Which one should I choose? Miter or circular saw? Is there a difference between the two? Those are actually really good questions to ask because sometimes it can be confusing which one you should get for your next project.
If you do a lot of trimming, you’ll of course want to consider a miter saw. If you need to cut plywood, you’ll want to consider the circular saw. So whichever your next project is, read on to see the differences between the two very popular power tools, what jobs are suited for each tool and some of the best ones on the market.
What is a Miter Saw?
It is a machine that does accurate crosscuts and miter cuts at the angle it’s set to. But the true definition of miter is doing a crosscut at any angle that isn’t 90 degrees.
What is a Circular Saw?
A circular saw is a power tool with a flat circular blade that can rotate at high speed so it can cut wood, plywood and more.
Miter Saw Features
The blade is fairly important to the miter saw. Without any blade, you won’t be able to make any cuts on the miter saw. Most comes in 10 to 12 inches, so you’ll have to decide which one is best for you. If a blade has a lot of teeth, you can expect to pay more than a blade that doesn’t. They’re the ones that have powerful motors and can usually cut without any errors.
The majority of blades are made of tungsten carbide, but others are titanium tipped and made of other materials. When it comes to blades, there is a lot of range available, allowing you a larger selection to pick from.
Miter saw blades are very sturdy and have a lot of extra functionality. Nonstick coatings to avoid buildup and improved hook angles are examples of such features.
If you see or hear a table of a miter saw, it actually means the base of the miter saw so that you can make cuts on it. That’s exactly what the table does, and you’ll want to know the size of your board so that it can work well with the table.
Motor & Battery
Corded miter motors are usually at least 15 amps with speeds ranging from 3200 to 5000 RPM. The cordless one is pretty much the same.
This is an important feature that you don’t want to overlook. When you are cutting or doing angled cuts, it’s called “miter cuts”. According to most miter scales, it’s called “stops”. It usually makes those stops between 45 to 90 degrees. On some brands there are up to 10 to 12 stops.
Things like dust ports and bags are incredibly useful when you’re cutting because the dust has to go somewhere. Some brands will even include LED lights so it can illuminate your work area which is always nice as well.
Circular Saw Features
Power outputs of corded saws are measured in amps, while cordless models are measured in volts. Corded saws have power levels ranging from 10 A to 15 A, while cordless saws have a voltage range of 14 to 36 V. Most consumers can find that 13-amp corded saws and 18-volt cordless units have outstanding power-to-weight ratios.
This is also referred to as blade capacity. The standard 7 ¼ inch circular saw blade will cut through 3 inches deep into materials. It’ll also cut through 2-inch lumber at 45 degrees in one pass.
This just basically stops the saw in reverse in a couple of seconds. It’s a handy feature in a lot of circular saws.
It makes handling the saw much safer as it locks down the saw’s shaft.
You’ll usually see this in higher end models, but it’s a laser that beams showing you where to cut.
Pros and Cons of Miter Saws
- Easy to make precise cuts at any degree
- Increases productivity
- Doesn’t need a lot of maintenance
- Cuts miters
- Can be dangerous if you don’t know how to use one
- It makes miter cuts only, so if you don’t need it for anything else, it can be a waste of space
Pros and Cons of Circular Saws
- More versatile than miter saws
- Smaller, lightweight, portable
- Not good for cutting angles or curves
- High kickback, so safety is extremely important
- Rough edges are common
Miter vs Circular Saw Comparison Chart
|Features||Dewalt Miter||Dewalt Circular Saw|
|Versatility||Crosscuts||Wide range of cutting|
|Cross Cuts||Yes, this tool is made for cross cuts||No|
|Rabbet & Dado||It can be done as it has a sliding compound||Yes, it is possible to do it.|
|Ease of Use||Relatively easy to use||Easy to use after you’ve learned how to handle it|
|Portability||A table or a workbench is required||Extremely lightweight so can be moved around if needed|
|Price||Check price here.||Check price here.|
Top 3 Best Miter Saws
The Dewalt DWS779 Miter is one to consider when it comes to miter saws. Dewalt is a well-known company for selling high quality power tools such as miter saws. This miter saw is already assembled, so there’s no messing around wondering which parts go where. The Dewalt miter has a powerful 15-amp motor with 3000 RPM. It has a 12-inch double bevel sliding miter saw so it’s a good range when it comes to accurate cutting. You can make easy adjustments with the cam lock miter handle. The tall sliding fences support a 7 ½ inch crown and 2 x 14 lumber at 90 degrees.
