Table Saw vs. Circular Saw [A Clear Winner?]

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Male carpenter sawing wooden boards

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Power tools have simplified woodworking by many folds over the years. If you are a creative woodworker and haven’t switched to them yet, what are you waiting for?

Whether you are an amateur or a professional, power saws are a must-have in the tool collection if you want to execute all the projects smoothly. But picking the right saw can be a tricky task, especially if you are a newbie.

Choosing between a circular saw and a table saw is a common dilemma to be stuck in. If you are struggling amidst these shaky waters, then drop all the worries because you’ve landed at the right place.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll let you know everything about these two power saws. Starting from the basics, we’ll progress towards the bigger questions, draw a comparison between the two, and pick a winner.

Now that you have got the gist of the matter let’s get started!

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Table Saw

The first thing that comes to mind when talking about a saw is cutting wood, but table saws aren’t limited to just that. They can be used to cut sheet aluminum, brass, and plastic.

Table saws are a basic necessity in a workshop because of their all-around performance. Apart from a few specifications, these tools excel at getting all kinds of crafting work done.

Famously known as a “workbench saw,” a table saw is a tool with a round blade mounted on a flanged bar (arbor) that is powered by a motor. The motor is electric and delivers the power either directly or through gears and belts. 

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On closer inspection, you will find a direct-drive blade protruding from the tabletop, which supports the material being chopped. Moreover, you can set the blade on a workbench, highlighting its versatility. 

So, it is safe to say that this power saw is a jack of all trades and you can use it as a replacement for any specialty tool. Let’s take an example to make the picture clear. If you want to cut a hole in a surface, then a hole saw is ideal, while handheld saber saws are perfect for cutting pipes. 

Now, both these tasks can be performed using a table saw, provided you know how to use it well. However, it shines the brightest in accurately and swiftly crosscutting and rip-cutting a large amount of wood. 

Another reason these are so popular is due to their affordability. Even if you choose the best model from the top-quality brand, you’ll be able to afford it without burning a hole in your pocket. 

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Types Of Table Saw

Depending on their structure and specifications, table saws are of various types. We’ll be discussing the significant types under this section. Now don’t get overwhelmed by the options; we’ll keep it short so that you understand the basic features.

  1. Jobsite Table Saw

Usually operated on a stationary surface or stand, this type is typically used by a contractor or a carpenter at the “job site”; therefore, it goes by that name. It is lightweight and easy to transport which is why people prefer to use it for on-site work. 

We found that it has a large miter slot and a great overall alignment, complementing its rugged design to deliver high accuracy. Plus, thanks to its portable and wheeled folding stands, they have a substantial rip capacity. 

Also, its small motors are powerful and universal, with an electric consumption of only 15 amperes.

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  1. Contractor Table Saw

Contractor table saws are the most affordable option among the large units. These heavy and large saws have motors that are ideal for running on standard electric circuits found at homes, meaning they are the favorites of homeowners and hobbyists. 

They have a pivoting bracket at the rear end where the motor is hinged while the motor drives the blade with the help of single or double rubber v-belts. Moreover, you can set them on a stand with wheels for greater mobility. 

Their only drawback is that they are prone to collect dust because of the exposed motor at the back.

  1. Benchtop Table Saw

Next up, we have the benchtop table saw which is the lightest and best for DIY projects. It runs on power supplied by a direct-driven universal motor. For those of you who don’t know, a direct-drive motor is one that directly controls the blade without relying on other elements.

Previously these saws used to have induction motors that made them heavy and caused a lot of energy dissipation. But the newer models are light enough to be lifted by a person single-handedly. 

Although the induction motors were noise-free and durable, the latest ones offer more power and make cleaner cuts while ripping.

  1. Compact Table Saw

Compact table saws are installed on a stationary stand and have a universal motor regulated by little indented belts. These are considerably larger than the portable types with light cast iron tops.

Some of the models come with an embedded miter-sled that can be rotated to desirable angles. This feature makes it the go-to choice for projects that need precise angle cuts.

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  1. Cabinet Table Saw

Coming to the last table saw on our list, we have the cabinet type. Constructed from a huge amount of steel and cast iron, these saws are the heaviest and sturdiest units. 

They typically have single-phase induction motors that operate in the range of 3 to 5 horsepowers. However, models with a three-phase engine ( 5 to 7.5 horsepowers) are used for industrial or commercial purposes.

The presence of an enclosed base is a characteristic feature of this saw type whereby the motor securely functions inside a cabinet to drive the blades with parallel A-belts. And not just that, the cabinet is also incorporated with a port that collects dust. 

These saws are better than most others because of their low vibration and durability. Additionally, cabinet saws have a mechanism that allows the user to adjust the tilt and height of the blade. 

