Sliding vs. Non-Sliding Miter Saw – What’s the Difference?
A miter saw is an indispensable tool for anyone that does a lot of trim work or is just looking for something to make angled and beveled cuts fast. But while the decision to buy the miter saw is a no-brainer, you will still need to decide whether to go for the sliding or non-sliding types.
Both do an amazing job in the workshop and from their name, it should be clear what sets them apart. The sliding miter saws will be designed to allow you to move the blade forward and backward for increased cutting capacity while the non-sliding ones will not have this capability.
In this piece, we provide overviews of these amazing miter saws and also highlight their main differences to help ensure you know what you need.
Sliding Miter Saw Overview
Sliding miter saws get their name from the fact that they can move their blade forward and backward which is meant to allow them to cut larger materials than the non-sliding miter saws.
These saws will allow you to make highly accurate angled cuts in a sliding motion, and they come in very handy when you are tackling larger projects that involve huge boards. And with their increased cutting length, they will be perfect for making straight, pull down cuts almost like a chop saw would do.
The larger cutting capacity makes these miter saws highly popular for home improvement and remodeling projects where the workpieces involved are larger and thicker than what you would use for small and simple projects in the workshop.
And like any other miter saws, they can make the four basic cuts that these saws are known for which are angled, miter, crosscuts, and compound cuts.
Because you will not need to keep flipping the board when cutting, these saws will help speed up the job for you and can save you a significant amount of time when compared to using the regular non-sliding miter saws.
But given the inclusion of a rail, these miter saws tend to be relatively larger and bulkier which affects their portability. And they are generally more expensive when compared to the non-sliding types.
Non-Sliding Miter Saw Overview
Non-sliding miter saws are the more common type of the two, and they are what many woodworkers and DIYers refer to as the regular miter saw.
These miters saws will not have the sliding capability and will hence not come with a rail system. But, this also means they will only be able to cover a specific area on the board.
Nevertheless, this will not mean that the non-sliding miter saws cannot do the cuts that you would do with the sliding miter saws. You can still make the same cuts but it will take some extra work as you need to stop and flip the workpiece or move the saw physically.
For jobs that do not involve large boards, the non-sliding miter saws will be perfect, and you can use them to crosscut or make angled, miter or compound cuts.
Because there is no rail on this saw, it will also give you an easier time when making arcs. Many users also find it relatively easier to use when compared to the sliding types.
However, the relatively smaller cutting capacity and the fact that non-sliding saws will hardly be good for any angle over 45 degrees are significant shortcomings for many potential users.
Sliding Miter Saw
Non-Sliding Miter Saw
Wood installations, renovations and when working on crown moldings
Basic jobs that require simple angled and beveled cuts like picture frames and creating trim pieces
Arc Making Suitability
Not very good
Professional woodworkers and seasoned DIYers
Hobbyists, occasional users, and contractors
Size and Portability
Larger, heavier and less portable
Smaller, more compact and highly portable
Sliding vs. Non-Sliding Miter Saw
Except for the inclusion of the sliding rails on the sliding miter saw, these two saws are almost identical in their structure and functionality. But, this is only true on the surface as many things set the two apart and they include the following.
1. Sliding Feature
The sliding feature is the main and perhaps the biggest difference between the sliding and non-sliding miter saws, and it is what gives them the edge in performance.
With the sliding function, the sliding miter saws will be able to move the head forward and backward which allows it to tackle wide and longer boards with ease and hence increasing its cutting capacity. And if you get the dual-bevel sliding miter saws, you will have one of the most versatile power saws around as there is almost no cut it cannot make.
Non-sliding miter saws will not have the advantage of being able to slide back and forth which means to make the same cuts, you would make on the sliding saws, you will need to stop and move the saw which increases human error.
2. Best Uses
Given the differences in design, these miter saws will be suitable for different uses and this is even though one can still do almost everything that then other does.
Sliding Miter Saws
If you are planning to buy a sliding miter saw then you should know that it will be perfect for home remodeling projects and renovations which requires you to use larger and wider boards.
Also, the large capacity and more versatile power saws will be perfect for wood installation and when dealing with fancy crown moldings.
