Miter Saw vs Circular Saw: Which is Best for Your Needs?

Miter Saw vs Circular Saw: Which is Best for Your Needs?

If you develop a great deal of woodworking projects from ideas composed by other men and women, you might have discovered that miter saws and circular saws are often used interchangeably in resource lists. “Circular observed or miter observed,” “we utilized a miter saw, but a circular observed would also work…”

And so on. It is easy to draw the conclusion that these two tools are entirely interchangeable, and you’ll by no means need much more than 1 of them in your workshop at a time.

We here at HealthyHandyman don’t think that’s correct. By assuming that miter saws and round saws are similar, you miss out on a whole lot of the specialised abilities of each one. In this write-up, we’ll lay out the similarities and variances in between these two tremendous-powered woodworking tools, and aid you choose which one particular is greatest for your wants.

Miter Saws

Origins of the Miter Saw

In 1964, Rockwell engineer Ed Niehaus experienced the thought to merge a round observed with a miter box. He mounted the round noticed on a hinged arm, building a technique of clamping a workpiece in spot and making use of the power saw to crosscut or miter it close to-instantaneously. His layout was a strike, and when Rockwell failed to patent it, each and every other tool organization rushed their very own miter saw to production.

Fifty several years later on, miter saws are right here to remain. They’re precise, consumer-welcoming equipment that can anchor any workshop. But what professionals and disadvantages make them distinct from round saws?

Miter Saw Pros

Miter Saw vs Circular Saw: Which is Best for Your Needs?Precision Cuts

A miter noticed can make four varieties of cuts — crosscuts, miters, bevels, and compound cuts. Crosscuts are perpendicular to the grain of the wood, miter cuts are at any angle amongst and 90 levels to the grain, bevel cuts are at an angle to the height of the wooden instead of the duration, and compound cuts combine miters and bevels. A miter observed can do them all in a snap.

Relieve of Use

Miter saws are considerably more precise than circular saws, and they’re also less difficult to use. With a handheld round saw, you need to line the blade up just right, hold it to a continual system, and show up at to a good deal of basic safety functions. Miter saws get you a lot more exact edges with significantly less chance of injury.

Miter Saw Cons

Miter Saw vs Circular Saw: Which is Best for Your Needs?
Photo by Annie Gray on Unsplash

Not Portable

Miter saws are not moveable. Wherever it is in your workshop is where it stays. A lot like a bandsaw is to a jigsaw, a miter observed delivers more precision than a circular noticed at the value of portability.

Not as Adaptable as a Circular Observed

Miter saws are also less functional. The 4 sorts of cuts they can make are all they can do. Last but not least, miter saws also tend to be a whole lot more costly than circular saws (see our desktop vs. laptop computer or bandsaw vs. jigsaw analogies).

The Four Types of Miter Cuts

  • Crosscuts are the simplest – you are cutting a board to length at a regular, 90-degree angle. Do you want to cut a 2×4 in half? You can crosscut it on a miter saw.  Any saw can do this, though, so it’s not what makes a miter saw special.
  • Miter cuts apply to the end of a board on an angle. Go look at the trim around a door inside your house. In the corner, where two pieces of the trim meet, each piece is probably cut on a 45-degree angle and fit together.
  • Bevel cuts also cut the end of a board into an angle, but now the angle is through the thickness of the wood, not the width. Have you ever used a shim or a doorstop, those almost triangular pieces of wood?  Those are extreme examples of bevel cuts. Around the house, the best example is probably where two pieces of baseboard meet on a long expanse of wall – they’ve likely been beveled where they meet to camouflage the joint.
  • Compound cuts are a combination of both a miter and a bevel cut. If you have any crown molding in your house, take a look at a corner. Those trim pieces will have been compound cut to meet cleanly in the corner.

Miter Saw vs Circular Saw: Which is Best for Your Needs?

Learn More About Miter Cuts

This video clip is very advisable for comprehension miter cuts.

