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.