Depending on your project, choosing between a table saw, miter saw & circular saw may not be a straightforward process. Each tool has unique properties that may be necessary for your go-to project.
What’s the difference? Though all saws, the table, miter, and circular saw have differences that are important to understand for your project. These variations deserve your attention when dealing with such power tools.
When comparing table saws, miter saws, and circular saws, there are various points to consider, primarily based on what makes each one of these tools different.
Three Different Saws and How to Use Them
Each type of saw has a specific purpose when it comes to its use. Using the wrong saw can cause significant issues with your project and can even be dangerous. Understanding the design of each tool will help you accomplish your project goals.
A table saw’s distinctive feature is in its name! Table-mounted saws primarily cut wood materials. The saw is equipped with a circular saw blade, mounted above a recess driven by an electric motor.
The table saw is one tool with various components, including the blade, motor, and usually an adjustable measuring guide or fence for easy adjusting for multiple projects.
A table saw is unique because the blade protrudes through the top of a table, which provides given support for your cutting material, usually a wood product. Unlike other saws, the table mechanism makes for quick jobs with little measuring and adjusting.
Unlike the miter and circular saw, the table saw’s design helps your material stay still while pushing the material (usually wood) through the protruding blade.
Jobs for a Table Saw
Table saws can perform several different cross cuts and other applications as well. Usually, you will use this saw for:
- Miter cuts
- Rip cuts
When comparing these three saws, the table saw stands out for jobs that usually require a lot of material and significant compound cuts, such as ripping cuts or cutting various pieces of wood into smaller pieces to create more manageable projects.
Examples of projects that would benefit from a table saw are:
- Patio decks
- Bookshelves and bookcases
Though you can become quite skilled and intricate with table-saw cuts, in general, the table saw is ideal for larger projects with less intricate woodworking.
A miter saw is a saw that makes precise cross and miters cuts with projects usually consisting of wood or pliable materials. To this saw, you pull a large fixed circular saw blade down onto the stabilized material in a singular swift action.
Unlike a table saw, a miter saw can make single cuts and usually can’t make any rip cuts. The saw is a fixed circular saw connected to a base that you can turn and angle to produce various cuts. You might encounter the term chop saws when referring to miter saws because of the chopping motions of these tools.
In contrast with the table saw, the saw wheel and edge are housed and controlled by a handle that you can lift and bring down. These cuts are typically quite quick and extend only the length of the blade. You should avoid feeding large pieces of lumber through a miter saw as it can cause injury.
Jobs for a Miter Saw
These saws all differ given the scope of work each can produce. The scope of miter saw may vary according to their bevel settings. Double bevel miter saws give you more variation in cutting. The design of the miter saw makes for quick, angled cuts. The miter saw can handle:
- Miter cuts
- Bevel cuts
These saws are perfect for smaller projects that required specific angled cuts. Miter saws are simple to use, given its single motion. The most common projects performed by a miter saw includes:
- Picture frames
- Window casings
- Door frames
- Crown molding
You may find a theme in these projects. For woodworking, creating 45-degree angled cuts is most comfortable using a miter saw. The easy angling helps build out rectangular or square wood projects, such as frames and bases.
Related: Sliding Vs. Non-sliding Miter Saw
A circular saw has one significant advantage: it’s a handheld tool! One of the most versatile saw types available, the circular saw, named for the circular disc that under the protective covering, is a popular tool among professional craftsmen.
The saw is an electric power saw that turns a round flat blade to cut primarily wood, though specific blades can cut metal or plastic.
Circular saws are handheld tools and usually conceal a power trigger switch under the handle. The blade is held in place via a nut, arbor, and guard, preventing the operator from touching the spinning blade when turned on.
These saws usually have height, depth and bevel adjustments, though they may not be as robust as those found on miter and table saws. Yet, given its mobility, the circular saw remains one of the most versatile saw tools available.
Read our buying guide on circular saw: Best Circular Saws
Jobs for a Circular Saw
A circular saw is a versatile tool that tends to be a staple for most DIY projects. Given its handheld and mobility, the saw can make various cuts for various projects. Though not always as precise as a circular saw or miter saw given the operating conditions, this saw is capable of almost any cut depending on the skill level of the operator.
