April 16, 2021

Miter vs Table Saw | Which One You Should Get

Miter saws come in models with unique features ideal for work areas and applications. After so many years of using different saws, the comparison between miter vs table saw is still a common question from artisans. My experiences with Dewalt, Bosch and Makita miter and table saws have provided information contributing to this discussion. As much as these brands differ in features, some characteristics set both models apart. These features include power, design, motor, weight, price range and precision. That’s what this article is all about.

Overview of the Miter Saw

A miter saw is a tool that allows you to make cuts at various angles. It has a saw blade mounted on the arm that makes pivots from both the right and left sides for angled cuts. The tool is for frames and window casings. The miter saw has three variations. That includes the dual compound and the sliding compound. The compound miter saw that pivots tilt in a single direction for bevel cuts. They make compound cuts in one pass. Unlike the first miter saw that tilts one way, the Dual compound miter saws tilt from the left and right. 

That allows it to make quicker bevels at multiple angles. The Sliding compound miter saws are versatile saws with a sliding feature. You move the blade forward and backwards. The sliding feature increases the length of the cut. If you are looking for a miter saw with more cutting power, you should consider higher Amps. Precise cuts produce flawless surfaces. There is a need for more positive stops to avoid time-consuming project set-up cuts. Saws with thumb-activated stops are ideal for quick adjustments. 

There are different models to consider when buying a miter saw. You have the smaller unit mounted on a workbench, and you can have a bigger one that does not require transportation to and from work. There are multiple sizes of blades that suit the needs of different applications. What is important is buying a blade compatible with your miter saw. You might blame your miter saw for a technical fault. The extension cord has to be the right one for the miter saw.

Pros

  • Ideal for trimming and angular cuts
  • Ideal for cross-cuts and bevels
  • Moving blade
  • Precise
  • Safe

Cons

  • Fixed stock
  • Limited in variety

Key Features of the Miter saw

Blade size

The size is of greater importance when you are choosing a miter saw. The standard sizes are 8, 10, and 12inches. However, that should not stop you from looking for a blade with a larger diameter. A larger diameter gives you longer cuts. It is ideal for more extended materials such as door frames. The Dewalt DWS780 has a 12inch blade and a double-bevelling miter saw. The 15Amp motor rotates up to 3,800 rotations per minute (Source). 

Blade guard

The blade guard protects you from the workpiece. It also keeps the material in place. You have visibility of the activity taking place at the moment. You have no obstructions to your task. You must keep your eye on the cutting line to maintain precise cuts. Even if you raise the saw, the blade is there to cover the saw blade.

Electric brakes

The electric brakes are to stop the flow of electricity in an emergency. Stopping the machine means disengaging the blade from running. The motor stops operating the moment you release the pad. Electric brakes deactivate in two seconds. That is quick and necessary for a damage-free miter saw. 

Fence system

You have two options when making bevel cuts or supporting your material. You either flip or slide the stock. The sliding and flipping fence supports longer material for precise cuts. The Dewalt sliding miter saw has a back fence design that cuts to 90 degrees and 45 degrees. It has an efficient dust collection system (Source).

Overview of the Table Saw

A table saw is a flat machine with a built-in blade that makes various cuts. It has a circular blade that produces two types of cuts. The rip cut is the cut you make on a wood, following the grain. Cutting against the grain and slicing the wood in half is cross-cutting. The cross-cut has to work on a thin piece of wood. What is unique about a table saw is the ability to withstand longer and broader materials. It is bigger and ideal for materials that require longer cuts. There are table saws that come with additional shelf space. The shelf is either on the right or left side of the blade. 

The Rockwell Tabletop Saw has onboard accessory storage that keeps extra blades, the miter gauge, and the rip fence. That brings convenience to the user when you need to replace your blade. There are also industrial table saws with large surfaces and workbench table saws that are ideal for DIY enthusiasts. The solid base makes the tool sturdy as it stays in place. You connect your tool to a dust management system that keeps you healthy from diseases caused by inhaling just saw. The blade on a table saw is fixed. 

The height is adjustable as you raise it lower or higher, depending on the thickness of the wood you are working on. The blade is stationary. For accuracy, the blade guard and rails guide the material. There are four types of table saws. These are the bench, contractor, cabinet, and hybrid table saw. The contractor and the cabinet table saws are portable for household activities. The cabinet table saw combines the two, and the hybrid table saw is a heavy-duty table saw.

Pros

  • Onboard accessory storage 
  • Adjustable blades
  • Accurate
  • Effective dust management system
  • Specific table saws for different locations

Cons

  • High noise level
  • A bit unstable

Key features of the table saw

Motor

The size of the horsepower measures the cutting power. Light duty bench saws are compatible with the 3/4hp to 1.5hp. They cut up to 5/8 inch thick material. Large table saws come with 2hp to 5hp motors. The cabinet table saw is compatible with the 5hp motor. Make sure that the table saw has a powerful cooling system. The 5-hp Unisaw with a 52inch Biesemeyer fence has a Marathon motor that tackles demanding tasks. As much as it can be a heavy tool, it must make easy cuts.

Blade size

When manufacturers are naming a table saw, they are after the blade size. Table saws come with circular blades, and the 10inch is the standard blade. The blade is adjustable depending on the material you are working on. 

Cutting depth

The type of cut depends on the width of the blade. Shallow cuts attract wider blades. A 10inch blade can make a deep cut of up to 3.5inches. A 12inch table saw makes a deep cut of up to 4inches.

Fence options

The fence is adjustable. It makes your material stays in place as you are cutting. The T-square fence is the standard fence. Specialty fences have a micro-adjust feature. The Vega U26 Table saw has micro-adjustment table support. You are allowed to fine-tune the measurements of the cut. Some saws come with extendable fences that take care of large materials. Some do have magnifiers for better visibility.

Rip capacity

I recommend a table saw that rips larger materials with accuracy. However, it also depends on the ideal materials you will be working on. The rip capacity ranges from 18iches for the entry-level saws to 60inches for high-end saws.

Similarities

  • They both have rotating circular blades.
  • Both saws have a mounted blade that is at different angles.
  • They are both versatile tools.

Differences between a miter saw, and a table saw

  • Table saws are ideal for cutting large wood, whereas miter saws are ideal for short wood pieces. 
  • Miter saws are for cutting angles, whereas table saws are for straight materials.
  • Miter saws are better for cutting bevels than table saws.
  • A miter saw is limited to material shorter than the blade, whereas table saws cut materials that are even longer than the width of the blade.
  • Miter saws come in compact sizes, whereas table saws are bigger. 
  • Table saws are less precise due to the wood piece held, whereas miter saws are more precise since the wood piece is always in motion.
  • Table saws tend to produce kickbacks more than miter saws.
  • Table saws are more versatile than miter saws.
  • Miter saws are more affordable than table saws.

Cost 

The price range for a table saw varies depending on what type of saw you are looking for. An inexpensive table saw ranges from 250 to 500. mid-range table saws range from 300 to 600. industrial saws range from 2300 to 5000. miter saws range from 200 to 500. entry-level saws range from 100 to 200.

Verdict on miter vs table saw

If you are looking for precise cross-cuts and compact saws, the miter saw is the ideal saw type. For large pieces of wood, table saws are the perfect type. Versatility is what sets table saws apart. Miter saws are more affordable than table saws. But they are prone to kickbacks and have a higher price tag. If you consider your area of expertise, you have already made the best choice.

David D. Hughes
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