Understandably, they are designed for heavy-duty tasks and are much desired in industrial areas.

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When To Use A Table Saw

Now that we have covered all the major kinds of table saws let’s get to know more about their specific uses.

We already discussed that table saws could be used for slicing plastic sheets, brass sheets, as well as aluminum sheets. They are ideal for instances when you need to make clean, precise, and straight cuts. 

User-friendly and convenient to use, you just need to set up this tool nicely and let it do the job. However, you do need to push the wooden blocks towards the saw carefully. For safety purposes, a little side note: Ensure that the blade protrudes as little as possible above the material.

Table saws are ideally used for crown molding, making rips, cross-cutting, and fixing crooked structures. Another handy feature is that they come with a built-in dust-collecting port. If you are a DIY enthusiast and want a saw for home use, these will help you keep your place free from sawdust. 

Pros
  • Budget-friendly and low maintenance
  • Have the option of both induction and direct-drive motors
  • Accurate and clean cutting
  • Efficient and hassle-free disposal of sawdust
  • Have portable stands with adjustable height and tilt
Cons
  • Dangerous to be used by novices
  • Only a few models have a cordless design

Circular Saw

Circular saws are woodworking power tools consisting of a rotary abrasive disc or a toothed blade that spins on an arbor. Invented in the 18th century, the origin of these blades goes way back. They have been used in the United States since the middle of the nineteenth century.

The circular saws have a handheld design and are specifically engineered for cutting a particular material. Those made for wood cutting are available in different models for cross-cuts and rip-cuts, respectively, or a combination thereof. In simpler words, these saws aren’t remotely as versatile as table saws.

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This type of saw is mainly used for cutting masonry, metal, wood, or plastic. Some models can be mounted on a surface, but they are rare and expensive; ninety percent of them are handheld.

Commonly operated on electricity, circular saws can also be run by a hydraulic motor or a gasoline engine. Such a system allows them to be connected with heavy equipment, thereby removing the need for any external power source. These models do not allow any kind of support during the procedure, which is why it is difficult to make precise cuts. 

First, the material is held in a vise or clamped securely, and then the saw is used to cut it. You’ll have to chop the wood directly with this type. Therefore, beginners initially use a jig or a scale for assistance, whereas professionals don’t need to since they develop a good judgment over time.

Like table saws, you can modify the blade’s height and angle in circular saws. The cuts usually have a narrow kerf and a smooth finish on the surface.

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Types Of Circular Saw

The “handheld” circular saws are typically referred to as “Skilsaw.” There are other types of circular saws as well that are not necessarily handheld. We will now discuss a few of these other types briefly.

  1. Abrasive Saw

Perfect for barbing hard surfaces and tough materials like tile, concrete, and metals, abrasive saws have a high spinning grinding wheel. This type is also known as “chop saw” or “cut-off saw.” The handheld models can also cut asphalt and connection pipes efficiently. 

The blade is situated at the far end, whereas the motor and handle are found near the operator. This type of structure ensures the safety of the user. These do not consist of a vise since the material to be cut is heavy and large.

Abrasive saws are much praised because they have significantly simplified the work at construction sites. Earlier on, steel fabrication had to be done in workshops separately and then transported to the site. But with these saws, it can now be done on-site.

  1. Worm Drive Saw

Controlled by two gears set at ninety-degree angles, this powerful saw has the motor attached at the rear. Such a setting of the motor generates very high torque and less Rotation Per Minute. As a result, the structure is quite long and bulky. 

A worm drive saw has large teeth that allow it to sustain heavier loads than the others. Owing to its high torque production, users can handle high shock loads. Moreover, its solid and massive build is suitable for making long and descending cuts. 

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When To Use Circular Saw

Circular saws are mobile handheld devices. When you can’t bring the material to be cut to the table, these saws are the best resolve. Even the corded models of this type are more portable than the cordless models of the table saw.

It has a sharp indented blade that rotates at a very high speed to make the rips. Because of the toothed surface, the saw usually leaves behind burrs on the chopped edge of plastic or metal. This leads to the need for sanding down the cuts to obtain a smooth surface.

Circular saws are ideal for projects that don’t require prim and proper cutting and allow some rough work. If you need to make ragged rips or just need to do some demolition work, this type will do the job perfectly. Since these saws allow convenient handling by hand, you can make bevel cuts and overhead cuts easily. 

Pros
  • Aren’t dependent on electricity for functioning
  • Specifically designed for different materials
  • Portable, mobile and cordless
  • Convenient handling and broad scope for creativity
  • Affordable cordless models
Cons
  • No in-built sawdust disposal
  • Cuts are rough and not that precise

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Table Saw vs. Circular Saw

That was a lot of in-depth information, wasn’t it? But now, we can confidently say that you have a good grasp of both the categories and their subtypes. We will move on to the heart of the matter and draw a comparison between the two, paying particular attention to each feature. 

