Welcome to our buying guide to help you choose the Best 12″ Sliding Compound Miter Saw.
I recently started out on a search for the best 12” sliding compound miter saw. The web is full of reviews with a massive selection of products. My first thought was how can they all be the best? There are so many and a list of the 10 best sliding miter saws, left me even more confused than when I started. So, I decided to do my own research.
First, I narrowed things down by focusing my attention purely on 12” sliding compound miter saws. The large blade size, combined with a sliding action and the ability to bevel, means that there are virtually no limits to what you can achieve with a saw of this caliber.
I wanted to create a shortlist, not an endless review of too many products. After much deliberation, I managed to come up with a selection of the top three 12” sliding compound miter saws. Here are my initial impressions of the saws I’ll be reviewing:
- Makita LS1216LX4 – my personal first choice
- Delta 26-2250 – A close second place contender
- Milwaukee 6955-20 – The cheapest of the three and incredible value for money.
Best 12″ Sliding Compound Miter Saws
I was truly blown away by these three magnificent machines and am going to share my findings with you. If you’re on a mission to find the very best 12” sliding compound miter saw, save yourself the time and hassle by reading this review. All the work has been done for you. This means you don’t have to spend hours going over specs, comparing figures and read countless (often meaningless) customer reviews. Sit back and enjoy reading this review. I’m sure you’ll find that one of these three saws will be the perfect fit for you.
I’m sure a lot of people may be asking why there isn’t a DeWalt or Festool machine listed here. Admittedly, Festool make the best saws. I’m sure anyone who has used one will agree with this. Though, when one looks at the price difference between the Makita LS1216LX4 and the Festool 561287, the Makita costs about half. So yes, the Festool is great. But in terms of value for money, I’d say that you’re not compromising all that much by choosing the Makita.
As for DeWalt, I’m a huge fan of the brand and maybe we should have included one. But as much as I’ll be the first to say that DeWalt saws are among the best, there have been some minor issues with accuracy in their range of compound miter saws. They’re still great machines, and worth looking at. But if we were to objectively list the top three compound miter saws, I think the three chosen for this review offer you the best machines in their respective price categories.
Reviews | 3 of the Best 12” Sliding Compound Miter Saws
Of all the woodworking tools, a sliding compound miter saw is probably the most sophisticated. There are a lot of moving parts. For miter cuts, the saw needs to have a good table that can be accurately adjusted. Though this is the simple bit. Tilting the blade for making simultaneous bevel cuts, requires some more precision engineering. Then there’s the sliding action of the blade which increases your cross cutting abilities. Here, quality components and engineering excellence becomes vital.
A sliding miter saw has to remain accurate, even the slightest movement of the sliding arm rails will have an adverse effect on your final product. The blade needs to move smoothly and remain 100% accurate. When you throw a huge 12” blade into the mix, all these factors have to be stepped up a notch. The saw will need a powerful motor to cope with the thick material that a 12” blade can cut through. With this, comes an increase in torque, placing excessive strain on all the components.
So if we’re going to be looking at the best 12” sliding compound miter saws, we need to take a serious approach to analyzing every aspect of the machine. There’s no middle ground. Every component has to be well designed and built to remain accurate and reliable for the lifetime of the saw. So we’re talking about cutting edge technology here. What an appropriate pun!
Best 12″ Sliding Compound Miter Saw.
