One of our viewers is looking to redo all the trim in his house so he is wondering which mitre saw he should buy.
The variety is very confusing but there are two basic types:
Fixed mitre boxes that go up and down. They will cut mitres, angles to the right or the left and most of them will cut bevels as well.
Sliding mitre boxes that go up and down and slide a bit as well to extend their reach.
I have a full set of videos on using miter saws in the Learning Curve Tab above, or just click here.
To choose a saw you need to consider your budget, because of course the biggest best would be wonderful but often not necessary. Then consider the size of the things you want to cut.
The size of the saw blade will be the primary determent as to how tall a piece you can cut. The width of the piece you can cut will also expand with a larger blade, but you can use a small blade and a sliding action to extend the width. However sliding saws are more expensive than fixed ones.
If you are using it only occasionally and want to move it from room to room, go for the smallest one that will cut what you need. That big size can break your back as well as your pocket book. Compare the costs and features of a larger blade on a fixed mitre to a smaller blade on a sliding mitre.
If you are going to be working primarily with crown molding, you will want to choose a saw that is either big enough to cut your crown molding standing up in the box, avoiding compound mitre-bevel cuts altogether, or choose a saw that has locked stops on both the mitre and the bevel rotations specifically for crown moldings. Most boxes today have lock positive stops on the mitre, but few have this for the bevel.
There are some cuts that are really better done without the mitre saw at all, like inside corners for base boards. A 45 degree bevel in this corner will almost always shrink open and leave a unsightly gap. The best way to do this joint is by running one piece square into the corner, then scribing the profile from that piece to the end of the abutting piece. Then cut out the scribed shape with a coping saw, angling the saw back from 90 degrees so that the pencil line of the cut will actually touch the other baseboard. That will give you a tight joint that even if it shrinks back a bit, will still look good.
All saws need a stand. Follow this link for a comparrison of Miter Saw Stands.