushes that secure the rails. Over time, this causes head movement which adversely affects accuracy. Keeping a conventional sliding compound miter saw in top shape requires a lot of care and regular maintenance. You will, during the course of the saw’s lifetime, have to replace the rail bushes.
To overcome this weak point in the design of sliding compound miter saws, Bosch have come up with the axial glide system. Essentially, they’ve done away with the cumbersome rail, replacing it with a multi-hinged arm. It looks and functions much like a robotic arm. While Bosch call this system “Bosch Exclusive”, I’ve seen it on a few other sliding compound miter saws. Though, I don’t feel the other saws, with a similar glide system, quite match what Bosch has achieved.
In order for an axial glide system to be an improvement on the traditional rail system, it has to be constructed with high-grade materials and utilize super-strong bearings. If not, the arm will sag and will actually be worse than sliding rails. Bosch have used two arms to secure the saw head to ensure that it moves easily and never sags. In addition to this, the materials and design of are as close to perfection as is humanly possible. For these reasons, I consider the Bosch GCM12SD to be the best sliding compound miter saw on the market. That is unless you’re going to pay close to two grand for a similar Festool saw.
For the rest, The Bosch GCM12SD has the specifications to match any of the best sliding compound miter saws that you can get from any of the top-rated brands. It has a great table with cam lock miter adjustments and extensions to allow for larger workpieces (up to 40”). The fence rails extend to both sides and have convenient measurement markings.
Bevel angles can be set up to 47° (to the left and right) with most popular angle stops: 0°; 33.9°; 45°; 47°. Miter adjusts 52°to the left and 60° to the right, with multiple detent stops: 0°; 15°; 31.6°; 22.5°; 45°; 60°. Stops are easily overridden with a thumb activated lever. Of course it has oversized scale markings to make your life easier. If I were to find a complaint (if you can call it that), it would be that the Bosch is quite heavy – 88 pounds. I suppose that’s a consequence of building an indestructible sliding compound miter saw.
The Bosch 12” Glide saw is well-made, using the highest grade materials. It weighs 65 pounds which, I suppose, is perfectly manageable for a sliding compound miter saw of this size. Dust collection is well above average. Bosch is one of leaders in achieving OSHA compliance for dust control. The dust port is positioned directly behind the saw blade with an interesting looking scoop that seems to do a fantastic job of channeling the sawdust away from the blade and toward vacuum connector port. You end up with up to 90% dust collection. That’s about as good as gets for a saw of this nature.
I believe that Bosch has come up with a product that may go down in history as on of the best of its kind. The Bosch GCM12SD sliding compound miter saw displays the type of innovative engineering that thrills me no end. Yes, I absolutely love this saw for it’s uniqueness and the general quality of its design. As a brand, I have the utmost respect for these guys and have owned many wonderful Bosch tools over my life. This one is particularly great, making it my top choice of the saws featured in this review.
Metabo HPT C10FCGS 10” Compound Miter Saw
- 15 Amp motor delivers high power for the toughest of cuts
- Light weight at only 24.2 lbs. to facilitate maneuverability and portability
- Miter angle range: 0°-52°, to the right and left for increased flexibility
- Bevel range: 0°-45˚, to the left with adjustable bevel stops for precision cuts
- Large table for better material support with vise clamping system to secure work piece
The Metabo HPT C10FCGS 10” compound miter saw is way more than just a cheap miter saw of an incredibly high quality standard. Its lightweight compact design makes it an excellent choice for contractors who want a portable jobsite miter saw. I should note, before reviewing the C10FCGS 10” saw, that this is not a sliding compound miter saw. The absence of sliding rails makes this a 10” compound miter saw. It’s a great little saw for a home shop or a construction site.
I like the no-bull attitude of this compound miter saw. There are no fancy frills. In fact, the Metabo C10FCGS is about as basic as it gets. This means you’re paying for a quality saw and nothing more. If I’m going to be buying a cheap compound miter saw, I’d prefer quality build and materials from a highly respected brand, to a bunch of fancy features and unnecessary gizmos from a cheap brand. It’s a great common sense power tool.
The Metabo C10FCGS 10” compound miter saw has a good miter range 52°, but this is only to the right of the blade. Likewise, the 45° maximum bevel angle is only to the left. This means flipping the piece around for opposite angles. But hey, that’s a compromise I’m willing to make for a quality compound miter saw that costs less than a hundred bucks.
It has a quality cam lock, which is great. The large table and solid fence are also outstanding in terms of high quality materials and perfect machining. This is the kind of stuff I’m talking about, when I say a prefer quality over frills in a cheap product. The fact that this saw weighs only 24.2 pounds and is delightfully compact is great news for contractors and DIYers who have tight storage space.
Okay, strictly speaking, this is not a sliding compound miter saw, like the others in this review. But I couldn’t resist including the Metabo HPT C10FCGS in the review, simply because it’s such incredible value for money. Metabo is part of the Hitachi group and are synonymous with excellent quality, durability, and service. Where else can you find a similar saw, at a similar price, with an amazing 5-year warranty. Not to mention a brand with an outstanding reputation. Come on, this can only be described as an amazing deal – by anyone’s standards.