The circular saw can create:
- Circular cuts
- Quick cuts
Since the circular saw has a circular blade, depending on the user’s project and specificity, the circular saw can make almost any cut. Given the dexterity of the tool, projects can include virtually any professional or home projects, including:
- Storage bins
- Raised garden bed
Depending on the user, the saw can take the reins of most at-home projects. Though the circular saw may not be ideal for big home projects, the handheld tool is vital for most craftsmen looking for a reliable and versatile saw option.
Ease of Use
When using a table saw, miter, or circular saw, it’s critical to understand the proper operating procedures. When looking at the table saw, miter saw & circular saw, each has varying levels of difficulty and should be operated under strict precautions.
Whether using a portable or fixed table saw, making sure your blade and materials are properly affixed is key to a safe working space. If you have never used this type of saw, seeking professional guidance is best.
Since you can mount a table saw on a table or workbench, there are fewer safety concerns with this type of saw. Operators should all use extreme caution when the machine is on and in use. With the blade’s protrusion from the bottom of the table, proper set up of the guard and fence is crucial to safe usage.
You should apply consistent pressure and speed when pushing your material through the operating saw. Too quick of speed or delay in action can cause splintering and potential harm to the machine and the user.
Related: Radial Arm Saw Vs. Table Saw
Similar to the use of the table saw, whether your miter saw is fixed or portable, sliding or non sliding, you should place the apparatus on an even ground for safe usage. Keep the saw turned off while you measure, place, and angle the material you want to cut.
This saw delivers quick cutting action with a down and up motion. The most critical safety measure is to keep your hand away from the material as you bring the saw downward for your cut.
Miter saws are one of the easiest and safest saw tools to use when taking the correct precautions. Since miter saws make direct or angled and compound cuts, beginners can easily operate this saws safely.
When bringing the miter saw head down, be sure to do so in one smooth, fluent motion, raising the saw back to the starting place before releasing the trigger or power source. Releasing the source of power too early can cause damage to the cut material, the saw blade, and potentially the user.
Since this saw is handheld and portable, it’s one of the most challenging and dangerous tools to operate. Beginners operating a circular saw should always rely on the support of a workbench or table to emulate the use of a table saw.
Unlike the table saw, the circular saw blade should always be pointing downward and away from the user. You should use the guard over the blade to prevent accidents.
If you want to know more about circular saw blades then read this article.
The saw should only be on when the material is ready for the cut. Users should never turn on the circular saw when moving about or changing positions.
The user has direct control over the entire circular saw. It means that precision matters when performing angled and straight cuts.
For projects being done on-site where circular or miter saws may not be available, circular saws can be vital for the completion of your project.
However, the circular saw is the most difficult and dangerous to use when comparing it to miter and table saws.
Price is an important consideration when choosing the best tool. Though each tool is unique and meant to be used differently, not everyone can afford to have all three options in their toolkit!
There are two major types of table saws. The portable table saw is meant to be used on project sites and neatly collapses for easy transportation. Portable table saws can cost as low as $100 and as much as $600, with an average price of $150 to $200.
The other type of saw is a stationary table saw, meant to be fixed in a workshop or workspace. Stationary table saws are usually more expensive, with an average price point of $300 to $400.
Depending on the brand and type of miter saw, pricing for this tool can widely range. It’s important to find a saw that is reliable, safe, and comes with quality parts, especially the blade.
For a dependable and top quality miter saw, you can expect to spend between $200 and $300. Though much cheaper options exist, caution should be taken when looking at any miter saw that costs less than $100.
Since the saw is handheld, it is the most portable, and affordable electric saw option. Like miter saws, circular saws come from various brands. Buying a dependable brand, with a dependable blade, is crucial for proper use and safety.
You can expect to pay between $50 and $100 for a solid, dependable circular saw. Though the circular saw may not have the lifespan of a table or miter saw, circular saws typically get more use since they’re more versatile and will go through more wear and tear.
If you are considering getting a circular saw then read this: Things To Think About When Buying A Circular Saw
Table Saw vs Miter Saw vs Circular Saw: The Bottom Line
Each of these tools offers various benefits depending on the job at hand. Ideally, every professional or DIY expert has all three saws at their disposal.
It’s worth noting that each saw option offers different portability and price points. If you’re constantly on the go and working on-site, the circular saw could be your best bet. If you’re a homebody with a shop at or near your home, the table saw is an amazing tool to have on hand.
The miter saw is a good compromise between both the table and circular saw, offering a bit more flexibility and portability than the table saw, but with more control of cuts than your average circular saw. In all, each saw offers specific benefits.
Knowing what you need for your project is the first step in choosing your tools!