Miter Saw vs. Circular Saw – Main Differences

Though the saws’ market has been narrowed down to feature miter and circular saws mostly, we still have several options that can certainly overwhelm many novices.

It might be tempting to give in to the sales-focused marketing and cheap prices, but to ensure you get the best tool for your project and still enjoy the best value for money by being responsible and ready evaluate your preferences appropriately.

Table of contents

In that vein, We’ve prepared a comprehensive content about Miter saw vs. Circular saw and additionally will take you through some of the best miter saws and circular saws in the market.

What Is The Difference Between Miter Saw And A Circular Saw?

In general, miter saws are specialized power tool that allows you to make cuts at different angles.

The saw is mounted on a hinged frame with the blade fitted on its swingarm, which pivots right or left thus allowing you to produce accurate, repetitive vertical cuts either straight or at different angles.

Since repetitiveness is the key to woodworking projects, miter saws are real timesavers helping you to make accurate cuts for picture frames, window casings, door frames, crown molding and more.

On the other hand, a circular saw is power saw (tool) that includes a circular shaped blade spinning around an arbor to cut through various materials. It also features a baseplate that rides on top of the material being cut and the entire saw is hand guided.

Uses

A miter saw is great for making accurate crosscuts, and miters – crosscuts are cuts against the grain and parallel to the longest edge of the board.

A circular saw is used for rip cutting, where you need to make a long continuous cut through the grain. It can also be used for crosscutting smaller boards.

Miter saws are completely incapable of making rip cuts because the blades only move up and down, and can only cut materials up to about 6-inch wide.

Easier To Operate

Indisputably, the circular saw is more versatile than the miter saw. However, it easier to operate the miter saw than the circular saw.

On versatility, circular saws are more convenient because of their size and weight that makes them easily portable; hence you can move around with them. This is different from miter saws which are big and stationary, and you’ll have to bring the material to it.

Regarding operation, the miter saw blade moves up and down, which makes it easy to keep your hands at a safer distance and still have a better control of the saw than when dealing with a circular.

With a miter saw you can easily cut at different angles by adjusting the angles in several directions. But with the circular saw, you can only manage to cut angles but it would require skills (setting up a straight edge and measuring the angle) – accuracy is always a concern.

Safety

Using any power tool is risky; hence you should take proper security measures.

However, for miter saws and circular saws, the miter saws seem to be safer because the tool is stationary and you can keep your hands at a safer distance. This is opposed to the circular saw which is designed to be used free hand.

For safety, in both cases, the material being cut must be held firmly in some way (usually by a clamp or in a vise) to restrict the material from moving haphazardly, catching and jamming on the saw, which could cause injury. You should also avoid wearing loose clothing or keeping your hair untied.

Cost – Benefit

Circular saws are cheaper than miter saws.

According to most woodwork experts, a good circular saw is capable of handling most tasks. But you’ll always need a miter saw for accurate cuts and crosscut.

Hence when it comes to cost and benefits, you really need to weigh your options as you ensure you get a tool that will meet all your demands.

On circular saws, you need to be careful because these saws can be either right or left-handed. Make your selections wisely.

That said, here are some of best miter saws and circular saws.

Our Picks: CIRCULAR SAWS


1

SKIL 5280-01 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw

Nothing defines a great circular saw like a saw with the ability to rip and crosscut different materials like metal, plastic, and wood.

Speaking of an essential power tool for any woodworker, the SKIL 5280-01 circular saw is one that can never go unmentioned.

This tool is powerful in different aspects and is an excellent addition to a workshop.

According to the manufacturer, SKIL 5280-01 is an excellent tool for experienced woodworkers looking to add more cutting power to their workshop. This machine comes with an upgraded motor (15-Amp) from its predecessor and an improved cut depth of 2-3/8”.

The 15-Amp motor is essential for someone looking for a circular saw with the best performance. The motor can drive the 7-1/4-inch blade at 5300 RPM. This ensures that it performs better when cutting even thicker materials.