Circular Saws

Origins of the Circular Saw

The round saw’s origins are shrouded in fantasy. Conflicting tales point out that it was invented in England, Holland, or Germany, but our favorite story is that of Tabitha Babbitt, an American member of the Shaker spiritual sect who lived in the early 19th century.

In accordance to legend, Babbitt recognized that the two-gentleman saws utilised by the guys in her village had been only 50 % as productive as they could be considering that they could only cut one path. Drawing inspiration from her spinning wheel, she related a foot pedal to a round blade, making it possible for it to spin continually with out needing to be reset. Later, sawmill owners executed Babbitt’s design and style on a much bigger scale.

Modern-Day Saws

It’s no surprise that so numerous people could have experienced the identical concept for the circular observed around the exact same time. It’s so great at its occupation that the design we use today is not that various from what Tabitha Babbitt drew up two hundred several years in the past.

Contemporary round saws are transportable, handheld equipment driven by either an extension cord or a rechargeable battery. They’re able to make straight cuts for lengthy distances in just about any substance. Blades are normally tipped with industrial diamond, with a regulation depth of 7¼ inches, and wherever from twenty to 80 tooth.

Miter Saw vs Circular Saw: Which is Best for Your Needs?
A circular saw in action

The Five Types of Circular Saw Cuts

Round saws can make all the exact same cuts as a miter observed, plus 1: rip cuts. Numerous pros prefer to use a observe saw or desk noticed for precision rips, but when you are out on a occupation web site or just don’t possess a table observed which is tricked out with rip fences, your following decision is the circular observed.

Rip cuts are produced down the duration of a board, usually a truthful distance from the leading edges. In order to make continual rip cuts with a round noticed, you may possibly want to make investments in some rail guides.

Miter Saw vs Circular Saw: Which is Best for Your Needs?

Circular Saw Pros

Miter Saw vs Circular Saw: Which is Best for Your Needs?Portability

A round saw is practically one hundred per cent transportable. Practically all designs weigh significantly less than eight lbs .. Even if it is corded, you can easily have it to any component of a occupation web site — all you have to do is plug the cord into an outlet.


Round saws can handle several various kinds of cuts. If you have a couple of blades with a very good assortment of tooth counts and sizes, you can make rip cuts and crosscuts with ease. Bevel cuts are also on the desk if the noticed has an adjustable metallic foot. Some blades can even reduce issues other than wooden, like sheet metallic or plastic.

Lower Value

Finally, round saws are nearly uniformly cheaper. Consider a laptop vs. a desktop personal computer or a keyboard vs. a grand piano — that’s how considerably a lot more inexpensive round saws are than miter saws.

Circular Saw Cons

Miter Saw vs Circular Saw: Which is Best for Your Needs?

Straight Lines Only

Circular saws can only reduce straight strains. The way they’re designed, with a vast, flat reducing plane implies they can’t curve specifically, and they are not wonderful at stopping just where you require to reduce a sharp angle. The time to use a circular saw is when you need to have to lower straight by means of to the other side of one thing.

Missing Precision

Round saws are also rougher and much less precise. They are machetes, not scalpels. Not only are they far more very likely to leave ragged edges in wooden — especially when crosscutting — but they’ve received a substantial quantity of kickback that tends to make them significantly less risk-free.


When some Tabitha Babbitt or Ed Niehaus of the foreseeable future invents 1 saw that can do every kind of cut flawlessly, we’ll be initial in line to acquire it. For now, although, there’s no obvious “winner” between circular saws and miter saws.

In common, we advocate a miter saw if you have to do a great deal of crosscuts, and a round observed for a whole lot of rip cuts. You should most likely have a circular saw in your workshop just before a miter saw, provided its increased flexibility, and then insert a miter saw when you’re much more certain of the type of projects you like to just take on.

No matter whether you choose for the generalist tool, the specialist device, or each, 1 factor no one can deny is that it is an amazing time to be a woodworker. Seriously, striving to create a mantel with an old-time a single-way Shaker pit noticed? No many thanks.