Miter Saw vs Circular Saw | A Clear Winner?

Do you want to get into advanced woodworking projects? If yes, then you must be wondering which saw you should get. 

As you start moving towards an advanced level, you will likely hear a lot about the miter saw and the circular saw. Even though most professional woodworkers will probably have both variants, there is still a raging debate about which one is a better choice. 

This can be quite confusing even for a professional trying to get a new saw for their workshop. So, it’s crucial to know more about each saw to avoid ending up with one that might not be helpful for your projects. 

To put you at ease, we have come up with this guide to compare the miter saw with the circular saw. Moreover, we will closely look at each variant to let you know what to expect from these saws. 

Hence, without further delay, let’s begin!

Miter Saw Vs. Circular Saw 

Miter saw vs circular saw

Before we start comparing the two saws, it’s crucial to have a look at the basic capacities of each variant. The overview will give you a fair idea of what you can expect from each saw. If you are just getting to advanced woodworking projects, pay attention as we are about to tell you what the professionals prefer. 

Now, let’s look at our two contenders individually. 

Miter Saws

You may think that a miter saw would only be useful for making miter cuts in a wood piece, but that won’t be right. True, this saw is specially made to make “miter” or angled cuts. 

However, with this variant of saw, you can make many other cuts like the crosscut, the bevel cut, and the compound cut. One of the only things you can’t do with this saw is rip boards, as the blade of a miter saw can only cut across a wood piece.  

The miter saw is an indispensable power tool for woodworking professions as it lets you create corners in a project. So, while making a door frame, chest, or photo frame, using the miter saw makes creating seamless corners easier. 

Working with a miter saw is quite simple and learning to operate it only takes a short while. There’s a handle on this saw which lets you bring down the blade onto a wood plank and pushing the handle’s trigger makes the cut. For making a miter or a bevel cut, you will just need to set the angle from the angle stopper and maneuver the handle accordingly. 

All this may sound a bit challenging for an amateur woodworker, but you will get the hang of it pretty soon. Also, placing the miter saw on an elevated platform adds stability to create clean cuts. 

Another great thing about miter saws is that a lot of variants are available on the market. Apart from the standard miter saw, you can also get the single or double-bevel miter saw and the compound miter saw. 

The miter saw also has excellent safety measures, and the guard on the blade prevents you from getting too close to the saw. 

Circular Saws

The mention of the word “circular” in the name of this saw can be a little deceiving. You should know that most saws, even the miter saw, have circular blades. However, what sets the circular saw apart is its compact size which makes it lightweight and portable. 

Moreover, the circular saw is one of the most essential power tools a woodworker may have in their workshop. As a handheld tool, this saw makes working on outdoor projects easier, making it an excellent tool for those who do contract work.  

The versatility of the circular saw sets it up from other power tools. With interchangeable blades, one can cut through several materials like plastic, concrete, metal, or tiles. Certain models also come with diamond blades which makes cutting any material fast and efficient. 

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To cut a piece of wood, you will need to place the blade directly on the wooden surface and make the cut. You will need to apply a little more pressure to keep it stable and get precise cuts as it’s a handheld power tool. 

When it comes to making different types of cuts, the circular saw gives you a lot more space to learn. These saws can perform the usual rip and crosscuts. But, with a bit more practice, you can easily pick up the skill to carry out miter and bevel cuts. 

Additionally, circular saws come in corded or cordless variants. So, if you’re okay with spending a bit more money, we recommend getting a rechargeable model that works freely without needing you to worry about the cord getting in the way. 

Along with being portable, it’s also easy to store a circular saw as it doesn’t take up much space. Hence, it’s a great option for those who lack a workshop.

Miter Saw Vs. Circular Saw Differences 

Are you a little confused about the differences between the two saws? Let’s have a detailed look at the contrasting points present between the miter saw and the circular saw. While getting your saw, make sure to keep these points in mind to get a product that will work according to your expectations.

  1. Ease Of Use 

One of the crucial deciding factors behind getting a power tool is its useability. No one likes to use a saw that would cause trouble while on a project. Having said that, most power tools do come with some sort of a learning curve, and it gets easier to use them with practice. 

When it comes to individual preferences, more people like using the miter saw because of its stability than the circular saw. Moreover, it’s easier to maneuver the miter saw as it comes with a fixed and stable workbench. This also lets you get cleaner cuts from the miter saw, which helps to create aesthetic angles and corners in wood pieces. 

The situation is quite different with the circular saw, as it’s a handheld device. Hence, you would need to learn to handle the saw in such a way as to get precise and clean cuts. For an amateur woodworker, this might not be the easiest thing to do. 

Hence, when it comes to ease of use, the miter saw gets an appreciative nod from the professionals and the amateurs. 