- Compact design with a patented 4-Steel Rail Sliding System further increases rigidity to produce superior cuts
- Exclusive 6 linear ball bearings engineered to deliver smooth, solid, and adjustment-free “dead-on” accurate cuts
- Exclusive 5-1/2″ tall dual sliding fence system features versatile upper and lower fence adjustments for more precise miter and bevel cuts
- Independent laser indicates line-of-cut whether blade is turning or not, with on/off switch and micro-adjustments for precise “left-of-blade” or “right-of-blade” cutting
- Includes a durable stand for easier job-site portability that features up to 9′ material support extensions and adjustable leg supports
- Powerful 15.0 AMP direct drive motor requires less maintenance and delivers 3,200 RPM
- Large cutting capacity for up to 8″ crown molding (nested), 6-1/2″ baseboard (vertical), and 15″ crosscut at 90°
- Patented retractable rear guard and triple gear system for increased vertical cutting capacity
- Miters 0°-52° left and 0°-60° right, with positive stops at 0°, 15°, 22.5°, 31.6° and 45° (left and right)
- Bevels 0°-45° (left and right) with positive stops at 0°, 22.5°, 33.9° and 45° (left and right)
- Dual rear-handle bevel lock is easily accessible, with front and top facing scales for more precise bevel adjustments
- Electronic speed control maintains constant speed under load for smoother, higher quality cutting
- Soft start feature for smooth start-ups
- Easy one-touch miter lock for accurate adjustments and increased efficiency
- Replaceable stainless steel miter scale features easy-to-read markings
- Ergonomic rubberized horizontal D-handle design with oversized trigger switch for better fit and added comfort
- Large precision machined aluminum base supports material for more efficient cutting
- Double-jointed vertical vise can be installed on either the left or right side of the base for more versatile positioning
- See-through blade guard system for greater visibility of the line of cut
- Rubberized feet help tool remain stationary
- Large adjustable levers for fast and easy fence adjustments
- Fully enclosed bottom throat plate for a cleaner work surface
Few power tool brands generate the kind of excitement in me that Makita does. It’s not just the highly sophisticated technology that goes into these machines that floats my boat. Over the years, I’ve been most impressed by the rugged durability that Makita products offer. They start out as being among the best, very accurate tools. After many years of hard work, even some treacherous abuse, my Makita tools have remained in top form. As accurate and reliable as the day I bought them. I know that there are more prestigious brands that often cost more, Festool would certainly be a good example. Even though Makita tools aren’t cheap, they don’t cost as much as many high-end products and this makes them a worthwhile investment.
So it’s almost inevitable that I’m going to lean toward the Makita LS1216LX4 as the ultimate 12” sliding compound miter saw. The first question many will be asking with regard to any 12” miter saw is if it has the power to contend with thick, hard wood? To achieve this, you need a competent electrical motor, preferably a 15A motor that uses a 120V socket for jobsite convenience. Well, that’s exactly what you’ll find on the Makita LS12116LX4. They’ve squeezed every bit of power that one could expect from a motor of this size and it eases through the hardest wood with a no load speed of 3200 RPM. As one would expect from the best power tools, it has soft start and clever electronics to maintain a constant speed under load.
Where Makita engineering really counts is in the way they go the extra mile to combine durability with accuracy and ease of use. All of these important features are clearly apparent in every component of this saw. Six linear bearings give the Makita an absolutely smooth operation. The result is perfect accuracy without any need for adjustments.
Most manufacturers would consider a dual rail system to be adequate for a sliding miter saw. Not Makita, the LS1216LX4 has a four rail system. By using four steel rails, they have made this saw as rigid as can be. This means absolutely no lateral movement as you slide the blade, something that plagues so many sliding saws. Some may view all of this as over-engineering. To my mind, there can be no such thing. It’s this very approach that makes Makita tools so exceptional, providing superior performance and durability.
Using the Makita compound sliding miter saw is an absolute pleasure. The large aluminum table is perfectly engineered and it has a removable workpiece clamp. The clamp doesn’t have a cam lock, so it’s the old-fashioned, time consuming, turning of a knob to tighten the clamp. The dual sliding fence system has a great height – 5½”. The fence has both upper and lower adjustments for the best accuracy. Helping your accuracy along even further, is the precise laser cut line indicator that has micro adjustments to both the left and right of the blade.
You can adjust the miter angle with a simple one-touch lock, you’re able to set your angle quickly and accurately. Large levers for the fence adjustments are also very convenient. To make bevel adjustments just as hassle-free, there’s a dual rear handle and the angle markings are placed at the top and front for added convenience. Setting common miter angles are taken care of with positive stops at 0°; 15°; 22.5°; 31.6° and 45° for miter cuts, 0°; 22.5°; 33.9° and 45° for bevel adjustments. The blade is capable of 0° – 45° bevel angles to the left and right. The table can be adjusted from 0° – 52° (left) and 0° – 60° (right) for miter cuts.
A 12” sliding saw already gives you a great advantage when it comes to depth of cut. But Makita have done some clever engineering to further maximize your cutting capacity. By using a retractable rear guard and a triple gear system, the Makita LS12116LX4 is able to exceed most others in terms of cutting capacity. You can cut up to 8” nested crown molding, 6½” vertical baseboard, and 8” crosscuts at 90°. Naturally, it has the regular stuff that’s pretty standard on all modern circular saws, like a transparent blade guard and a dust collection system. Though the dust bag is much smaller than I’d have liked and requires frequent emptying.
