Miter Saw Vs Table Saw: Which One is Right for Your Next Project?

miter saw vs table saw

There are various types of power saws, catering to unique functionalities. Whether you are a DIY-er or a professional, the two most popular types of power saws that you have to be aware of are a miter saw vs table saw.


Miter Saw vs Table Saw: Which One is Right for Your Next Project?

Have you always assumed that cutting wood is an extremely time-consuming and challenging process?

Not anymore. Power saws have entirely revolutionized the working of the woodworks industry because of its easy handling process, and supreme effort reduction.

While with a traditional saw, you would have to cut and saw away for hours, with these power saws your work can be done in a matter of minutes.

These have also propelled the development of DIY in the woodworks industry, because of how easy the entire process has become.

What is a Table Saw?

A table saw consists of a table with a wooden or metal surface, with a sharp blade protruding from its center. This table helps support the piece of wood being cut. 

The user will have to control the piece of wood and feed the wood to these blades in the required manner. This especially helps in the cutting of large pieces of wood. Since the table is there for support, you do not have to bear the wood's weight for long, and getting it cut becomes much easier.

Parallel to the blade of the table saw, you would find metal blades called fences. These fences need to be adjusted according to the width of the wood being cut. In order to make the cuts, you fit the wood in between these fences and let the blade do its job.

Always use dry and properly shaped wood with a table saw. Wood that is warped or wet may not always yield the required results.

What is a Miter Saw? 

The miter saw consists of a blade that mounted on top of a swing arm. This swing arm can pivot and move in varied directions. The miter saw is a very convenient tool to have amongst your equipment because it fits according to your every requirement. Because of the pivoting swing arm, the miter saw is one of the most flexible machines used by any individual working with wood.

The miter saw is also equipped with adjustable parallel metal blades called fences, to fit the wood into when you are cutting the wood. These help in keeping the wood in place and ensure a higher quality of work.

Table Saw Vs Miter Saw: What is the Difference?

table saw

Table Saw

image credit: ToolSpirit / CC BY-SA

1. Type of Cuts

A Table saw is generally used when you need to make straight cuts to a piece of wood. The feature of the table saw is such that, the wood is kept straight on the blade of the saw, and this blade cuts straight through the piece of wood.

A miter saw, on the other hand, comes useful in situations when there is a requirement for angular cuts on the wood. A miter saw can make such lean cuts, with the help of the pivoting swing arm that can adjust the direction of the blade and cut in any required angle.

2. Size of Wood

A table saw can comfortably accommodate a large-sized wood because it cuts right into the wood in a straight line.

It might be easier to use relatively smaller pieces of wood with a miter saw.

This is because cutting in different angles with a large portion of wood may prove difficult and yield lower quality work than recommended.

3. Movement

The blade in a table saw remains stationary. The piece of wood is moved to fit the blade. The mount of the blade does not move either.

The miter saw has a blade that spins in place and makes the required cuts. The mount of the blade also moves accordingly to accommodate the requirements of the user.

In a miter saw, the piece of wood does not move but remains in its place between the metal fences. The blade and its mount are constantly on the move to accommodate the type of cut.

4. Length of Cut

This difference primarily arises because of the difference in the shape and build of the two power saws.

The length of the cut depends on the length of the spinning blade of the miter saw. The saw is unable to make a more extended cut in size than the blade's width.

Due to this, the blade of a miter saw comes in a variety of diameters for different lengths of cuts. There are blades of 8-inches, 10-inches, and 12-inches available. The wider blades are used for making cuts that are comparatively longer.

The blade of the table saw can make cuts of any length because the blade remains stationary. The wood is moved to adjust to the range of the cuts required by the user. The width of the blade does not play a role in the length of the cuts here.

5. Portability

Table saws are built in such a way that they are cumbersome and less portable. You will generally find table saws attached to cabinets or bolted to sturdy steel legs, almost like an actual table.

