If you are someone who is into casual DIY or even serious home DIY projects, you are in for a treat. Surely, you are slowly building up and completing your toolkit with quality tools. But what about those times when you just need to pick one tool?
Let us say that your option is between the table saw vs. the miter saw. How will you pick? Of course, you should be aware of the difference between a table saw and a miter saw before you settle with your choice. By doing so, you can have the best standard for your tools.
At the same time, if you know the specific use of each one, you will have a better view of what tool you exactly need. There will be no room for tools that do not serve their purpose in your project. This saves money and effort as well.With that said, we are going to talk about the table saw and the miter saw in this article. We are going to talk about their purposes and of course, the type of projects that will go well with that tool. Further, we will talk about instances when it is better to use one tool over the other. Are you ready to learn what tool is best for you? Then keep on reading.
What is a Table Saw?
Let us start with the basics and learn what a table saw really is. You might have used or seen a table saw before without even realizing it because it is definitely one of the most used tools in household projects. Also, a lot of people like it, even those who are involved in commercial construction because it can be very versatile.
To put it simply, a table saw is best for anything that involves a woodworking task. Therefore, when there is wood involved, you should immediately think about the table saw. It is guaranteed that every woodworker has a table saw because it is that essential.
Read also our guide about the best hybrid table saws of the market today.
More than that, there are different designs of table saws. There are simple ones like the tabletop version which is perfect for home use. But there are also huge ones that employ a pulley which is usually used by professional contractors.
What is a Miter Saw?
Let us now move on to what a miter saw is. So a miter saw is not a general tool, in fact, it is a specialized one. Therefore, you use it for a specific purpose. It is used to make different cuts as well as work with different angles.
Usually, it comes with a blade that is mounted on a swing. With this type of design, it will allow you to cut easily as well as maneuver the blade at different angles may it be left or right. It can be used for picture frames, crown molding, door frames, etc.
Just like the table saw, it is also commonly used by a lot of casual DIYers. It is so popular even with contractors because it can also cut concrete, plastics, and aluminum. Further, it is well known for cutting at a 45 degree angle easily. Lastly, there are two general types and those are the basic and compound types.
The Difference Between a Table and Miter Saw
As we have discussed earlier, both the table saw and the miter saw are commonly used tools. Therefore, you might get confused on the overlap of their uses. Do not fret, because below is a general guide about their differences.
The table saw is actually more versatile than that of a miter saw because again, it can pretty much do anything with regard to woodworking activities. In general, it can do rips, but it can also cut panels in different sizes that are up to 4 in. x 8 in.
Not only that but it can also crosscut a lot of boards. With that said, that does not necessarily mean that it does a high-quality job. In fact, that a lot of boards that were cut from a table saw almost always need a polishing job. More often than not, it needs to be cut or refined by a different tool to get the result that you are looking for.
Moving on to the counterpart of the table saw, the miter saw is what you need if you are after accuracy. With that said, the miter saw is actually the answer to the incapacity of a table saw. It can also crosscut boards that are about 6 in. which corresponds to a 10 in. saw or for a bigger outcome, an 8 in. for a 12 in. saw.
You can also combine the two wherein you can use a table saw with a miter gauge. In this way, you can crosscut on boards that are a bit shorter. There is also proper management on the sideboard while it is on the saw table. But take note that it is not that safe to cut a board that is as long as 20 ft.
In line with that, doing an angled cut on a very long board is also not safe. Therefore, you should first cut it with a table saw. Are you seeing the trend here? Both tools can work alongside each other.
But definitely, if what you are working on building your very own deck or having renovations in your kitchen it will be much easier to complete it with the use of a miter saw. So that is also another advantage of a miter saw.
How and When to Use a Table Saw
Some of the work that can be done with a table saw is cross cut, miter cut, rip, dado, square, rabbet, and cut different shapes to the edges of stock of wood. But this can be very dangerous, so you have to be more cautious when working with a table saw. One of which is its regular maintenance.
In order to this, it should be always fine-tuned. If you consistently do this, you will run the tool smoothly and you will not be cut easily. Another thing to do is to make sure that it is free from rust. Not only can it cut with complete accuracy but working around the tool will be much safer because your hands will not be exposed to rust.
The best way to do proper maintenance is to always treat your tool every after use. In this way, you will save time in maintaining it for your next project. Also, you are sure that the tool is working in proper condition whenever you whip it out because you made sure that it was okay the last time you used it.
Moving on to its purpose, you can cut wood at the same length with a table saw. You will never go back with using it by hand with the accuracy of a table saw. If you continue doing it by hand, you will notice that there are a few discrepancies in measurement which will not be great for projects.
On another note, if you use a contractor saw it has a lot of safety feature which can also be used outdoors and indoors. For a benchtop saw, it is the smallest there is but definitely, the output is big when we are talking about wattage, so care is important for you to use it safely.
Make sure that it is at a fixed position before working with it. In general, there are 600w up to 2000w. Remember, the greater the power, the deeper and the quicker your cut will be. Also, even though the smallest is the benchtop saw that does not necessarily mean that it is the cheapest one. So instead of choosing based on price, take into consideration the size and the shape as well as the important features needed for your project.
How and When to Use a Miter Saw
When you need to work on accurate molding and lumbar cuts, your best bet is to use the miter saw. With that said, since we are talking about angles here, utmost care is called for because it will be easier to cut what is not necessary when you are walking with curved lines.
In order to make sure that it is running well, crank it up first and let it run for a few minutes before working with it. This is the case because at the start it will thrust and be unstable for a bit, but it will eventually run smooth. Also, for it to not spit wood, make sure that you wait for the blade to stop its spinning.
You should also let the saw do all the work for you and do not force against it. This is the perfect way of using the miter saw. Also, there are different types to choose from like that of a basic miter where you can do miter cuts and crosscuts. A lightweight model such as this one definitely has a low price.
As for the compound saw, there are also different cuts to make such as a bevel cut. This type of cut will let you do cuts in different directions without even having the need to flip what you are currently working on. But then again, it comes with a heavier price tag.
At the same time, combining a table saw with a miter gauge is actually best because you get to utilize both of their features. By doing so, you cannot only cut wood pieces but you can also shape them right then and there. Some benefit more with a table saw if it comes to cutting pieces of wood in the same sizes while others love a miter saw with small DIY projects as it saves them a lot of time.
Surely, at this point of the article, you now have a bigger picture on whether you should go for a miter saw or a table saw or even both. Here is a quick guide on when you need each of the saws:
Crosscut and rip panels or large sheets: Circular saw or panel saw
Crosscut boards that are long: Miter saw
Rip a longboard: Table saw
Cut small sheets or crosscut short pieces: Table saw
If you are going to ask us which one is better, we really do not have a definite answer. What we know and as we have discussed, each tool corresponds to a specific purpose. There can be a bit of versatility, but sure enough, there is a specific tool for a specific woodworking project.
But if we have to choose, it is actually best to have both. As we have previously discussed, the table saw and the miter saw work well together. But again, if you only have to choose one, better start with a table saw to have a general cutting tool. All you have to do is to refine the cut pieces.
Also, make sure that you are buying high-quality ones so that you do not need to buy another saw in the long run. Surely, you will save a lot of money by investing in good quality and the saved money can be used to buy a miter saw.Last but not least, do not forget to be careful while using these tools. No matter how good they may be, they are practically useless if you have missing fingers or even a hand. This might sound so drastic, but accidents happen so always be defensive and always be careful while working with them may it be a table saw or a miter saw.
Are you interested to learn more about another type of saw? Read our guide about the different type of saws and their use.