The miter is perhaps the most common of woodworking joints. Simple miters can be cut by hand using a miter box. It’s a quick and easy way to make picture frames, for example. A powered miter saw is often the tool of choice for cutting posts and narrow boards. Adding a stand makes it a great choice for jobsite use.
However, a miter saw can’t compete with a table saw when it comes to cutting wide boards or sheet material. The only drawback is that a table saw’s blade can’t be rotated to cut angles. The solution is to use a miter gauge, which holds the workpiece at the required angle and guides it into the blade using a bar that connects to slots in the saw table.
These invaluable tools range from budget models for basic joinery to high-precision devices for fine-furniture making. This comprehensive guide can help woodworkers find the best miter gauge for their needs.
- BEST OVERALL: Kreg Precision Miter Gauge System
- RUNNER-UP: Incra V27 Miter Gauge
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Fulton Precision Miter Gauge With Fence and Flip Stop
- UPGRADE PICK: Incra 1000HD Miter Gauge
- BEST FOR BEGINNERS: Powertec Universal Table Saw Miter Gauge
- BEST FOR SAWSTOP: JessEm Mite-R-Excel II
- ALSO CONSIDER: Powertec Table Saw Crosscut Sled With Hardware Kit
How We Chose the Best Miter Gauge
As someone who owned a professional woodshop for 11 years, I have used miter gauges daily. I understand their construction and how they need to perform in a busy working environment.
To ensure we had up-to-date information, the Bob Vila team researched both the leading manufacturers and a variety of budget models from lesser-known makers. While price is always a factor, precision and build quality are the key issues. A miter gauge that doesn’t provide repeatable accuracy is not worth the money, however little it costs. Additionally, while ease of use has a bearing, feature-rich tools often take a little longer to set up. For this reason, we have included options for both beginners and more experienced woodworkers.
Our Top Picks
The following miter gauges were selected for their superb quality and effectiveness. Key shopping considerations were taken into account in compiling this list, including accuracy, capacity, and ease of use.
This model’s gauge head is computer numerical control (CNC) machined, rather than pressed, and then calibrated to within 0.003 inches. Positive stops at 0, 10, 22.5, 30, and 45 degrees to left and right allow for rapid setting of commonly used angles. Extra precision comes from a vernier scale that gives adjustment to 0.1 degrees and a micro adjuster capable of 0.01 degrees.
The table saw miter bar has five screw adjusters to ensure a snug fit in the table slots. The fence is 24 inches long—excellent for guiding long boards or large sheet material—and made of cast aluminum for rigidity. It has slots for mounting the Swing Stop workpiece positioning system, which also helps to improve the accuracy of miter cutting. With its combination of competitive price and high performance, this miter gauge from Kreg is an excellent choice.
- Material: Cast and machined aluminum
- Fence: 24 inches
- Quick stops: 9
- Cast aluminum is manufactured to a tolerance of 0.003 inch
- Micro adjuster allows precise setting of angles to 1/10 of a degree
- The Swing Stop attachment allows positive workpiece positioning for high repeatable accuracy
- This is a large miter gauge not suitable for portable or benchtop table saws
- Some initial assembly is required, and initial setting requires patience
Get the Kreg miter gauge at Amazon, The Home Depot,or Kreg.
Precision generally comes with a premium price tag, but this Incra model is not only affordable but also maximizes its value by being designed for use with a band saw, router, sanding table, and table saw. Where most miter heads have a handful of presets, the V27 takes its name from the 27 locking indents that make the setting of even unusual angles quick and easy.
The miter bar has an optional T-slot washer and adjustment for a fit that allows its use with many different woodworking machines. The only thing lacking is a fence. However, there are two slots machined into the head for attachment of shop-made alternatives. Construction is of highly durable chromed steel.
- Material: Steel
- Fence: Mounting bracket
- Quick stops: 27
- Provision of 27 indents means even unusual angles can be set quickly
- Designed for use with multiple types of saw and router tables
- Expanding washers ensure accurate tracking in nonstandard or worn table slots
- Some find the lack of fence frustrating, though accessories are available
- A few customers received gauges that were not square and could not be adjusted
Get the Incra V27 miter gauge at Amazon, Acme Tools, or The Woodsmith Store.
