Miter Saw Vs Circular Saw: Which is Right for Your Needs?

A Circular saw is a hand-held power tool. It is versatile as it can provide you with various cuts, and -like most of the other power tools- it can be corded or cordless. It is also mobile, so you can carry it around with you from one job site to another without having to worry about anything.

A Miter saw is a power tool but is not hand-held. Instead, it has to be used on a table. It is also not as versatile as circular saws. It is highly specialized in specific cuts that we will tackle later on in this article.


As mentioned above, circular saws are versatile due to their ability to do many different types of cuts on different surfaces. To illustrate, they can do rip cuts and long cuts on wood, plastic, metals, and other materials, as well. Moreover, a circular saw does not necessarily need a blade to function; it can cut through a wall or a ceiling. 

On the other hand, a miter saw has only specific uses. For example, it can only be used to do four types of cuts; namely, a cross-cut, a bevel cut, a compound cut, and of course, a miter cut. So before you purchase a miter saw, make sure that you need to do all or at least one of these cuts; otherwise, you will just keep it sitting in the corner of your garage. 

Besides, miter saws cannot be used to cut plywood, and they cannot do long rip-cuts. If you need to make rabbets or dados, then you should buy an expensive sliding miter saw. 

After reading this, it is okay to wonder about the reason why a miter saw was even invented, since a circular saw can do its job already! Well, here is where you are wrong. 

A circular saw can indeed perform the same cuts that a miter saw is explicitly made to perform; however, using a circular saw for angled cuts can be extremely dangerous and challenging. 

Circular saws will not produce a cut that is as accurate as that of a miter saw. They will also cause you a lot of difficulties and will take up a lot of your time. A more important thing to note is that they can be dangerous if you are not a professional. 


Circular saws do not take up much space, and they can be easily transported from one place to the other, especially if they are cordless. 

Miter saws can be transported as well, but not as quickly as circular saws, because they have their own table, or a miter saw stand. 

The Blades and How They Work?

Both of them have circular saw blades that are large and rotate at high speed, and beds that hold whatever it is that is being cut in place. The blade of the miter saw ranges from size 7” to 12” whereas, blades of a circular saw range from 6-1/2″, 7-1/4″, 10″ to 12.”

The difference lies in how they work. A circular saw’s blade is fed against the work along a straight path; whereas, the blade of a miter saw has to be dropped from above the workpiece to make the cut. 

Types of Cuts of a Circular Saw:

A circular saw can make several kinds of cuts; here are some:

Smooth Right-Angle Bevel Cuts:

This kind of cut can be performed by Slide miter saws and radial arm saws, but with practice, you can do these cuts perfectly with a circular saw. This is useful for making a tight corner joint. It is advised to use a guide before using a circular saw for doing such cut. 

Smooth Angle Cuts:

This kind of cut works perfectly with deck boards, deck railings and fascia boards. It is also better to use a guide to produce smooth cuts.

Rough Compound-Angle Cut:

This kind of cut is usually required when you are framing a roof or a wall, so it does not have to look pretty. You can cut it freehand, so you do not need a guide. This cut is done by adjusting the saw to the bevel level you want, then drawing the angle across the board and cutting along the line. 

Rough Beveled Rips:

Circular saws are a great and safe tool for making rough rips; given that rips are these long cuts that are parallel to the grain. 

Types of Cuts of a Miter Saw: 

If you want to get a miter saw, you need to know the exact kinds of cuts that it allows you to do. Here they are, briefly. 

Cross Cut: 

This is a kind of cut that any saw can perform, so it does not make a miter saw stand out. This is when you need to make the most straightforward cut; for example, cutting a board at a 90 degree. 

Miter Cut: 

This is a cut that is performed at an angle and not at 90 degrees. The angle is through the width.  

Bevel Cut: 

This is similar to the miter cut, where the only difference lies in the fact that the angle has to be through the thickness of the wood and not its width. 

Compound Cut: 

This a miter cut and a bevel cut, combined. 

Types of Each Saw:

There are several types for each saw. The variants of a miter saw are sliding miter saw, compound miter saw, compound sliding miter saw, and dual compound sliding miter saw. 

The types of a circular saw are worm drive and sidewinder. 

In case you need more information on types of a miter saw or circular saw and their uses, check the links. 

Pros and Cons: 

Circular Saw – Pros:

  • Cuts metal, wood, plastic, tiles, and masonry
  • Portable
  • Great for rip cuts and long cuts 

Circular Saw – Cons:

  • Dangerous
  • Will probably kickback
  • Produces sloppy angled cuts

Miter Saw – Pros: 

  • Quick and easy 
  • Provides precise and accurate cuts
  • Safe 
  • Rarely kicks back

Miter Saw – Cons:  

  • Not versatile
  • Only cuts straight lines
  • Cannot be used to rip boards or large pieces of wood
  • Expensive

Miter saw vs Circular saw : Which is Better for You?

Choose a Circular Saw If: 

Buy a circular saw if you intend to do a variety of cuts. If you need to purchase it just to have it at home so that if any incidents happen, you can have a tool by which you can maintain stuff, then definitely go for a circular saw. It will help you perform any carpentry job you need. So get a circular saw if you just need it for jobs in your house. 

Choose a Miter Saw If: 

Since a miter saw is a specialty tool, then you should only buy it if you know that you are going to perform any of the specific cuts that it is specially made for. 

It is definitely safer and easier to use than a circular saw if you need to do trim work, like frames. You can also get it if you want to build furniture. 

This might be an excellent tool to use if you are a beginner or if you are afraid of using such power tools. This is because a miter saw is safer than a circular saw, and it does not kick back like circular saws usually do. 

Bottom Line: 

There are clear differences between circular saws and miter saws. By now, you have already gathered enough information to let you know what kind of saw you need to purchase. 

Take care of yourself, and have fun building unique stuff!

Leave a Comment