miter saw vs circular saw

Miter Saw vs Circular Saw: How Do They Differ?

When you are working on a new project in woodworking, you may come across different sources of information recommending their preferred saw. Some may encourage you to use a miter saw, while others, a circular saw. Deciding with choosing a miter saw vs a circular saw will highly depend on different factors. Still, it all begins with research, knowing what each of these saws is capable of doing. 

To make the selection process easier, let us take a look at their comparison. How do they differ? Being two of the most common options on power tools these days, miter saws and circular saws are commonly seen in woodworkers’ workshops. Note, however, that you may not need both if you are only starting. Every tool offers advantages and disadvantages that you need to be aware of.

Miter Saw – What is it?

A miter saw is a tool that comes with a specialized purpose. Its main use is for chopping wood at certain angles. Similar to a circular saw, a miter saw also uses a circular blade which creates precise, quick cuts. One thing that makes it different, however, is that it is a stationary machine that comes with a small fence and a workstation. 

A miter blade comes in 8 to 12-inch sizes. The blade is mounted on a swiveling arm that moves from right to leave, creating different angles. The arm is locked right in place, producing accurate cuts. With a miter saw, creating cuts for door or picture frames, crown moldings, cupboards or fences, window casings, and others.

Miter Saw – Advantages

  • Safe to Use

Unlike circular saws that are prone to cuts, using a miter saw is much safer. The movement of the blade is only up and down, and usually within the range of its arm. A miter saw is rarely getting kickbacks. The blade can be released easily, ejecting it right away so that the rotation of the blood will stop. 

  • Precise Cuts

A miter saw creates precise cuts for miter, bevel, and crosscuts. With a miter saw, there is no need to use guides to achieve the exact measurement. You simply need to adjust the miter saw to the right angle. 

  • Faster Process

With a miter saw, you can easily create broader cuts. In this way, you can save a huge amount of time since a miter saw allows for simpler cuttings of huge boards. The use of an automated blade makes it possible to create speedy cuts, helping you slice through pieces fast. 

Miter Saw – Disadvantages

  • Less Versatile

A miter saw is not as versatile compared to a circular saw. This is because they are highly immobile. There is a need to bring the material to be cut to where it is mounted. This reduces the different cutting types that you can achieve using a miter saw. 

  • Consumes Space

Since miter saws are less mobile, a dedicated space should be provided to them. If you have a small workshop, a miter saw is not as handy, while consuming a huge amount of space. 

Circular Saw – What is It?

A circular saw is designed with versatility in mind. It is handheld and features a motorized blade. It comes with a toothed blade that rotates to make long and straight cuts, either along the grain or against it. This further adds to the versatility of the saw. 

The blade also comes in a variety of sizes, ranging from 3 3/8 to 16 inches. Other blades may also be used with it, like a dado blade within the tool. 

Circular Saw – Advantages

  • Versatile

This type of saw is very versatile, making it one of the most convenient tools in a workshop. It may be used in creating different cutting types, virtually cutting through any type of material such as pipes, metal, stonework, tiles, plastic, and plywood material sheets. 

  • Cost-Effective

With a circular saw, you can make all kinds of cuts that can be cut by a miter saw. Also, the cutting range is wide, allowing you to accomplish different cuts for various projects. Price-wise, it is also cheaper than a miter saw.

  • Long Cutting and Rip Cutting

A circular saw is ideal for both long cutting and rip cutting. As such, it is the best option if you are interested in cutting through the longboard length. With a circular saw, you can also cut a plywood sheet into two. 

Circular Saw – Disadvantages

  • Not Ideal for Angular and Curved Cuts

Even though a circular saw may be used for various types of cuts including angular and curved cuts, you will see that it does not create the best ones. Instead, it produces sloppy angles. 

  • Jagged Edges

One thing that you can expect with a circular saw is tear-outs and fragmented edges. One reason is its use of a toothed blade. If you need to complete trimming tasks, a circular saw may not be the ideal choice. 


When it comes to choosing between a miter saw vs circular saw, one thing is sure – you will not make a wrong choice with any of the two. However, if you only need to choose one, the circular saw is the safest tool to get. Even though you may still need to practice using it, a circular saw can do all cuts that can be done by a miter saw, with extra flexibility. On the other hand, if you are only planning to perform specific tasks, the miter saw may be a better choice. 





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