Circular saw vs. Miter saw

Circular saws and miter saws are different in many ways. So, choosing between them should not confuse you so much. 

If you want to make an informed decision, read this article, where I tell you their points of similarities and differences. 

Short Answer:

Get a circular saw if you are going to do various types of cuts. It is also a great appliance to buy if you just want to have it around at home, you know, just in case!

A miter saw is great if you are a professional. Get it if you plan on doing the kind of cuts that the miter saw is explicitly made for. 

What is a Circular Saw?

A circular saw is a power tool that does not need a table. You can hold it in your hands and start working right away. 

It is a portable power tool thanks to its relative lightweight compared to miter saws. Moreover, they come in corded and cordless models so you can choose whatever suits you best.

Besides, it is versatile as it can provide you with various cuts. 

Read More : How To Use A Circular Saw

What is a Miter Saw?

Unlike circular saws, a miter saw is a power tool that needs a table in order to be used. 

Also, you can not use it to perform as many cuts as with a circular saw because it is specially made to produce specific cuts that we will mention later on.  

Circular Saw vs. Miter Saw – Full Comparison


If you want to be able to perform as many cuts a possible, go for a circular saw. It can perform rip cuts and long cuts on wood, plastic, metals, and other materials. 

Moreover, it does not necessarily require a blade so that it can cut through a wall or a ceiling. 

Conversely, get a miter saw if you intend on doing specific kinds of cuts, namely, a cross-cut, a bevel cut, a compound cut, and of course, a miter cut. If you are not planning on doing any kind of these cuts, then do not even bother to keep on reading. 

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. 

Indeed, a circular saw seems to be more useful than a miter saw. However, you should note that although you can use a circular saw to produce the cuts that a miter saw is specially designed for, a miter saw will help you produce them quicker and better. 

Also, using a circular saw for angled cuts can be extremely dangerous and challenging. If you are not a professional, there will be a high chance of injury if you use a circular saw to perform angled cuts. It will also take up a lot of your time. 


If you need to move a lot from one job site to another, then you should definitely buy a circular saw. It will even be more convenient if you go for a cordless one. 

However, if you will mostly stay in one place, then a miter saw is a perfect choice. Miter saws can be transported from one place to the other, but it is not as easy to do that as with circular saws because you will also need to transport their table or stand. 


Now let’s get some details on technicalities. 

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.” However, they both have large blades that rotate at high speed. They also have beds that hold whatever you are cutting in place. 

The main 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 Circular Saws and Miter Saws

Each one of these saws has several types. You can choose a worm drive or a sidewinder. 

But as for miter saws, you can choose between a sliding miter saw, compound miter saw, compound sliding miter saw, and dual compound sliding miter saw.

Types of Cuts They Perform

Circular Saw:

  • Smooth Right-Angle Bevel Cuts

    This kind of cut is useful for making a tight corner joint. It is better to perform such cut using slide miter saws and radial arm saws if you are not well-practiced yet.

    However, if you have enough experience, you can do it ideally using a circular saw. 
  • Smooth Angle Cuts

    This kind of cut works perfectly with deck boards, deck railings, and fascia boards. I recommend using a guide before doing this cut, too. 
  • Rough Compound-Angle Cuts

    For rough compound-angle cut, you do not really need to use a guide because it does not matter how the cut looks.

    This kind of cut is used when you are framing a roof or a wall, so it is not visual. You can even do it freehand.

    You should adjust the saw to the bevel level you want, then draw the angle across the board and cut along the line. 
  • Rough Beveled Rips

    Rips are these long cuts that are parallel to the grain. If you want to do them safely. 

A circular saw is the perfect tool. Remember that is it is always highly advisable to use a guide before starting to do this cut. 

Miter Saw:

  • Cross-Cut

    A cross-cut is pretty straightforward. Almost any power tool can perform that kind of cut, so it is not really specific to a miter saw.

    It is similar to cutting a board at a 90 degree. 
  • Miter Cut

    This kind of cut is not performed at 90 degrees but at an angle. The angle is through the width. 
  • Bevel Cut

    Although quite similar to the miter cut, its angle has to be through the thickness of the wood and not its width. 
  • Compound Cut

    A combination between a miter cut and a bevel cut. 

What We Like and Do Not Like About Circular Saws and Miter saws:

Circular Saw:


  • Can be cordless
  • Versatile
  • Portable
  • Relatively lightweight
  • Easy to use


  • Although versatile, it is not as accurate as a miter saw
  • Will probably kickback 
  • Dangerous

Miter Saw:


  • Safer 
  • Easy to use
  • Provides specific, accurate cuts quickly


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

Circular saw vs. Miter saw – How to Choose Between Them:

It Is Better To Get a Circular Saw If:

A circular saw is more versatile; therefore, you should get it if you plan on performing different types of cuts. 

It is a great appliance to have at home as an emergency tool in case any incidents happen. It is also great if you want it to frame walls or roofs, for example. 

It Is Better To Get a Miter Saw If:

This is more of a specialist tool. I advise you to get it if you are a professional who is going to make the specific miter saw cuts mentioned above. 

It is safer and easier to use, so it will increase your productivity and therefore get you more money, who would say no to that? 

Also, you can easily use it if you want to do trim work, like frames, and if you’re going to build furniture. 

Moreover, if you are a beginner, you can definitely start with a miter saw because it is safer and easier to use. It does not usually kick back like circular saws. 

Bottom Line: 

After reading the article, choosing either one of them should be a piece of cake because their differences are far more than their similarities.
You just need to determine your needs and preferences, and then you will figure it out. 

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