Miter Saw Vs Circular Saw | How Do You Choose What’s Best?

If you’re a budding woodworker or are simply looking to expand your inventory, one of the hardest choices you’ll face is selecting which tool is the best for you. This is the case many faces when deciding between the miter saw and the circular saw.

It’s common to find many advertisements that place the importance of having both the miter saw and the circular saw in your inventory, but which is best for your needs? To answer this question, we’ve created this guide for you.

Firstly, you need to know what exactly is best for your needs, you’ll need to ask the question; what is the difference between a miter and a circular saw? A circular saw is more versatile and powerful, whereas a miter saw are designed to make accurate cuts at specific angles.

Don’t worry, though – within this article, we’ll go into more detail for you. If you don’t have too much time on your hands to read this at the moment, I’ve made a quick overview of the main points discussed, so you can come back a better suited time:

  • Both the miter and circular saw are found in both corded and cordless varieties
  • Miter saws excel at making angled and bevel cuts, and do so with incredible precision
  • Circular saws offer more versatility and can cut through almost any material at ease, with the correct blade
  • Miter saws are more expensive than circular saws and can be difficult to transport than a circular saw
  • Circular saws can often include features of a miter saw, but the angled cuts are not as precise as the alternative.

Miter Saw Vs Circular Saw

It may seem that both the miter and circular saw serve the same function can often seem as though they’re similar power tools. 

However, this isn’t the case, and whilst they can perform similar tasks – they’re quite different from each other, and are both better suited for their own specific jobs, as you’ll come to see within this article.

With that being said, let’s begin our look into the miter saw.

What Is A Miter Saw?

The miter saw was designed in the 1970s, and features a blade which is used to cut above the stock you’re working on. Miter saws specialize in making accurate cuts, such as miter, bevel and crosscuts. Miter saws offer an accurate cut that a circular saw doesn’t – however, this comes at the compromise of power.

Miter saws come in two forms; corded and cordless. Here’s a quick rundown on both types of miter saws:

  • Corded Miter Saws: Powered from an electrical outlet, with common sizes of miter saws between 10” and 12”. You can find miter saws in five types; standard, sliding, compound, compound sliding, and dual compound sliding miter saw.
  • Cordless Miter Saws: Battery powered and portable, which make it perfect for the professional contractor. Can reach speeds of up to 5,700 RPM and is often fitted with useful attachments such as LED lights, dust blowers and laser sightlines.

What Features Would I Find On A Miter Saw?

A miter saw is a specialized type of saw, and you’ll come to find that the features found on one are reflective of this.
Within a miter saw, you’ll find a blade, motor, (and battery for cordless models), miter scale, and also additional features that enhance cutting performance or visibility.

Blades on a miter saw ranges from sizes of 10” to 12”, pending on the size of your miter saw. The blades can come in many forms, pending on the application they’re used for and are generally made from tungsten carbide. Blades are manufactured to range from 32 to 100 teeth.

The motor of a miter saw channels the power throughout the saw, giving the blade the ability to make its’ accurate cuts. Motors on cordless classes can range anywhere between 12 and 15-amps, with a maximum speed of 5,000 RPM. The cordless class features a battery to power the motor and also features a similar amperage and RPM speed.

The miter scale is integral for this saw, as it allows you to make angled cuts which it’s known for. Miter scales contain ‘stop’, which are the common angles used to assist in cutting for. Some examples of these stops can include 45° and 90°, with other stops available, pending on the quality of the miter saw.

What Would I Be Using A Miter Saw For?

If you’re using a miter saw, you won’t be using it for its power, even though the miter saw is still quite a powerful saw. Predominantly, you’d be using a miter saw for its precision and accuracy when cutting angles into your stock.

If you’re building furniture or working on projects that requires trim work, a miter saw would be the preferred saw to use. Miter saws can assist in making miter, bevel and cross-cuts, and can elevate your craftsmanship as you gain more experience.

Strengths & Weaknesses Of A Miter Saw

Favorite Miter Saw: The DeWalt DWS780

The DeWalt DWS780 is a corded miter saw and is regarded by many professionals and hobbyists as being the best on the market. The DWS780 is powered by 15-amps and a 3,800 RPM speed and can cut up to 2 x 16 lumber at 90°, as well as 2 x 12 at 45°. 

