Miter Saw vs. Circular Saw: Which One Do You Buy?

Last Updated: by Peter Lynn

If you are anything like me, you know that any woodworking project requires the right tools. And miter saws and circular saws are two tools every carpenter and woodworker, whether DIYer or professional, should have in their workshop.

I love having high-quality tools and equipment in my workshop. I can complete projects easier, more accurately, and on time. But, I’ve learned that more goes into choosing the best tool than price.

So, to help fellow woodworkers find the best products to fit their needs, I’ve written this article to explain the differences between a miter saw vs. a circular saw and then review the best tools I believe are must-haves for any workshop.

When it comes to circular saws, I love Makita SP6000J1. I remember building my children’s treehouse with this tool. We had so much fun. Thanks to Makita SP6000J1, I — actually, my kids — now have the most beautiful and envied treehouse in the neighborhood.

Our Top Circular Saws Are:

ProductDetails
1. Dewalt 7-¼ Inch Circular Saw

  • Powerful tools
  • Compact design
  • Electric brake
  • 15 amp motor
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2. Makita SP6000J1 Circular Saw

  • Powerful 12 amp motor for optimum performance
  • Electronic speed control
  • Large cutting capacity
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3. Rockwell RK3440K Circular Saw

  • 4 amp motor
  • Multi-functional
  • Ergonomic design with a slim grip handle
  • Built-in laser
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1. Dewalt 7-¼ Inch Circular Saw

This Dewalt saw is one of my favorite circular saws, and for a good reason. It’s both powerful and light, and delivers impressive saw capability. You can enjoy the expanded depth cut and slice through at 5100 RPM.

Specs

  • Powerful tools
  • Compact design
  • Electric brake
  • 15 amp motor
  • Integrated dust blower

Pros

  • Provides accurate and safe cuts
  • Suitable for tough jobs
  • Lightweight
  • Speed brake works great

Cons

  • Fence measurement guide is off

Conclusion

I like how Dewalt always keeps an eye on quality, and this model is no exception. It is a great, high-quality tool, perfect for any professional or casual projects.

Overall Rating – 5 out of 5

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2. Makita SP6000J1 Circular Saw

The Makita comes with a 12 amp motor and lightweight components, making it both a powerful and portable tool. A bonus is that It comes with a portable table saw. All in all a good reliable tool — it’s just that pieces that are narrower than the guide track can be challenging to cut.

Specs

  • Powerful 12 amp motor for optimum performance
  • Electronic speed control
  • Large cutting capacity

Pros

  • Suitable for a wide variety of materials
  • Delivers a splinter-free mirror finish
  • Provides smooth cutting

Cons

  • Not good for cutting hardwood (thicker than 1”)

Conclusion

With this Makita saw in your arsenal, your work will be much easier and the product more professional.

Overall Rating – 4.5 out of 5

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3. Rockwell RK3440K Circular Saw

The Rockwell is an ultra-portable saw, excellent for cutting plastic, wood, aluminum, ceramic tile, and more, with precision and speed. It has a dust extraction system, helpful for keeping the work area clean as you cut. The motor can handle even the most extreme projects.

My only beef is that I find myself having to exert the effort to press in more in order to make the cut.

Specs

  • 4 amp motor
  • Multi-functional
  • Ergonomic design with a slim grip handle
  • Built-in laser

Pros

  • The motor is more powerful than you think
  • Cuts a wide variety of materials
  • Handle improves grip and control
  • Safe and easy cuts

Cons

  • Gets clogged easily

Conclusion

Equipped with powerful features, I believe this tool is a solid addition to any workshop.

Overall Rating – 4.5 out of 5

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Hitachi C10FC2 is one of my favorite miter saws. This saw is extremely versatile with a powerful motor and a comfortable handle that makes it easier to use.

Our Top Miter Saws Are:

ProductDetails
1. Hitachi C10FC2 Compound Miter Saw

  • 15 amp motor
  • 0 to 52-degree miter angle range
  • 0 to 45-degree bevel range
  • Large extended flip fence
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2. Festool 561287 Sliding Compound Miter Saw

  • Rail forward design for increased precision
  • Micro-adjustable bevel angle
  • Dust extractor
  • Angle transfer device
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1. Hitachi C10FC2 Compound Miter Saw

This particular model has a powerful motor that ramps up to 5000 RPMs and helps you cut through a wide range of materials.  It is not only user-friendly but cost-effective, too. The assembly is a tad diffcult but I still think It is perfect for any woodworker…

Specs

  • 15 amp motor
  • 0 to 52-degree miter angle range
  • 0 to 45-degree bevel range
  • Large extended flip fence
  • Large table for better material support

Pros

  • Extremely versatile
  • Powerful motor
  • Comfortable handle
  • Easy to use and control

Cons

  • Poor assembly instructions
  • Complicated to set up

Conclusion

Despite its poor instructions, it is an excellent choice for home use.

Overall Rating – 4.5 out of 5

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2. Festool 561287 Sliding Compound Miter Saw

This sliding compound miter saw delivers incredibly precise cuts. It is a great tool for your workshop or on-site projects. With advanced accessories that include micro-bevel adjustments, easy-to-reference scales, dual laser guides, and quick-release fences, this tool provides very precise cuts.