  1. Types Of Cuts 

The key difference seen between the miter saw and the circular saw is the types of cuts made by the two variants. Now, most professionals will tell you that you can use the circular saw to make almost all types of cuts, and they are correct. 

However, you need to spend a lot of time learning the technicalities of using the circular saw to make miter or bevel cuts. Having said that, one of the points where the circular saw stands out is its ability to make rip cuts. So, you will be able to use the handheld saw to rip through large wooden boards, which isn’t possible with a miter saw. 

Also, the circular saw is suitable for cutting through plywood or any such material with a long length. In comparison, the miter saw helps to cut along the width of a wood piece, and it isn’t meant to perform rip cuts. 

But, the precision and stability provided by the miter saw set it apart from the circular saw. You will get faster and cleaner angled cuts using a miter saw, even if you are a novice woodworker. Additionally, there are angle stops in the miter saw which make achieving and measuring the angles for cuts easier. 

Hence, professionals rely on using the miter saw to have better finishes on their projects. Nevertheless, if you decide on getting a circular saw, spend some time learning the various techniques and measurements of achieving the different types of cuts. 

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  1. Precision And Accuracy 

If you’re an advanced woodworker looking for a saw that will give you the ability to get perfect angled cuts, then a miter saw would be the best option. Miter saws come with a stationary workspace where you need to place the wood piece. There’s also a fence that keeps the wood piece steady while you bring down the blade upon the wood. 

Moreover, there are angle stops, and helpful scales on a miter saw that help you get precise and clean cuts. Even professionals prefer to use miter saws to get the job done faster and to get cleaner cuts. 

Also, you don’t need to put any extra pressure on the miter saw to add stability. So, if you are looking for a saw that gives you the fastest precise, and clean cuts, go for a miter saw. 

In comparison, as a handheld device, the circular saw provides the least amount of accuracy. A beginner will need to spend some time learning the techniques of getting smooth or clean cuts. And, even the slightest of wobbliness can derail you from getting the cut according to your precise measurements. 

However, from the point of view of a DIY-er, the circular saw may seem like an excellent choice, as the priority is to pick up skills rather than good-looking cuts. With a circular saw, you also don’t need much preparation before making the cut. 

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  1. Portability And Storage 

Are you someone who likes to work on outdoor projects? If yes, then a circular saw might work better for you. Moreover, the cordless models let you operate everywhere without needing to think about the cord getting in your way. 

The circular saws mostly have a lightweight plastic body making them easy to move around and carry. You also won’t need to think much about storing the circular saw as it can easily fit into a cupboard or even under a table. 

On the other hand, the miter saw is definitely not as portable as the circular saw, but it’s definitely more compact than the table saw. You can still take the miter saw to a job site if there’s a need for it, but make sure to put it on a stable platform. 

However, the miter saw will need considerably more space when it comes to storage as it has a workbench. So, you should always think about the availability of space and the need for portability before choosing between the saws.

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  1. Safety 

When it comes to woodworking, one of the points that should never slip your mind is safety. If you have been thinking about setting up a workshop, it’s of utmost necessity to ensure safety. 

Similarly, the manufacturers of saws also need to brainstorm about ways to make their products safer. This includes added safety guards or fences so that the user doesn’t get too close to the blade. 

However, they can only do limited things, as adding many safety features to a circular saw may take away its portability. So, you will need to use proper protective gear while working with the circular saw, and it’s necessary to do the same while using other kinds of saws. 

Miter saws do fair better because of the added safety features that make working with them easily manageable. Even a beginner can use a miter saw without needing to think about getting hurt. Also, as it’s a stationary tool, the chance of getting wobbly is pretty low. 

That being said, newer models of circular saws do come with more safety features than before. And, reading the instruction manual gives a better idea about using the saw to avoid getting into problems. 

So, make sure to wear your woodworking gloves and protective gear to stay safe during working with the saws. 

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  1. Cost 

In most cases, we found the cost of the standard miter saw to be more than a standard circular saw. However, when we had a look at the more advanced variants of the saws, the price depended a lot on the extra feature. Even the different types of miter saws can have a considerable price gap between them. 

Hence, choosing a saw based on your needs and expectations is always better than just looking at the cost. Also, as a specialized power tool, miter saws often come with a bit more pricey tag, especially when you go for products from renowned brands. 

If you are just a beginner, it’s better not to spend too much on a saw only because it has some added features. Rather you should pay attention to specific requirements and go for the saw that will help you create the desired projects. This also means that if you need to spend a few extra bucks to get a miter saw, don’t hesitate to get the item.

