Table Saw vs. Miter Saw – Which One Is Best For You?

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In an ideal world, you would probably love to own a table saw and a miter saw. However, in reality, even if you were able to afford both, you may not have the room.

The truth is that you could probably cope easily enough with just one type of saw, but the one that you should choose will depend on what you need the saw for. This article will explain the differences between both types of saw and will provide you with all the information you need to choose the right one for your circumstances.

What Is A Table Saw?

Most workshops will contain a table saw because they are such a versatile tool. A table saw is usually comprised of a circular blade and a flat part that is rested on a level surface. The blade of the saw will be powered by a motor. There are several different types of table saw that are available but they will all work in the same way.

When using a table saw, the blade remains stationary and the material that needs to be cut is pushed onto the blade. If you need to cut through large amounts of wood quickly then a table saw is a good choice. You can also add a miter gauge to the saw which will make it even more versatile.

Related: circular saws

What Is A Miter Saw?

A miter saw is used for more specialist woodwork such as creating frames. It is often used for jobs that need a lot of detail. Unlike a table saw, the blade is mounted on an arm and so it can be moved around as needed.

When using the miter saw, the wood remains stationary and it is the saw itself that is moved around to make the cut. This does mean that you are restricted in the length of the cut to the diameter of the blade.

If you need to make a lot of cuts that are all the same length, then this is quick and easy to do using a miter saw. Angles can also be cut more precisely using a miter saw.

The design of a miter saw means that it is portable and can be moved around the workshop easily when needed. You can also buy stands which make them even easier to move.

Uses For Table Saws

There are many different jobs that table saws can be used for and some of these include:

  • Building cabinets and other furniture
  • Ripping lumber
  • Making miter cuts
  • Performing cross cuts
  • Using a dado blade to make rabbet cuts
  • Using a dado blade to make dado cuts and grooves
  • Applying custom edges and other shapes to wood

If you are working with larger pieces of wood, then a table saw is likely to be the best choice. It can be used by people of all skill levels and allows you to get through a large volume of work in a short space of time.

Uses For Miter Saws

You may find that you do not use a miter saw as much as a table saw, but when it is used the cuts that are made will be far more accurate.

If you are cross-cutting long boards, then the miter saw is going to be the most effective tool for the job. A table saw will be able to do it, but a miter saw will do it more quickly.

Miter saws are also the best choice if you are creating a frame, a casing or crown moldings.

What Are The Main Differences Between Table Saws And Miter Saws?

The main difference between both types of saw is the way that they are structured. The table saw remains stationary while the wood is moved, whereas with the miter saw it is the blade that is moved in order to cut the wood.

The table saw comes out top when it comes to versatility because it can perform all the same functions as a miter saw. However, the miter saw will do things more precisely. It is harder to duplicate a lot of precision cuts quickly using a table saw compared to a miter saw.

When Can Table Saws Be Used?

Whatever type of work you are doing with wood, it is likely that a table saw will be needed.

If you are working with large boards accuracy is not a huge issue, then a table saw is the best choice for getting through this work quickly. It is possible to carry out precision work with a table saw, but it will be a longer process than if a miter saw was used.

Any type of work that is related to home remodeling is likely to require the use of a table saw. This will also be the case if you are building furniture.

While the table saw can do all the same work as a miter saw, there are certain jobs that it won’t do as well. You may find that you have to recalibrate the table saw fairly often when you are making duplicate cuts.

People who are used to working with table saws may struggle to see why they would need a separate miter saw. On the other hand, those who use miter saws may find it difficult to get the precision they are used to with a table saw.

Safe handling and precautions are needed with both types of saws, but miter saws are generally considered to be a little safer. Table saws are quite heavy and they will take up a lot more room in a workshop.

A table saw also has the potential to be a lot more expensive than a miter saw, but you are more likely to get value for money because it can used for a wider range of jobs. You may also find that there is not a lot of difference in price between table saws that are portable and those that are not. The decision whether to buy a portable table saw will often come down to the type of jobs that it will be used for rather than price.

When Can Miter Saws Be Used?

There are several types of projects where a miter saw will have an advantage over a table saw:

  • If you need to make a large number of cuts that need to be precise
  • Carpentry work
  • Trimming around door casings or the base of the door
  • Making frames for doors, windows and pictures
  • Production of crown moldings
  • Cross cutting long boards
  • Making bevel cuts
  • Building of smaller projects

If you are carrying out a complex project such as building a deck, then a miter saw can be very useful. You may also find that using a table saw on the largest pieces of wood can help you to save time.


If you work with wood for a living, then there is a chance you may find that both of these types of saws have a purpose. It can be useful to have a specialised tool available when you need it.

However, most people will find that a table saw is a versatile enough tool to meet all their needs. This is especially true if you buy a table saw that comes with a miter gauge. If you already own a table saw, then a miter gauge is something that you can buy separately.

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