Miter Saw vs Circular Saw: Expert Opinions (2021)

Every woodworking tool (saw or not) has their own specialty for the work that they do, and anyone who thinks that they are interchangeable, are misguided. If you want to engage in woodworking with a working knowledge of the most common tools, it’s best you brush up on your knowledge. One of the most common misconceptions are about miter saws and circular saws. Today with this article, we’re going to look into the specifics of a miter saw and circular saw, to help you know what to choose when it comes to a miter saw vs circular saw. You might have fixed your decision on what you want to get already, but finding out more might change your decision entirely.

Miter Saw

Miter Saw 404

What is A Miter Saw?

Miter saws are very precise cutting tools that specialize in bringing you a clean and finished look on your desired product. This product is one that  has a great range of versatility that will allow you to engage in various types of work, and will undoubtedly increase your skill in woodworking. 

When it comes to miter saws, you have the choice of choosing the best one, among a few different categories of the product. Let’s look into these.

Standard Miter Saw

Standard Miter Saw

A standard miter saw will allow you to make the standard miter cuts. This miter saw comes with a miter gauge, allowing you to tilt your saw to the desired angle, so that you can get the best cut possible. This is a great way for people to get into woodworking. However, this is very limiting for people who are very engaged in this line of work.

Compound Miter Saw

Compound Miter Saw

A compound miter saw has everything that a standard miter saw has, and more. It includes a bevel gauge, and this allows for the saw to also tilt the blade of the miter saw to a very specific angle, allowing you to make even more versatile cuts.

The name compound miter saw is in accord with the fact that you can combine both the miter angle and bevel angle to create a compound cut which is the mixture of miter and bevel cuts. The inclusion of bevel cuts will add an extra dynamic to your work. This addition allows you to engage in various types of woodworking, including but not limited to crown molding. Crown molding itself is a very sophisticated bit of work, and is something people need to read up on before starting. If you want to learn about it, it’s best to educate yourself on how to cut crown molding.

Compound miter saws themselves also come in two different types. One is called a single bevel compound miter saw while the other one is the dual/double bevel compound miter saw. The only addition from the single to the dual is the added benefit of being able to tilt your miter saw blade to both the left and right of your saw, thus adding more versatility by being able to make proper bevel cuts on both sides.

Sliding Compound Miter Saw

Sliding Compound Miter Saw

The last one from the miter saw power tool list is the sliding compound miter saw. These allow you to add even more versatility to your work by being able to move the entire saw forward even more, and allowing you to make cleaner cuts on longer pieces of wood. For people engaged in woodworking to a large extent, these are the miter saws that will give you the best edge.

We’ll also provide you with a visual aid for all the different types of cuts you can make with a miter saw below, so that you can understand the array of work you can do with them!

miter saw cut

Miter Saw Portability

While miter saws are great at what they do, you can’t call them portable. When working with them, you will need to use the miter saw on a stand or a table. You can carry them from place to place, if your worksite can accommodate them. 

Miter Saw Cuts

We’ve already mentioned the cuts that a miter saw can make, but one thing to remember when you want to find the ideal miter saw is that the different versions provide you with these cuts. For example, a standard miter saw can not provide you with bevel cuts or compound cuts. However, miter cuts are possible with any miter saw, since it is in the name. You’ll also find the availability of stops marked on some miter saws (mainly based on the brand and quality). These stops mark the most common angles that are used, and make it more efficient and easier for the user to engage in various types of work. 

Miter Saw Versatility

We’ve already talked up the miter saw and its versatility, but this also falls in line with the types of cuts you can achieve. Some versions of the miter saw are more versatile than the others. For example, a single bevel compound miter saw will allow you to tilt the blade on to one side only. However, with a dual bevel compound miter saw, you will be able to tilt the blade on to both the left and right side, all the while getting the benefits of the stops as well. This not only increases your working potential, but also makes it much easier to go about your work. You won’t be forced to move around the piece you’re cutting to get the best finish. 

Miter Saw Precision

One of the biggest factors that have made miter saws so popular, is their knack for precision and accuracy. As you will find out, circular saws are powerful and can cut through a range of materials. However, circular saws come nowhere near a miter saw when it comes to precision of their cuts. With the miter gauge and bevel gauge, you will be able to get the best placement of your blade, and the blade will be able to line up perfectly with the piece you want to cut. Not to mention, being able to tilt the saw and the blade itself also allows you to attain even more precision. 

