Track Saw Vs. Miter Saw (6 Key Differences)

Last Updated on August 28, 2022 by Barry Gray

This in-depth comparison of Miter saws and Track saws will assist you in making your decision on the apt saw for your woodworking projects.

Since the saws are built for different uses, the decision of using a track saw vs. miter saw comes down to the task at hand.

  • The track saw makes rip cuts, whereas the miter specializes in crosscuts.
  • In contrast to track saws, miter saws are specialty tools.
  • Miter saws are mostly stationary and are mounted on a table, while track saws are lightweight and portable. Also, a miter saw takes up more workshop space than a track saw.
  • A miter saw allows angled cuts easier, faster, and more accurately while a track saw can only make long straight cuts.
  • Miter saws use blades that drop from above the work piece, whereas track saws move the blade along a guided track.
  • A miter saw allows you to cut wider pieces from your material. Unlike other saws, a track saw does not offer versatility, which is why it is not appropriate for a variety of projects.

Track saws and Miter saws have a few main differences. While track saws are more accurate and precise than circular saws, they are also more limited because they have to slide along a track.

What is a Miter saw?

working with miter saw outdoors

Miter saw is a stationary cutting tool that is used to make miter cuts or angled cuts in wood or plastic. Also known as the chop saw, it comes with a stationary base and a circular hinged saw that lifts up and down in a chopping motion. A miter saw allows for rapid and accurate cross-cutting of wood.

To make cuts, the target material is placed on the cutting base against a metal barrier, known as the fence, which keeps the material in place. The saw is attached to a handle that extends from the front of the table.

To prevent the saw from moving when not in use or once you have selected your preferred cut angle, a locking mechanism is present. The locking mechanism is a lifesaver when you need to make identical cuts in multiple pieces of material. 

Key features of a Miter saw

  • Fence: A metal barrier to support and clamp the material being cut.
  • Protective blade guard: The saw blade is protected by a protective guard to avoid injury and for improved safety.
  • Motor-powered cutter: Miter saws are run on powerful cutters that allow for blades to be precise.
  • Dust port: The miter saw has an in-built dust collection mechanism which traps all the dust.
  • Depth stops: Depth stops allow you to adjust the height of the blade, which controls how deep it cuts into your work piece.  

Types of Miter saws

miter saw measuring the next cut

Miter saws are categorized into three types based on specific functions. Other than the standard miter saw that comes with a pivoting cutting base or table and a blade that lifts up or comes down vertically to cut through the material on the base, there are the compound miter saw and the sliding compound miter saw.

While a standard miter saw has only a pivoting base, a compound miter saw features a circular blade that can swivel left and right, usually from 90 degrees to a maximum angle of 45 degrees. This allows the tool to make bevel and compound cuts through the material. 

A sliding compound miter saw, as the name suggests, features a sliding extendable arm, a pivoting table for crosscuts, and a tilting blade for bevel cuts. The sliding arm makes it easier to cut through larger material.

Miter saw sizes

Miter saws are available in a variety of sizes and diameters. The saw blade ranges from 8 to 12-inch sizes. 

When should you use a Miter saw?

making angled cut with miter saw

Being a specialty tool, you only need to get one if you have specific jobs that require this tool. For instance, if you need to make multiple cuts on standard lumber, the miter saw can be an ideal choice. They are also useful for cutting trim pieces and deck planks and excel at cross-cutting.

You can make repeated cuts and cut wider pieces at an angle. The miter saw is superior in precision for furniture and cabinetry.


  • Miter saws allow you to align a cut with more precision. The blade does not wander while you are cutting.
  • With a Miter saw, you can quickly mass produce parts as it is easy to make the same type of cut over and over again.


  • Can be used for a specific purpose – miter saws only do crosscuts.
  • The size of the saw is limit. You can only use Miter saws up to 12-inch-wide.
  • You may need an additional table while cutting long stock.

What is a Track saw?

getting ready to use track saw

A track saw is a handheld saw that slide along a guiding rail or rectangular track to create long straight cuts. You can attach the rail to the wood along the exact path you want to cut. You can then slide the saw down the rail, resulting in a smooth, straight cut.

Also known as a plunge saw, their portability makes them perfect for DIY projects at home and workshops with limited space.

Key features of a Track saw

  • Protective blade guard: Just like the Miter saw, Track saws have a blade cover as a safety measure.
  • Circular blades: Track saws have circular blades that make almost perfect cuts. The accuracy of these cuts means you do not have to make any recuts on your work piece.
  • Guide rail/track: Track saws are attached to a guide rail or tracks that guide them across the board to make a smooth and clean cut. Tracks come in different lengths 2, 4, 8 and 12-foot are the commonly found tracks.
  • Dust port: Track saws have a dust collection system which keeps the working area clean. 
  • Rubber strips: Sticky rubber strips are used on the track bottom to ensure they will not slip or create jagged cuts during the cutting process.

Track saw sizes

Track saws come in different sizes ranging from 4½ inches that can cut materials just larger than 1 inch thick to 6½-inch blades that can cut materials around 2 inches thick to 8¼-inch blades that can cut materials closer to 2¾ inches thick. 

When should you use a Track saw?

track saw lumber

Making straight cuts without creating jagged edges is much easier with a track saw. This tool is perfect for those who have to move around from one work site to another. It is also ideal for smaller workshops. The design of the saw enables easy and safe plunge cutting. You only need to set the cut depth on the tool.

A track saw is ideal for cutting large sheet items. Due to its ability to cut shorter pieces, you can even use the track saw to make perfectly straight cuts. It combines the portability and convenience of a circular saw with some of the popular functions of a table saw.


  • Track saws are portable and can be easily carried from one location to another.
  • You do not need much space to store a track saw.


  • It comes with less motor power.
  • There needs to be a more precise set-up for a track saw in order to produce perfect cuts every time. Setting up can be time-consuming
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Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.

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