The Makita LS12116LX4 is the only saw in this review to include a portable stand. As the most expensive of the lot, including the stand does a little to add some value. Though I’m not too sure how much this stand is actually worth. It is, in true Makita fashion, a tough item and is quite heavy. The total weight of the saw and stand comes to 116 LBS. This hinders its portability somewhat, though it does have strong wheels that help a bit when moving the machine on an even surface. Now, a heavy stand kind of makes sense with a 12” saw. You’d want to be able to cut some heavy chunks of hardwood with a saw like this and having that extra weight below the machine should help with stability. But, unfortunately, the opposite is true.
The stand can extend to accommodate up 9’ of material. But if you’re going to be resting a huge slab of oak onto the extended stand, it’s likely to tip over. Not at all reassuring when using a powerful machine with a blade rotating at over 3000 RPM. If this were a cheap Mickey Mouse machine, I’d be willing to accept this kind of limitation. But it’s not. This is an expensive tool from one of the most renowned manufacturers in the world. So, at the risk of sounding like my 7th grade science teacher: I believe Makita could do better. Come on guys! You offer us one of the best compound sliding miter saws there is and then place it onto a second rate stand. A little disappointing, to say the least.
If it weren’t for the less than desirable stand, I’d have happily given the Makita LS12116LX4 an unreserved 5-star rating. Though because of this disappointment, which is based mostly on the fact that I wouldn’t have expected this from Makita, I have to give it only 4-stars. Since this is a review of the best 12” sliding compound miter saw, and not the best saw stand, I have to concede that the saw itself is fantastic. It’s certainly my favorite of the top three machines selected for this review.
Best 12″ Sliding Compound Miter Saw. Professional grade quality.
- 12 in. blade with versatile flip-down fence design for industry-best 18 in. crosscut capacity
- Adjustable crown fence lock increases stacked crown capacity at 45° to 7-1/2 inches
- Dual bevel 47° left/47° right with front bevel release and 7 positive stops at the most popular bevel angles and an easy to reach lever override to move between stops.
- 50° left miter/60° right miter capacity with 10 miter detents and positive stops
- One-hand front miter controls with push button miter detent override and front bevel release for quick movement
- Flip-down slide lock for super accurate plunge cuts of crown and other stacked trim pieces
- Easily adjustable sliding tension for personalizing slide action
- Molded handle and ergonomic trigger is comfortable for right or left handed users
- 15 amp motor for powerful cuts and blade brake for safety
- Adjustable cutting depth
- Load arm support bracket is military-grade aluminum
- Clear retractable blade guard for full view of cutting area during alignment and cutting
- 1.5 in dust port for vacuum connection and excellent dust collection
- 5 year Delta warranty
At face value, the Delta 26-2250, is an awesome machine with some fantastic and innovative engineering has gone into making this a real star amongst the best 12” saws chosen for this review. If it weren’t for my past experiences with Makita tools, which I believe to be the most durable, I could easily have rated this as the best of the three machines in this review. The Delta definitely seems to be an incredibly robust tool and they offer a great 5-year warranty, which shows a lot of confidence in their product. Their “robotic” arm system is quite a work of genius, but looks to contain some complicated moving parts.
While these components are precision engineered from quality aluminum, and the guys at Delta say that it’s built to remain accurate for a very long time, I’m not entirely convinced of this. I like this system and it certainly increases the cutting capacity way beyond that of any other sliding compound miter saw. Is it going to prove to be problematic in the years to come? That can only be proven over time. It looks like a well-engineered product, so my misgivings may simply be a matter of ignorance. A direct comparison between the Delta 26-2250 and the Makita LS12116LX4, could make the Delta a much more attractive deal.
The Delta is quite a bit cheaper and appears to be every bit as great from a user’s point of view. Okay, the Makita includes a stand, though I’ve made my views on this rather inadequate stand abundantly clear. That being said, the optional stand for the Delta doesn’t look any better.
As a powerful 12” sliding compound miter saw, the Delta 26-2250 definitely makes the grade. It too, uses a 15A 120V electric motor with heaps of power, rotating the blade at 4000 RPM (no load). Where the Delta shows its exception to the norm is in their patented load arm support bracket. Instead of conventional rails, this saw has a hinged arm that unfolds like those transformer toys in your kid’s toy box. Because this is a departure from the conventional way of doing things, I’m not sure if it is going to remain accurate with time.