Specs

  • Rail forward design for increased precision
  • Micro-adjustable bevel angle
  • Dust extractor
  • Angle transfer device

Pros

  • Compact
  • Dual laser technology
  • Time-saving features
  • Advanced dust extraction

Cons

  • Not suitable for heavy commercial use

Conclusion

This tool performs well, as expected from Festool. It’s worth the investment to have this in your workshop.

Overall Rating – 4.0 out of 5

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Circular Saw vs Miter Saw — Defining Each Type of Tool

But, miter saw vs. circular saw — which one should you buy? What is the difference, and do you need both? Each model has advantages and specific uses. Understanding what each saw is about should make it easy to pick — and you can’t learn that without reading on.

In my case, I like to have everything that helps me finish my projects quickly, accurately, and on time. I use both miter and circular saws. However, that doesn’t mean that you also need both tools.

If your project involves a lot of cutting and trimming, it is better to get a miter saw. If you are going to do rip-cuts, a circular saw is a better option.

What is a Circular Saw?

A circular saw is a tool with a flat blade that rotates to cut plastic, wood, metal or plywood. As far as power tools go, circular saws are basic tools. You can find both corded and cordless models.

What I like about circular saws is that they are versatile and relatively cheap.

Pros

  • Best for straight cuts
  • Versatile power saw
  • Efficient and cost-effective

Cons

  • Not good for angles and curves
  • Rough edge cuts

What is a Miter Saw?

Miter saws are tools designed to do precise cross-cuts at the right angle. For those who aren’t familiar, a “miter” refers to cuts done at any angle.

Miter saws are quite similar to circular saws as both machines have large saw blades that rotate and cut through the materials. However, miter saws have the added versatility of helping you make precise corners and other angled cuts that give your projects a professional finish.

Pros

  • Make accurate cuts
  • Cuts trim for windows, doors, baseboards, and crowns
  • Saves time
  • Can cut bevels

Cons

  • Specialized use
  • Expensive
  • Needs more space in the workshop

When comparing a circular saw vs. a miter saw, the most significant difference is in the cutting blade. In miter saws, the cutting blade is released from above. However, a circular saw’s blade is fed straight against the material.

A circular tool is more of an all-around tool. You can make a variety of different cuts and use the tool on a wide range of projects. I call circular saws a mobile version of table saws. A miter saw is a specialty machine; its job is to make angled cuts.

A Full Breakdown of The Top-Reviewed Miter Saw vs Circular Saw Tools

If you’re like me, you probably want a quality miter or circular saw that can deliver accurate cuts and cut through wider pieces of materials. In other words, you want the best, most versatile, highest quality product for the money.

Well, it’s is your lucky day.

I’ve done the research and will share my findings with you: Hitachi, Makita, and Dewalt are some of my top choices.

Hitachi is a well-known brand that professionals and DIY hobbyists prefer. Some of their latest products include high-quality miter saws at affordable prices. Almost all of their tools come equipped with a powerful motor that allows you to cut through a wide range of materials, including hardboard, sashes, and wood.

Makita is and always has been my top choice, and there is a good reason for that. I love how powerful and lightweight all Makita circular saws are. Some of their products come with a portable table saw for maximum precision.

Two of my favorite models are Makita SP6000J1 and Makita 5007MG. Both models provide a large cutting capacity, so you can’t go wrong with either of them.

I’ve talked about Dewalt before. For me, tools from Dewalt are some of the easiest to use. Although China manufactures most of their saws, I must say Dewalt has always kept an eye on standard and quality. Whatever model you choose from Dewalt, you’ll get a durable and powerful tool.

Guide to Different Product Variations & Models

From in-line circular saws to worm drive and hypoid circular saws, there are a lot of models and product variations from which to choose.

The in-line circular saw is probably the most common type. You are likely familiar with this type of saw. It weighs less than other types, making it perfect for overhead cutting. Another thing I like about this type is the possibility of going cordless. There’s nothing like the freedom of going cordless.

Worm drive saws are longer and narrower than in-line circular saws. For me, the length of the tool comes in handy when cutting wider pieces of materials. Makita SP6000J1 is one example of a worm drive saw.

I think hypoid circular saws have been misclassified. In my opinion, they deserve a category of their own because, although they are similar to worm drive saws, they have unique features. Unlike other models, hypoid machines have a sealed motor system.

In the miter saws collection, we have standard miter saws, compound miter saws, and sliding compound miter saws.

Standard miter saws represent the simplest version. They are capable of making cuts from -45 to +45 degrees. I love that they are easy to use and perfect for making quick cuts.

Compound miter saws are distinguished from the rest because they feature not only a miter but also a bevel. Your cuts will be perfectly angled and beveled. The blade can tilt from 0 to 45 degrees left and right. It’s an indispensable saw for anyone doing lots of crown molding work.

While standard and compound saws have blades attached to them (meaning the blade can move up and down, and thus, the width of the stock you can use is limited), sliding miter saws have blades that are fitted to a sliding mechanism. Therefore, sliding miter saw blades can move up and down, as well as in and out.

Final Thoughts

If you have to pick just one saw, a miter saw or a circular saw, for your workshop, the important thing is to understand what each model offers.

I can’t recommend the Dewalt model highly enough. It is versatile, powerful, and will handle any project you throw at it. For me, it is the best circular saw I found. Hitachi is a great option when it comes to miter saws.

Digest the information I’ve given you and use the reviews to figure out, first whether you’re looking for a circular saw or a miter saw, then which one is right for your projects.

If you’re like me, you’ll probably end up with both.

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