It features the XPS Crosscut System, which provides an incredibly clear line of sight when making a cut, projecting a light powered by LED onto both sides of the saw’s blade.

With its power and incredible accuracy capabilities combined, it’s no surprise as to why the DWS780 miter saw from DeWalt is a favorite of many.

What Is A Circular Saw?

It can easily be said that the circular saw is a staple in the contractor or DIYer’s arsenal – thanks to its impressive cutting capability and the versatility it can provide when ripping through materials.

The circular saw brings the blade to the material, and the blade is allowed more flexibility as you’re cutting. Circular saws can be used for a variety of projects, as you’ll read later on.

Circular saws, miter saws, can be found in both corded and cordless varieties. Due to their sheer power, circular saws can cut through many materials, not only limited to wood, such as stone and tiles, metals and piping, to name some examples.

For these materials, you’ll need a specific blade tailored to take on the job.

What Features Would I Find On A Circular Saw?

Like the miter saw, the circular saw features core components that are vital to its performance – and contains similar features such as the blade and motor, (plus batteries for cordless versions), as well as depth adjustments and adjustable shoes to press against materials for smoother cuts.

The blades of a circular saw are incredibly powerful and can be used to rip through even the heaviest and toughest of materials, and are often made of carbide, and tipped with tungsten or diamond – depending on their chosen application. Blades can be found ranging from 18 to 80 teeth.

The motor found on a circular saw is the heart of this power tool. The amperage of a circular saw motor sits around the 15 mark, allowing it to reach speeds of 5,300 RPMs – which means you will be cutting with ease when partnered with the right blade. 

Batteries found in cordless models have an exceptional lifespan, and models, such as the XSS02Z from Makita, include a computer-controlled battery design that protects both the battery and saw from overcharging and overloading – increasing the longevity of the saw.

Other features found on the circular saw include bevel stops and aluminum shoes, as well as integrated dust blowers and lasers which assist in increasing the accuracy of your cutting, enhancing the finished quality of your projects.

What Would I Be Using A Circular Saw For?

If you’re using a circular saw, you can complete many tasks thanks to its extreme versatility. Ripping through large wooden boards can be done at ease, and it’s one of the main reasons as to why the circular saw is found in every serious professional or hobbyists’ home.

Many modern circular saws now include table bases, allowing you to set angles and make bevel cuts, as well as an array of depth adjustments. If you’re an experienced worker, you’ll find that a circular saw could eliminate the need for a miter saw – especially if you know exactly what you’re doing, and how your saw works.

Circular saws can often be seen as smaller table saws – and often match table saws in the power department, whilst offering a wider range of functions to help you complete the job.

Favourite Circular Saw: The DeWalt DWE575SB

The DeWalt DWE575SB features a 15-amp motor which allows the saw to reach an RPM of 5,200 – which can cut through pieces of stock with its’ carbide tipped 7-¼” blade up to depths of 2.55” at 90°, and 1.9” at 45”.

The DWE575SB is packed with features that provide greater safety for the user, such as an electric brake that immediately stops the blade once the trigger is released, and comfortable, ergonomic handles that allow you the DWE575SB to be used for longer periods of time.

The DWE575SB is incredibly light, weighing only 8.8 lbs – which makes it one of the lightest saws on the market.

The Final Say

There we have it – an in-depth look into both the circular and miter saw, so you’ll hopefully now have a clearer idea of which is best for your needs. 

In short, the circular saw is a staple in the inventory of every person that considers themselves a professional – and can cut through almost anything with the appropriate blade. If you’re wanting to cut through longboards and quickly – the power of the circular saw will get this done for you.

The miter saw is perfect for specialized angled cuts, such as the miter, bevel and crosscut. However, outside of this use – the miter saw struggles to impress, and are often expensive when compared to that of a circular saw.

Of course – this will also fall into your preference, but hopefully, you’ll now know which of the miter or circular saw is best for your needs. Let us know your preferred saw, as well as any tips you have for those just starting out – by leaving us a comment below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which of these two saws are more dangerous? 

When comparing both the circular and miter saw, the circular saw is by far more dangerous. The circular saw is more versatile and can be more prone to kick back than a miter saw, meaning you’re more at risk of injuring yourself. 

Of course, any saw with a blade is dangerous if not used correctly.

James Thomas

James Thomas

Tool Enthusiast

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