The Fulton miter gauge is a well-thought-out device, offering many of the features of much more expensive devices. The sturdy aluminum head has settings for angles of 22.5, 30, 45, 60, 67.5, and 90 degrees and is capable of both left and right angles. A spring-loaded pin allows for rapid positioning. The main gauge is marked in single-degree increments.
The miter bar is 18.9 inches long, designed to eliminate play on the saw table slot. It will fit most straight and T-slot tables (though not Craftsman or Sears brands). The extruded aluminum fence has ends precut at 45 degrees, which allows workpiece support closer to the saw blade. A flip stop makes it easy to produce repetitive cuts.
- Material: Steel and aluminum
- Fence: 18.9 inches
- Quick stops: 13
- Detachable guides allow use with both U-shape and T-shape table saw runners
- Spring-loaded pin provides fast and positive location for commonly used angles
- 45-degree fence ends can support the workpiece right up to the cut line
- Does not offer the precise adjustment available from high-end tools
- May not fit nonstandard saw table slots found on some Sears and Craftsman models
Get the Fulton miter gauge at Amazon.
This Incra miter gauge has been designed to satisfy the most demanding woodworker, offering both fine detail and great flexibility. The heavy-duty aluminum steel head of the 1000HD is laser cut and machined for high accuracy. It has fast, positive locking increments at every single degree and further fine adjustment to 0.1 degrees. The patented miter bar allows an almost perfect fit in saw table slots. There’s also a removable T-slot adapter.
The aluminum fence extends from 18 to 31 inches, offering excellent workpiece support while being compact enough for smaller saws. The accompanying adjustable flip stop provides accurate control over cut length. The Incra 1000HD miter gauge is a considerable investment, but for those who need a high level of accuracy time after time, it may be worth the expense. Those looking for this level of precision and great productivity might want to consider the Incra miter sled.
- Material: Steel and aluminum
- Fence: 18 to 31 inches
- Quick stops: 180
- Has precisely machined and laser-cut components that provide precision and durability
- The angle lock indexing system provides fast setting in single-degree steps
- The telescopic fence provides excellent workpiece support on both small and large saws
- A miter gauge of this standard comes with a premium price tag
- Due to its complexity, this is not a tool we would recommend for beginners
Get the Incra 1000HD miter gauge at Amazon or Acme Tools.
Many woodworkers never need to saw material to 0.1 of a degree. For in-home shops making garden furniture or high-productivity environments, a robust, low-cost gauge like this one from Powertec can be more useful than something with extreme precision. That doesn’t mean it’s short on features.
The head is thick laser-cut aluminum, offering the necessary accuracy and durability. There are 27 indents around the edge, with a pivoting locating mechanism that’s fast and easy to use. The miter bar has an adjustment, so it fits tightly in saw tables and can also be used with other machinery. While a miter gauge fence isn’t provided, there are fixing slots available for aftermarket or homemade additions. It is a basic miter gauge, which some might consider an ideal solution.
- Material: Laser-cut aluminum
- Fence: Basic slotted
- Quick stops: 27
- This Powertec combines a proven design with a very competitive price
- A removable plate allows use with slotted and no-slotted tables
- Although no fence is included, the guide plate accepts a variety of aftermarket accessories
- There are concerns the aluminum locating stops will wear over time, reducing accuracy
- While aftermarket fence is available, it will increase overall cost
Get the Powertec universal miter gauge at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Powertec.
SawStop’s high-quality table saws have a unique safety mechanism that can detect flesh and instantly drop the blade out of the way to avoid accidents. Its range is extensive—from compact table saws to industrial cabinet saws—and aimed at enthusiastic amateurs and professionals.
