When you’re looking at stocking up your workshop, there are so many different tools out there that cut wood and can do any number of other duties as well. While some saws can be versatile and handle a lot of different duties, other saws are designed for specialty uses and may be more limited.
These are all important elements in determining what type of saw that you might need. You can always have more than one but if you have to prioritize or pick just one, you need to know just how to make that kind of decision, right?
In this guide, we are going to look at the miter saw vs. table saw and give you a rundown of just what each of these is, how they compare, and how they differ. The goal will be to provide you with information that keeps you fully informed and helps you know which you might need – or whether you need both!
Let’s take a look!
Miter Saws Vs. Table Saws – What’s the Difference?
When it comes to miter saw vs table saw, there are some similarities between them but there are also some definitive differences to know and be familiar with. What you need in your workshop might very well depend on your projects.
As we take a look at miter saw vs table saw, keep in mind your needs and consider which one fits.
Crowned molding, angled cuts, rip cuts, picture frames, straight cuts, precision cuts, and other woodworking projects – we will point you in the right direction!
Basic miter saws are designed with circular blades much like table saws are but their overall design is much different. The circular saw blade is almost the opposite of a table saw. It has a stand with a base and the circular blade attaches to an arm that raises or lowers to the wood.
The blade is fixed and it rotates but it is the arm that moves to make your cut. You aren’t moving the wood through the blade but bringing the blade to your wood or material. Miter saws are primarily used for specific purposes but they can still be versatile.
You are probably making a designated cut for a specific purpose. They are very popular for angled and beveled cuts. From things like crown molding to door frames, this might be your solution. Miter cuts can be challenging and while most table saws have a miter gauge, the miter saw is designed for this purpose and excels it.
There are different types of miter saws out there. The most common miter saw types are as follows:
- Compound miter saw
- Dual bevel miter saw
- Standard miter saw
The biggest difference is that the standard miter saw is the most common. This miter saw is used for cutting wood and you can find it in a number of sizes, types, and even power options. The standard miter saw is easy to use and light to work with. It cuts quickly so you can work quickly.
These miter saws are popular for precision miter cuts as well as angled cuts and cross cuts. You just need a flat table to house the unit to get to work. The angled cut approach is typical to a 45 or 90 degree angle and specialty cuts are what miter saws are known for. They make accurate cuts and they basically are built as miter gauges but in a saw form, if that makes any sense.
A compound miter saw makes all of the same cuts but is really awesome for bevel cuts, angle cuts, angled cross cuts, and specialty cuts along those lines. It is incredibly versatile.
We didn’t mention this saw earlier but the sliding compound miter saw is another model. It takes the compound miter saw with the ability to make compound cuts and precise miter cuts and adds just a little bit more. On this saw, you can slide a saw blade back and forth. It’s basically a swing mounted blade that gives you more room to move and make cuts. The compound miter saw is the most versatile of miter saws.
Miter Saw Uses
When you look at the table saw vs miter saw, they are definitely different. The miter saw is used to make precise cuts and for cutting angles more than anything else. It can cut lumber but it probably isn’t ideal for making rip cuts if that is your primary use.
If you want to cut precise angles, make a cross cut, produce angled cuts or bevel cuts, and other similar functions, that is what this saw is for. Here are the most common miter saw uses.
- Angled cuts
- Bevel cuts
- Crown molding
- Picture frames
- Wooden frame of any kind – like doors and window frames
- Cross cut
- Rip cut, in some cases
These are versatile tools and you can cut the wood lengthwise, which makes it very versatile. The comparison here in table saw vs. miter saw is that the table saw really can only handle basic angles while a miter cut is perfectly designed for just such uses.
How Miter Saws Work
The miter saw sits on top of a jobsite table or a benchtop table. You need a stationary workplace to house the saw. The blade moves in a circular pattern and operates on a swing arm. The arm can move up and down and can often be used at an angle as well.
The blade protrudes out of a covered station on the arm of the power tool with a handle so you can maneuver the blade to make your bevel cut or whatever type of cut you are needing to make. You can use large sheet material, try out cutting metal, or just use wood and lumber for these tasks.
The abilities of the power tool might well depend on the power so just be sure to pay attention to that.
The prices of a miter saw really can vary quite a bit. It depends on which type of miter saw you are looking at as well as the miter saw power and miter saw size that you go for. All of these factors will affect the price. You will find that there are plenty of miter saws that are budget friendly out there. On the same note, you can find any number of miter saw options that fall into a premium realm.
