Mitre Saw vs. Compound Mitre Saw: What’s the Difference Between Them?

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Choosing between a miter saw and a compound miter saw had me scratching my head. They seem so alike, right? Well, you’re not alone in this miter saw vs. compound miter saw dilemma. But don’t fret, I’m here to clear things up and help you make the best choice.

Mitre Saw


Mitre saws are simple saws that make precise angled crosscuts at 90 or 45 degrees. They come in various sizes and power options but are generally used to make accurate cuts quickly.   


Mitre saws have different features, such as depth stops, sliding fences, electric brakes, spindle, laser guides, dust extractors, blade guards, and a motor.

Festool miter saw

Type of Cuts

Mitre saws perform crosscuts and miter cuts. Crosscuts are perfect 90-degree cuts produced when the saw cuts perpendicularly to the wood’s length. Mitre cuts are angled cuts along the width of a material, usually at 45 degrees.

Pros and Cons

What I Like

What I Don't Like

Compound Mitre Saw


Compound miter saws make angled, bevel, and angled bevel cuts. They are mounted on the bench or the table and can cut various materials like non-ferrous metals, plastics, and wood [1].


Compound miter saws have nearly identical features to their standard counterparts, but their unique attribute is the ability to perform compound cuts. 

These saws make compound cutting tasks simpler, safer, and more efficient, offering added versatility for various woodworking projects.

Milwaukee Sliding Compound Miter Saw

Type of Cuts

Compound miter saws make two types of cuts – angled and beveled cuts. According to our saw team, these cuts are dependent on the blade’s movement and mounting. Blades pivot in two directions to make angled cuts and tilt in a single way to make beveled cuts.

Pros and Cons

What I Like

What I Don't Like

Main Differences

The main difference between the miter saw and the compound miter saw is the type of cuts they perform. 

Mitre saws perform simple crosscuts, while compound miter saws produce bevel cuts, miter cuts, and compound cuts in addition to the basic crosscuts. Overall, they are more versatile.

cutting lumber with DEWALT DCS361B Cordless Compact Miter Saw

Other notable differences are portability and prices. Mitre saws are less expensive than their compound counterparts but less portable.   

Things to Consider When Choosing a Mitre Saw


Blades differ in length, diameter, and arbor and determine the depth of the cut. Mitre saws include 8-inch, 10-inch, or 12-inch blades that can cut different materials, such as wood and metal. 

Kerf and TPI are other factors to consider. Thinner kerfs and higher teeth per inch are great hardwoods and metals.

Variable Speed Dial

A variable speed dial allows you to set the motor speed to suit the material you want to cut. This feature is crucial if you want to cut different materials other than wood.

cutting lumber with a compound miter saw

Bevel Cuts

Some saw heads are single bevels. They tilt to one side, while others are double bevel (tilt left and right). With double bevel saws, you don’t need to turn the wood to perform more angled cuts.

Dust Extractor

Mitre saws generate a high amount of dust during cutting. Dust extractors are essential because they minimize sawdust and ensure you work in a safer environment. 

Additional Features

Other features to look out for are lights, laser lines, and clamps. Lights come in handy when cutting in a poorly lit environment, while laser lines expose the wood’s surface to be cut. Clamps provide support to keep your hands free. 

Blade guards are also crucial for safety purposes. Blade guards cover the blade and ensure you are protected when cutting. 

Difference between a Bevel Cut and Mitre Cut

A bevel cut is into two types – single bevel and double/dual bevel. It is a single bevel cut when a compound miter saw shifts to the left and makes an angled cut less than 90 degrees to the board’s width. 

Double bevel cuts are made when the saw makes an angled cut greater than 90 degrees.

compound miter saw

On the other hand, miter cuts are made when the blade is positioned at an angle greater than 90 degrees to the board’s left. They are usually made across the top of the board.  


Is a compound miter saw better?

Compound miter saws are slightly better because of their versatility. 

How do you cut thick wood with a miter saw?

You can set the miter gauge to an angle to cut thick wood with a miter saw.

Overall Winner: Compound Mitre Saw

Milwaukee Sliding Compound Miter Saw

After spending quality time with both saws, I’ve got to say the compound miter saw gets my vote. It’s just more versatile and can handle a bunch of different tasks. 

Hopefully, this simple side-by-side comparison of the compound miter saw and the regular miter saw has made things clearer for you and helps you choose what’s best for your needs. 

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You've probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.
Robert Johnson

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