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I purchased my DeWalt 12″ miter saw about 10 years ago, and I wouldn’t make the same choice today — I almost certainly would buy a sliding miter saw instead. Back then the choice of sliding miter saws was limited, and they were very expensive. As the title suggests, the other thing I’d do differently is choose a 10″ over a 12″ saw.

It’s not that my DeWalt 12″ it isn’t a good saw; it’s just that I chose it based on a landscaping project I was planning that required cutting a bunch of 4x6s. Rather than trying to figure out my future needs, I weighed too heavily the fact that a 12″ saw could cut a 4×6 with a single cut. I haven’t cut another 4×6 since.

I’ve learned a few things since then and have a few reasons for buying a 10″ saw. Maybe the type of projects you do require a bigger saw (building decks comes to mind), but for the average woodworker/DIYer, the following reasons might be something to consider.

  • The table saw you own (or will own) probably uses 10″ blades.
  • Chances are your local hardware store has a larger selection of 10″ blades to choose from.
  • For the same number of teeth, 12″ blades usually cost more to sharpen and need more teeth than a 10″ blade to achieve the same cut quality.
  • I don’t have any hard evidence, but physics dictates a 12″ blade should be easier to deflect and more likely to wobble than a 10″ blade.

A good blade will cost you at least $40. While you’re not going to use a ripping blade on a miter saw, you’ll more than likely use a crosscut blade on your table saw. So when you’re starting out, you’ll only need to buy one good crosscut blade — rather than two different blades to supplement the ones that came with your saws. The savings will compound as find yourself collecting more blades.

Another factor is sharpening cost: I recently brought a 10″ 60-tooth blade and a 12″ 60-tooth blade to be sharpened. The 10″ blade cost me $16 to get sharpened and the 12″ inch blade cost me $21. While it’s not a huge difference, it can become a factor if you need to sharpen them often.

Deflection and wobble are also going to affect the quality and the accuracy of your cuts. While it may not be as important for framing, it could make a difference in fine woodworking or interior trim.

Finally, a 10″ saw costs less than a comparable 12″ saw, and is lighter and less bulky to boot. It’ll likely also take up less space and be easier to carry from site to site.

This isn’t intended to be a comprehensive guide to 10″ and 12″ miter saws, and it definitely won’t apply to everybody, but these points are something to think about. If you have any more thoughts about miter saws, please share them in the comments.

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24 Responses to Why I’d Buy A 10″ Miter Saw Instead Of A 12″

  1. Bill says:

    A 10″ saw is worthless unless its a slider. If you’re going to get a saw and don’t want a slider, get a dual bevel compound from Bosch or Dewalt. The Dewalt lets you cut 6 1/2 base standing against the fence, the Bosch has upfront controls.

    Yeah you can cut many things with a 10″ saw but it’s a major PITA most times, and can’t cut some things so why get something that was high tech in 1980 and that you’ll regret buying all the time.

  2. Joe says:

    The right tool for the right job. I have a 10″ non-slider that travels with me – it’s lighter and takes up less space, and can handle the vast majority of site work I’d need to do (mostly framing and trim). I also have a 12″ slider in my shop that I use for all of the above plus cabinetry.

    If I had to pick one, I’d probably agree that a 10″ slider was the most versatile, but I’d sure miss that 12″ saw for doing casework and bigger lumber.

  3. AJ says:

    I agree about blade deflection. I’m cutting prefinished crown molding for a 300 unit apartment renovation. I was having a hard time getting tight miters with my 12 inch saw. I bought a Dewalt 10″ (non-slider) and a Forest blade for it. I was amazed at how much better my crown started looking.
    So Bill, a 10″ non slider may be worthless to you, but it’s gold to me.

  4. Jerry says:

    I agree with AJ on this one. Exact same issue cutting crown for a big job. 3 of us were cutting these pieces and 1 started with a 12″ and 2 of us with 10″. It was soon all 10″ saws and the job zipped by. I can still point out where the pieces cut with the 12″ are, even after a lot of filler was added.
    I got rid of a 12″ but that was mostly because of the weight – it was bigger and it was older. I went with 10″, compound slide – no laser! I’ll never look back now.

  5. Clint says:

    I am going to sell my 12″ fixed. It just sits in the corner looking depressed and unloved. I use my tablesaw and crosscut sled for straight line and angled cuts.

  6. Michael says:

    If you go to the DeWalt site and look at the miter saws, they are designed to do different jobs. It’s not a one size fits all choice.

  7. Melvin says:

    While you’re not going to use a ripping blade on a miter saw, you’ll more than likely use a crosscut blade on your table saw. So when you’re starting out, you’ll only need to buy one good crosscut blade — rather than two different blades to supplement the ones that came with your saws.

    A cross cut blade for a table saw is different than a cross cut blade for a mitre saw. Like a radial arm a mitre saw should have a blade with a negative hook angle to push the material down and into the fence. A table saw blade is the opposite; one wants a positive hook angle to draw the material down to the table.

  8. jesse says:

    Melvin – good post. You know your stuff. Never thought about that.

  9. A.Crush says:

    Well this makes me feel a little better about getting a 10″ Skil miter saw, but this thing cuts just fine, and anything too big for a single cut, I can turn around, do a blade check, and cut again. Blades are cheap too, $12 for a 2-pack carbide set. Sure, it’s not commercial level stuff, but it’s awesome for general work considering it was a Black Friday special for $50.

    I do think a 12″ slider might be the ticket for a hardcore woodworker’s shop, but a decent 10″ fixed is probably all you need for general use, and the best of both worlds in terms of useability, precision, and portability, especially when combo’d with a portable stand.

