Circular Or Miter Saw: What To Choose For Beginners?

So you’re getting into woodworking and DIY, and now you’re looking for the best wood cutting power tool to buy first. Your choices are either the reliable miter saw, or the versatile circular saw. Which one is best for beginners?

The miter saw is much more beginner-friendly with its easy-to-use pull-down blade. Both saws cut through wood like cutting through butter, and with the correct cutting blade, some models can even cut metal and plastic. Circular saws are more challenging for beginners to pick up and master.

These power tools are different by design. The circular saw is better for longer rip cuts, and the miter saw is better for quick crosscuts. Although the circular saw can cut crosscuts, it’s not easy for beginners to master. Let’s explore which power saw will be best for you.

Circular Saw Vs. Miter Saw

The Best Saw For Beginners

Can A Beginner Use A Miter Saw? 

A miter saw is one of the most beginner-friendly saws out there. It’s easy to use, and the use case is incredible. A miter saw is indispensable in any woodworking shop; being able to cut wood easily with only one stroke, and the cuts are clean; you’ll rarely ever find any splintering if you find any at all.

A miter saw offers a guide rail that allows you to cut straight lines at exact measurements, making it perfect for beginners new to woodworking. With a miter saw, you also have the option of cutting at an angle between 45 degrees and 90 degrees. The only downside to a miter saw is that it is a bulkier machine, and it needs to sit on a tabletop or stand. 

You can use a miter saw on the floor, but it becomes challenging to keep the wood against the guide rail if the floor is not even. Using the miter saw on the ground is possible, but it is not the most comfortable experience.

Using Miter Saw

With the correct blade, a miter saw can cut through aluminum and even steel rods. It gives you an alternative to simply chopping wood. Use the miter saw to cut more rigid plastics like PVC pipes.

Remove the dust collector bag from the back of the machine when cutting metal. Sparks from cutting metal will set the dust collector on fire. Remember to put it back on when you want to cut wood again to protect yourself from sawdust.

Can A Beginner Use A Circular Saw? 

The circular saw is a heavier handheld power tool that uses rotational motion to make straight cuts. It’s also more portable, making it easy to transport to any construction location or to cut considerably larger proportions. While very versatile, it is not very beginner-friendly. Instead of taking the wood to the saw, you can take the saw to the wood. 

The circular saw isn’t as easy to use and master as the miter saw, but it is also pretty straightforward to use. Using a circular saw for straight cuts might seem intimidating at first, but they are simple to do once you master the basics.

Using Circular Saw

Keep a firm grip on the saw since the pull of the rotational momentum surprises beginners. Keeping it against a guide rail or on the markings needs practice. 

Circular saws are best for ripping sheet lumber such as plywood, OSB, plasterboard, chipboard, and MDF.  

Safety Tips While Using Woodworking Saws 

  • Changing the blades: Remember to keep the saw plugged out when changing the saw-blade of your miter saw or circular saw. You wouldn’t want to turn on the saw while changing the blades accidentally.
  • A safe distance from the blade: While cutting, keep your limbs at least 6-7 inches away from the cutting edge. Focus on where you place your fingers at all times.
  • Wear safety glasses: The saw blades run at a very high rate, 2000 RPM to 4500 RPM, depending on the machine model. When the blade’s cutting edge connects the wood at speed, sawdust, tiny splinters, and even small bits of wood can fly everywhere. A piece of wood is the last thing you want to dart into your unprotected eye. 
  • Proper ventilation: While cutting wood, always stay in a well-ventilated area. Having a sawdust collector is better indoors, but you can also wear a dust mask. Breathing in the sawdust can lead to lung problems and even cause lung diseases like occupational asthma and even lung cancer. 

How Often Should You Replace Your Blade?

In general, your blade can last anywhere from 3-6 months and even up to 1 year. But it depends on how often you use your saw-blade and what material you are cutting.

Once you feel like your blade isn’t cutting the wood as well as you’d like it to, try cleaning it and look for chippings in the saw blade. If you notice any defects on the blade or that the blade is getting dull, it is time to replace it.

The procedure for changing blades is the same for a miter and a circular saw. Beginners should not have too much difficulty changing blades on either machine. Consult your user manual for your model if you are struggling to replace the saw-blade. 

How Often Should You Clean Your Power Saws?

It would be beneficial to clean your saw after each use or every other use. After every 20 or so uses, you should do a deep clean, opening up your saw covers and cleaning in between the deep crevices.

A thorough cleaning will lessen the likelihood of your equipment malfunctioning. It’s possible to clean it with compressed air or a vacuum cleaner to blow or suck away any stuck wood particles. Use a brush or pry tool for more stubborn areas.


A circular saw is more versatile and portable than a miter saw, but it can perform any cut a miter saw can, plus more. Beginners will find the miter saw considerably easier to use with its guide rails and pull-down functionality. You always cut straight with a miter saw, whereas a circular saw is more complicated to use and master.

Both power saws have their place in a woodshop for beginners or skilled veterans alike. Provided you have suitable cutting blades; you’ll be able to cut wood, metals, and even plastics. 

James Thomas

James Thomas

Tool Enthusiast

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.