The JessEm Mite-R-Excel II is the ideal partner. It has the precision necessary for fine woodworking combined with fast setting angles at 0, 10, 22.5, 30, and 45 degrees. At its shortest, the telescopic fence is suitable for small table saws, band saws, and router tables, yet it will extend out to 36 inches providing excellent workpiece support on large saws. It also has flip and end stops for improved productivity when sawing high volumes.
In normal use, this JessEm miter gauge will not interfere with the SawStop safety mechanism, but accidental contact with a moving blade will cause it to activate.
- Material: Stainless steel and aluminum
- Fence: 20 to 36 inches
- Quick stops: 9
- Built to meet the needs of demanding woodworkers with precision components throughout
- The telescoping fence provides good workpiece support on all table saw sizes
- There is a movable flip stop and an end stop for rapid, repeatable accuracy
- Miter gauges with adjustable fences tend to be expensive, and this is no exception
- The JessEm requires assembly before use, which some buyers found frustrating
Get the JessEm miter gauge at Amazon.
Crosscut sleds are popular because they provide a more positive hold for the workpiece than a fence alone. This typically increases accuracy and productivity. In most cases, they also improve safety by keeping the hands further from the blade.
Standard versions only cut at 90 degrees. However, Powertec’s table saw miter sled takes this basic concept and adds a pivot point for the fence so that angles can be cut. A zero stop ensures fast setting for normal crosscutting, and ½-degree graduations make it quick and easy to set other angles. In addition to a flip stop, there are hold-down clamps that keep the workpiece steady when maximum precision is demanded. They also prevent accidents in the event of a kickback from the blade. Melamine coating on the underside helps the sled slide smoothly across the saw table.
- Material: Aluminum and melamine-coated medium-density fiberboard (MDF)
- Fence: 24 inches
- Quick stops: 1
- The combination of miter gauge and crosscut sled makes for faster, safer sawing
- Hairline indicator and ½-degree increments allow for consistently accurate setting
- Comes with workpiece hold-downs that reduce the chances of kickback accidents
- Heavy impacts can damage the MDF, though that is typical of these devices
Get the Powertec crosscut sled miter gauge at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Powertec.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Miter Gauge
The woodworker looking for a good miter gauge is spoiled for choice, but, as with any tool, some features ought to be included and others avoided. The following will help pinpoint the key benefits and also highlight the versatility and potential creativity that the best miter gauge for table saw use can offer.
There are three main parts to a miter gauge: the miter bar, miter head, and fence.
Saw tables have a slot to accept various accessories. The miter bar is designed to fit in this, allowing the miter gauge to slide smoothly back and forth. The miter bar is often rectangular, though it may have an additional part shaped to fit table saws that have a T-slot in the table. The fit needs to be tight enough to maintain accuracy but not so tight that it jams in the slot. The best miter gauges can be adjusted to provide the right fit.
The miter head is semicircular and is marked out for various angles. Increments vary, as discussed in the section on accuracy. There’s usually a push handle, which is often also used to clamp the head at the correct angle, though a separate device may be employed.
The fence is fixed across the head and the workpiece rests against it. Fences may be solid or extendable. Longer fences provide better workpiece support but may not be suitable for small saws.
Most miter gauges are made with components that are either steel or aluminum. Steel brings strength and durability, which is important for areas subject to frequent wear, like screw threads. However, steel is quite heavy and prone to rust. Aluminum is much lighter, highly resistant to corrosion, and usually used for fences. These are normally sectional moldings that provide additional support and sufficient strength to avoid bending.
Nylon inserts or screws are frequently used to adjust how the miter bar (or miter gauge bar) fits in the slot on the saw table. These will wear out eventually and need to be replaced. Fortunately, these are not expensive.
Brass is sometimes used for handles and clamps. It’s very decorative but has no real impact on function.
Stops and Adjustments
To allow for setting of the cutting angle, the miter head rotates around a central point. As mentioned above, this is often clamped in the desired position using the push handle.
The head rotates through a total of 180 degrees, enabling the desired angle to be set with great freedom. However certain angles—90 degrees, 45 degrees, and 22.5 degrees, for example—are used most often, so preset stops in the form of pins, holes, or grooves are often added. This makes setting the miter gauge much quicker.