Miter Saw: Advantages

    • Precise and accurate cuts 
    • Easy to maneuver 
    • Good for novice woodworkers 
    • Best for miter and bevel cuts 
    • Aesthetic and clean cuts 
    • Cleaner crosscuts 
    • Safer to use 
    • Excellent for chopping wood into smaller pieces

Miter Saw: Disadvantages 

    • Less portable 
    • Takes up more storage space
    • Cannot perform rip cuts 
    • Expensive 

Circular Saw: Advantages 

    • Portable and lightweight design 
    • Handheld
    • Provides more control over cuts
    • Good for outdoor projects
    • Easy to store 
    • Able to make different cuts 
    • Works with long wood pieces 
    • Affordable 

Circular Saw: Disadvantages 

    • Long learning curve 
    • Less precision 
    • Average lifespan 
    • Requires added safety precautions 

Who Should Go For A Miter Saw?

We are almost on our way to making the verdict. But, before doing that, we wanted to tell you about which saw would be the best choice for your projects. So, let’s start by having a look at who should get the miter saw. 

If you are looking for a power tool that provides fast and precisely angled cuts, then you should definitely get the miter saw. This point is also valid for professional woodworkers who want to upgrade their workshop and finish projects quickly. 

Moreover, anyone looking to sell their projects would benefit from the miter saw as it helps you get cleaner and aesthetic-looking cuts. Also, if you often make things that call for trims or corners, then a miter saw will make the process much smoother. 

However, if your goal is to have a more versatile tool that helps you learn different cuts, then the miter saw won’t be a suitable option. For getting skilled at woodworking, a circular saw, or a table saw are favorable options. 

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Who Should Go For A Circular Saw?   

The topic of getting a circular saw at times can be quite controversial because many people think it’s risky to use it as a power tool. However, we believe that the newer models have done a great job revising the old circular saw design to make it much safer. 

Nevertheless, the circular saw is a beloved tool of many people because of its versatility. You can make almost all kinds of cuts with the help of a circular saw and even more. It’s also great for ripping through the long boards, which is a feature that’s missing in miter saws. 

We can’t mention the circular saw without talking a bit about its portability. The circular saw has become a favorite of woodworkers who like to take a saw to their job site with renewed designs. 

So, if you are someone who values portability and versatility, the circular saw will be an asset for you. Moreover, we will suggest professional woodworkers to have both saws in their workshop to have the ability to have the flexibility to work on various kinds of projects. 

Also, if you want to work with different materials, the circular saw would let you try out new things. Just make sure to be safe, and you will indeed have a lot of fun with the circular saw. 

Miter Saw vs Circular Saw FAQ

1. Can You Use A Circular Saw As A Miter Saw?

One of the burning questions of woodworkers is if they really need to buy a miter saw if they have already got a circular saw. Technically, a circular saw can perform most of the cuts that the miter saw helps you to get. However, a miter saw has much more precision compared to a circular saw.

And, it would also take you some time to learn to achieve a miter or bevel cut with a circular saw. So, if you are just starting and want to get angled cuts in the wood, it’s better to go for a miter saw.

2. Is A Miter Saw Safer Than A Circular Saw?

While comparing different types of saws, we have seen that saws with a stable base are safer than the handheld models. Similarly, the miter saw proves to be a safer option when compared to circular saws. However, with time and more practice with any saw, you will get better at maintaining your safety.

3. Is It Worth Buying A Miter Saw?

When it comes to setting up a woodworking workshop, the miter saw is one of the most valuable things that you can get. Once you start doing advanced projects, the miter saw will help you to make angled cuts easily. It’s great for DIY woodworking projects like creating door frames, picture frames, and window casings.

4. Can You Change the Blades of A Circular Saw?

The ability to change the blades of a circular saw will depend on its model. More advanced models allow you to interchange between different kinds of blades or even blades of different sizes. For many woodworkers, the interchangeable blade of a circular saw is crucial to work with various materials. Hence, while getting your circular saw, make sure to look at its features concerning the blade.

5. Is It Difficult To Maintain A Miter Saw?

Contrary to popular belief, it’s relatively easy to maintain a miter saw. Most models come with a sawdust collecting mechanism, which makes the disposal of waste effortless. For better guidance about maintaining a miter saw, go through the manual and follow the regular care instructions to have a healthy saw with a long lifespan.

Miter saw vs circular saw

Verdict: Miter Saw or Circular Saw?  

We have come to the very end of comparing the miter saw with the circular saw, and we’re sure you’re excited to know the winner between the two. However, declaring a winner isn’t easy, as both saws have their individual pros and cons. 

Moreover, even professional woodworkers opine that it’s better to have access to both variants. As that’s not possible for everyone, we would suggest a miter saw to anyone looking forward to making precise and clean angled cuts. 

For those looking for versatility and portability from a power saw, the circular variant will help them in all ways possible. However, they will need to be a bit more careful while using the saw. 

With that, we have come to the end of this informative guide. Do let us know if there are any queries regarding power saws. 

Till then, goodbye and take care! 

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