Knowing the difference between a table saw and a miter saw is very important if you’re going to utilize each one properly.

Some people who plan on performing casual DIY at home may not want to purchase every type of saw out there, and will want to know which one they will get the most use out of.

Building up your toolkit slowly is one of the best ways to build up a collection of quality tools that will help you to complete your DIY projects to the best standard.

Here, we talk about the table saw vs the miter saw so you can make an informed decision on the one you need to use for a certain project. Different projects may require either one or the other, and the one you select can make a difference to how much time is spent on a project, and even how accurate your project turns out to be.

Let’s start by taking a look at what exactly the tools are to give you a better idea of what you might need.

man cutting plank of wood with table saw

What Is A Table Saw?

A table saw is one of the most used tools out there. Many homeowners and casual DIYers own a table saw as it is extremely versatile. There are many table saw designs available, from a basic tabletop version to a full contractor’s version.

The table saw is an essential tool that can be used for an unlimited number of woodworking tasks.

The table saw is a versatile and common tool, and usually one of the biggest tool purchases that a wood worker will make.


contractor table saw

Thinking about the various types of table saws available and how they suit your needs is a good idea before you go out and make your purchase.

There are hundreds of brands and types of table saw. We’ll talk more about this later!

What Is A Miter Saw?

A miter saw is a specialized tool that allows the user to make cuts at a variety of angles. The miter saw has a blade mounted on a swing, allowing the user to produce cuts to the left or the right.

By using this type of saw  you can quickly make cuts for things like crown molding, picture frames, door frames, and more.

It’s another very popular saw on the market today, which is why many people wonder whether they need both types of saw to complete the DIY that they have in mind.

man using miter saw
The main purpose of miter saws is to cut miters, and it is used by contractors, remodelers, carpenters, and more. It’s good for simple 45 degree angles and can cut aluminum, plastics, and even concrete. There are many types of miter saw too, such as basic and compound. Again, we’ll go into more detail later.

The Difference Between a Table and a Miter Saw

As both the table saw and the miter saw are extremely popular, people can get confused when it comes to figuring out which kind they need to buy or rent. In this case, it’s important to know the differences between the two so you can make the best decision.
The table saw is more versatile than the miter saw when you consider the overall amount of things it can do.

In addition to making rips it can also crosscut boards, and it can also cut panels of various sizes up to about 4’x8′, however, that doesn’t mean it performs every job to the highest standard.

It can do many jobs, but you won’t necessarily notice a high quality of each job.

The miter saw does only crosscuts on boards up to about 6″ for a 10″ saw, and maybe 8″ for a 12″ saw. It does these things fairly accurately, so it’s good if you need accurate cuts. There is an overlap to the capabilities of each of these saws.

A table saw with a miter gauge can handle crosscuts on shorter boards that can be managed sideways on the saw table. However, it would be unsafe to crosscut a board that’s 20 feet long.

Similarly, placing an angled cut on the end of a long board isn’t safe. You’ll find that many people simply prefer to have a table saw on hand to help with many of their tasks. However, this is totally dependent on the tasks that you have in mind.

If you’re doing things such as kitchen renovations and building your own decking, you might just save more time with a miter saw. It’s so important to consider the types of projects that you’re taking on before you can know which type of saw you need. Bear in mind that it may be worth renting one of the tools for a one off job rather than buying outright.

When And How To Use A Table Saw

The table saw is one of the most versatile and productive tools in the woodshop. It can be used to rip, cross-cut, miter-cut, square, dado, rabbet, and even apply shapes to the edges of wood stock.

However, using this saw is considered one of the most dangerous, and you must take steps to reduce your risk of injury.

One of the most important things you need to do is perform regular maintenance on your table saw. A properly-tuned table saw will cut easily and smoothly.

However, it is dangerous to operate a table saw that you have not adequately maintained. You must make sure that you take maintenance steps, including keeping the table saw rust free.

When you have properly maintained your table saw, it can add accuracy and safety to your woodworking projects.

Make sure you check over your table saw before you use it, to ensure that there’s no rust and no issues. A thorough check is important as it could not only hinder your project, but be dangerous for you too.