Let’s get into the specifics, shall we?

  1. Accuracy

Precision and accuracy are key distinguishing features between table saws and circular saws. It is easier to make crisp and straight cuts with the former as compared to the latter. 

Table saws are used on portable stands that provide ample support for making clean rips. You just need to slide the material towards the spinning blade for cutting. Circular saws are mobile and manually operated by hand. It requires a lot of practice to master wood-crafting with them.

Edges produced by circular saws have burrs and require sanding, whereas table saws do not. Hence, in a way, table saws are time-saving and efficient.

  1. Corded vs. Cordless

Cords play a massive role in deciding the portability and ease of handling of a power saw. Both types are available in cordless and corded models. The former is convenient to use and doesn’t have any constraints. Corded ones can work in a limited space only and need wires and extensions.

In this criterion, the circular saws are better, as they have more options in the cordless devices. Table saws are available in this design too but are rather expensive. It is better to invest in a corded one and use it with a portable stand.

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  1. Versatility 

This aspect is going to need an in-depth discussion because it isn’t that straightforward.

 A table saw is a versatile woodworking tool. You can use a single type for multiple purposes. For example, you can use a cabinet table saw for making rip-cuts, cross-cuts, miter cuts, etc. But all these versatile uses are concerned majorly with wood, and therefore it is safe to say that table saws are the multi-purpose type for timber.

Coming to the circular saws, while a specific model is fit for working on a specific type of material, they are versatile in the bigger picture. You can find diverse saws that can be used not just with wood projects but also with metal, stone, concrete, ceramic, asphalt, tile, etc. 

  1. Portability

Portability includes the factor of the presence of cords as well as the overall structure. The table saws are somewhat portable since a few models have an adjustable stand with wheels. But those that are corded have limited portability. Additionally, these saws are enormous in size and weight, so that limits their movement too.

On the other hand, the circular saws are pretty portable and assert their dominance in this area. They are lightweight as compared to the former type and relatively easy to be transported and used on-site. 

Furthermore, they are abundantly available in cordless models. We already told you how worm drive circular saws had simplified the on-site steel fabrication, so we hope you have a good idea about their portability now.

  1. Lifespan

Now, this is an important yet relatively overlooked quality while buying tools. As far as maintenance and longevity are concerned, both types have their upsides and downsides.

Table saws are sturdy and rugged, and they are built to last for a long time. But they consist of several small internal parts, sawdust disposal ports, for example, that require maintenance and care. To maintain the high performance of these saws, you’ll have to put in the required effort.

While circular saws do not need any looking after or efforts for their upkeep, they do not have a long lifespan. They come with a specified working period, and when their hours are over, the saws start malfunctioning. You will get many efficient working years out of them, but they will break after a point; that’s just how they are built.

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  1. Grooming And Cleaning

The table saws are easier to clean out of the two types. Most of the sawdust while working on this type falls under the table. You can simply put a collecting box beneath it to prevent the dust from spreading. A lot of models, in fact, come with their own disposal mechanism in place. 

In that way, there is not much hassle to clean up after working on a table saw, which is a huge relief considering how messy woodworking is. A quick round by a portable vacuum will do the trick.

Circular saws create a lot of mess because they are manually handled and aren’t installed on any specific stand. They spew sawdust all over the place while in use, so you will have to spend a considerable amount of time while cleaning.

  1. Ease Of Use

It’s pretty evident from all that discussion that table saws are easier to use. While working with them, all your attention is on your material and cutting. The stability of the stand is unbeatable, and apart from the basics, you won’t have to learn much about operating these saws. These require less practice and are easier to master.

On the contrary, circular saws are difficult to operate and require a lot of practice to be handled precisely and safely. To prevent accidents, please use this type only when you’re entirely confident.

Who’s The Winner?

After comparing all the features, we can conclude that table saw is the winner here. It is the long-lasting, easy to handle, and user-friendly option out of the two. Circular saws have their own benefits, but table saws outshine them in most of the important criteria. 

Carpenter working with circular saw

Final Words

After our elaborate discussion and comparison, we have finally reached the end of our informative guide. We hope that we have sorted out your confusion of choosing between a circular power saw and a table saw successfully. 

The table saws are versatile, cut accurately, and are suitable for numerous purposes, while the circular saws are lightweight, making them ideal for on-site service. Both are good, but the former comes out on top when compared to the latter.

Now you know everything about buying a powered saw; hopefully, we pointed you in the right direction. On that note, we’ll be signing off. Until next time!

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