If you’re looking for the specialty options and abilities, you really do need to choose a miter saw vs. table saw.
There are circular saws and chop saws that look similar to a miter saw by design but these are much more specialized in nature.
Top Recommended Miter Saw
Here is our top recommendation for a quality miter saw if you’re looking for a great option!
DeWalt Sliding Compound Miter Saw
The DeWalt DWS779 is a great option. You get 12 inches of cutting ability mixed with a lot of power and it provides you with a solid solution you can’t overlook.
This saw is precise with a miter system and machined fence support. You can make quick and accurate miter angles with full adjustability but you aren’t limited there. With a sliding fence and all of the support, you can cut just about anything you need.
The table saw is almost the opposite of the miter saw as far as general design but they can do some similar things. The table saw is called such because it’s like a circular saw but it’s built into a table with the blade sticking up through the table. The saw blade is round and moves in circles must like miter saws do and this is where they can be quite similar.
The table saw is built into a saw table with a spinning blade. In this scenario, you move the wood while with a miter saw you pull the blade to the material. The blade on a table saw is often combined with a riving knife and guards for safety purposes. Table saws are known for straight cuts that you simply move along the rip fence. You can rip lumber and make any kind of straight maneuver on the saw table.
While we know table saws make rip cuts like a pro, they often don’t realize that they can make beveled cuts and angled cuts as well. The table saw table can usually be angled for beveling purposes. In addition, many table saws are equipped or can be used with a miter gauge. In this way, table saws and miter saws are really comparable.
The stationary blade holds steady and rotates while you move your wood. In this way, table saws and miter saws are the opposite.
There is more than one type of table saw, just like there is of a miter saw. Here are the most common table saw models.
There is not a whole lot of difference to each of these table saw models, apart from their overall build. For example, a benchtop table saw is designed to be placed on a bench or table for you to use. It doesn’t have a stand ultimately.
Then you have the jobsite table saw, which is on a rolling stand most of the time. This allows you to haul it from jobsite to jobsite and take it where it is needed at the time. This is a portable table saw. The Contractor table saw is also extremely similar to this but usually offers more power overall for heavier work.
The cabinet saw is built on a cabinet and has an excellent dust management system compared to other miter saws and table saws. This saw is heavy and powerful. There is very little to meet its match if you’re looking for power and durability.
Finally, a hybrid model takes the best of a cabinet table saw and a contractor table saw and combines them together. This gives you something slightly smaller and more open but still incredibly powerful and durable. Sometimes, they are also portable as a table saw, which is awesome!
We Think You’ll Like: Best Miter Saw in 2022 – Reviews & Buyers Guide
Table Saw Uses
A table saw is known for cutting straight more than anything or ripping lumber but it can be versatile. You can always accessorize your table saw with a miter gauge and a fence and these will make it more versatile overall.
While table saws are known for cutting straight, they can also be used for things like compound angles, dado cuts, rabbet joints, and even miter cuts just as the miter saw can be. You can cut those angles but it is more challenging with table saws than with a miter saw.
Table saws are used a lot in woodworking for accuracy and precision but not always for angles. They can be great for turning out professional quality work that covers a variety of needs and uses. While table saws can certainly make specialty cuts, they are not as favored for these because a miter saw is designed for such a purpose and can make it easier for things like that.
How Table Saws Work
The table saw is pretty simple to operate and it is generally built for speed. It’s perfect for ripping and making straight cuts.
The blade is built into the table and it rotates based on the speed adjusted to or the speed the power allows. You push the wood into the blade and the blade of the table saw will cut the wood as it moves. You are ultimately feeding the wood to the blade in this scenario and the blade remaining spinning constantly in motion.
Usually, the blade can be moved up or down or adjusted to meet your specific needs and can often be angled as well.
The table saw and the miter often are priced similarly but there can be a broad range. When you look at the table saw, you can find inexpensive models that are Jobsite or benchtop builds. However, if you look at contractor, cabinet, or hybrid, you can expect to spend significantly more on a table saw.
This is because of the overall build, design, and even the power built into them.
Top Recommended Table Saw
DeWalt DWE7491RS Table Saw
DeWalt takes the lead on this powerful tool as well. Their portable table saw has all of the power and all of the functionality, wrapped into a portable option that is well worth the price. This is a 32 1/2 inch saw with rack and pinion plus a solid stand and portable wheels.
The motor comes in with 15 amps of high torque. You get smooth and accurate cuts and optimal versatility that really delivers.