More advanced miter gauges may provide stops in single-degree increments, though they normally still have a method of setting those common angles quickly.
When shopping for a miter gauge, it’s important to consider the size of the saw table and the dimensions of the material that will be cut most often.
Budget miter gauges generally have a short fence of a fixed length. For those who have a compact table saw and work with material of modest sizes, that’s not a problem. However, as material length increases, there’s a tendency for it to flex. If that happens, it can reduce cutting accuracy. Some of the best miter gauges have either longer or adjustable fences to combat this. The ability to set the fence to different lengths maximizes workpiece control. That said, it’s important to check their minimum length. Some models may actually be too long for smaller table saws.
Manufacturing quality has an impact on overall accuracy. On low-cost table saw miter guides, the head might be punched out of a steel sheet, whereas on better models, this part is laser cut or machined from a solid block.
A basic, low-cost miter gauge will allow for the cutting of angles to within a degree or so. For those making rustic furniture or a gate for the yard, that could well be close enough. However, much greater accuracy is possible. Machined stops at single-degree increments are common and several can further refine this to 0.1-degree steps. Those who demand absolute precision may prefer a miter gauge with a micro adjuster that can be set to 0.01 degrees.
While not a feature of budget models, the fence may also have a measuring scale for accurate alignment of the workpiece with the saw blade. Flip stops that attach to the fence and slide along preformed groves are sometimes provided. These help hold the workpiece in exactly the right place when cutting to length.
Ease of Use
One may assume a basic miter gauge is the easiest to use. To some extent, that’s true. However, on a slightly more expensive miter gauge, some stops make for faster setting, which may speed up the overall work process.
The consistent accuracy of a high-quality miter gauge can make repetitive tasks easier and help reduce errors. While adding precision at this stage of a job might be seen as making a tool more difficult to use, it will often save time at later stages.
What’s important is how well suited a particular miter gauge is to the work that’s done regularly. It could be argued that ease of use isn’t just about simplicity; it’s also about how easy it makes the whole job.
Tips on Using a Miter Gauge
When the new miter gauge arrives, buyers will likely be keen to use it as soon as possible. Before doing so, take a few minutes to check and make certain nothing is missing or was damaged in transit. The following quick tips will help maximize performance.
- Whether it’s a first miter gauge for those just learning the basics or it’s an upgrade with more advanced features, always read the instructions. It can save a lot of time and frustration later. Before starting on a job that matters, test the miter gauge on a few offcuts or extra pieces of wood.
- There’s an old adage in woodworking: Measure twice and cut once. In this case, users should not only double-check their measurements but also check that the clamps are nice and tight. It’s annoying if the gauge moves during a cut, plus it can also be dangerous.
- Inaccurate cuts may not be due to the miter gauge; it could be the saw blade is out of alignment or not square to the table. Always check before starting—a habit woodworkers should get into whether using the miter gauge or not.
This comprehensive guide to choosing the best miter gauge provided insight into how these tools work and how to pick the right model for your table saw. Nevertheless, it’s natural to still have questions, and the following crop up frequently.
Q. Can a table saw make miter cuts?
The blade can usually be tilted up to 45 degrees to cut angles on the edges of a board, but this kind of cut is called a bevel, not a miter. You’ll need to add a miter gauge to cut the proper angle for a miter with the saw blade in the upright position.
Q. Are table saw miter gauges universal?
The slots on most table saw beds are the same, so a universal miter gauge ought to fit. However, though rare, there can be exceptions. It’s worth a quick check of your saw’s specifications before you buy your miter gauge, just to be sure.
Q. Can a miter gauge be used to cut 45-degree tapers?
You could argue that the standard miter cut is by its nature a 45-degree taper. It’s also possible to cut two-sided and four-sided tapers at 45 degrees and, with creative use of your miter gauge, at various other angles. However, these are all quite short. If you need long tapers, you may want to invest in a taper jig.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.
Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.