June 22, 2022
Sometime around 2010, I was just a tyro woodworker, trying to mentally debate what I would select between a table saw and a miter saw. I opted then for a miter saw. But just when I was about to buy a miter saw, I was once again faced with another dilemma of whether I should go for a non-sliding miter saw or a sliding one. Hence, I took another short pause, and just like any intelligent buyer, I did my research and made a good choice.
A miter saw, of course, is used for making accurate miters and crosscuts in your workpiece. It is a unique tool that allows you to make cuts at various angles, and this characteristic of the miter saw distinguishes it from other saws. However, when selecting a miter saw, you will be surprised by the different miter saw brands and models in the market today. Moreover, you need to decide which type you would choose: whether to go for a sliding or non-sliding one.
Understanding Non-sliding Miter Saw and Sliding Miter Saw
Figuring out which is best between sliding and non-sliding miter saws necessitates a clear understanding of what each miter saw type could do and the pros and cons of each of these types. Below is a short discussion of the sliding and non-sliding miter saws:
What Is A Sliding Miter Saw?
The sliding miter saw, also known as a miter saw type lets you cut boards up to a maximum of twelve inches to sixteen inches. It has a blade that moves backward while sliding on the rails. Because of its sliding versatility, many woodworkers often use the sliding miter saw than the non-sliding one. Because of this versatility, it lets you deal with even larger boards. Moreover, you can use it with quite challenging projects to handle utilizing a non-sliding miter saw.
Another benefit of using the sliding one is that you are no longer required to make a frequent adjustment on the workpiece or the saw’s angle because of its larger capacity. This aspect of the sliding miter saw can help you save on your precious time when working.
Nevertheless, the sliding miter saw also comes with restrictions and limitations. In fact, its rails restrict it. Moreover, it can be challenging to use, especially if you are desirous of cutting at wider angles.
Advantages of Using Sliding Miter Saw
The primary advantage of sliding miter saw over non-sliding one is that it lets you cut wider boards. Let me give you an example. If you have a ten inches non-sliding miter saw, you can surely cut a board of approximately six inches wide. On the other hand, a twelve-inch one can work well with an eight-inch board (2 “x8”).
However, with the use of a sliding miter saw, you can double the abovementioned dimensions. So, this means with a 10″ sliding miter saw, you can cut a 12″ wide board. Besides, the sliding miter saw makes it easy for you to deal with a larger board.
- It cuts wider, taller, and longer lumber than that of the non-sliding one.
- Its saw blade would last longer than those of the non-sliding ones.
- It works best if you intend to cut lumber of different sizes.
Disadvantages of Using Sliding Miter Saw
Though the sliding miter saw seems to be the best option over non-sliding, it is not without its downside and limitations. Its limitations, of course, lie in its size, weight, and price. When it comes to size and weight, it is bulkier and heavier than the non-sliding one. So, this means that you will have a more challenging time transporting it from one place to another.
If you are a contractor, for example, who needs to transport your sliding miter saw, you will surely need to exert more effort to do it. Another thing is that it is more expensive than the non-sliding one. So, it will put a more significant dent in your saving than a non-sliding one world.
- It features a larger size, and it is heavier.
- If you want unique angle cuts, you may not be satisfied with the sliding miter saw.
- It is less portable than the non-sliding miter saw.
What Is A Non-Sliding Miter Saw?
The non-sliding miter saw doesn’t come with a blade that can move backward and forward. It also doesn’t come with rails. It can cut at different angles, and it is perfect for an extensive trim or flooring project. Moreover, it doesn’t require an elaborate setup, and you can move around with ease. Besides, it is very functional.
The main function of the non-sliding miter saw is to provide you with straight cuts or angled cuts. It works best if you are cutting wood that isn’t that wide. Nevertheless, if you want to cut a wide wood piece, you need to cut the wood part by part, flipping it to cut every part.
Unlike the sliding miter saw, the non-sliding miter saw is simply lifted, then lowered to the workpiece. Hence, it can only cut limited width of the wood. Moreover, it can handle wood with six inches width with ease.
Advantages of Using Non-sliding Miter Saw
The non-sliding miter saw came earlier than the sliding miter saw. As a tool, it is excellent for everyday cutting jobs in most home shops. It is more affordable for DIYers. Moreover, it is less bulky and lighter than its sliding counterpart. Nevertheless, it excels most in the angles that it cut. The thing is, the non-sliding miter saw is designed for easy use. It is less complicated than the sliding miter saw.