Miter Saw Vs Table Saw Overview
Now that we’ve taken a look at each of these, let’s compare them together.
Remember that these saws are almost built to be the opposite of each other in many ways and yet they can handle a lot of similar tasks. The miter saw is a benchtop model with the blade on an arm above the base. You pull the blade down to the wood or material. The specialty here is angles, bevels, and other similar things but it can also do straight things just fine and even rip although that is not the specialty.
Then the table saw is built into a table with the blade sticking up from the table. You bring the wood to the blade and push it through. They are quick and precise particularly for straight cuts and needs that are similar. The specialty of a table saw is to cut straight or rip some lumber but it is capable of other uses as well, much like the miter saw is.
While these saws both move in circular motions, they are built very differently. While they have different specialties and are designed for some pretty specific purposes, they can both be pretty versatile and they have a lot of cross capabilities.
Should I Get a Table Saw or Miter Saw?
If you aren’t sure which direction to go, we’ve got some thoughts for you to consider. You really want to consider your space as well as what you will primarily be doing with the saw.
For example, if you do a lot of woodworking on the site and your primary purpose is things like frames or molding or angles, all of these really are best off of the miter saw. Now if those are just something you do on occasion but you really want to be able to cut straight and fast or rip lumber, then a table saw might actually be better for your needs.
In the end, you might really decide that you need to have both types of saws but if you’re just starting with one or the other, we recommend considering what you use it for most. This will probably be the ultimate motivating factor to begin with.
Go with the saw that most fits the specialty need of what you intend to use it for the most. You will find that they are both versatile, even though they have specialized and unique purposes by design. This doesn’t limit them completely but makes them more valuable in some areas than others.
Related Review: Track Saw Vs Table Saw
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a table saw cut angles?
Yes, most of them can. You should pay attention to the specs of the table to be sure but in most cases, they can be angled or beveled and you can also typically use them in coordination with a miter gauge as well. This isn’t their primary design but they can accommodate the need in most cases.
What is a miter saw good for?
Almost anything, really! While they are designed for things like bevels, miters, angles, and cross cuts they have been known to be used for cutting straight and ripping lumber as well.
Do I need a table for a miter saw?
Yes, you should plan to have a table or a stand of some sort as these are built for tabletop use. Some larger models may come with stands but this is not the norm for them so we would recommend planning for a table space or a work space.
Is a miter saw worth it?
Miter saws can be incredibly versatile. They can do a lot of things and are reliable for any type of specialty use but they can also be used for simple things as well. They are a great saw and well worth it when you need something.
While the miter saw and table saw are both very different, they can serve similar purposes at times. We hope this guide to better understanding the similarities and differences is a valuable resource for making your decision.
What do you plan to do with your saw of choice?
- Portability: Compact size for ease of transportation and storage
- Easy adjustments: Rack and pinion telescoping fence rails make fence adjustments fast, smooth and accurate
- Variety of cuts: 24.5 inches of rip capacity for ripping 4x8 plywood or OSB sheets
- Power: 15 Amp, 5800 rpm motor
- Onboard storage: Onboard storage provides easy access to the site pro guarding components and push stick when not in use
- RACK AND PINION FENCE RAILS - Ensures fence stays parallel to blade for fast smooth, and accurate cuts
- INTEGRATED FOLDING STAND - Legs quickly fold in to provide portability and convenient storage
- PARALLEL BLADE ALIGNMENT - Available micro-adjustment of blade so that it is parallel to rip fence and miter slot
- 4x4 CUTTING CAPACITY - Cuts material up to 4x4 at 90 degrees
- 2-47° BEVEL CAPACITY - Cuts between 2 positive stops at 0 and 45 degrees with quick release lever
- Your purchase includes one Dewalt table saw, 10inch 24-tooth carbide blade, rolling stand, push stick, miter gauge, rip fence, 2x blade wrenches, blade guard assembly manual
- Other Specs: Max rip to left of blade – 22inch | Max rip to right of blade – 32-1/2inch | Max width of Dado – 13/16inch | Arbor size – 5/8inch | Amps – 15 | Depth of cut at 45inch – 2-1/4inch | Depth of cut at 90° – 3-1/8inch | No Load Speed: 4800 RPM
- Rolling stand designed for easy set up and breakdown with excellent stability
- Rack & Pinion Telescoping Fence System Make fence adjustments fast, smooth and accurate
- Features a 15.0A high torque motor with the power to cut pressure treated lumber and hardwoods