Hinged joints usually sag with use. Though, since I’m not a mechanical engineer, I’ll put my trust in the qualified guys (and girls) at Delta. They say it’s made from military grade aluminum (whatever that is) and that it will remain perfectly accurate for a long time. It certainly is a clever idea and I’m sure they’ve done their homework. If it proves to be a reliable system, it will definitely be the best way extending the reach of the blade. I should point out that users have mentioned some play on the blade arm when fully extended. While this is not that uncommon with sliding miter saws, it may be an area of some concern. I have not noticed this issue with the 4-rail system implemented by Makita and certainly not with any Festool product. One big advantage of the robotic arm is that it requires no space behind the saw, unless you attach the dust bag. This is great for shops with limited space.
Where this new system really displays its superiority is in the material width that you can cut. They advertise an incredible maximum depth of 18” for a 90° cross cut for 4 X 14 lumber. Though in reality, you shouldn’t expect more than 12” for most cuts. This is still way above that of any other. At a 45° bevel (0° miter), you can cut up to 1.5” X 13.25” (2 X 14 lumber), with the miter set 45° and bevel at 0° you can achieve a cut of 3.5” X 9.25” (4 X 10 lumber). With bot the miter and bevel set to 45°, you’ll be able to cut 1.5” X 9.25” (2 X 10 lumber). For vertical baseboard, you cut a depth of 6.5” and 7.5” for nested crown moldings. These are all some pretty impressive figures.
Bevel adjustments are perfectly simple with a single touch knob, allowing for a bevel angle of 47° to both the left and right of the blade. It has 7 positive stops for the bevel angle which with an easy override function for setting your own angle. Miter settings are just as simple and versatile – 50° to the left and 60° to the right. It has 10 positive stops for miter settings with an easy override function. The dual fence system is equally amazing with an adjustable crown fence lock, enabling you stack crown moldings to 7½” at 45°.
Most of the user-friendly functions that you’d expect to find on a high-end sliding compound miter saw are present. You have perfect visibility through the blade guard, it has a workpiece clamp and a dust collection port with a reasonably sized dust bag. You can attach a vacuum to the 1.5” port. The only thing missing is a laser guidance system for the cut line. One thing that I don’t really like is the extensive use of plastic for the adjustment knobs and levers, they don’t look too strong and may need replacing over time. Contractors, looking for a portable jobsite sliding compound miter saw will appreciate the modest weight of 57 LBS.
For innovative engineering, kudos go to Delta for their robotic arm. It does appear to be quite a marvelous invention. Though its reliability is yet to be tested. That’s always the thing with new technology. There doesn’t seem to be any indication that this shouldn’t work well for years, though I have a slight concern with the movement when the arm is extended to its maximum. When all is said and done, this a marvel of modern engineering and I lift my hat to the engineers at Delta.
Cutting Capacities (Delta 26-2250):
- Maximum: 1.5 in. X 17.25 in. (2 X 18 lumber)
- Miter 0° / Bevel 0°: 3.5 in. X 13.25 in. (4 X 14 lumber)
- Miter 0° / Bevel 45°: 1.5 in. X 13.25 in. (2 X 14 lumber)
- Miter 45° / Bevel 0°: 3.5 in. X 9.25 in. (4 X 10 lumber)
- Miter 45° / Bevel 45°: 1.5 in. X 9.25 in. (2 X 10 lumber)
- Baseboard (Vertical): 6.5 in. (maximum cutting depth)
- Crown (Nested): 7.5 in.
The Delta 26-2250 is an exceptional 12″ Dual Bevel Sliding Miter Saw and deserves your serious consideration.
Best 12″ Sliding Compound Miter Saw.
- Miter Angle Digital Readout- provides repeatable accuracy to 0.1°Miter Angle Fine Adjust with Detent Override- makes it simple to dial-in precise miter angles
- Dual Integral Jobsite Lights- fully illuminate the work piece and cut line from either side of the blade
- Powerful 15.0 Amp, 3.3 Max HP Direct Drive Motor- provides increased power for high performance cutting in hard lumber
- Constant Power Technology with Soft Start -maintains constant cutting speed under load and decreases start up head movement
- Integral Dust Channel- captures up to 75% of the dust and debris cut
- Dual Horizontal Steel Rails with Three Large Linear Bearings-deliver smooth sliding action
- Oversized Single Lever Bevel Adjustment with (9) Positive Bevel Stops allows the saw to easily bevel left and right 0°- 48°and provides fast and accurate adjustments
As the cheapest of three saws we’re reviewing here, I have to commend the Milwaukee 6955-20 as being excellent value for money. Though I prefer the other two. Despite this opinion, there’s no denying that is a very competent saw and worth every penny. There are some features that I really love about this saw and some that are not so great. Though most users don’t seem to have any complaints and rate this as one of the best sliding compound miter saws ever.
