Buying the right tool for the job will pay for itself and much more in the future as picking one without the feature you need will be more expensive in the long run. Also, be aware that quality always trumps the price and buying a cheap miter saw will not give a good long term value, possibly resulting in having to buy a nicer one.
As there are also a lot of miter saws in the market, you should also keep in mind that there are different types to suit your needs and goals. Carpentry and other relevant work are tasks that so often require specific results. Here are a couple of things that you should put on your checklist when in the market for a miter saw for both specific tasks and general longevity.
KNOW THE DIFFERENCES
First of all, you should know exactly what you will be using your miter saw for, and how you will be using it. The DIYer and the professional often require entirely different sets of tools, even if it seems like they have the same sort of results in mind.
The Standard Miter Saw
Standard, sliding and compound miter saws are three completely different tools, even if they look like they work the same to the uninitiated. A standard miter saw is certainly the least expensive option with bare-bones features, though it works quite well for casual work. The power is just enough for those who just want to do personal projects.
The Sliding Miter Saw
A sliding miter saw, on the other hand, has the ability to cut dadoes and have extension rods that allow a forward and backward motion of the blade and motor, giving you a much longer cut. They also generally can do bevel cuts, some going in either direction, also allowing the user to both bevel and cut at the same time.
The Compound Miter Saw
Finally, a compound miter saw is just at the sweet spot in the middle of the standard and sliding miter saw. It is slightly more expensive than a standard saw, packs a stronger punch, as well as giving you the bevel and blade movement features. It does not, however, have the more advanced features of a sliding miter, such as extending the cutting reach. As such, it is cheaper than a sliding miter saw.
Those who are doing carpentry for a living or at least do work on the side on a professional level should really invest in either a compound or sliding miter saw because a standard one will just not be able to replicate the results.
KNOW THE SIZES
Secondly, know what blade size you will be needing for the majority of your projects. It will range from eight, ten and to twelve inches, with the latter two as the most popular. Obviously, the bigger you go, the more you will pay, seeing as you will be covering more ground per cut. This is another reasonable investment, especially if you will be using it often. This is often the easiest to determine, though a lot of people underestimate the size they need, or might get intimidated by the bigger blades- this is a big mistake, and may end up with you regretting your purchase.
KNOW YOUR BRAND
Thirdly, another fairly obvious yet important step is looking up brand choices. A lot of users already know which brand they like and are apt to stick with it no matter what. However, for both the practiced craftsman and the uninitiated, looking at different choices will help you step up your game. Different manufacturers create different tools, and so some brands might be better suited to specific projects. You have Dewalt, Makita, Festool, Bosch and so many other brands to look at. Don’t force yourself to stay in a small box. Also, keep in mind that most brands have their specialty product, so you might want to look at that as well.
KNOW YOUR BUDGET
Finally, decide on your budget. On one hand, you should not overspend on an excessively advanced tool that will prove to be overkill for the type of project you will be doing. On the other hand, if you refuse to make a necessary investment and end up with an underwhelming choice, it will cost you both time and money.
KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING
The key, aside from knowing the things mentioned above, is know what type of work you will be doing. Again, if you will simply be working on smaller projects casually at home, then you will not be looking at a thousand dollar machine. However, if you will be working professionally and on large scale projects, then make the investment, as the money you will make will easily offset the money you paid for the miter saw. Remember that you will always get what you paid for, especially when it comes to power tools.
On a final note
Make sure that you pick a product that has a good warranty on it. This means that you will not have any trouble if things go wrong, and at the same time, the company that made the tool has the utmost confidence that it will bring you satisfaction. For someone who uses miter saws for a living, this is very crucial, as having your tool break down on you without immediate replacement means that you will have no source of income.
At the end of the day, a power tool is only meant to compliment a human user. It will only be as good as your skills, which will only improve with both time and practice. Once you decide on your miter saw, familiarize yourself with it and test it out before doing your first project. Familiarize yourself with the weight shift with different ranges of motions, know where all the controls are and, most importantly, know your limits. Working while tired dramatically increases the chances of an accident.
Make sure you are wearing protective gear and you are in a safe place for working. Take the time before making your purchase, and rest assured that you will be spending long and happy years with your brand new miter saw.