April 23, 2021

Crosscut Sled vs Miter Saw – If You Had To Pick One What Which One Would It Be

If you are looking for a wood saw that delivers angular, straight, and crosscut cuts, you’ll land on the crosscut sled vs miter saw comparison. There was a time when I considered replacing the miter saw with the crosscut sled. I figured both saws have unique features that set them apart and make them special sawing tools. Through this experience, I could add a lot to the discussion. I strongly recommend that you compare speed, design, cost, weight and functionality and match them to your needs. That’s what this article is all about.

Overview of the Crosscut sled

You should see our post on how to build a crosscut sled. A Crosscut sled cuts across the grain of the wood. The cut is a more difficult one than a straight cut. The size of a Crosscut sled depends on the material you will be cutting. The length of the sled should be longer than the width of the wood piece. If your budget and working space allow, having two sleds is the best idea. You might need one for large workpieces and the other for smaller tasks. It does not tear out the piece. The sled is designed for safety. The standard sled is fixed at 90 degrees. 

That makes it ideal for picture frames. It is easy to accessorize with stops and clamps for a more versatile sled tool. Clamping a stop block to the fence allows you to make quick crosscuts on material of the same length. It comes with a fence system that is perpendicular to the blade. The fence system keeps the material sturdy on the table. The chances of experiencing kickbacks are slim due to the miter gauge. Numerous sled machines do not come with a blade guard, but you have a riving knife. Your fingers stay close to the blade due to the lack of a blade guard. 

Some of the models come with polycarbonate guards that are combined with the miter sled. Your hands stay away from the blade due to the transparent box covering the saw blade prone to exiting the fence at the back. The Crosscut led makes repetitive cuts easy and accurate. Repetitive cuts allow cutting multiple materials, such as drawer box parts and chair parts, to the same length. The Fulton DIY table saw crosscut sled is great for repetitive cuts. It keeps the material stable as you cut through the workpiece.

Pros

  • Improved safety
  • Accurate
  • Large base
  • Great for repetitive cuts
  • No kickbacks

Cons

  • Lack of blade guards
  • Friction

Key Features of the Crosscut sled

Miter gauge

The role of the miter gauge is to hold your workpiece when cutting. You push the wood piece through as the miter gauge keeps it sturdy and down against the table. That creates friction, and there are chances of the wood piece slipping out of alignment. That compromises accuracy when the wood piece is slippery, longer, wider, or heavier. Since the miter gauge is small, the crosscut sled has a large base supporting workpieces.

Large base

Since the miter gauge that comes with the sled machine is small, that is when the role of the large base comes into the picture. The base supports the material to avoid contacting the saw table. Getting rid of the friction and contact prevents the wood material from shifting out of place during the cutting process. 

Stops and clamps

The Crosscut sled is compatible with accessories such as stops and clamps. You need to set the angle stop at your desired position so that every cut you make has the same distance from the blade. That is an adjustable stop; if you do not have it, you use a scrap block to clamp it to the fence. 

Fence system

The material has to align with the fence. The fence keeps it sturdy and from sliding back. You rotate the fence system and slide the wood material through to avoid friction. It does not slide off the position due to the support it gives. That is the advantage of pivoting fences. I take them as the strong miter gauge. The Rockler table saw crosscut sled has an adjustable MDF fence and smooth-sliding features that maintain precise cuts. It is removable if you want to replace it. 

Overview of the Miter Saw

A miter saw is a tool that allows you to make cuts at various angles. It has a saw blade mounted on the arm that makes pivots from both the right and left sides for angled cuts. The tool cuts frames and window casings. The miter saw has three variations: the dual compound and the sliding compound. The compound miter saw that pivots tilt in a single direction for bevel cuts. They make compound cuts in one pass. Unlike the first miter saw that tilts one way, the Dual compound miter saws tilt from both the left and right. 

That allows it to make quicker bevels at multiple angles. The Sliding compound miter saws are versatile saws with a sliding feature. You move the blade forward and backwards. The sliding feature increases the length of the cut. If you are looking for a miter saw with more cutting power, you should consider higher Amps. Precise cuts produce flawless surfaces. There is a need for more positive stops to avoid time-consuming project set-up cuts. Saws with thumb-activated stops are ideal for quick adjustments. 

There are different models to consider when buying a miter saw. You have the smaller unit mounted on a workbench, and you can have a bigger one that does not require transportation to and from work. There are multiple sizes of blades that suit the needs of different applications. What is important is buying a saw blade compatible with your miter saw. You might blame your miter saw for a technical fault. The extension cord has to be the right one for the miter saw. 

Pros

  • Ideal for trimming and angular cuts
  • Ideal for cross-cuts and bevels
  • Moving blade
  • Precise
  • Safe

Cons

  • Fixed stock
  • Limited in variety

Key Features of the Miter saw

Blade size

The size is of greater importance when you are choosing a miter saw. The standard sizes are 8, 10, and 12inches. However, that should not stop you from looking for a blade with a larger diameter. A larger diameter gives you longer cuts. It is ideal for more extended materials such as door frames. The Dewalt DWS780 has a 12inch blade and a double-bevelling miter saw. The 15Amp motor rotates up to 3,800 rotations per minute. 

Blade guard

The blade guard protects you from the workpiece. It also keeps the material in place. You have visibility of the activity taking place at the moment. You have no obstructions to your task. You must keep your eye on the cutting lines to maintain precise cuts. Even if you raise the saw, the blade is there to cover the saw blade.

Electric brakes

The electric brakes are to stop the flow of electricity in an emergency. Stopping the machine means disengaging the blade from running. The motor stops operating the moment you release the pad. Electric brakes deactivate in two seconds. That is quick and necessary for a damage-free miter saw. 

Fence system

You have two options when making bevel cuts or supporting your material. You either flip or slide the stock. There is the sliding and flipping fence system that supports longer material for precise cuts. The Dewalt sliding miter saw has a back fence design that cuts to 90 degrees and 45 degrees. It has an efficient dust collection system.

Similarities

  • They both hold large materials.
  • They both make accurate cuts.
  • They are both versatile. 
  • They are both meant for crosscuts.

Differences

  • Miter saws are limited in cuts than crosscut sleds.
  • The miter saw is limited to the width of the wood, whereas the Crosscut sled is for wider pieces of wood. 
  • A Crosscut sled is more accurate and safe in cutting wood than a Miter saw.
  • Miter saws come with blade guards that are rare on sled machines.
  • It is easier to adapt to a crosscut sled than the miter saw. 

Cost 

Miter saws come from 200. The entry-level saws range starts from 100. The Crosscut sled starts from 200. That makes it more affordable.

Verdict on the crosscut sled vs miter saw

If you specialize in cross-cutting, the cross-cut sled is the perfect sawing machine to handle many sizes of wood. It is safe because it prevents the workpiece from slipping and sliding off the table. Thus, it ensures precise cuts. The miter saw is equipped with a blade guard that keeps your fingers away from the blade. The Crosscut sled is the perfect sawing tool if you are on a tight budget. I am sure you have your first choice between the two.

David D. Hughes

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