One most levels the Milwaukee 6995-20 compares well to the other two we’ve looked at. This too, is a 15A 120V machine with dual bevel and miter adjustments. It’s a smooth machine with soft start and load monitoring electronics to maintain a constant speed under load. The no load blade speed is 3200 RPM. The triple rail system with linear bearings provide an excellent sliding motion. Though, like so many, this saw is not always perfectly accurate. In this regard, the blade movement is similar to that of the Delta and DeWalt sliding miter saws. Many won’t notice it, but you won’t always get 100% precise cuts.
Adjusting the bevel and miter angles are as easy as any of the others, with one touch controls. Though I’m not too fond of the large lever at the back of the blade for adjusting the bevel angle. It’s easy to use, but looks like it might not stand the test of time. Like many of the users, I really like the digital miter angle readout which is accurate to within 0.1°. It makes setting precise angles really simple. I also like the dual LED work lights. They are an invaluable help in dark working conditions.
It has a 48° bevel capacity to the left and right. I’m not too sure of the miter angle adjustments, but they look to be about the same as the bevel angle. It has all the regular positive stops with an easy override function. Dust collection is great and it has a reasonably sized dust collection bag. With the additional purchase of an adapter, you can use a vacuum dust collection system with the saw. This is not the lightest of machines, so portability is not its strong point. Though the fact that the Milwaukee folds up into an easy to carry format does make it reasonably comfortable to lug this 65-pound beast around.
While some users who require fine detail, have said that accuracy is a bit lacking, most have commented on the good quality and accurate cut. There are those who feel that this saw’s accuracy beats the DeWalt 12” sliding compound miter saw which costs more. The digital miter angle display is a plus, though not everyone will need this. The Milwaukee is as easy to use as any of the best 12” sliding compound miter saws and the work lights are a nice addition. Though it doesn’t have the added bonus of cut-line laser guide. As quality and workmanship goes, this is a very well-made machine and comes with a 5-year warranty.
Tech Specs (Milwaukee 6955-20):
- Voltage : 120V AC
- Arbor Size : 5/8″ or 1″
- No Load Speed : 3,200 RPM
- Blade : 12″
- Maximum Bevel Capacity : 48 degrees
- Tool Warranty : 5 Years
- Amps : 15
- Weight : 65 lbs
- Power Source : Corded
What is A Sliding Compound Miter Saw?
Whilst researching the products, I noticed that most commonly asked question on Google, with regard to 12” sliding compound miter saws, is that of people wanting to know what they are and how they work. So I thought I’d help those asking this question.
As the long-winded name suggests, a sliding compound miter saw is a complicated machine. Circular saws are the about the most commonly used woodworking tools and most carpenters will own several types and often different sizes. A regular hand-held circular saw is lightweight and inexpensive, but they offer the user very little in terms aids for accurate cuts. The next step up for more precise cross cuts would be a plunge saw. These saws are attached to a table and a hinged arm connects the saw to the table. So you can press down on the saw and the blade will always be perpendicular to piece that you’re cutting. This means perfect 90° cuts with no effort or much skill being required.
A standard plunge saw limits the width of the cut to the blade size and is usually only suitable sawing through for narrow base boards or moldings. Most plunge saws have a table that can be rotated with a fence to hold the workpiece in position. By adjusting the angle of the fence in relation to the blade, one is able to make miter cuts. This is known as a miter saw. Some tables only allow one to adjust the miter angle to one side of the blade. For faster cuts at any angle, more advanced miter saws can be adjusted to either side of the blade.
There are miter saws that have a tilting blade head. This allows one to angle the blade to make bevel cuts, whilst doing either straight cross cuts, or at any miter angle. Like miter adjustments, some saws can only adjust the blade angle to one side and others to both sides. A saw that can cut bevel and miter angles simultaneously is known as compound miter saw.
Finally, we move on to the sliding part of the name. To extend the cutting capacity beyond the blade size. The saw head can be mounted onto rails that allow you to slide the saw backward and forward along the table. This means that you cut through wider pieces.
So a sliding compound miter saw can be adjusted to cut miter and bevel angles at the same time and slide to cut through a greater width.