All the miters saws I reviewed for this site are power miter saws. Simply stated, this means they are powered by electricity. There are some miter saws that are actually manually operated, but the powered ones are much easier to use and get the job done faster. They can be used to make very accurate cuts and will mostly likely give your cuts a smoother edge. If you do regular woodworking or have a heavy workload, a power driven miter saw is definitely the way to go.
The electric motor on a power driven miter saw is responsible for rotating the blade which cuts through your work piece. The most common size motors are 15-amp and 10-amp, but there also some with 12-amp motors. The amount of power the motor produces is measured in amps, and more amps equals more cutting power. When deciding which power option you need for a miter saw, I recommend that you consider where you will be working, the types of materials you will be cutting, how much you will be cutting, and the types of cuts you want to make. Generally speaking, if you are going to be working with thick materials or making a lot of cuts, you will probably want to go with a 15-amp motor.
Formidable 15 Amp Motors
Even though a 15-amp motor produces much more power than the average woodworker really needs, it is by far the most popular size motor for miter saws. You will find this size of motor most often on miter saws that use 10 or 12 inch blades, as these larger blades require more power than smaller ones do. Amps also provide an indication of a motor’s ability to cool itself. So in addition to providing more power, more amps also mean a motor will not heat up as fast, so the motor will be able to run for longer periods without overheating.
Terrific 10 Amp Motors
Miter saws which use smaller blades, such as those that are 7.5 inches in diameter, typically have a 10 or 12-amp motor. There are some saws that use 10 inch blades with these smaller motors as well. A miter saw with a 10-amp motor is fully capable of performing the majority of woodworking tasks. Don’t get fooled into thinking you need to get a 15-amp miter saw because a 10-amp motor won’t have enough power. Some 10-amp motors run at the same rate of rpm as a 15-amp motor, and some are even faster than their 15-amp counterparts. For example, it is possible for a 10-amp motor to spin the blade at 4000 rpm and it is also possible for a 15-amp motor to spin the blade at only 3500 rpm. The lesson here? All amps are not created equal. If power is what you are after, check the rpm as well as the amps produced by the motor.
Soft Start Motor
Since we are talking about motors, I just wanted to look briefly at soft start motors. Some miter saws have a soft start motor as an additional feature. Soft start technology allows a motor to maintain a constant speed under load and it also reduces the noise produced by the saw. If you are interested in a miter saw with soft start technology, you can check out my review of the Hitachi C10FSH. It uses a Poly-V-Belt transmission instead of the traditional gears, which results in softer starts where the saw is able to operate quietly and with less recoil when it is starting up.
Get Productive Power With Ample Amps
Since some of my projects are rather large and require a lot of power, I personally prefer a miter saw with a 15-amp motor. For most people, though, 10-amps will provide plenty of power for most small and moderate sized woodworking projects and tasks around the home. Besides, most power tools are designed to be efficient by default. I understand that professional woodworkers and carpenters, as well as serious DIY-ers like myself, will want to go with a 15-amp option so we will be prepared for the occasional jobs that require more power, but if you don’t need that extra power, save a few bucks and get what you actually need. Bigger isn’t always better, sometimes it’s just a bigger hole in your wallet.