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Sliding vs Non-Sliding Miter Saw – Which is Best for Your Needs?

Last Updated on August 23, 2020

Miter saw with rail

At this point, you have already decided that you need a miter saw. Now comes the more difficult task of choosing the features that your miter saw has. Two types of miter saws are the sliding and the non-sliding miter saw. Each saw is very functional and able to complete a variety of projects; however, there are some significant differences. In this guide, we will help you see what the difference is between a sliding and a non-sliding miter saw. We will also include a few tips to help you choose one that will work best for you.


Non-Sliding Miter Saw Overview

Compound sawThe non-sliding miter saw is going to be your best friend if you have a large flooring or trim project in front of you. Non-sliding miter saws are capable of making cuts at a variety of angles. They are easy to set up, easy to move around, and extremely functional.

Basic Functions

The primary function of a non-sliding miter saw is to cut wood on an angle or straight. The non-sliding miter saw does best with wood that is not very wide. If you try to cut a wide piece with a miter, saw you would have to cut part of it, flip it, and cut the other part. Since a non-sliding miter saw is just lifted up and down over a piece of material, you are limited as to the width of your cut.

Types of Cuts

Non-sliding miter saws to a great job of cutting crosscut, angle, bevel, and compound. If you have tricky angles to cut, the non-sliding saw does a great job of getting this done quickly and efficiently. Non-Sliding miter saws are easy to set, and you can keep the angles set to make work more efficient.

four types of miter saw cuts

Blades

Your miter saw blade with match the size of your non-sliding miter saw. You can purchase different quality blades for cutting metal.

Non-Sliding Miter Safety

As with any saw, it is imperative to follow the proper safety protocol while operating. You should always be wearing safety glasses when working with a non-sliding miter saw. Overall a non-sliding is not a very dangerous saw as long as you are aware of the saw and the blade at all times. Always make sure your hands and fingers are out of the way when pulling the blade down for a cut. Many non-sliding miter saws will have automatic safety shut-offs and lights for better visibility as well.

Price

Non-Sliding miter saws will vary considerably in price. The majority are priced around a few hundred dollars. The higher quality saws with more features will increase in price.
Non-Sliding Miter Saw Pros
  • Powerful
  • Quick
  • Easy to use
  • Great for extreme angles
Non-Sliding Miter Saw Cons
  • 6″ cutting clearance

Sliding Saw Overview

DEWALT DWS715 12-Inch Miter Saw

A sliding miter saw is very similar to a miter saw except that instead of just pulling the blade down, you can also pull it towards you. So the sliding miter saw can cut a much wider board than a non-sliding miter saw can. You will not have to flip the board and cut the other side as you would with the non-sliding. If you are continually cutting larger boards, you will enjoy the sliding miter saw.

Basic Functions

The sliding miter saw can do all the same things that the non-sliding can do. The fact that it can slide does make it a little easier to work with.

Types of Cuts

A sliding miter saw can make all the same cuts that a non-sliding saw can. The only time that a sliding miter saw will struggle is with complex angles. Sometimes the extreme angles will be restricted when working with a sliding miter saw. 

Blades

The blades for your sliding miter saw will have to match the blade size of the saw you have. You can get different blade types to match the material you are cutting.

collection of saw blades

Sliding Miter Safety

Sliding miter saws are not extremely dangerous, but they are more dangerous than a non-sliding miter saw. Anytime you add more moving parts, and a different way that a blade can travel, you are opening yourself up to potential injuries. There are safety features built into the sliding miter saw that would help, but this saw is designed for a person that has some experience with using a saw.

Price

No question sliding miter saws are more expensive than non-sliding miter saws. The ability to cut further into a piece of wood and the fact that sliding miter saws are still considered portable brings their price up quite a bit. Most sliding miter saws will be more than $450.
Sliding Miter Saw Pros
  • Extended reach
  • Clean, precise cuts
  • Can accommodate large boards
Sliding Miter Saw Cons
  • Expensive
  • Complicated to readjust
  • Not good for extreme angles
Our Favorite Sliding Miter Saw
DEWALT Sliding Compound Miter Saw, 12-Inch...
Our Favorite NON-sliding Miter Saw
Hitachi C10FCG 15-Amp 10" Single Bevel Compound...
DEWALT Sliding Compound Miter Saw, 12-Inch...
Hitachi C10FCG 15-Amp 10" Single Bevel Compound...
Our Favorite Sliding Miter Saw
DEWALT Sliding Compound Miter Saw, 12-Inch...
DEWALT Sliding Compound Miter Saw, 12-Inch...
Our Favorite NON-sliding Miter Saw
Hitachi C10FCG 15-Amp 10" Single Bevel Compound...
Hitachi C10FCG 15-Amp 10" Single Bevel Compound...

Which Saw is Right for Your Needs?

Now that you understand the difference between the sliding and non-sliding miter saw you have the difficult task of deciding which one is a better fit for you. We have broken down the few things that you should consider to help you make the right choice.

choosing the right saw blade

Size of Wood

If you are cutting six and twelve-inch boards, you will be doing a lot of flipping if your saw is non-sliding saw. Working with two and four-inch boards, you may enjoy the simplicity of the standard miter saw. Try to think of how often you will need to cut through wider strips of wood. If you only occasionally need this feature, you can go for the non-sliding miter saw.

single bevel vs double bevel miter saw

Size of the Saw

The sliding miter saw is a bit bigger and heavier than the non-sliding miter saw. As you can imagine, it has quite a few more parts and a broad base. You can move a sliding miter saw around a job site if you need to, but it is not ideal. If you are looking for a saw that is just going to stay in your shop, then the size and portability may not matter as much to you.

sliding miter sawAngle of Cut

A sliding miter saw is not capable of cutting extreme angles. Since the sliding miter saw has some extra rails, it will block you from making this type of cut. Think about the angles you will be cutting before you buy. If you have a lot of varying or extreme angles, you should go with the non-sliding miter saw as it is easier to set the angle and stick with it throughout your project.

The sliding saw can extend its reach out to 12 or even 16 inches, more than twice the width of a non-slider. If you’re routinely working with boards this wide, you will thank yourself every day for buying the sliding miter saw. And since you’re only cutting once, all your cuts will be cleaner and more precise.

Conclusion

It’s hard to say that a sliding saw is a better saw than a non-sliding. The sliding saw does have some additional features that make it better suited for specific projects. If your budget restricts you to the non-sliding miter saw, don’t feel as though you are getting a bad saw. Both the non-sliding and sliding miters saws are essential saws for any woodworker or builder.

So why does anyone have a sliding style? Nowadays, many higher-end homes include massive crown moldings, and some historical renovations (and imitations) demand oversized baseboards as well. These boards will be well over 6 inches wide – sometimes as wide as 12 inches. You will be able to cut them on a non-sliding saw, but you will have to cut it twice – cut, flip it over, cut a second time to meet the first cut. Doing this occasionally isn’t all that time-consuming, but if you are doing this kind of work all the time, you’ll want a sliding saw.

Header and featured image credit: fabiol, Pixabay

About the Author Kyle Newton

Kyle comes from a long line of woodworkers, craftsmen, and carpenters. When he’s not managing SawingPros, Kyle can be found in his workshop, testing and using every type of saw and power tool he can get his hands on. His favorite tool is a horizontal band saw and his favorite wood is maple.