Sliding vs Non Sliding Miter Saws: What’s the difference?

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A good woodworker is dedicated to finding the right tools for the job. So which is better, a sliding miter saw, or a non-sliding miter saw? What’s the difference anyway?

This page will outline some of the major differences between sliding and non-sliding miter saws. These saws will be compared, and the advantages of each will be explored. The best tool for the job is the one that meets your requirements. After reading through this guide, you should have a much better idea of which tool is right for you.

DEWALT 12-Inch Miter Saw, 15-Amp, Single Bevel, Compound (DWS715)
WEN MM1011 15-Amp 10' Single Bevel Compact Sliding Compound Miter Saw with Laser

Sliding vs Non Sliding Miter Saws

What is a Non-Sliding Miter Saw?

To put it simply, these saws are designed to cut through wood. They achieve this task with versatility and speed. A circular blade is lifted up above a piece of wood. It is then lowered into the wood and can make a variety of cuts through it. Non-sliding saws are brilliant for making cuts at different angles.

The saw blade can be adjusted with a pivoting arm to make the angled cuts you need. If your work involves a lot of trimming or floorwork, then this type of saw will be a welcome addition to your toolkit.

A key factor to keep in mind is the width of material you plan on cutting. Non-sliding saws work best with material that is not very wide.

Larger pieces will require you to flip them over and make multiple cuts. Depending on your circumstances, this might be acceptable to you. If you regularly work with higher quantities or sizes of wood, this may soon become an issue.

These reliable saws are best suited to crosscuts, angled cuts, bevel cuts and compound cuts. Trickier angles are no problem for most good quality non-sliding miter saws. On most models, it’s quick and easy to set your desired angle and continue working efficiently.

These are generally a lighter and cheaper option than their heavier sliding counterparts. If your work involves a lot of moving from A to B, or if manoeuvring your tool will be a regular occurrence, a non-sliding saw might be the right option.

Pros

  • Super easy set up. Most non-sliding miter saws are designed to be up and running in no time. If your workflow already involves a lot of set up, it might be worth considering a non-sliding saw.
  • Portable. Miter saws in non-sliding configurations are usually very easy to pick up and move around. If portability is important to you, consider a non-sliding option.
  • More affordable. As a general rule, non-sliding miter saws tend to be more budget friendly.

Cons

  • Limited cut width. Non-sliding miter saws are operated with a simple upwards and downwards motion. These saws cannot operate horizontally. This significantly reduces the possible width of each cut.

Who Is a Non-Sliding Saw Good For?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I need a saw that’s easy to set up?
  • Does portability matter to me?
  • Am I working on a budget?
  • Does my woodworking mostly involve thinner cuts?
  • Do I need to make cuts at a variety of tricky angles?

If you answered yes to these questions, then a non-sliding saw might be for you! Contractors generally find non-sliding saws to be a better option, as their convenient handles and portable weights prove quite useful.

Who Isn’t a Good Fit for a Non-Sliding Saw?

If your work involves a lot of wider boards that are larger than 8 inches across, you might need a miter saw with a higher cutting capacity. A sliding saw can be great for this.

Our Top Pick for Best Non-Sliding Miter Saw

DEWALT 12-Inch Miter Saw, 15-Amp, Single Bevel, Compound (DWS715)

This is a durable and powerful miter saw. If you regularly perform more heavy-duty tasks, this is definitely one worth considering.

This model from DEWALT is powered by a durable 15-amp motor which spins the blade at 4000rmp. The miter detent plate dramatically improves both productivity and accuracy.

It’s easy to cut exactly where you want to every time on this machine. The capacity of this miter saw has been optimized brilliantly for crosscuts, making it an excellent option for workers who need to resize a high number of wooden pieces quickly and accurately. 

Holding and moving the DEWALT DWS715 is remarkably comfortable, thanks to the ergonomically designed side handles on the base. The sturdy, durable design here means you’ll be using this miter saw for years to come.

We think this is a great non-sliding saw to pick up.

What is a Sliding Miter Saw?