If you’re the kind of person who uses your table saw regularly, you’ll want to perform maintenance after you’ve used it each time. If you only use your table saw occasionally, then ensuring you store it properly is crucial. It may not be as susceptible to rust, but it’s still important to check.

You should use a table saw if you need to make many cuts that are the same length. Doing this by hand can cause discrepancies in size, whereas using a table saw is far more accurate.

Let’s face it, it can also be pretty boring to spend time creating cuts exactly the same size. You may not realize that they are different sizes until afterwards either, which can be extremely annoying.

A Contractor’s saw is more portable, however, it still has many safety features and can be used both indoors and outdoors. The benchtop saw is the smallest, but it has large outputs when it comes to wattage. It must be handled with the utmost care if you want to remain safe.

Ensure it is in a fixed position before you begin working with it. You can get 600W to 2000W and in general, the more power available the quicker and deeper the cut will be.

Bear in mind that just because the benchtop saw is the smallest, does not mean it is the cheapest. Rather than going by price, you should consider the size and features you need.

man uses table saw
A table saw can also give you more stability when cutting large pieces of timber. The timber does the work for you while the blades maintain stationary, which allows for a more accurate cut. It also saves you much energy in the long run.

There are many different types of table saw available. The cabinet saw is a huge heavy table saw that sits in your workshop. It is used by serious woodworkers and will provide the most accurate work if you set it up properly.

When And How To Use A Miter Saw

A miter saw should be used when you need extremely accurate lumbar and molding cuts. This tool is considered to be essential for carpentry.

However, to use it you need to be careful. Be prepared when you power it up for the first time, as it will likely jerk and rumble until it gets up to speed.

Always wait for the blade to stop spinning once you’ve finished using it too, or it may spit wood.

You must let the saw do the work and don’t force the blade through the wood if you want the best results.

As with the table saw, it’s so important to maintain your miter saw if you want it to stand the test of time.

While some people may only use their miter saw once for every 100 times they use their table saw, others say that it saves them hours of time creating hours of cuts.

There are different types of miter saw for you to consider. The basic miter saw takes care of crosscut and miter cuts.

A lightweight model is comfortable to use and it usually has a fairly low price tag when you’re looking at basic miter saws.

The compound saw can take care of more cuts, such as the bevel cut, and will allow you to do cuts in all directions without flipping your workpiece.

bosch miter saw performing crosscut
There are also cordless saws and sliding compound miter saws. You can cut through wider workpieces due to the sliding head.

Consider your project and the features that will make your life easier.


By now, you should have a good idea of whether you need a miter saw or a table saw for your projects. Maybe you’ve decided to purchase both!

Of course, there are an abundance of other tools that can be used for various jobs depending on what you need.

The best tools for certain jobs include:

  • Rip a long board: Table saw
  • Cut small sheets, crosscut short pieces: Table saw
  • Cross cut long boards: Miter saw or Radial arm saw
  • Rip and crosscut large sheets or panels: Panel saw, or a Circular saw and clamp-on guide.

As you can see, different jobs require a different tool for the absolute best results. If you’re serious about DIY or you’re planning on offering your services, it’s going to be a good idea to purchase both a table saw and a miter saw, along with other tools that complement the jobs you do or the services you offer.

However, because of the versatility, most people get a table saw first. There isn’t much that a miter saw can do that a table saw can’t, so if you’re not in a rush to build up your toolkit at once, then you will be making a good decision if you decide to buy a table saw.

The majority of people choose to purchase a high quality table saw, and never seem to need to buy anything else. However, some people do consider a miter saw to be a lifesaver.

table or miter diy
That being said, this totally depends on what you intend to do and whether you are doing the occasional project or offering your services professionally. If you’re only ever going to be a casual DIYer, a table saw may be all you ever need.

However, if you’re taking your DIY projects more seriously and you want to create professional looking decking, along with other household projects, a miter saw could save time and money.

The one you decide to get first could potentially make a huge difference to how your projects turn out. If you’re unsure, it could be best to rent both and see which one you prefer to use or get the most use out of.

Regardless of which one of these you think you need to buy first, the best thing you can do is research a multitude of brands and types, figure out the features that will suit you best, and go from there. The best tool for you is the one you will get the most use out of that you can afford. Hopefully this helps you to make the correct decision!