Sliding Vs. Non-sliding Miter Saw

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  March 18, 2022
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If you are in the market for a miter saw, you will face a few tough questions. Because of the many varieties of this tool available, you need to know about each of them before you can make a solid choice. One of the more difficult choices you will have to make is choosing between a sliding and a non-sliding miter saw.

Although both of these types are useful in particular situations, there are significant performance and design differences between them. Without understanding the basic functions and uses of the two variants, you risk investing in a device that offers no real use to you.

In this article, we will give you a quick rundown of a sliding and a non-sliding miter saw and where you want to use each of them.


Sliding Miter Saw

A sliding miter saw as the name implies, comes with a blade that you can slide forward or backward on the rail. A miter saw can cut through thick wooden boards of up to 16 inches.

The best thing about this type of miter saw is its unparalleled versatility. Because of its massive cutting prowess, you can work with thicker materials and take on heavy-duty projects that a non-sliding miter saw cannot handle.

Because of the larger capacity of the unit, you also do not need to adjust the material that you are constantly cutting. Any seasoned woodworker knows how tiny measurements can add up in any carpentry project. Since you do not need to worry about reseating the board every few passes, this is a massive advantage for a sliding miter saw.

However, when it comes to cutting angles, a sliding miter saw might not be the best option. Since it comes with rails, your cutting angle is somewhat limited.

It also requires a bit more experience and skill to use to its fullest potential. The extra weight of the sliding miter saw also does not make things easier for a beginning woodworker.


Where do I Use a Sliding Miter Saw?

Here are some of the common projects you would do with a sliding miter saw:

  • For tasks that require you to work with longer wooden pieces. Because of the sliding motion of the blade, it has a better cutting length.
  • You can also get a better experience with this tool when you are working with thicker lumber. Its cutting power is not one that you can underestimate.
  • If you are looking for a stationary miter saw for your workshop, a sliding miter saw is the one you want. It is significantly heavy compared to a non-sliding unit and is not a practical choice if you are planning to move around with it.
  • One of the best uses of a sliding miter saw is making crown moldings when you are renovating your home or working on a similar project. Crown moldings are complicated tasks that require a lot of experience and efficient cutting. A sliding miter saw is more than capable of handling this type of work.

Non-sliding Miter Saw

The major difference between a sliding and a non-sliding miter saw is the rail section. A sliding miter saw, as we already said, comes with a rail where you can slide the blade forward or backward. However, with a non-sliding miter saw, you have no rail; because of this, you cannot move the blade front and back.

However, due to this design, a non-sliding miter saw is capable of making a lot of different angled cuts. Since you do not need to worry about the rail getting in your way, you can get a wider range of motion with the blade. With a sliding miter saw, getting extreme angles is quite impossible because of the rail restrictions.

The major drawback of this tool, however, is the cutting density. It is usually restricted to cutting wood with a maximum width of around 6 inches. But if you consider the many different cutting designs you can get with it, this unit is not something that you want to overlook.

To further enhance your cutting experience, a non-sliding miter saw also comes with pivoting arms that you can move at different angles. However, not all units come with these features, but the models do allow you to get a much larger cutting arc than traditional miter saws.

Lastly, a non-sliding miter saw is also quite lightweight, making it the most portable choice out of the two variants. For a contractor who takes on a lot of remote projects, this is an excellent choice.


Where do I use a Non-sliding Miter Saw?

Here are a couple of reasons why you would want to go with a non-sliding miter saw.

  • Since a non-sliding miter saw does not have any rails, you can make extreme miter cuts with it. You can also make bevel cuts easily thanks to the pivoting arm.
  • A non-sliding miter saw excels at cutting angled moldings. Although it is not adept at making crown moldings, any home renovation projects that require angled design would benefit from a non-sliding miter saw.
  • It is the cheaper option between the two variants. So if you have a minimal budget, you might get better value out of a non-sliding miter saw.
  • Portability is another prime advantage of this unit. If you take woodworking professionally, you might get more usage out of this tool because of its lightweight nature. With this tool, you can take on projects at different locations without worrying about transporting your equipment.

Final Thoughts

To be fair, both a sliding and a non-sliding miter saw have their fair share of advantages and problems, and we cannot rightfully say that one is better than the other. The truth is, if you do a lot of woodworking, both units will give you a lot of value and options to experiment with.

We hope our article on sliding vs. non-siding miter saw could help you understand the basic differences between the two machines.

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.