The non-sliding miter saw can pivot in either direction, while the sliding miter saw can’t pivot that much in either direction since it needs to deal with a larger area. Of course, if you are an expert woodworker, you can indeed cut any angle you want on either non-sliding or sliding miter saws. But you will undoubtedly find the non-sliding miter saw easier to tinker with. Non-sliding is engineered to accommodate extreme and non-standard angles with its pivoting function. In a way, it gives you enough freedom to make extreme angle cuts on the wood.
- It can provide you with acute and complex angled cuts that are precise.
- It is a less expensive option for woodworkers.
- It is more portable, being lightweight, and less bulky.
- It is perfect for home workshops.
Disadvantages of Using Non-sliding Miter Saw
- It can cut up to eight-inch wide lumber.
- Its saw blades seem to warp and wear faster.
- You will find the non-sliding miter saw less beneficial if you are not engaged in difficult angle cuts.
More Detailed Comparisons of Sliding and Non-sliding Miter Saws
If you are going to invest in a miter saw, you might as well get the best miter saw for your needs. To help you figure out better which one between the non-sliding and sliding miter saw you would need, you can read through these detailed comparisons of these two excellent options to ensure that you will make an intelligent buying decision:
One thing to consider before buying a miter saw is the cutting range that you would engage in. If you would only engage in crosscutting and ripping wide boards, and you are quite an expert with the circular saw, you might as well not have a miter saw. But if you often engage in mitering like molding and framework, for example, or you are always doing squaring of lumber and milling, you will find the miter saw helpful to you. Besides, it can make your cutting tasks more manageable.
The thing is, if you intend to cut boards that are wider than 8 inches, you should go for a sliding miter saw. But if you are sure that you will only cut more often 45° miters, you can settle for a 10″ non-sliding saw. So, take note of the cutting range that you would often engage in before deciding between a non-sliding and sliding miter saw.
Cutting Wood Size Capacity
If your miter saw is non-sliding, you may flip your boards several times, especially if cutting 12″ and 6″ boards. But if you’re working with a 4″ panel, you will not need to flip your board several times.
So, if you expect to cut wider wood strips, you might consider buying a sliding miter saw. But if you will only occasionally engage in cutting wider boards, you might as well settle for the non-sliding one.
Miter Saw’s Size
The non-sliding miter saw is lighter and smaller than the sliding miter saw. Thus, you can more conveniently carry it to your job site. The sliding miter saw, however, comes with a few more components as well as broader base. Moving the sliding saw is challenging, but it is doable.
Nevertheless, moving the sliding miter around the job site is not advisable. The sliding miter saw will be best for you if you intend to make it stationary.
Portability and Ease of Storage
When buying a tool like a miter saw, it will be best to consider its portability and ease of storage. The sliding miter saw, of course, is heavier and bulkier than the non-sliding miter saw. Hence, it will be more challenging to move around than that of the non-sliding one. If you want to keep your sliding miter saw in one place, sans moving them, then you will have no problem with its size and weight.
Yet, it will give you a hard time if you intend to move it around more often from one point to another point. Moreover, if you have a cramped space in your workshop and you sometimes do your woodworking in the garage or backyard, you will need something that you can move around and store with ease. In such a case, the non-sliding miter saw would be a more viable option.
Types of Cuts
Another aspect you must consider is the types of cuts you need to do more often. As mentioned above, non-sliding miter saws thrive in making crosscut, bevel, angle, and compound cuts. It does well with tricky angles, and it does it efficiently. Moreover, it is pretty easy to set up and keep the setup for your next job.
On the other hand, the sliding miter saw is capable of making similar cuts as that of the non-sliding one. However, the sliding miter saw more often struggles with complicated and extreme angles. Hence, in this area, the non-sliding is better than the sliding one.
When choosing between these two, it will also help to consider their applications. The non-sliding one is never restricted by rails. For this reason, it can move its arm within that specific arc. Hence, the non-sliding miter saw does well when engaged in miter cuts since it is not hampered by rails. It can likewise make bevel cuts via its pivoting arm.