Miter Saw Price

Miter saws come in a wide range of prices, and each of them have their own perks. Of course, if you’re going to buy something premium, you’ll end up getting great features on them which allows the miter saw to excel even further. Some come with a laser guide, which increases the efficiency of your work, and your precision by making the blade placement extremely accurate.

On the other hand, you can even find really budget miter saws, and there are many of them on the market. However, when it comes to finding the best budget miter saw, you really should do your research, and find out the most you can, to make sure your investment is worth it.

Circular Saw

Circular Saw

Circular Saw Portability

When it comes to using a circular saw you’ll find that a circular saw will provide you with a lot of portability, and can slice through a variety of materials, making the circular saw a top notch choice. All circular saws are easily carryable and you won’t have any issues taking them to any worksite you have. Some circular saws are corded while others can be wireless. On top of that, you can also rest assured that most circular saws are very lightweight (around 8 pounds mostly), which also helps avoid fatigue when working. 

Circular Saw Cuts

A circular saw is similar to the miter saw in the sense that it provides you with all of the same cuts, with the addition of the rip cut as well. A rip cut is basically a cut that goes parallel to the grain of the wood, and these are usually made down the length of the board you’re making your cuts on. 

Circular Saw Versatility

While we have stressed the importance of the miter saw’s versatility, it’s good to note that the circular saw also has its perks when it comes to this factor. While the mechanism only allows for the saw to cut through its pieces in a straight line, you will be impressed by the fact that the circular saw can make cross cuts and rip cuts with no problem at all. You’ll just need a few blades that are optimized to specific cuts, and you’ll find yourself slicing through stuff in no time with a circular saw. What’s even better with a circular saw is that you are not restricted to only cutting wood. Circular saws can even allow you to venture out and cut plastic, metal, etc. 

Circular Saw Precision

While the circular saw may be a great choice when it comes to power tools, and making cuts through various materials, you’ll find that it lacks precision. While it can easily give you straight cuts through these pieces, the straight line movement disallows you to be able to make 90 degree cuts, or any sharp angle cuts. The miter saw on the contrary, can provide you with great miter cuts and bevel cuts, with the utmost precision. They even come with positive stops, which are markers for the most common angles. However, circular saws are much more efficient if you have wood pieces that need straight cuts through them. 

Circular Saw Prices

Circular saws have one advantage when it comes to price, and it is that even the good ones can be obtained for a low price. To find the absolute best miter saw out there, you might have to spend quite a large sum of money. However, when it comes to a circular saw, you can easily manage to get a great one without spending an obscene amount of money.

Pros and Cons of Miter Saw vs Circular Saw

When it comes to the miter saw vs circular saw, we have seen a few different pros and cons of each of these saws. Not to mention, they have varieties when it comes to choosing a blade, what wood pieces to cut, as we have already discussed. So let’s list them out, so you can get the best idea for what you want!

Miter Saws

Circular Saws

Pros
  • Great precision and accuracy with a miter saw
  • Miter saws come with powerful 15 amp motors in general
  • Are very easy to use
  • Have good perks and safety features
Cons
  • Miter saws can only cut through wood
  • Not very portable
Pros
  • Circular saws are versatile in terms of materials it can cut
  • A circular saw is quite a powerful saw
  • Is very easy to carry around
  • Are usually very affordable
Cons
  • A circular saw can only cut in straight lines
  • A circular saw isn’t the most precise when making a cut

The Takeaway

We hope you found the differences between these two power tools (miter saw and circular saw), and can manage to choose the perfect one for yourself! A miter saw is a great choice for those who want to do precision woodworking, and also want a sustainable and powerful 15 amp motor on it. You’ll also be able to engage in various types of work with a miter saw, thanks to the versatility of the saw and its blade. Not to mention, higher end miter saws come with a laser guide and other features that enhance the performance of its blade and the whole mechanism itself. A circular saw is a great choice for those who want to engage in long repetitive jobs. With its straight cuts, and powerful motor, you can cut through wood and various other materials to ensure you get your desired output. A circular saw will also have a variety of choices in terms of what blade you want, allowing you to use a specific one each time you make a cut. So, make your choice between a miter saw and circular saw, and make the best choice for yourself when it comes to which one triumphs in the battle between miter saw vs circular saw!

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