On accuracy, SKIL 5280-01 is equipped with a single beam laser guide that helps you identify is the blade is cutting along the right line or not. Guesswork is a thing of the past with this brilliant tool in the circular saw industry.

It also bevels to about 51 degrees with a positive stop at 45 degrees, making it a very helpful saw for several projects. When angled at 90 degrees it achieves a maximum cut depth of 1-15/16-inches, and 2-7/16-inches deep when set at 45 degrees.

Operating the saw is easy, and it also comes with a safety switch, a blade guard, a torque clutch that minimizes the risk of kickback, and a power-on indicator light.

PROS:

  • Comes in the right size and weight, making it portable
  • The 15-Amp makes it so powerful and ideal for professionals
  • The user guide is excellent and comprehensive; hence it’s easy to use the tool

CONS:

  • Lacks a blade brake to stop the blade right after releasing the trigger
  • The laser lighting isn’t bright enough, making it hard to work with it in a brightly-lit place
  • The steel plate is so weak and fails under too much pressure


2

DEWALT DWE575SB 7-1/4-Inch

Are you looking for a circular saw that tops the industry in terms of the most durable design, best overall performance and excellent value for the price? Well, the DEWALT DWE575SB is the right tool for you.

One fascinating thing about this tool is how DeWalt went out to redesign the 15-Amp motor to add more feature and reduce the weight.

It’s now the lightest, and the well-balanced saw in its class at 8.8 pounds, making it more portability with improved performance.

The redesigned 15-Amp motor provides 1950 max watts out, which is ideal for driving a 7-1/4-inch blade at 5200 RPM for maximum performance.

The DeWalt DWE575SB can hit a level of up to 57 degrees with positive stop settings at 22.5 degrees and 45 degrees for easy adjusting. This will allow you to make different cuts as per your project requirements.

To help you achieve better accuracy in cutting, there are fine adjustments fitted on the pivot bracket. It also features an electric brake that is important to automatically stop the blade in 2 seconds after releasing the trigger.

Other essential features of the circular saw include an in-built blade wrench storage and an integrated dust blower.

PROS:

  • Ideal for framing, remodeling, concrete forming and general contracting
  • Weighing 8.8 pounds, it’s the lightest in its class
  • Strong and durable construction

CONS:

  • Lacks a rear pivot and rip fence
  • It’s expensive


3

Makita 5007MGA Magnesium 7-1/4-Inch

Are looking for a circular saw that is commonly used by roofers, framers, remodelers, carpenters, DIY enthusiast, and general contractors? Well, Makita 5007MGA is among the most popular models.

The Makita 5007MGA is designed to fit any kind of wood cutting project perfectly. Its versatility remains unquestionable and has a strong body that can withstand different working environments.

This saw comes with a 15-Amp induction motor (2300 MWO) that has the capability of driving a 7-1/4-inch blade at 5800 RPM. The motor is protected using an improved centrifugal fan and baffle to ensure it withstands the heat generated when performing heavy-duty tasks.

It has a beveling capacity of up to 56 degrees with positive stops of 22.5 and 45 degrees, making it versatile enough to handle different levels of cutting tasks. It provides a cut capacity of 1-3/4 at 45 degrees, 1-3/8 at 56 degrees, and 2-1/2 at 90 degrees.

Makita 5007MGA also features an electric brake that can stop the blade after releasing the trigger.

PROS:

  • The 15-Amp motor ensures a better performance
  • The magnesium reinforced body is strong and durable
  • Features a rip fence, a dust blower, and twin LED lights to make your work easy

CONS:

  • Heavier than most models in its class
  • Some users complained of the blade losing its edge in some cases
  • Comes with a limited warranty


Our Picks: MITER SAWS

1

Homecraft H 26-260 L 10-Inch

We do understand that everyone has different needs when it comes choosing the best miter saw, but it’s a fact that every woodworkers’ dream is to have power tool able to deliver on power, accuracy and versatility grounds.