Non-Sliding Miter Saws
Non-sliding miter saws, on the other hand, will be perfect for small and simple projects in the workshop that do not involve the use of larger boards.
If you are working on smaller trim for the exterior of the house, making pictures frames or working on any other small project that requires bevel and miter cuts, the non-sliding saws will be very useful.
3. Arc Making Suitability
While the inclusion of the sliding rails gives the sliding miter saws many advantages, they also come with some drawbacks. Key among them is the fact that they make it hard to make arched cuts.
With the traditional non-sliding miter saws, you can make arcs easily since there will be no rails that will restrict them into making straight line cuts only.
Hence, if most of your projects will involve making intricate arched and circular shapes, you will be better off sticking with the non-sliding miter saws as the sliding models will give you a hard time for these tasks.
4. Anti-Flip Usage
For many woodworkers and DIYers, a good power saw is one that will give you the easiest time when working as this speeds up the job and also delivers the best results.
Hence, when trying to decide between the sliding and non-sliding saws the fact that the former allows you to cut workpieces without having to flip them means it will give you an easier time and is hence the better choice here.
The sliding cutting blade design means that you will only need to guide it forward and backward when making long cuts unlike with the non-sliding which means you have to stop in the middle of the cut and flip the board.
For example, if you are using a 10-inch sliding miter saw, you will be able to cut boards that are up to 12 inches wide but with a 10-inch non-sliding model, you would only be able to cut boards that are up to 6 inches wide which means when cutting 12-inch boards you have to flip them.
5. Best For
While both the sliding and non-sliding miter saws will still be quite handy around the workshop for many woodworkers and DIYers, their obvious differences in design and performance mean that they will work best for different kinds of users.
Sliding Miter Saws
Given their more versatile design and ability to cut larger and wider workpieces, the sliding miter saws will be perfect for professional woodworkers as they will do much more with them in the workshop.
Also, these saws can work well for DIYers that tackle a wide variety of projects often also thanks to their more versatile design.
Non-Sliding Miter Saws
While the larger cutting capacity will also make the sliding saws great for contractors, most jobs that these professionals do will be in different worksites. Hence the portability of the non-sliding miter saws will be more useful to a contractor.
Non-sliding miter saws will also work great for hobbyists and other occasional users that make simple miter and angle cuts on smaller materials.
6. Size and Portability
These miter saws will also differ when it comes to their size and portability which are also important considerations for many users when shopping for power tools.
Sliding miter saws tend to be larger and bulkier which makes them hard to carry around and are hence best for use from one spot in the workshop or around the home. These saws can be a pain to move around, and if you plan to use them at different job sites, they can be quite inconvenient.
Non-sliding miter saws will give you an easier time when it comes to portability because when compared to the sliding types, they are smaller and more compact which makes them highly portable. Better yet, using one does not require a lot of space as no blade sliding required.
Price is one of the key determinants of what power tool you buy as you can only buy what you can afford. When picking between the sliding and non-sliding miter saws, it will also be a crucial element to take into account.
But, here the choice will be a more straightforward one given that these saws come at very different price ranges The larger, more versatile and feature-rich sliding miter saws tend to be more expensive than the non-sliding types.
You can get a basic non-sliding miter saw for as little as under $100 but for a sliding model, you will need to spend at least $200. Also, the sliding models with dual bevel capability will easily put you back more than $500 especially if you are buying one from leading brands like Bosch and Hitachi (but note that Hitachi Power Tools recently changed their name to Metabo HPT).
Miter saws are some of the most useful tools that you can have in the workshop, and this is more so if you make the compound, angle, miter, and crosscuts often as they do a better job for these cuts than most other saw types out there.
And when you need to choose between the two main types which are the sliding and non-sliding miter saws, you will only need to identify how you intend to use the saw and also consider their main differences like cutting capacity and size.
From their differences, the non-sliding miter saw will be perfect for regular DIYers and woodworkers that handle small pieces and are looking for a budget-friendly option. Sliding saws will, on the other hand, be perfect for professionals that deal with larger materials often.