When it comes to your projects you know that it’s always better to use the right tool for the job. It saves time, your results are more precise, and nobody doubts that you know what you are doing. So, when it comes to project work what is the difference between a miter saw and a circular saw? In this article we are going to explore the differences in these two in order to give you a better idea of the exact best uses for these tools. Let’s begin round one of miter saw vs circular saw!
What is a miter saw?
The primary function of a miter saw is part of its name. A miter refers to any cut that is NOT of a 90 degree angle. While it can do accurate crosscuts as well it specializes in these sorts of angled cuts. It is similar in appearance to a circular saw but much easier to use. It is a bit of a specialty tool so a miter saw is not a very good impulse buy. Unless you are doing a very specific type of project (which we will explain later in this article) then it’s likely going to spend a lot of time just sitting in your garage.
What is a circular saw?
A circular saw is quite useful to have around. Basically this power tool is just housing for a circular blade that can be used to cut wood, plastics, and even some metals. Relatively inexpensive, you can get them in corded or cordless models and unlike the miter saw this is a much less specialized tool. You can use it for many different kinds of cuts but it does take a bit of time to master its use. If you are considering an impulse buy for a new garage tool then this is a fine one to consider and we’ll discuss some of its after we go into some of the differences between the two saws.
Can you highlight the differences between these saws?
While they both appear similar there are actually quite a few differences to note. Here are a few of the more noticeable differences between these types of saws:
- Cutting plywood – Your circular saw is great for cutting plywood but this is not something that you will be doing with a miter saw.
- Accuracy for crosscuts – The miter saw is specialized for this and as such, it is going to make precise crosscuts. The circular saw CAN be used to make crosscuts but it is much more difficult.
- Mobility – Your circular saw can go anywhere that you want to take it, quite easily, but your miter saw is going to be attached to a workbench.
“Your circular saw can go anywhere that you want to take it.”
- Rabbet and Dado notch cuts – If you need to do some rabbet and dado square notch cuts then you can do them with your circular saw. You can also do them with a miter but you will need a sliding miter saw.
- Rip cuts – Rip cuts can be done with ease with a circular saw but you cannot do them with a miter saw.
- Price – Circular saws are cheap if you want one, by comparison a miter saw is a bit expensive.
When is the best time to use a miter saw?
The types of projects where a miter saw is going to be of use to you are such tasks as building tables, decks, photo framing, or making furniture. The angled cuts that the miter can provide accurately and quickly will save you an enormous amount of time in projects of this nature. It is a precision tool and designed for exactly this kind of work.
When is the best time to use a circular saw?
A circular saw is a ‘jack of all trades’ for cutting and there are many instances when you will want to use one. Just about any carpentry that you intend to do is going to benefit from the presence of a circular saw and best of all, as you use it more and more over time you will learn many types of cuts that you can use in a range of projects. Thus the best time to use a circular saw is pretty much any time that you need to do home maintenance or general carpentry projects.
Should I buy one of each?
While you could certainly buy one of each we would advise you not to and this is why. By simply purchasing a circular saw you should be able to do just about any cutting that you need and you won’t have to take up space in your garage for the miter saw that you might only end up using once or twice. Unless you are making picture frames or furniture, as we mentioned previously, the specialized cuts of a miter simply aren’t going to be of much use to you. A circular saw can do quite accurate cuts when you utilize a rail or even a simple jig made of hardwood that you’ve clamped to the area you are working on, for instance. It’s versatile, portable, and won’t eat up much of that valuable space in the garage. Now, if you WILL BE making photo frames, furniture, or are thinking of building a nice deck outside then by all means get a miter as it will save you a lot of time. Otherwise hang on to that cash or simply splurge and get yourself a really NICE circular saw.
In this article we have discussed the differences between a circular saw and a miter saw. As you can see, the circular saw is the more versatile of the two but the miter certainly has its uses. It’s all going to depend on the needs of your project but unless the work is fairly specialized then that circular saw is probably all that you are going to need when it comes to cutting. Good luck on your next project with that new saw!