It can be a bit confusing to understand the differences between a table saw and a miter saw. When you are starting out you want to make sure you have the best saw for the jobs you are going to be performing.
We aim to teach you all about the pros and cons of these power saws, and their uses for different projects. Our guide highlights the differences in their applications and to help you make the right decision before purchasing.
Recap: Miter saw vs table saw
Both saws use a spinning blade with teeth to cut through materials, normally wood. But before we go straight into explaining their differences lets quickly recap on what determines a table saw or a miter saw.
What is a table saw?
A table saw is a machine that allows you to cut pieces of material into smaller sections as determined by the settings you dictate. It uses an electrical motor to spin a circular blade at high speeds. The blade is built into the underside of the table with the cutting edge of the blade protruding through the table.
When cutting the material is pushed along the table into the path of the cutting blade. You can cut any size material as long as it is supported throughout the cut. A table saw fence is used to provide a straight edge to push your material up against. These can be moved along the table to adjust the width of the cut.
- Great for large material and long cuts
- Very versatile with the different cuts it can make
- Takes up valuable space in your workshop
- Can be dangerous if not used correctly and with caution
- Heavy and cumbersome
What is a miter saw?
A miter saw shares a few similarities with a table saw. It also uses a circular blade powered by an electric motor. However, the blade sits above the table and is brought down towards the wood which is secured onto the miter saw table. The width of the material you can cut is limited by both the blade radius and if the miter saw has a sliding function or not.
A compound miter saw can also rotate its blade which is perfect for making compound miter cuts and bevel cuts. For trim work around your house and corners, a miter saw is great.
- Perfect for bevel and miter cuts
- Very accurate thanks to its clear scales on the table and blade
- Lots of safety controls such as a blade cover
- Can’t make rip cuts or cut large material
The main differences between a miter saw and a table saw
The standard differences between a miter saw and a table saw are functionality, price, and portability. These are the areas we will focus on to help you make your decision.
Understanding the full functionality of any power tool is important to make sure it is utilized to its potential. An average miter saw can only make crosscuts and bevel cuts and is limited in the width of the cut. In comparison, a table saw has a much greater variety of cuts and sizes of material it can handle.
Some people claim that table saws aren’t as accurate as a miter saw. This comes down to how a table saw is used and set up with its table fence and blade alignment. For quick and small jobs, a miter saw is good as you can make adjustments easily.
A table saw is often more expensive than a miter saw. This is because of the extra power and functionality that they come with as standard. But prices and functionality do vary across brands and different retailers so make sure you know what you are buying before purchasing.
On average a miter saw is much easier to transport to a job site than a table saw. They are smaller and more manageable. Mobile table saws are a good option but it is best to leave your table saw in your workshop and take a miter saw to a job site if moving around a lot.
What to consider when buying a table saw or miter saw
Think about the projects you will be working on most of the time and if they require large or small lengths of materials. A miter saw is great for crosscuts and cutting angles quickly. But by being limited by its slider and blade radius you cannot cut wider lumber.
If you find that you are cutting lots of crosscuts and changing angles a lot then a miter saw might suit your work more than a table saw. It all depends on how much material are you cutting and what finish are you looking for. Don’t forget to think about the area where you will be working. Table saws are often bigger than miter saws but they don’t need supports as it comes built-in.
Here at Workshopedia, we suggest that a table saw is overall more versatile than a miter saw. They can do everything a miter saw can do plus a lot more, notably rip cuts. It is worth noting however that a table saw will take up more space and is a bigger investment. These shouldn’t be reasons not to purchase as you will find yourself using your table saw time and time again.