If there’s a job you need to do, and you’re in the market for a saw, you might know which type you need to get the job done. And, that’s okay. With this easy guide, you should learn everything you need to know about table and miter saws so that you can get the right one to get the job done. You’ll also get some of our recommended models so that you can buy with confidence.
Part of the reason that it can be hard to choose between a table saw and a miter saw at first glance is that there is some overlap in what they can do. Both are designed to cut wood and are able to cut angles into your pieces. However, there are differences that you should pay attention to before making your final purchase.
First, size. And, no, not the size of the machines themselves, though that does vary. Instead, we’re talking about the shape and size of the wood you’re planning to cut. With a miter saw, the width of the wood you’re working with is limited by the width of the blade you’re using. For instance, 10” miter saws can cut wood up to about 8” thick, while 12” blades can cut up to 10”. Likewise, the height of the wood is limited by the height of the miter saw. With a miter saw, you’re not going to be cutting plywood sheets, but you should be able to work with many other kinds of lumber and miter gauge posts.
The table saw, on the other hand, is great at cutting plywood sheets, since it doesn’t have the same depth limitations. You can also use it to cut lumber, though if it starts to get on the thicker side, it may get difficult, as you’ll have to adjust the blade height to make sure it goes all the way through. This is a problem you won’t have with a miter saw, which you can lower all the way down each time to ensure your cuts go all the way through.
Both kinds of saws can be used to cut bevels into wood. Miter saws use a blade mounted on an adjustable arm that tilts to change the angle at which it cuts. Table saws generally keep the blade stationary but tilt the table itself around the blade to change the angle at which you make the cut. All the same limitations from the size section still apply, meaning that by doing this you don’t gain any extra maneuvering room to do tasks you could do before.
What this does mean, generally speaking, is that the miter saw will generate a more precise cut, and will generally be more able to do deep, angled cuts than a table saw. The table saw is still the only one of the two capable of beveling a large piece of plywood, but that’s not a common task. Instead, the miter saw excels at cutting bevels into things like wooden trim or moldings.
Overall, the choice between a table saw, and a miter saw is going to depend on the task. If you’re working with pieces with smaller depths and widths, and need a precision angle cut into them, it would be hard to go wrong with a miter saw. Likewise, if you’re going to be doing a lot of straight cuts on larger pieces, then a table saw will work much better.
The most important thing you can do before you buy is to figure out which kinds of cuts you’re going to be making in the future, and what angles you’re going to be cutting. In most circumstances, the table saw can do what the miter saw does and is a better general-purpose tool. In the circumstances in which the miter saw is better, it tends also to be faster, though that’s a much narrower set of circumstances.
The Shop Fox W1819 is our top choice. It’s extremely powerful, featuring a 3-hp motor that will make short work of any project you feed to it. That power is paired with some great safety features, including a clear polycarbonate guard that allows you too see the blade throughout the cut, and moves with what you’re cutting, and a riving knife that prevents kickback that could result in injury. It’s hard not to love a table saw that has this much power and this much safety.
It is also easy-to-assemble right out of the box, even for one person, so don’t worry if you’re working alone. It also has a great dust port that does a good job of funneling shavings away from the work area.
The one thing that keeps this model from being the perfect table saw is the crummy miter gauge. Most table saws come with cheap miter gauges, so many users end up upgrading at some point, but it would have been nice to get a better one. That being said, don’t let a part that you would end up upgrading stop you from buying what is otherwise a fantastic table saw.
The DEWALT DWE7491RSDEWALT DWE7491RS is our choice for best for the money. The number one thing you should know about this model is that it is designed to be very portable. This means that if you’re going from jobsite to jobsite, you can’t go wrong with this model. If you’re looking for something to sit in one place in your shop, this model will work fine; it’s just that you’re missing out on its best feature.
It’s a very powerful saw, which is impressive, considering how easy it is to move it around. It also features an excellent dust port, good for those times when your portable table saw journey takes you inside.
The table is a bit below-average in size, but this is a trade-off to make the machine more portable, and it’s something that won’t set you back much at all. Like the previous model, it also comes with a cheap miter gauge, but that’s something that you’d likely end up upgrading anyway. The bottom line is that if you’re going to need to move your table saw around, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better table saw than this one.
We love the DEWALT DW715 because it packs the power to make short work of most projects, but also comes with the precision you need to do detailed trim work. The 15-amp motor is impressive, especially given that this model is reassuringly hefty, but not overly heavy. One the precision side of things, it has stops at 0, 33.9, 45, and 48 degrees, common bevel angles. This will save you a lot of time when doing precision work.
While it would be hard to call any power tool “quiet,” some run louder than others, and the DEWALT DW715 qualifies as a machine that runs on the “quieter” side of the equation. It also features a lot of steel in its design, meaning that it should last a long time.
This model doesn’t come with a laser or light for alignment. This shouldn’t be a big deal for most people. It also comes with a cheap miter gauge, which is something that you’ll probably end up upgrading.
The Hitachi C10FCG provides extremely good value for the money. Unlike some more expensive units, it comes with a laser, which is especially useful for new users and veteran miter saw workers alike. It’s always nice to have that extra confidence in your cut. It also comes with a surprisingly-powerful motor for the price, giving it the ability to deal with just about anything you throw its way.
While it does have a dust collector, it only catches about half the dust you’ll create. If you’re planning to use this machine mostly outside, this shouldn’t matter as much, but if you’re going to use it inside, expect to do some extra cleanup. This model also comes with poor instructions. Most miter saws are easy to assemble, so if you’ve done it before, you shouldn’t have a problem.
The Shop Fox W1819 is our top table saw, bringing together power, safety, and ease-of-assembly in a high-quality package. You can’t go wrong with this model. The DEWALT DWE7491RS was the best table saw for the money, especially given that its portable design and good power don’t result in a price that breaks the bank. The DEWALT DW715 was our top miter saw, having the great precision you need in a miter saw, but also running fairly quietly. And, the Hitachi C10FCG was the best miter saw for the money, coming with great power and a laser, at a fraction of the cost you’d expect for those features.
Hopefully, this comparison of table and miter saws has helped you figure out which kind is best for you. As always, the most important thing to figure out when shopping for power tools is what kinds of projects you’re going to do, and then getting the model that best fits your needs. Now, you should be able to figure out which model is just right for you.
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!