There are plenty of similarities here. Most of the same cross, miter, bevel and compound cuts will be possible. The key difference with sliding miter saws is that they’re fixed to a rail.

This gives them the capacity to tackle larger projects with thicker cutting pieces. The saw can be moved along the rail to fit the right size, making them perfect for larger, heavy-duty projects. One of the key benefits of a sliding saw is convenience. There are far fewer adjustments or small tweaks required. The saw can simply be moved along the rail effortlessly to achieve the right cut.

12-inch boards are no problem for sliding saw and some models can handle boards up to 16 inches in size.

Pros

  • Their cutting capacity is bigger. The rail on sliding saws allows for much larger cuts through wider pieces of wood.
  • Their capacity can save you time. With fewer tiresome adjustments, and more crosscuts made in a single stroke, sliding saws can help you work more efficiently.
  • Their bulky size and weight can improve durability. Depending on the model you choose, some sliding saws can come with an excellent build quality that will last you a long time.

Cons

  • Expensive. While they’re worth it in many contexts, these saws can be quite expensive, so make sure you’ll actually need one before purchasing.
  • Less portable. The increased size and weight of sliding saws make them challenging to move around. A fixed point in a workshop is best.

Who is a Sliding Saw Good For?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I regularly work with pieces 8 inches across or wider?
  • Would I benefit from a tool that needs fewer adjustments when working?
  • Does convenience matter to me?

If you answered yes to these questions, then consider picking up a sliding miter saw. Larger projects with wider pieces of wood are best tackled by a sliding saw.

Who Isn’t a Good Fit For a Sliding Saw?

If you’re a contractor who moves around a lot between multiple locations, a sliding saw won’t be portable enough for you. Their heavier weights mean that they’re not best suited for workers who need an easy-to-manoeuvre tool.

Our Top Pick For Sliding Miter Saw

WEN MM1011 15-Amp 10' Single Bevel Compact Sliding Compound Miter Saw with Laser

An excellent sliding saw is the WEN-MM1011. This is a modern saw that delivers a stunning level of accuracy and a feature set that’s remarkably versatile.

The 15-amp motor on this machine drives the blade at a max RPM of 4500. This saw can tackle wood up to 3½ inches thick. It should come as no surprise that the WEN MM1011 is a sliding compound saw that can tackle larger cutting pieces with ease. This versatile machine can miter 45 degrees in either direction.

The convenient laser guide on this offering from WEN clearly illuminates your cutting line when working. This lends a welcome boost to accuracy.

The slew of extras that come with this tool is one of the reasons it made our top pick. The included carbide-tipped blade, dust bag, dust port and two-year warranty add a great deal of value to an already compelling package.

WEN MM1011 15-Amp 10" Single Bevel Compact Sliding Compound Miter Saw with Laser
  • Powerful 15-amp motor cuts boards up to 12 inches wide and 3-1/2 inches thick
  • Miter 45 degrees in either direction (featuring 9 miter stops) or bevel 45 degrees to the left
  • Onboard Class II laser guide illuminates your line of cut
  • Features a 7-1/2-inch Crown molding nested capacity and a 6-3/4-inch base board vertical capacity
  • Includes a 10-inch 40-Tooth carbide-tipped blade, Two table extensions, one clamp assembly, a dust bag, a dust port adapter, and a two-year warranty

Conclusion

Choosing the right tool for the job can be overwhelming. The world of DIY has a phenomenal amount of choice, but this can leave a beginner unsure of where to start. It’s best to think in as much detail as possible about the type of work you’re planning to do. The more you know about what you want to achieve, the easier it will be to make the right choice. When considering sliding vs non-sliding miter saws, remember the following:

Non-sliding saws are:

  • Portable
  • Easy to set up
  • Good for different angles
  • Generally more affordable

Sliding saws are:

  • Better for wider pieces of wood
  • Used for larger projects
  • Require fewer adjustments when working.

If you’re still wondering which miter saw to buy, you could always check out our Miter Saws Buying Guide here.

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