Both the miter saw and the hand-held circular saw are mainly used for cutting wood or wood-like materials. The comparison should show you which of the two saws is best suited for you and your project.
To compare the miter saws and the circular saw, functions, and differences must be known beforehand. That is why we explain the two tools in the first part and then compare them in the next part and highlight the respective advantages. Now let’s see what’s the best for you, a circular saw or miter saw.
Related: Miter saw vs Table Saw
Table of Contents
What Is a Miter Saw?
The miter saw, also known as a chop saw, comes from wood processing and belongs to the family of circular saws. The name of the miter saw comes from “to cut,” which means to shorten. The miter saw is, therefore, a device with which wood can be reduced accordingly.
- The miter saw is operated with a motor that mostly works electronically.
- The motor and saw unit is attached to a solid base.
- Almost all miter saws allow cutting at an angle of – 43 to + 45 degrees; higher quality cross-cut saws can cut beyond that.
- High-quality circular saws have a turntable, which can be moved with the machine head against the base.
- The depth and width of the cut depends on the saw blade.
- The saw head is fixed on a guide plane, whereby the height can be adjusted to the material.
- The chop saw can be operated with little effort.
The miter saw is mainly used to shorten and cut wood such as boards, laths, or strips. Both carpenters, interior fitters, floor layers, and do-it-yourselfers use the tool when they bring houses, gardens, fences, benches, etc., into shape. While a simple homeowner miter saw is usually sufficient for the do-it-yourselfer, the professionals use various models. Which model comes into question depends largely on the nature of the material to be sawn.
After the workpiece has been placed on and clamped, the machine head must be pressed downwards – depending on the workpiece’s nature with more or less pressure. After the cut, the saw unit springs back into its starting position. An imprecise cut is almost impossible.
When deciding whether a chop saw or a circular saw is the better investment, the decision should be based on the application. As a buyer, you should look at your regular work and decide based on the two saws’ uses and functions.
Related: Band saw vs Scroll Saw
What Is a Circular Saw?
The circular saw is particularly suitable for making straight cuts in solid wood or sheet material without paying attention to the grain direction. These long, straight cuts are the strength of the hand-held circular saw, and the workpiece size hardly plays a role.
- The circular saw is operated by a universal motor that drives a round saw blade with 5,000 revolutions per minute.
- For protection, a protective cover or housing is attached over the saw blade and a pendulum guard underneath.
- A circular saw can be adjusted both in height and inclination.
- The saw blades of conventional circular saws usually have a limited cutting depth of around 1 1/2 to 3 1/3 inches.
- Choosing the right saw blade and its material (hard metal) are also important for this saw.
The saw is used both on professional construction sites and in the DIY sector. Special shapes such as shadow gap saws, plunge-cut saws, or circular saws are available for special areas.
To operate the circular saw, the machine is limited to the maximum cutting depth, the workpiece is placed on it, and the saw is guided over the material to be cut by hand. The circular saw can be used free-hand or with a guide rail. When buying a saw, make sure that the adjusting screws for adjusting the height and inclination are easily accessible and easy to use. Attachment to a guide plate is recommended, as free-hand guidance often results in less clean cuts.
Comparison of Miter Saw vs Circular Saw:
The primary differences between circular saws vs miter saws are:
- The circular saw is guided over the material to be cut by hand, whereas with the miter saw, the machine head is pressed towards the piece of wood. The circular saw has a high degree of flexibility because the device is easy to transport thanks to its low weight and can be used anywhere.
- If you want to make straight cuts, the circular saw perfectly fulfills its purpose. If you want to make clean and precise cuts at a precise angle, the miter saw is more suitable. Straight cuts are difficult with a miter saw and angled cuts with a hand-held circular saw.
- With the hand-held circular saw, several materials can be cut depending on the saw blade, whereas with the miter saw, mostly only wood is cut.
- The miter saw is suitable for cuts up to a machine-dependent workpiece size; for larger workpieces, the saw should have a pulling function. With the hand-held circular saw, the size of the workpiece is not relevant.
- It is more difficult to cut small workpieces with the hand-held circular saw because the pendulum guard’s clamping on small or thin workpieces makes precise cuts difficult.