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Miter Saw vs Circular Saw – Which is Right for You?

Last Updated on January 1, 2020 by Derek Backman

Miter saw and circular saw are two of the most popular power tools among DIYers and professionals. Generally, most of the trimming tasks involve the usage of the miter saw and functions like cutting plywood need a hand of the circular saw. Apart from this, there are many features, usage, and specifications that make these saws different.

There’s an apparent confusion among the buyers where they can’t decide which types of saws are more suitable for their project. There is no all-in-one saw available in the market, so it is better to do proper research before making your mind.

In this article, we’re going to compare miter saw vs circular saw by mentioning the differences and usages. So if you’re also confused to pick between a miter saw and circular saw, make sure to compare and find the right one.

Know About Miter Saws

Know About Miter Saws

A miter saw helps cut workpiece at different angles. The main reason for using a miter saw is to make accurate crosscuts and miter cuts at a variety of angles. It is a powerful tool that makes cuts at any angle other than 90 degrees. Commonly, miter saws are also referred to as chop saws, drop saws, and abrasive cut off saws as well.

They make use of a 10-12 inch circular blade that is placed on a swing arm and turns left or right to make angled cuts. This saw is quite handy to be used at workshops, and you can use it for window casing, crown moldings, woodcutting, and many other tasks. However, a miter saw is not as versatile as the circular saw, but it is still capable of making numerous cuts.

Miter saw is the best available option for making accurate crosscuts. Buyers will be impressed with the accuracy of this saw that makes it capable of cutting moldings, doing trimming work, and every other task that requires correctness. This saw also features a hand handle which allows the woodworker to cut at precise angles.

It can also be used to make bevel cuts and the compound cut (a combination of miter and bevel cuts). For any woodworker, having a power tool like a miter saw is always helpful. Miter saws make wider cuts and save a lot of time for the users. It becomes beneficial when you’ve to cut large boards where time plays a crucial factor.

Moreover, most of the compound miter saw uses the automatic blade, which is fast and cuts the material quickly. Overall, it is a great tool to buy for woodworkers.

Pros

  • Miter saws are known to make highly accurate cuts.
  • The blade used in miter saw makes it capable of making bevel, miter, and compound cuts.
  • It can make different angled cuts.

Cons

  • Not capable of making rip or lengthwise cuts.
  • Not very versatile.

Know About Circular Saws

Circular Saws

The missing factor, versatility, is fulfilled by the circular saws. A circular saw is one of the most versatile types of power saw available for woodworkers. It is a prevalent type of saw that has become a much-needed tool for every DIYer. Every DIYer who works with wood needs a hand of a circular saw to accomplish the job efficiently. No doubt, every gadget has some limitations, but a circular saw is one of the first power tools that woodworkers buy for their workshops.

As the name indicates, a circular saw is one that uses a unique circular toothed blade (vertically-oriented), which moves at a quick pace to make long linear cuts. Most commonly, the blade used here is around 7 inches in diameter and can drive through almost every surface.

In simpler terms, a circular saw will not limit you to cut only wood. It will also allow you to deal with drywalls, and even ceilings. Users can also use this saw for making crosscuts or cut against the grain.

The handle is placed on the right side in many models. So if you’re a lefty, then make sure to find a left-handed saw. Whether you want to make rip cuts and long cuts or cut a sheet of plywood, it can do it all.

When you’re using a circular saw with the proper blade, you can also use it for cutting tile, metal, plastic, masonry, along with wood. Not only big projects, but it is also suitable for cutting small boards. So if you’re aiming to build a rack or cabinet, then buy a circular saw to break the deal.

Pros

  • If equipped with proper blades, a circular saw is the most versatile type of saw.
  • Best choice for making straight cuts. 
  • More Affordable.

Cons

  • Not recommended for making angled or curved cuts.
  • Less accuracy and precision. 

Difference Between Miter Saw vs Circular Saw

difference between miter saw and circular saw

Working

Both the saws have different workings, and if you are aware of it, then it becomes easy to find their best applications. In miter saws, the blade is moved above the workpiece. On the other hand, the blade of a circular saw is moved against the material in a straight path.

You don’t need to learn any skills to operate any saw. Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, both the saws are easy to use and operate. However, if you’re working with a miter saw, you need to know the correct measurements. 

Versatility

A versatile machine gives you more freedom to use it in different conditions. And when we talk about saws, a circular saw is considered more versatile than a miter saw. If you’re a new woodworker, a circular saw is the one to begin with. It will help you with most of your woodworking tasks and projects. Whereas, a miter saw is only suitable for miter cuts and making edges on boards. They are not built to be used for every task but are simply best for some specific job.

Accuracy and Precision

The basic difference where one could separate a circular saw with a miter saw is accuracy. As we’ve seen, the moving circular blade of the circular saw can do various kinds of cutting. Thereby, they are more precise. But when it comes to accuracy, miter saw runs far ahead of the circular saw. They are capable of making crosscuts, meaning you can cut at different angles. 

Types of Cuts

A circular saw can make a variety of cuts that are required for different jobs. Most of the people consider the circular saw a portable version of the table saw. So if you’re a professional woodworker, then you can utilize your circular saw to 100 percent. You can use them for making bevel and miter cuts as well.

A miter saw is specially made for making angled or curved cuts. You might be wondering the need for a miter saw when a circular saw could accomplish the same task. Well, a miter saw does the job quickly, smoothly, and accurately. Circular saw increases the chances of error while making angled cuts.

Price

Cost is another parameter where you’ll witness the difference between a miter saw and a circular saw. Generally, a circular saw is cheaper than a miter saw, but not always. For example, there are few circular saw models available in the market that costs more than the miter saws. Consequently, there is not much difference between the price of these two saws, but if you’re budget conscious, then choose your ideal match. 

Portability

Circular saws are more portable than miter saws, and also require less space for storage. Also, you need a table or a miter saw stand to place the miter saw, which makes it difficult to move. Circular saws are more comfortable to move and carry (especially if you have a cordless model). If you’re looking for a portable saw, then circular saw is the right choice.

Final Thoughts

At this point, we think that all our readers are aware of both types of saws. Before making a choice, make sure to cross-check if the saw fulfils all your woodworking needs.

If you’re a beginner, we recommend that buying a circular saw will be the best choice because a circular saw can make different kinds of cuts, which will help a newbie. Also, they are relatively cheaper than the miter saws.

On the other hand, if you need high accuracy and precision in your projects, then show your interest for miter saws. You can make crosscut, angled cuts or curved cuts with a miter saw. You can always buy both saws if you don’t have a budget problem as both of them serve different purposes and will definitely make your work easier.

About Derek Backman

Hello there, I'm Derek Backman, a full-time woodworker living in Miami, FL. I love to share guides and tips with others in my free time. I'm very passionate about sharing my experience with everyone on TheSawingYard. Thank you.