If you’ve even a passing interest in woodwork, you’ve probably heard of miter saws. If your work involves cutting through lots of wood, then it’s definitely worth considering picking up a good quality miter saw.
For making quick reliable crosscuts at the angle you need, they’re hard to beat. As with most modern conveniences, we’ve been spoiled rotten for choice.
The briefest of google searches for miter saws spits back a mind-boggling list of results.
It can be difficult so know which size blade to go for, let alone which specific brand. There’s a broad spectrum of available blade sizes when it comes to these machines.
7½ inches? 20 inches? Somewhere in between? It’s enough to make a beginner want to give up. Take our advice: don’t!
With a little research in the right place, it’s easy to figure things out. After reading this page, we’re confident you’ll know exactly the type of saw that’s right for you.
10 Inch Miter Saw vs 12 Inch Miter Saw
10 and 12 inch saws are the varieties to look out for. As the two most common sizes for both contractor and home use, they’re an excellent place to start. So does 2 inches really make a difference?
There wouldn’t be much point in writing this article if it didn’t! It’s very important you understand the differences between the two sizes, so you can choose the perfect tool for the job.
10-Inch Miter Saws
These saws can be considered the default when it comes to miter saws. Their ubiquity has made them firm favourites of both hobbyists and professionals. But what are they useful for?
It’s worth asking yourself the following questions:
- Do I need a saw that’s lightweight and portable?
- Do I want a saw that can easily fit onto work surfaces and into tighter spaces?
- Are most of my cuts 10 inches or smaller?
- Will using a blade size that’s very easy to find everywhere speed up my workflow?
If your answers for these questions were yes, then it’s probably time to consider a 10 inch saw.
The cheaper, lighter option of the two sizes, 10 inch saws are a fantastic option for many applications. The smaller surface area of these blades means they can apply more pressure than their heavier counterparts.
This smaller size also comes with the benefit of a higher speed.
Advantages of 10 inch miter saws
- It’s one of the most common sizes. This means basically all suppliers stock them. If you need a new blade, now, then you shouldn’t have trouble with a 10-inch saw.
- Their popularity means they’re often very affordable. The market is full of excellent options for good 10-inch saws. This variety means that prices are often very competitive.
- They’re often cross-compatible. If you do work with a table saw, then we have some good news for you. 10 inch blades are often interchangeable, and can be used in both miter saws and table saws. This can be a godsend when switching between tasks at your workbench, as the blade you need is already right there!
- The machines powering them tend to be more portable. As you might expect, a smaller footprint means a lighter load to carry. This makes 10-inch saws a great option for workers who need a tool they can maneuver easily.
Beginners often worry that their 10 inch saw won’t be able to handle larger tasks. The truth is though, this size blade can be perfectly capable. For example, it’s reasonably easy to tackle 12-inch molding with a miter saw that’s only 10 inches in size.
If you use the bevel and sliding feature on many modern saws, you shouldn’t encounter any problems. Just make sure you use a table that’s nice and flat. If you are thinking of picking up a 10-inch saw, it’s definitely worth considering a model with a sliding feature.
This can really boost your cutting capacity. If your work mostly involves plywood, then a 10-inch saw is definitely a good option. Hardwood and softwood are also light work for this kind of machine.
12 Inch Miter Saws
So if 10-inch saws are as versatile, affordable and portable as the reviews suggest, what’s the use in a saw 2 inches bigger? Is there any point?
Of course, the answer is a resounding yes!
Depending on the type of work you do, there are countless reasons why it might be worth opting for a larger saw. It might be worth asking the following questions:
- Do I regularly make larger cuts that would benefit from a blade than can chew through wood quickly?
- Does my work involve making fine cuts?
- Do I need a machine with a wider variety of available blade types?
- Does the smoothness of my cuts matter to me?
Advantages of 12 inch miter saws
- They can handle more cutting materials in a single stroke. Depending on the size of your workpieces, making crosscuts with a 10-inch saw can take multiple steps. 12-inch blades can make light work of larger pieces.
- There’s more TPI variety with 12-inch blades. Naturally, the larger surface of these blades mean there’s more space for teeth. This variety goes a long way for those who make a variety of different cuts.
- They’re gentle giants. Making finer, more delicate cuts is easier with a 12-inch blade. The improved options for TPI makes it easy to perform finer woodworking tasks.
- They tend to be more durable. As the machines required to power larger saws are usually designed for heavy-duty tasks, they tend to stand up to abuse more than smaller options. While the bulkier size and weight aren’t for everyone, a good quality 12-inch saw can last you a long time.
12-inch miter saws are usually driven by more powerful, 15-amp motors. This means being able to tackle harder materials. Naturally, the larger blade size also means that you can cut larger pieces of wood.
For grander, more heavy-duty projects, these are the mitering blades to choose. Most users of a 10-inch saw can get by with larger cutting pieces with tricks like flipping over the piece half way through cutting. One area where it’s hard to beat a 12-inch saw though, is finesse.
If you need to make finer, more delicate cuts into your wood, then a 12-inch saw is probably what you need.
The variety of available teeth per inch (TPI) on 12-inch miter saws allows for smoother, finer cuts in your wood of choice. One downside of a 10-inch saw is that generally speaking, you’re dealing with a set TPI with less flexibility available if you need more.
Not so with 12-inch saws. There are typically more options for TPI when it comes to larger blades. Some common TPI ratings for 12-inch saws include 24, 60 and 80. This variety is worth keeping in mind if your woodworking involves fine cuts, larger pieces, or many different types of wood.
If you’re a furniture maker, or interested in picking up the skill, the larger size of these blades will probably come in handy.
Our 10 Inch and 12 Inch Miter Saw Recommendations
Knowing the type of blade you need is half the battle. The next mountain to climb is knowing which brand and model to choose! We outline two of our top picks below. You could also check out our miter saw buying guide here.
Our Favourite 10-inch Miter Saw
Our top pick at this size is the WEN MM1011 Sliding Compound Saw.
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. If you’re picking up a 10-inch miter saw in 2020, we highly recommend looking for a model with a sliding feature. This allows for a greater cutting capacity and a higher level of flexibility when working.
It should come as no surprise that the WEN MM1011 is a sliding compound saw and can therefore tackle larger cutting pieces than you might expect. 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.
Our Favourite 12-inch Miter Saw
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 this saw 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.
If you need a 12-inch saw for your larger projects, we think this is the one to pick up.
As with any new tool, the perfect saw for the job will be the saw that fits your requirements. Think closely about the type of work you do regularly. This will help you make a decision about the right saw size.
For most workers, a 10-inch saw is often more than enough. If your work usually involves smaller pieces and softer materials, consider a 10inch model. The portability, ubiquity and friendly price tag are hard to ignore.
If you’re looking to make larger pieces of furniture, or regularly work with tough, thick material, a 12-inch blade is probably the way to go.
We hope this page has outlined the main differences between 10-inch and 12-inch saws. Size does matter, but bigger isn’t always best! The choice is yours.