    I actually see more of the high end blades for 12″ saws though, at least in big box stores, but I guess they have an interest in selling the more expensive 12″ saws.

  10. @Melvin:

    A cross cut blade for a table saw is different than a cross cut blade for a mitre saw.

    You’d better tell the manufacturers that. I don’t disagree with you in theory, but practice seem to be quite different, than what you are saying. The exception seems to be Forrest which actually sells blades especially for table saws or miter boxes.

    I stopped by the Big Orange Retail Giant and Sears today and took a look at their selection of blades. Most of the 10″ blades were labeled for miter saw, table saw, and sometimes radial arm saw use, the only exceptions were some of the 24 tooth blades. Even general purpose blades were labeled for both miter and table saws.

    All of the 12″ blades were either low positive angle or almost zero. I couldn’t find a single blade with a negative hook angle. The correlation I noticed seem to be that the higher the number of teeth the lower the hook angle. Which makes sense because a lower number of teeth is usually a more aggressive blade and a high tooth count usually leaves a smoother cut.

    If anybody’s wondering what we’re talking about, here’s a good tutorial on blades: http://www.rockler.com/articles/saw-blades-101.cfm

  11. Newbie woodworker says:

    I have a Hitachi 12″ (C12LSH), and the owners manual mentions that you can mount smaller blades than 12″. Is that something you can do on you’d Dewalt, or is there a point I am missing?

  12. @Newbie woodworker:

    That’s a really good suggestion, I’d never thought of that.

    I just tried it out. I mounted a 10″ blade on my 12″ DeWalt and the 10″ blade can’t reach the inside corner where the table meets the fence.

    It doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t work on other saws, though I suspect that it might only work on sliders. On a fixed miter saw, mounting the blade far enough back so that either a 10″ or a 12″ worked, you’d lose cutting area.

  13. fred says:

    Of course there is no one blade or saw that is perfect for all materials and all cuts. Even though we like some of the “general purpose” offerings from Forrest and Freud – we go to specialty blades when the work demands. In our shop – we might set up different saws for different purposes depending on the projects underway. Our old Oliver straight line rip saw for that purpose, our Shop Fox 2-bladed sliding table saw to handle laminates and so on. The only saw that hardly ever gets used is the monster Dewalt 16 inch RAS we inherited with the shop – and I’d have to go take a look to see what’s mounted on it. More on topic – 10 inch sliders are go-too tools for our trim work – although we have a mixed bag of both 10 and 12 inch Bosch and Makita’s.

  14. Kyle says:

    we have a dewalt 12″ sliding compound that we have used its full capacity and beyond alot, it is definitally worth the bigger blade and extra price for the saw

  15. miss frannie says:

    Just bought the dewalt 12″ dual bevel slider and it is without question the best saw I have ever owned. Its absolute overkill. I love it. Blades expensive yepp er. Its a big dog monster. Now time to giterdone!!!…

  16. Bernard says:

    Have a Ryobi 10″ miter saw, not slider. I can crosscut material several inches wider by simply raising the material up by sitting it on an appropriate sized wood spacer clamped down to table. Comments??

  17. Bernard says:

    What’s the word about Harbor Freight compound sliding saws which sell for about 1/3 the price of brand names?? Worth or worthless?? Please comment.

  18. Luke says:

    I’m an unhappy Harbor Freight customer so I’ll vote “worthless” … though to be fair I haven’t used their miter boxes. I did buy a circular saw, hammer drill, and battery drill from them when I was building a spec home. All three went in the first week, I couldn’t believe it.

    The good news is the cold chisel and wrench sets I bought from them were fine … guess it’s a lot harder to mess up hand tools than power tools.

    Get on Craigslist and find a used DeWalt slider, you’ll be glad you did even if you drive for it!

    • Randy says:

      I 2nd that DeWalt advise. We bought ours new over $600…. 7 years ago. It’s accurate fast and powerful. Glad I chose DeWalt. HOWEVER I bought a HD Wet Tile Cut Saw from Harbor F and it has worked well for 8 years. I will buy HF tools at times… just depends on what job.

  19. savant says:

    You all sound like a bunch of square headed morons totally out of touch with what the industry has to offer. Wrong blades on saws, wood spacers on stock why don’t you all start saying ‘chop’saw too. Dopes.

    • Me says:

      Well at least you know you are an idiot ‘savant’…talk about rude or I suppose simply bored and ignored like most idiots.
      Thanks all other guys for all your discussions, opinions and advice.

  20. Cricket says:

    Anyone have any suggestions on a blade to cut laminate flooring with a Bosch 10 inch miter. Radial Arm saw? The one presently on the saw is a 60 carbide teeth.

  21. Randy says:

    The best tool to use is the Rockwell Versa-Cut with the 3 inch carbide tooth blade. It will out last the large chop saw blades 10 to 1. I used my 12″ with a brand new blade $50
    on Laminate and it was DULL in 3 hours. The 7″ wormdrive blade lasted 4 to 5 hours. The 3″ blade… 4000 sq feet later and now its finally dull. This is a must have tool!!
    Hope this helps.

  22. Michael says:

    On a similar topic, I recently bought a Woodster ST12 table saw that comes standard with a 315 mm 24T blade. I have since dicovered that this diameter blade but with a higher teeth count is extremely difficult to get hold of where I am… I can find 300 mm blades though.
    Do any of you experts out there see a technical problem with using the slightly smaller diameter blade?

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