What Is Best: Table Saw or Mitre Saw?
When you first get into DIY there can be a great temptation to buy one tool and use it for most jobs. While I commend your thriftiness, it isn’t always the best way to treat that tool or maximise its lifespan. It can also mean that your work isn’t up to the standard you would otherwise produce if you’re using the best and most appropriate tool.
In order to get the best out of each tool you buy, it is best to know what the strengths and weaknesses are of each.
You may now be wondering, should I get a mitre saw or a table saw first? If you’re wanting to build up your tool collection quickly, then a table saw could make the better first purchase.
For versatility, a table saw can do almost everything a mitre saw can do.
Well, now you may be wondering why would you need a mitre saw if a table saw can do pretty much everything it can? Very valid question so let’s address it!
Table Saw vs Mitre Saw Comparison
We will go into the differences in greater detail but to warm up, here is a comparison table looking at the different pros and cons of both table saw and mitre saw.
|Feature||Mitre Saw||Table Saw|
|What cuts can it do?||Mitre, bevel, compound and crosscuts||Crosscuts, angular and ripping cuts|
|How accurate is it?||Incredibly precise||A good degree of precision|
|What job is it most suitable for?||Crown moulding, base moulding, trimming and framing||Building furniture and cabinets, plywood|
|How safe is it to use?||Relatively safe||Less so|
|How versatile is it?||Mainly a speciality tool designed for angular cuts and trimming||A good all-rounder for all types of cuts|
|Who is it good for?||Those who need a precision tool for woodwork||Useful for a wide range of woodworking|
What is a table saw?
For those who don’t know what a table saw is, let’s start there. In layman's terms, it is a table that has a blade built into it.
It is designed like this so the user is able to perform a lot of different cuts.
It can be easy to get confused at this point and call everything a “table saw” but do remember that isn’t the case and that a table saw has a specific role in your workshop!
On the table of a table saw there is a slit in which the circular saw blade will protrude. There is a motor below the table and the blade is fixed to that. This blade can be raised and lowered depending on your usage.
A table saw is one of the most popular tools, it can be found in many workshops and they are used by professionals and hobbyist alike.
Their popularity is due to the fact that they can perform so many various tasks and that makes for a really useful tool. Table saws are incredibly versatile not only in the number of jobs you can do with them but also the range of different models, some are stationary, some are mobile.
What is a Mitre Saw?
Now we know about table saws, what about mitre saws? Well, they look very different from a table saw.
The blade on a mitre saw is in a swing arm that when in use, is pulled down to perform the cut. So whilst the principle of both table saw and mitre saw are similar in that they both have a circular saw blade, the way in which it is used is very different.
The design of a mitre saw allows for very specific and very precise cuts to be made. One big upside of a mitre saw is how precise the cuts can be. A table saw can do angular cuts but not to the degree of precision that a mitre saw can as you don’t have the same level of control.
What is the difference between a mitre saw and a table saw?
Appearances aside, the other main differences are how portable each saw is, their accuracy and function. Let’s dig a little deeper into the differences.
We have established that table saws are fantastic as an overall cutting tool. They can do a wide range of cuts but the precision isn’t outstanding. The real selling point of a table saw is in its ability to make crosscuts and long rip-cuts.
A mitre saw could be described as “quality over quantity”. It doesn’t do as many types of cuts as the table saw, but those it does do, it does brilliantly.
The Way They Work
The blade on a table saw is fixed, it appears from the slit in the table and you bring the wood to the blade when you want to make a cut.
This is different to a mitre saw as you bring the blade down to the wood once it is in place.
How Accurate They Are
If you are after precise mitre or bevel cuts then without a doubt, you should consider a mitre saw.
These cuts can be done on a table saw however, if you try to make precise cuts they will not come anywhere close to those made on a mitre saw. You are simply more likely to make a mistake.
In a similar fashion, if precise compound cuts are your thing, then a mitre saw will save you a lot of time. A table saw will do a compound cut but the time taken will be longer.
Saying all that, a table saw can do these cuts so if that’s the way you decide to go then you may find yourself needing a few accessories to ensure that you truly get the cut you’re looking for. Don’t let this put you off, it’s still a great option!
Are They Portable?
Both mitre saws and table saws can be portable. You will find that mitre saws are generally more portable so if you need a saw to travel with you then a mitre saw could be your best bet.
Mobile table saws are becoming more readily available so not something to rule out!
If you were hoping to make your decision based on price, I’m about to disappoint you...both saws will cost around the same (this is assuming you are looking at similar brands).
Which Should I Choose, Mitre Saw or Table Saw?
When it comes down to it there is no getting away from the fact that a table saw is more versatile than a mitre saw.
For the majority of people who are looking to purchase their first power saw, a table saw should be their first choice.
However! This depends on your needs and if you are wanting mitre cuts and bevels cuts and precision is something that is really important to you, then the mitre saw will be the way to go.
Common projects you would use a table saw for:
- Building furniture such as cabinets as desks
- Cutting wide boards
- Rip pieces of plywood
Common projects you would use a mitre saw for:
- Crown moulding
- Base moulding
- Building a bird feeder
- Small shelf with lots of detail
In an ideal world, you could have both a table and mitre saw but consider your needs and what you’re likely to be cutting.
There are lots of benefits to both types of saws but ultimately only you can decide which one is going to work best for you.
A table saw will be able to plough through large amounts of wood in no time. A mitre saw cannot be beaten when it comes to accuracy and speed of complex jobs needing that finer touch.