This can sometimes be a bit of a limitation for the user because he has to carry and move large, heavy pieces of wood towards the table saw to make use of it.

Recently there are table saws available in the market, which have roller wheels attached to the legs of the table saw. This development can make the work of the users much more comfortable.

Miter saws aren't generally very heavy and are much more portable. Most are light enough to be packed into the luggage space of a car or a pickup truck.

This can be very good when you believe that your workshop should also always be on the move with you.

6. Precision

With a table saw, the wood is constantly moving, for the blade to be able to cut through the wood. However, since it is the wood that is moving, there's much lesser precision, and more chance of error with a table saw. For example, the cuts might have some jagged sides. This won't impact big projects but may face scrutiny in case of smaller projects such as installations.

With a miter saw, since the wood stays stationary and the blade is continuously moving, the cuts made are much more precise. For projects where you are dealing with smaller wood pieces, and neat lines are a must, it is always preferable to use a miter saw.

7. Versatility

While it is true that the miter saw is exceptionally flexible, the Table Saw remains the more versatile of the two. The miter saw can only accommodate smaller pieces of wood, and make precise angular cuts on these pieces of wood. However, working with a rather large piece of wood in a miter saw may be tricky and time-consuming.

The Table Saw can accommodate angular cuts as well, but they may not be as precise as those made by a miter saw. All you need to is the angle of the piece of wood with the blade in the required angle of the cut, and you will obtain the required angular cut.

However, in order to do this, you will need advanced carpentry skills. Beginners shouldn't try angular cuts with a table saw.

8. Usage for Beginners

It is usually assumed that since Table Saws are so simple to use, they are more suited for beginners. However, this is only partially true. If you want to carry out simple straight cuts on a block of wood as a beginner, then the table saw can be simple to use. However, anything more complicated can be extremely dangerous for beginners just because of the sheer size of the Saw.

Miter saws are small and are very simple to use as well. It is always recommended to use it for any complicated cuts that you require, in case you are just starting out with the skill of carpentry.

9. Pricing

When compared between the two, the table saw almost always emerges as the costlier equipment. However, it is one of the basic equipment that is required by everyone in their carpentry workshop.

Video: Should I Buy a Table Saw or a Miter Saw?


Is a table saw more useful than a miter saw?

A significant advantage of the table saw is that it can cut larger pieces of wood than the miter saw, albeit with less precision. As a result, the table saw is a larger tool that takes up more space and is much heavier than a miter saw.

What is better to buy first, a miter saw, or a table saw?

In most cases, a good table saw should be the first cutting tool to invest in. However, if you need to cut not too large woods, and if your job mainly involves precision cuts and inclined cuts, choose the miter saw first.

Is it better to have a 10 or 12-inch miter saw?

A 10-inch miter saw will give you more room for maneuver. Besides, the 10-inch blade will turn faster than a 12-inch blade and will allow for smoother cuts with a better finish.

Is it worth a sliding miter saw?

Only if you know, you will use it. If you cannot plan the work you will do, a sliding miter saw may not be necessary. A standard miter saw costs less and takes up less space.

Do I need a stand for the miter saw?

Surely. It is highly recommended to buy or build stable and robust support for the miter saw.

What can I use instead of a table saw?

The miter saw is a good choice if you need to cut pieces of wood that are not too large. Alternatively, a circular or a track saw could be used for wider boards. If you don't need precise cuts, you could also use a jigsaw.


A table saw and a miter saw are both very useful pieces of equipment that can make the life of carpenters much easier. However, they are used for different functionalities, and it is always better not to substitute one for the other early on in your career.

If your next project is rather large involving larger pieces of wood and large cuts, it is recommended to make use of a table saw.

However, if it is a smaller project with smaller pieces of wood, you will require precise and clean cuts, which is better suited to a miter saw.

An essential commonality between both the saws is that they are dangerous equipment and should always be handled with care.

See also: Ryobi Miter Saw Reviews