The sliding miter saw, however, thrives more on cutting longer boards that would be used for crown moldings, while the non-sliding one can cut excellent angles and joint moldings and engage in cuts that necessitate cutting extreme angles.
The sliding miter saw is excellent for handling wider wood pieces, given its blade that could slide to and fro. It is also perfect for thicker pieces of wood. It is more versatile, allowing you to make accurate cuts that extend across the workpiece full width.
You can dial in the cut degree you would like to make, allowing you to create different angled cuts. It would be a perfect option if you got a lighter job that comes with wider width. Moreover, it’s ideal to use if you want to refurbish or replace your house crown moldings.
Although miter saws are not extremely dangerous to use, you would still find a difference in the level of safety when using a non-sliding, and sliding miter saw. Hence, extreme caution should be observed when using both types of miter saws. When using a non-sliding miter saw, for example, you need to follow the necessary safety protocols. Wear your safety glasses, and make sure that you check the safety features of the non-sliding miter saw well.
The non-sliding miter saw, of course, is more simplistic in design than the sliding miter saw. Hence, it is less dangerous to operate as long as you are focused on what you are doing. You should ensure that your fingers and hands are in safe places from the blade. You will also find most non-sliding miter saws with automatic safety shut-offs. They also come with lights for enhanced visibility while working.
Similarly, sliding miter saws are also not very dangerous to use as long as you follow the safety protocols. Yet, using it is fraught with more risks than that of the non-sliding miter saw because it comes with more moving parts. Since it offers a different way for the blade to travel, its use is riskier. Although it comes with safety features, you still need to be very experienced when handling it.
The price tags of non-sliding and sliding miter saws may vary depending on which brand and model you choose. Many of these saws come with several hundred dollars price tags. Of course, the higher the quality of the saws, the more expensive they become.
Since the sliding miter saw is more complicated and comes with extra features, it is reasonable to expect that it will be more expensive than the non-sliding ones. Its extra ability to cut more into a wood piece means it will need to have a higher price tag. So, as you shop around for a sliding miter saw, you will discover that most of them are either $450 or more.
How Does Compound Miter Saw Related to Sliding & Non-sliding Miter Saws?
The compound miter saw is similar to the non-sliding and sliding miter saws. However, it comes with extra bevel adjustment. To achieve complicated angled cuts, you should go for the compound miter saw.
You can adjust its bevel and miter angles with ease to make those complicated angled cuts. Such a feature, however, comes in handy when you need to make complex trim cuts, as in crown molding.
So, Which One To Use?
If you often work with sheets of wood, the sliding miter saw would be best. However, the non-sliding miter saw is not bad. If you want to expand your woodworking activities, you might as well have a sliding and non-sliding miter saw.
It isn’t easy to say that a sliding miter saw is better than the non-sliding one. Of course, the sliding comes with additional features that make it suitable for some projects. But your choice will usually depend on your cutting needs.
But why is the sliding miter saw preferred by many woodworkers? Well, the answer is simple. It offers more expanded cutting possibilities. Besides, most homes nowadays come with huge and massive crown moldings. Similarly, some innovations demand the use of oversized baseboards. So, the most suited miter saw for such cutting applications is the sliding miter saw that lets you cut 6″ to 12″ boards at an angle. Of course, you can make angled cuts on wider boards using the non-sliding miter saw, but you need to flip the board over to make the second cut.
You’ll be in an advantageous position to decide which is best for you between the non-sliding and sliding miter saws after knowing the succinct differences between these two miter saws. At the onset, it will be best to consider the abovementioned factors like applications, portability, cutting range, types of cuts, and price before you purchase a miter saw. Using what you have learned, you can narrow down your options and zero in on the perfect miter saw for your cutting needs.
It’s quite evident that each of these two options comes with its advantages and disadvantages. Being cognizant of these pros and cons can help you make an intelligent purchase. Of course, your number one holdback when buying is your budget. You can only choose according to your budget. The sliding miter saw, of course, is more expensive, so the non-sliding is your less expensive alternative. But if budget isn’t an issue, you can buy any miter saw that you would like to buy.
Jason is a 40-year-old woodworker, carpenter and author who have been involved in the woodworking and woodcraft industry with 17 years of experience. He is expertise in technical aspects, woodcraft and furniture building projects.