Miter saws are pretty much beefed-up versions of circular saws with the cutting blade mounted and hinged for more precise control. Sometimes called chop saws, miter saws are great for cutting angles and for making repetitive cuts.
Standard miter saws can be pivoted to cut wood on an angle. Compound miter saws have the added capability to be tilted to create bevels.
Miter saws are great for squaring the edges of lumber and for making the angles needed to join picture frames and other pieces of wood that meet at an angle. With their bevel cutting ability, compound miter saws are excellent for cutting crown molding or pieces that need two angles cut in them at the same time.
Neither the miter nor the compound miter saw is intended for ripping wood, or cutting it along its length.
A sliding compound miter saw adds the extra capability of cross-cutting wider boards. Sliding saws have a mechanism that allows the blade to be pulled forward to gain that extra capacity.
Compound miter saws are a bit more expensive than standard miter saws, and sliding compounds are even more expensive.
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miter saw, compound miter, cutting angles
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Robert Korpella has been writing professionally since 2000, primarily covering science and nature topics. He is the editor and publisher of freshare.net, a site exploring the Ozarks outdoors. Korpella's work has appeared in a variety of publications and includes outdoors-related content for LIVESTRONG.COM. He holds a Bachelor of Science in business from the University of Arkansas.