Table Saw vs Circular Saw: Which One to Choose?

table saw vs circular saw header

Do you need a table saw, or a circular saw? These tools have some similarities that can make it difficult to determine which tool will better suit you. However, we’ve made it easy to make the decision by writing this guide which should help you figure out which tool you need, and we’ve also profiled a few of the tools so that you can get a better feel for specific models.

Operation

Table saws and circular saws both rely on a spinning blade to cut through wood. In a table saw, the blade is mounted below the table, but peeks up through a special slit in the table. You run the wood across the blade to cut it.

The circular saw is a handheld device that you move over the wood in order to cut it. Since the blade will be going through the wood, you need to make sure that there is nothing under it. Otherwise, you may hinder the blade or damage whatever it is that’s underneath.

Cut location

Both tools can be used to cut plywood and lumber. What determines which tool you should use is where the cut is being made. If the cut is near the outside of the plywood or lumber, you should use a circular saw because it will be easier to get the part you’re cutting out over open air.

If the cut is near the center, you should use a table saw, which works best when you’re able to apply steady pressure to both sides of the object being cut to move it past the blade.

Generally speaking, the table saw is more general-use, but the circular saw is more portable, so you should consider these factors before making your purchase. Snow Blowers We Recommend:

Table Saws We Recommend:

Our favorite – Shop Fox W1819

Sale
Shop Fox W1819 3 HP 10-Inch Table Saw with Riving...
42 Customer Reviews
Shop Fox W1819 3 HP 10-Inch Table Saw with Riving...
  • Item may ship in more than one box and may arrive separately
  • Precision ground and polished cast iron table and wings and massive cast iron trunnions
  • Quick release riving knife, blade guard and splitter assembly

The Shop Fox W1819 is our top choice, featuring a powerful 3-hp motor that can deal with almost any project. But, what’s a powerful tool without high-quality safety features? This model comes with a clear polycarbonate guard. This means you can see the blade during the cut. There is also a riving knife that prevents kickback.

This model is easy-to-assemble right out of the box, even if you have to do it alone. It also comes with an excellent dust port that funnels most sawdust away from the worksite, making cleanup easier and keeping your work area clear.

Most table saws come with cheap, low-quality fences. Unfortunately, the Shop Fox W1819 is no exception. This is why most people end up upgrading their fences if they plan on using their table saw a lot. However, this is a minor downside relative to the other great features found on this machine.

Pros
  • Easy to assemble
  • Great dust port
  • Powerful
  • Excellent safety features
Cons
  • Miter gauge quality

Best for the money – DEWALT DWE7491RS

Sale
DEWALT 10-Inch Table Saw, 32-1/2-Inch Rip Capacity...
706 Customer Reviews
DEWALT 10-Inch Table Saw, 32-1/2-Inch Rip Capacity...
  • Features a 15.0A high-torque motor with the power to cut pressure-treated lumber and hardwoods
  • This product is manufactured in Mexico; Tool Weight: 90 pounds
  • This product meets customer requirement

If you need a portable table saw, you’d be hard pressed to find a better model than the DEWALT DWE7491RS. Even if you don’t need a portable model, you will struggle to find a model that provides more value for the price. This model was designed with construction workers in mind, coming with a rolling stand which makes it easy to move around, and extendable legs, so that you never have to use it on the ground.

Despite its extreme portability, it still packs a lot of power. The 15-amp motor is strong enough to complete any job. It also comes with an excellent dust port, which comes in handy when you use the unit inside.

The table itself is a bit small relative to other table saws, but it features an expanding rack and pinion miter gauge system that allows for rips up to 32½”. Like many other units, you’ll probably want to upgrade the fence, which is lower-quality than many people will like. If you’re looking for good value, and portability, you can’t go wrong with this table saw.

Pros
  • Portability
  • Power
  • Good dust port
Cons
  • Table size
  • Miter gauge quality

Circular Saws We Recommend:

Our favorite – DEWALT DWE575SB

Sale
DEWALT DWE575SB 7-1/4-Inch Lightweight Circular...
560 Customer Reviews
DEWALT DWE575SB 7-1/4-Inch Lightweight Circular...
  • Lightweight and compact 15A (Ampere) saw delivers power for the toughest applications
  • This product is manufactured in China
  • This product meets customer requirement

Our favorite circular saw is the DEWALT DWE575SB. There are a lot of things to like about this unit, but perhaps the most significant is how lightweight this model is, clocking in at just 8.8 pounds. If you’re planning on doing a lot of sawing at once, this lighter model will leave you much less tired than heavier units. It also has an electric brake, which reduces the time it takes for the blade to come to a stop after you release the trigger.

It also features the ToughCord System, which is designed to help prevent accidental disconnects, and the durability to last a long time. This model comes with a carrying bag, which is good for storing extra blades and moving your saw when necessary. The one downside is that the shoe has a little bit of play to it, which might bother you if you need extreme amounts of precision but won’t affect most users. Overall, it would be hard to wrong with this excellent circular saw.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Electric brake
  • ToughCord System
  • Travel bag
Cons
  • Some play in shoe

Best for the money – SKIL 5180-01

Sale
SKIL 5180-01 14-Amp, 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw
138 Customer Reviews
SKIL 5180-01 14-Amp, 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw
  • 14-Amp motor for more power and performance than the SKIL 5480
  • 15% weight reduction vs. SKIL 5480, reduces user fatigue
  • 51Degree bevel with positive stop at 45Degree for greater cut capacity that SKIL 5480

The SKIL 5180-01 is like the DEWALT’s little brother. It packs a slightly smaller motor but comes with many similar features. It has a similarly-lightweight frame, meaning it also won’t wear you out as quickly as heftier units. It also features a dust-blower which clears out the area in front of the machine so that you can always see the line you’re following on your cut.

And while this isn’t often true on circular saws, this model uses a simple system that allows you to easily and quickly switch out blades. This will save a lot of time across the life of the tool, especially if you’re going to be swapping out blades frequently between projects.

Some people, especially people with smaller hands, will have a bit of trouble using the safety switch on this machine, which has to be held down while you use it, though this will affect a minority of users. Overall, the SKIL 5180-01’s value is hard to beat, especially at this price point.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Dust blower
  • Easy-change blade
Cons
  • Safety switch location

Conclusion

The Shop Fox W1819 is our top table saw, and the DEWALT DWE7491RS is the best portable table saw and also the best value for the money. The DEWALT DWE575SB was our favorite circular saw, and the SKIL 5180-01 was the best value, bringing a lot of the same features at a much lower price.

Which should you buy? It comes down to what kinds of projects you’re going to do. You’ll be happiest when you pick the tool that best matches your needs. We know it can be hard to figure out which model that is, but we hope that this guide has helped make the decision easier for you.

About the Author Adam Harris

Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!