Featuring a sturdy 14-Amp motor able to drive a 10-inch blade at a fantastic peak of 5500 RPM, the Homecraft H 26-260 L is what you need to realize the best side of efficiency and power.

This makes the saw relevant for heavy duty tasks that may involve cutting through cured and wet lumber with ease and speed.

To ensure flexibility, this tool can bevel up to 47 degrees for you to enjoy 45 degrees rotation to the right and left. It has detents at 0, 15, 22.5, 30, and 45 degrees to enable you a quick positioning.

This Homecraft miter saw features a battery powered laser cut line for enhanced line of sight and helps to guide the blade along the right line with impressive accuracy. Most users are impressed with how they can achieve cuts significant 2×6 and 4×4 beams with ease.

To ensure great levels of safety, it is equipped with an effective spindle lock that enhances the assurance of security. The spindle lock holds the blade in place through different angles and changes.

PROS:

  • Powerful motor with excellent RPM output
  • Cuts compound angles easily and clean
  • Its high level of flexibility gives it a universal standard of compatibility

CONS:

  • Noisy
  • Some users have complained about massive vibrations
  • Poor performance recorded when dealing with the small and delicate material


2

DEWALT DW716 12-Inch Double-Bevel

I couldn’t close this list of top dual bevel miter saws without featuring the DEWALT DW716, one of the industry’s best. It’s among the few miter saws that are widely used across the world, thanks to its versatility, reliability, accuracy, and ease-of-use.

It features a heavy-duty 15-Amp motor producing a no-load speed of up to 3600 RPM, making it useful when it comes to miter and cross cuttings, among other uses.

The DeWalt DW176 can bevel up to 48 degrees on both sides, providing it with better capabilities for heavy-duty tasks and allows you to turn over the saw instead of the material.

It also comes with bevel stop settings at 0, 33.9, 45 and 48 degrees on the left and right; you’ll be able to easily and quickly find and set common bevel angles.

One of the most amazing features of this saw is the 12” blade that cuts sharply with the excellent finishes.

It comes equipped with blade guard, suitable carrying handle, interlocking safety trigger, and preset blade stops, to ensure ease of operation and safety.

PROS:

  • Better cutting accuracy, thanks to the accurate miter system and sturdy fence support
  • Increased vertical cutting capacity, thanks to its unique belt-driven design and innovative gearbox
  • Highly recommended for heavy and light duty projects

CONS:

  • Setting it up has been a challenge for most users
  • The dust collecting system isn’t efficient enough
  • Limited warranty at three years


3

Makita LS 1040 10-Inch

If portability is essential for your projects, then the Makita LS 1040 miter saw is one of the industry’s best solutions. This because of its durability, lightweight, ease of use and some impressive features.

Most woodwork professionals claim it’s designed to combine portability, speed, and accuracy.

Makita LS1040 features a dynamically-balanced 15-Amp powerful, direct drive-motor having 4600 RPM for the best performance. Its great electronic speed ensures a reliable speed and performance to give the best experience of its class.

This unit features a dual-post compound pivot (hinge) arm with bevel cuts that hit to the left at 45 degrees.

It comes with nine positive stop settings at 0, 15, 22.5, 30, and 45 degrees able to hit left or right. These make the unit resourceful enough to have miter adjustments ranging from 0 – 52 degrees to the right with the left having 0 – 45 degrees.

One amazing thing about this tool is its efficient speed control that ensures accuracy throughout the cutting process. With the built-in laser, you’re assured of the highest level of accuracy.

PROS:

  • Large cutting capacity
  • Lightweight – making it portable compared to other models in its class
  • Compact and durable design

CONS:

  • The brake is a tad slower and takes more time to bring the blade to a complete stop
  • Poor dust collection
  • Fences bend frequently causing kickbacks and bent blades


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