10″ vs 12″ Miter Saw: Which is Best and When to Use Each

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A miter saw, sometimes ​misspelled as a mitre saw, is a type of saw especially designed to make precise crosscuts and miters at different angles. If you’re planning to buy a miter saw, differentiating between a 10″ and a 12″ miter saw is important. You then end up with a specific saw that meets your needs.  

the difference between 10 vs 12 miter saw

What is a 10″ Miter Saw?

A 10″ miter saw is named after the size of its blade at 10 inches. You will find that many 10-inchers spin at a speed of 5000 rpm, or revolutions per minute. They work with an amperage capacity of between 12 – 15 amps.

Several reasons make the 10″ miter saw a good purchase. It is widely available in many hardware stores. Buying one or replacing a worn-out blade should be easy and convenient. The perfect beginner miter saw, a 10″ miter saw should be a suitable purchase, given its accessibility.

The easy availability of the 10″ miter saw also means it is more affordable compared to the 12″ miter saw. This affordability also translates to less expensive blade replacements, if and when your blade should wear out.

When Should You Use a 10 Inch Miter Saw?

If you are looking for a miter saw that can achieve accurate and efficient cuts, a 10″ miter saw with a good rpm capacity will work for you. With as high as 5000 rpm speeds, this kind of saw works great for small woodcutting projects. These might include things such as decorative panels, art frames, serving trays, soft fiberboards, and others. Check this Makita LS1040 Single Bevel Compound.

Makita LS1040 10" Compound Miter Saw
  • Powerful 15 AMP direct drive motor for improved performance; 4,600 RPM
  • Dual post compound pivoting arm
  • Miter cuts 0°-45° left and 0°-52° right
  • Positive miter stops at 9 settings: 15°, 22.5°, 30°, 45°, right or left and 0° (90° cuts)

Since the 10″ miter saw usually cannot penetrate to a depth of more than 4 1/2 inches, it is a good enough choice if you’re not used to working on thick, hard materials.

The 12″ miter saw is better if you’re looking to cut to as deep as 12 inches. In terms of cutting styles, the 10 incher can work just as flexibly as that of a 12″ miter saw.

You can see our selections for the top 10 inch miter saws available.

What is a 12 Miter Saw and Why Should You Buy it?

The 12″ miter saw comes with a bigger blade size of 12 inches. This often translates to a higher amperage capacity of 15 amps.  This higher amperage allows the 12 incher to produce longer and deeper cuts, an ability not typically achieved by the 10″ miter saw.

One thing you will admire about the 12″ miter saw is its versatility. It can produce both shallow and deep cuts, which is ideal if you’re used to working on materials with varying thickness. It means having a single tool that achieves a variety of cut styles and characteristics.

Compared to the 10″ miter saw, the 12″ miter is more expensive. Nonetheless, the versatility of a larger blade and greater amperage already compensates. This is a smart choice for your new miter saw.

benefits of each miter saw

When should you Use a 12″ Miter Saw?

If you’re working on thicker materials, such as logs or lumber, the power of the 12″ miter saw will achieve a more effective result. Since the bigger blade of the 12″ miter saw can cut through thicker materials, it is more flexible, whether for basic cuts or fine woodworking. It can achieve most kinds of cuts such as crosscuts and angle cuts, without the further need for a table ​sled or fence.

Additionally, the higher amperage of the 12 incher means the blade will exert less pressure. This preserves its operational efficiency for a longer time. If you don’t plan to change your saw blades frequently, you will benefit more from buying a 12″ miter saw. Check this Dewalt DW715 Single Bevel Compound .

DEWALT DW715 15-Amp 12-Inch Single-Bevel Compound...
  • 15 amp motor, 4,000 rpm delivers extended power and durability for the 12-inch miter saw blade
  • Adjustable stainless steel miter detent plate with 11 positive stops of the mitre saw improves...
  • Precise miter system and machined-base fence support optimize cutting accuracy for DEWALT miter saw
  • Tall sliding fence supports crown molding up to 5-1/4-inch nested and base molding up to 6-1/2-inch...

Similarities and Differences

Similarities

  • Both the 10″ miter and 12″ miter saws have the ability to achieve precise crosscuts and angle cuts for any woodworking project.
  • Both sizes will work well for cutting baseboard and other trim.
  • Both types may share the same features such as sliding fences, steel bevel stops, and miter handles.

Differences

  • The most striking difference of a 12 vs 10 miter saw is the blade size. This dissimilarity determines the spin speeds, and amperage of the miter saw. Many 10″ miter saws spin at 5000 rpm, compared to the 4000 rpm of most 12″ miter models.
  • The larger the radius of the blade, the slower its spinning power may be. However, the higher amperage of the 12″ miter saw at 15 amps will also result in finer cuts.
  • In terms of cut depth, a 10″ miter saw can manage up to 4 1/2 inches of depth only, whereas a 12″ miter saw can easily force through 5 1/2 inches of thick material.

Conclusion

Given the various blade sizes and corresponding features of the 10 vs 12 miter saw, the best option will ultimately boil down to your needs as a craftsman.  

The 10″ miter saw works well for most cutting purposes than the 12″ miter. If, however, you prefer the versatile cutting results of a 12 inch miter saw, this type is worthy of a space in your workshop.

An expert at home repair, remodel, and DIY projects for nearly 40 years. His first experience came in completely restoring an antique home. Completely redone from the inside out, and restored to its original form, the home is a featured design by renowned Southern California Architect Cliff May, considered to be the father of the California Ranch Home. Now Dennis spends his time on fine woodworking projects and tool comparisons.