- Double Bevel
- Powerful motor
- 3-year warranty
- Blade doesn’t make smooth cuts according to some users
The CRAFTSMAN V20 has a very powerful motor with running capacity of 3800 RPM. It has a sliding 7 ¼ inch blade that has a cut cross capacity of 8 inches. It can cut at 90 degrees at 8 inches and crosscut 5 ½ inches at 45 degrees. It doesn’t have a double bevel like the Dewalt one does, but it’s single bevel blade and nine miter can ensure that there will be smooth angle cuts. It is extremely lightweight, and it even comes with side carry handles. It also comes with a carbide tipped blade, a fast charger (since it runs on a battery) and a couple other useful things that you can use (such as a dust bag) that’s pretty handy when you use this saw.
- Can provide accurate miter cuts
- Comes with accessories such as dust bag, blade wrench and more
- May be underpowered for some users
The BOSCH CM8S single siding miter has an 8 ½ single bevel sliding compound that ensures accurate cuts every time. It’s very lightweight and has easy one-handed portability. You will have the ability to change bevel settings without reaching behind the saw. It’s also nice that it has a large easy to read miter and bevel scales to ensure precise cuts every time. The 6 amp motor provides up to 3100 strokes per minute with variable speed control, with ¾ inch in stroke lengths. This is a low vibration tool, so there will be comfort while making perfect cuts. Our favorite feature about this miter is the toolless T-shank blade change system that helps with blade insertion and removing blades easily. There’s a dust blower that you’ll appreciate so that it won’t be all over the place and a lock on button.
- Easy to use
- Cuts accurately
- Toolless T-shank blade change system
- Not as durable
Top 3 Best Circular Saws
The Dewalt DWE575SB 7 ¼ inch Circular Saw is definitely one you’ll want to consider for your workshop. It’s extremely lightweight as it’s under 10 pounds so it’ll be easy to handle all day. It has a powerful 5200 RPM 15-amp motor. It has a 57-degree bevel capacity with positive stops at 45 degrees and 22.5 degrees. This tool is made out of high-quality materials such as aluminum to ensure that it will last a lifetime. The maximum depth capacity that this saw can do is 2 9/16 inch. Like most power tools that deal with dust, it also comes with a dust blower so that you can work with maximum visibility.
- Good for day-to-day use
- Doesn’t come with an electronic brake
- Blade wobbles if using for a long period of time
If you are a beginner, you’ll want to consider this BLACK & DECKER BDECS00C circular saw. For power, it runs on a 13-amp, 5300 RPM motor. It has laser guided vision for straight line cuts and spindle lock for quick blade replacement. The saw itself can cut 0–45-degree angled cuts. It also has a maximum of 2.5 inch cutting depth capacity at 90 degrees. It has a 7 ¼ inch thick cutting range but it can be tweaked if you want different results. You will love that it’s very lightweight at 7 pounds making it easy to handle all day. Overall, it’s a great circular saw for anyone who’s relatively new.
- 7 ¼ inch thick cutting range
- Powerful motor
- Sometimes it doesn’t make straight cuts
- Voltage source may be an issue if it not plugged into 110/120 V max
The SKIL 5280 circular saw has a powerful 5300 RPM 15-amp motor that makes it already an attractive tool. It has a 7 ¼ inch max cutting depth capacity as well as a 51-degree bevel capacity with positive stops at 45 degree that can do a variety of cuts. There is a dust blower included to keep the dust out of your work area and it also has an anti-snag feature as well. It’s extremely lightweight at 6.95 pounds to reduce fatigue. It’s easy to change blades and this saw also has a tool wrench.
- Good for the experienced
- Dust blower
- Hard to get good customer service with the warranty
- Blade sometimes stop while cutting according to some users
Should I use a circular saw or miter saw?
It really depends on your needs. Do you need to make just specific cuts, such as miter cuts? Then of course you’ll want to get the miter saw. Do you want a tool more versatile? The circular saw is the one you should use.
Do you really need a miter saw?
Only if you need to make miter cuts. Otherwise, you might not need one.
Can a mitre saw be used as a circular saw?
No. It does make accurate cuts at angles on wood.
Do I really need a 12 miter saw?
It depends on what your needs are, otherwise, you don’t need to.
As you’ve read today, miter saws and circular saws are two almost similar tools. While the miter saws provide more accurate cuts, the circular saws are definitely more versatile out of the two. It, of course, depends on what cuts you’ll be making on a regular basis.
Whether you need accurate bevel cuts or need a more portable tool, we hope that this guide helped you decide which one is better suited for your needs. If you have enjoyed reading this guide about miter and circular saws or have questions, please let us know if you like in the comments!