Comparing Circular Saw, Miter Saw, and Table Saw: Which is the Best Option for Beginner Woodworkers?

Circular Saw, Miter Saw, and Table Saw

Have you decided to add a power tool to your garage or workshop and start your career as a DIYer? This is a question that many people have when they are beginning. You want to know the difference between a circular saw vs. a miter saw vs. a table saw and what to get first.

What is a circular saw?

A circular saw is a great starter saw. It is portable and can make a wide range of cuts, including crosscuts and rip cuts. A miter saw is used for crosscuts and can easily be made at various angles (miter cuts). A table saw is the most versatile of the three saws and incorporates a circular saw with a table so that it is more stable and can easily make more accurate cuts. A table saw can do rip, cross, and miter cuts.

If you are new to woodworking, you may need help finding your best saw. Or is there only one best saw?

Professionals prefer using more than one saw, as each has its strong points. Almost every experienced user would admit that the circular saw, miter saw, table saw, and cordless drill are the most used power tools.

But you cannot perform every task with a random saw you have found in your garage. Every type of saw is suitable for different tasks, and you may find yourself in a tough situation if you don’t know which one to use for a particular job.

Related Post: Miter Saws vs Circular Saws: Which Tool is Right for Your Next Project?

So what should be your pick?

This choice is much harder than you think. I have struggled to find the answer, and the advice I would give you is that you need to follow several parameters to make the right pick.

Since this is not easy, you must understand all the types.

Let’s start with the circular saw. Here I provide you with the basics of this versatile tool. First, let’s define it.

What is a portable circular saw?

A portable circular saw consists of a circular blade that spins around an arbor and is used for cutting a huge variety of materials, ranging from wood to metals.

You can also find it called a Skilsaw, named by the biggest manufacturer of saws of this type.

So, you need to hold this type of saw in your hands and push the blade to make a cut.

Circular saws come in two versions – right-handed and left-handed. It would be best to hold the saw firmly with both hands to operate it, but being a lefter or a righter doesn’t solve the problem of choosing a particular version.

Circular saws are really small and handy tools, and if you use them correctly, you can do the finest cuts. You can switch the blade easily depending on the material you are cutting.

No matter how good this explanation is, you may won’t understand how this tool works unless you see it. To help you with that, I recommend considering this video.

What is a table saw?

To understand table saw easier, imagine a circular saw, fixed on a table. Instead of moving the saw, the cutting here is done by pushing the wood towards the saw blade.

The saw goes underneath the table and it is turning thanks to the electric motor.

This is not a strict rule, but most of the table saws allow you to set the depth and angle by moving the blade.

The fence or the edge that supports the wood needs to be strong and hold it carefully as this is very important when using a table saw.

The final step in creating a super-precise cut is the surface. Make sure that the surface is completely flat and an metal surface does this the best.

Plus, when cutting with a table saw, try to use other objects to push the wood (people often use a push stick). If the task requires only your hands, be very careful, as the consequences of losing focus can be fatal.

And finally, let’s go over the miter saw.

What is a miter saw?

Miter saw is a type of saw that rotates on a vertical pivot. This setting allows the blade to move sideways and has a bevel adjustment, so you can create precise cuts with no difficulties.

How do you operate it?

Very similar to a circular saw, you push the blade on the wood in order to cut it. In order to make a straight and precise cut, you need to hold the material against the edge of the saw platform.

The most important thing you need to learn about miter saws is next:

You cannot perform a rip-cut with a miter saw.

Then, what types of cuts can you use this saw for?

  • Crosscut
  • Miter cut
  • Beveled cut
  • Compound cut

Related Post: What is a Miter saw and what do I need it for?

Circular saw vs miter saw vs table saw

These were the basics, but it would be hard to differentiate these types of saws as a beginner. Read this section carefully, and you will be able to make a clear distinction between these types.

Circular saw vs miter saw

Circular saw is a more versatile tool, while the main purpose of the miter saw is to cut miters. In most cases, this refers to 45-degree cuts but miter saws can cut a wide range of angles.

Be careful when cutting an angle, as some miter gauges may not be as accurate as you think.

On the other hand, the circular saw is capable of both rip-cuts and crosscuts, while miter saws can’t do a rip-cut.

When to use a miter rather than a circular saw?

Well, if you often do picture framing tasks; skirting boards; window or door architraves, then a miter saw would be a better pick. Otherwise, you should go for a circular saw.

But is a circular saw really the best pick you can make? Let’s compare it to a table saw.

Circular saw vs table saw

I already said a lot of things about these tools, so let’s just summarize it so I don’t repeat myself. A circular saw is a very powerful tool, designed to handle a variety of tasks.

Rip-cut and crosscuts, none of this is a problem for a circular saw. However, you use both hands to cut with it and you need to move the saw across the wood. What if you could fix the blade and move the material instead of the saw?

The table saw is exactly that – it can handle both types of cuts and even though it requires a jig for safe crosscutting, it will help you to get precise cuts.

However, a quality table saw will cost you much more than a quality circular saw. Don’t forget about the portability – you can always take your circular saw to the job site.

And lastly, what are the differences between a miter and table saw?

Miter saw vs table saw

Well, a miter saw is limited to crosscuts, while the table saw can do both cuts. But on the other hand, a miter saw should be your pick if you are focusing on quickly repeating a lot of crosscuts (including miter, beveled and compound cuts).

So, the main difference between these types is this – the miter saw moves while the wood is fixed, and the table saw is fixed and you push the material.

You can also read: Circular Saws for Woodworking: The Ultimate Guide

Conclusion

To conclude, these saws are great tools, as they all provide precise cuts depending on your needs.

However, as a beginner, you may be able to afford only one. So what should be your first pick?

The miter saw is best for miter/angled crosscuts, the table saw lacks portability, so personally, I would suggest going with a circular saw.

It is a versatile tool capable of different tasks that will help you get started and learn the basics of woodworking.

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