Miter Saw Vs Circular Saw: Which Is The Most Useful Woodworking Tool?

miter saw vs circular saw

Choosing between a miter saw and a circular saw can be quite baffling. Which one should you place in order over the other miter saw vs circular saw? It’s pretty exhausting, isn’t it? We can understand your dilemma since most of us have been through this.

However, you can conclude this matter by getting to know a few things about both types of saws. As a result, you’ll be able to decide which one is more useful for you.

So, consider your problem solved because we’re going to provide you with a detailed comparison in this miter saw vs circular saw write-up. Let’s not waste any more time and go right into the real talk.

What Do You Mean By A Circular Saw?

If you’re a newbie in the woodworking business, then you might be wondering. What is a circular saw? Let’s start with the basics. A circular saw is a woodworking tool that you can use with your hand. You can easily transport them from one place to another.

SKIL 5280-01 Circular Saw

Some circular saws require electricity while some run on the chemical power from batteries. In the case of electric power, you’ll get an extension cord with the saw. You can choose either of them depending on the type that suits you the best.

The size of the blade found in this tool is quite diverse. They can range from 3-3/8 inches to 16 inches, which makes the use of a circular saw versatile. On top of that, the toothed blade is capable of straight, long cuts in either direction.

This means that you’ll be able to cut in the opposing direction of the grain of the wood. Normally, the number of teeth on the blade may vary from twenty to eighty. Along with that, you will see that the blades are tipped with industrial diamonds.

They can cut through almost any surface, including plywood and plastic.

What Do You Mean By A Miter Saw?

The next question that is most likely to arise is, what is a miter saw? Much like the circular saw, a miter saw is also a woodworking tool.

DEWALT 12-Inch Miter Saw

Although the work done by both saws falls in the same category, a little in-depth study will make you realize there are more differences between both than you might think.

Unlike the circular saw, a miter comes with a workstation and fence. It is a stationary power tool that is incapable of providing you with the benefit of portability. Additionally, miter saws work by chopping wood at an angle instead of cutting straight into them.

However, you’ll find a circular blade in a miter saw as well. Just like a circular saw, the blade in a miter saw rotates at an exceptionally high speed to penetrate the wood. It can successfully make precise, angled cuts within a very short period.

The arm of a miter saw can consist of blades ranging from 8 to 12 inches. Since the blade is fixed to the arm, it acts as a pivot when the blade cuts through materials at different angles. Hence, you will get an accurate cut without any scope of an error.

Miter Saw Vs Circular Saw: How Do You Use Them?

Despite the presence of circular blades on both of them, you cannot use both of them in the same manner.

A circular saw has to be in-line with the wood so that it can cut into it. In this way, it penetrates the wood, and you end up dividing a block or plank of wood into two.

On the other hand, you have to drop a miter saw on the wood from above. The pressure, high speed, and sharpness of the blade will efficiently chop up the wood into the pieces you desire.

How Do Their Uses Vary?

As I’ve mentioned earlier, the uses for a circular saw are many. Even though they may resemble each other to a great extent, the difference between their functionality is quite a surprise. You can essentially call a circular saw an all-rounder tool.

But don’t make the mistake of underestimating the miter saw. So what is a miter saw used for? It is a specialized tool and also has its share of benefits with the type of cuts it makes.

If you have enough knowledge about efficient woodworking, you’ll be able to use one of these to make any kind of cuts. You’ll get an introduction to the different cuts each saw is capable of below. 

Cross Cuts

Honestly, there’s not much for you to do if you wish to make a crosscut using a circular saw. Just measure the dimensions and draw outlines on the places you want to cut and run the saw through those lines.

You can easily achieve crosscuts using a miter saw since it specializes in angled cuts. All you have to do is drop the blade through the board perpendicularly at an angle of 90. That’s it! You’ll be able to cut a 2×4 in half in no time!

Miter Cuts

Circular saws are also capable of making miter cuts. Now you know why I called them versatile. But to do so, you’ll have to place the saw at a miter angle and lock it in place.

Since the name of the saw itself is a miter saw, it is no surprise that you can use it for miter cuts. You should make miter cuts from the side of a board and at an angle.

If you are unsure of what a miter cut looks like, we’d advise you to take a look at the trim around any door of your house. You’ll see that there’s a point of intersection between two trims. That is a miter cut at an angle of 45 degrees.

Bevel Cuts

Beveled cuts are cuts through the thickness of the wood instead of the width. They cut the end of the plank or block into an angle, similar to the miter cut. Some examples of bevel cuts are shims and doorstop that almost resemble a triangular block of wood.

Both circular and miter saws are capable of delivering a bevel cut. The only difference between the two here may be that the miter saw is a bit more precise than the circular saw. Otherwise, both serve the same purpose.

Compound Cuts

Compound cuts are like an intersection point between miter and bevel cuts. Therefore, a compound cut has both miter and bevel angles since the saw has to be in a miter and bevel position simultaneously.

Common examples of a compound cut are crown moldings and sloped miters.

You can achieve compound cuts by using either of the two types of saws we’ve been discussing. Here, again, the only benefit of using a miter saw over a circular saw is the speed and precision of the tool.

Rip Cuts

Rip cuts are quite similar to crosscuts. The only difference is that you cut down the length of the plank. Hence, you can use the cutting for more purposes.

Unfortunately, miter saws don’t support rip cuts, but circular saws do. So if you want rip cuts, you’ll have to stick to the circular saw.

Let’s have a look at this video to get some practical ideas on different cut and how to use a circular saw to get those.

A Quick Comparison

Let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons associated with each product to help you make an informed decision.

Portability

Overall, circular saws take the upper hand in terms of portability and storage space. They are very compact, and transportation will not be a big deal, especially if you have a cordless model.

In contrast, miter saws are stationary tools, so you cannot move them.

Versatility And Precision

The best circular saws are above miter saws in terms of versatility, but lag when it comes to producing perfect curves and angles.

Safety

The blade of a miter saw only moves in a specific motion, that too within a range where the workstation is set up. Therefore, if you have your safety goggles on, you don’t have much to worry about.

On the other hand, a circular saw can be hazardous because it can cut through anything. Hence, if you’re not careful, you may end up living the rest of your life as a disabled person.

Budget-Friendliness

The classy outlook and flawless service of a miter saw will cost you a fortune. Statistically, a miter saw can is thrice as expensive as a circular saw.

Despite the cost, you’ll be getting only four types of cuts of it while a circular saw can give you a variety of cuts at a lower price.

Conclusion

This debate of a miter saw vs circular saw can go on forever. While both types have their own merits and demerits, choosing one depends on the service you need.

If you have a good budget and prioritize precision over versatility and portability, then we’d suggest the miter saw for you. But if you want a saw that will eliminate the need for any other tools, the circular saw may be the best fit for you.

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