Miter and table saws come in several versions. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, so you'll need to pick the right one for the jobs you plan to do. Here are the types to consider.
Portable table saws
These small table saws, like the larger versions, have a blade that protrudes up through the cutting table. Most portables come with a folding stand or wheels.
They're best for long rip cuts in planks and plywood used, for example, to make shelving or trim doors. The latest are easier to adjust and use. And unlike full-sized table saws, they're easy to move where you need them.
Although portable table saws can make miter and bevel cuts, they generally don't cut as precisely as miter saws.
Compound miter saws
These have their motor and blade mounted on an arm that swings straight down for a straight cut or pivots left or right for an angled cut. We tested compound-miter models, which can tilt the blade for beveled cuts and even pivot it for angle. That's especially useful when you miter crown molding.
They cut more precisely than table saws.
They can't handle dimensional lumber larger than 2x6 inches.
Sliding compound miter saws
These let you slide the blade forward, as with a radial arm saw, for a longer cut.
They can cut lumber up to twice as wide as non-sliding compound miter saws.
Having to push the blade forward as well as lower it makes accurate cuts more difficult. Sliding models are relatively expensive; for the same money, you could buy both a non-sliding miter saw and a portable table saw instead.
Cordless compound miter saws
These obviously free you from the hassle of a cord and can go far from an outlet. But there's a reason why you aren't likely to see professional carpenters using them.
Cordless operation provides go-anywhere convenience.
Models with cords have up to seven times the speed and power of cordless saws. Even the priciest couldn't match corded models we tested. And their batteries limit your work time.