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Miter Saw vs Circular Saw: Which One is Better for You?

By: David S. Miles | Last Updated: May 3, 2022

We know how hard it may be to choose between different saws. Especially when it is about a miter saw and a circular saw. These two are some of the most powerful saws amongst professionals and DIYers thanks to their advantages. 

To help you in making the right choice we have provided a detailed comparison between the circular saw and the miter saw. This will help you to realize which one is the machine you actually need.

General Overview

In general, both miter saw and circular saw are very powerful and good machines. The miter saw is great in precision cuts, but it is limited to making only 4 types of them, while the circular saw offers much more versatility. 

Furthermore, the circular saw can cut through almost any material with ease. The miter saw is not very portable, it needs a work table, while the circular saw is portable and can be easily carried around.

Miter Saw

What is it?

A miter saw is a powerful tool that is specialized in chopping wood at different angles. It comes with a circular blade, which can make precise and fast cuts. However, it is not a 

portable machine and it comes with a workstation.

It is used by a lot of professionals, but some DIYers choose a miter saw too. With this tool, you can make window casings, fences, cupboards, doors,s or picture frames. Furthermore, it can be used for a variety of cuts.

However, it is not as versatile as other models, since it is very immobile. You can find different options available, some of them expensive, others more affordable.

Functionality

The miter saw has a broad functionality. It can perform 4 types of cuts- crosscuts, miter cuts, bevel cuts and compound cuts. However, you can’t make any other cuts, because the materials should be brought to the blade. 

The miter saw can make precise cuts and it does not require a guide to get accurate measurements. All you need to do is adjust the machine to an appropriate angle.

It is a very easy to use machine, which makes it good for professionals and DIYers. However, it is not very portable, since it requires a table or workbench to use. This may be a difficulty if you have to change your location often.

It is equipped with an in-built dust collection mechanism, which helps for a relatively clean workplace. Furthermore, each tool or fencing comes with a protective blade guard, which makes the miter saw a safe one.

Versatility

The blades of a miter saw can be between 8 and 12 inches in diameter. It can rotate, and it has a depth stop which gives you a lot of flexibility. Sadly, the miter saw is not famous for its versatility.

It is dedicated to crosscuts, and limited to making 4 types of cuts. However, these cuts are highly accurate. You should be aware that it can’t make rip cuts, or plywood cuts.

When to use a miter saw?

The miter saw is a toll specified in some tasks. So, if you are going to accomplish these tasks, you should go for a miter saw. However, if you are not going to use it for its purpose, you can go for something cheaper.

You can not use this machine for plywood or rip-cuts. If you want to make dados, then you better go for another type of saw too. Furthermore, if you are changing your location often, this is not a good option for you, since it needs a worktable and it is not portable.

If you are going to do a lot of trim work, to build small tables, furniture, or make photo frames, then the miter saw is perfect for you. It will make these tasks fast and easy work. 

Pros:

  • it can make precise cuts
  • it make quick cuts, saves time
  • it can make bevel cuts and crosscuts
  • safety features

Cons:

  • not versatile tool
  • may cost a lot
  • not portable 

Circular Saw

What is it?

The circular saw is one versatile and powerful tool that every woodworker has in his inventory. It is a handhandled machine and it includes a motorized blade. The blade rotates which gives the circular saw ability to make perfect long straight cuts.

Functionality

The circular saw has a lot of functions, it can make almost any kind of cut. Furthermore, having sharp teeth gives the tool the ability to cut through different materials.

It is not very precise, it can not make a perfect smooth cut as some other machines, but if you have the needed experience you can make very good cuts. 

The circular saw is very portable, it is not heavy, and it can be easily moved around. It is perfect for people who are working in different locations. You can buy a corded, or cordless model, since there is a lot of variety on the market.

Versatility

You can get a circular saw with different blade variations. Most of the time the blade can be between 3 to 16 inches, but if you want, you can also use blades such as dado.

With a circular saw you can make different cuts. As we already mentioned, it is one versatile tool. It can make cross cuts, miter, bevel, compound cuts, rip cuts and it can also make dado and rabbet.

In other words, you can make almost any cut you would like to with a circular saw. However, you will need experience if you want to make them perfect, since this machine is not easy to use.

Furthermore, you can cut through different materials such as tile, pipe, metal, stone and plastic. Even though most of the time the circular saw is used with wood, you can cut through other materials with ease.

When to use a circular saw?

If you need to make different cuts, and you want to make them with one tool, then you definitely need a circular saw. It can make almost any cut, and with some experience you can make the cuts very good.

If you are looking for a portable machine, because you are working in different locations, then again, you will be happy if you get a circular saw. However, in order to use it you need to master your skills.

It is not very easy to use a circular saw, that’s why it is better to buy it if you are a professional, or you have experience as a DIYer. It is not expensive, and you can get very affordable models.

Pros:

  • versatility
  • perfect long cuts, and rip-cuts
  • straight cuts
  • cost-effective
  • portability

Cons:

  • not precise
  • risky, you need experience to master it

Similarities between a miter saw and a circular saw

There are not a lot of similarities between a miter saw and a circular saw. However, the both can be found as corded or cordless versions. They both are not very expensive, and they both are very popular and powerful tools.

Differences between a miter saw and a circular saw

There are some main differences between a miter saw and a circular saw that have to be taken into account. The miter saw can make precise cuts, while the circular saw can make angled cuts, but the precision is not its best strength. 

The miter saw is a quick and powerful machine, while the circular saw is not so fast. The miter saw can make incredible angle and bevel cuts, but the circular saw offers much more versatility.

Furthermore, the miter saw is very safe to use, while the circular saw is considered to be more dangerous and strict safety measures have to be followed. In order to use the circular saw you should have some experience.

Conclusion

To conclude, we can say that both a miter saw and a circular saw are worth it. They offer a lot of features and they can deal with tasks with ease. However, you should keep in mind the tasks you are going to accomplish.

If you need a portable machine that can make a variety of cuts, then you need a circular saw. If you have a workshop and you need precise cuts, then you need a miter saw. We wish you good luck!

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