table saw vs cirular saw

Table Saw vs Circular Saw: Do You Need Both?

You have a big project coming up but you’re not sure if your present tools will do the trick. Maybe you have a table saw but have started wondering if a circular saw could do a better job.

If you’re in a similar position, you’ll know how tricky it can be to decide which is best for a certain job.

Just as there is with every tool, table saws and circular saws have their own specific uses. At the end of the day, you just want a tool that will do the job easily, professionally, and as efficiently as possible.

Both saw types can be used for a variety of projects whether you want to cut large pieces of wood or smaller lengths of material.

Although there are an abundance of saws on the market today, we’re going to look at these two most common types: Table saws and circular saws.

There are some main differences between these tools. Table saws offer supreme accuracy with their stable-like shape and circular blade. These are primarily used for woodwork and are easy to use.

Circular saws are commonly seen in professional woodworking workshops. Its handheld design is attached to a round blade that rotates at high speeds to give you strong, deep cuts. 

That’s enough of that. Let’s take an in-depth look at each saw and compare their pros and cons to decide which comes first in the battle of table saws vs circular saws.

What Is a Table Saw?

As we have briefly mentioned, table saws get their name from their table-like shape. Attached to their bodies is a circular blade that extends out through a centered slot.

Most table saws are used for woodwork and are very easy to use. These allow you to make specific angular and crosscuts for absolute precision. 

Table saw’s blades lift above tabletops and allow you to move through the material easily as you cut it. You push the material through the blade meaning you are in control of the cut’s direction.

All table saws cut in a straight line but most have the ability to tile their saw blade relative to the tabletop it is on. This allows you to cut miter angles in a dead straight line.

It is easy to adjust the blade for more accurate cuts due to its guardrails on either side. Depending on your desired cut size, you can turn and lock the blade in place with the built-in crank.

Table saws are a favored option by for beginner woodworkers as they are so versatile. Their uniform cuts and easy handling make them an ideal choice for those starting out with cutting saws. 

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What Is a Circular Saw?

Circular saws differ as they use a handheld design that is attached to a rounded blade.

Typically used in professional environments, circular saws are either powered by an electric cord or batteries.

Its motor drive has a belt attached to the blade which, when powered, rotates making the blade rotate too.

Circular saws make very deep and strong cuts without any fuss and they can be used on a variety of materials such as wood, metal, and plastic.

The mobility of a circular saw makes it a very popular choice amongst carpenters. They are lightweight for easy portability and holding.

On the other hand, these saws are not the best choice for novice woodworkers as it can take some time to get used to using them.  

Given that circular saws drive with a lot of power, extra care needs to be given when operating one. Hands need to be steady and in place so that the saw is held firmly for a precise cut.

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Ideal Applications: Table Saws vs Circular Saws

To consider which is the best, we need to look at the range of use for both table saws and circular saws. 

Table saws are superbly efficient. Cross-cutting and ripping boards are simple for these machines. As long as the fence is set and positioned correctly,  it should be easy to cut with a table saw.

One drawback of a table saw is its size. It is not a portable option and usually needs some sort of workshop to use one. They can also be quite pricey but that is typically down to their bulk and the options they provide.

Circular saws can do just about anything with most materials. That said, it will take some time to get to grips with its functions and handling.

There are a few steps to take in order to get the perfect straight cut with a circular saw. It is recommended you use a speed square to ensure standard 90-degree crosscuts.

By measuring the length you want your cut and marking it off with the square, you should be able to position your blade and use the square as a guide against the saw’s fence.

Ripping boards require more ability with the use of a shooting board. This is a homemade jig to fit the exact dimensions of the circular saw you use.

This acts as a fence to get straight rips and any length. This obviously takes more time and requires a little more skill and patience than when using a table saw.

What Materials Can Be Cut With Table Saws and Circular Saws?

Table Saws

Table saws can cut certain materials such as plywood, softwood, hardwood, sheets of plastic, aluminum, and brass. Although, you shouldn't attempt to cut all of the above with a standard crosscut blade unless you enjoy burning though blades and money. 

If you want to cut a series of 2” x 4” in half, table saws are the ideal choice. Long cuts that separate a piece of wood with the grain are called rip cuts.

Table-saws can also perform cross-cuts that are perpendicular to the grain of the wood at a rapid pace.

Most saws are unable to perform rip cuts with as much accuracy as a table saw making them a popular tool for this particular job.

Table saws are perfect for cutting long or wide pieces of material as these can easily rest on the tabletop of the saw. This prevents any need to hold the material when you are cutting through it.

Materials That Can Be Cut With A Table Saw

Circular Saws

If you have the right blade attached, you can use a circular saw in a wide range of applications, making a circular saw a great starter option for beginner woodworkers. 

These saws can come in a range of sizes from large, solid saws to mini versions for smaller pieces of material. 

Circular saws can cut through concrete and concrete blocks making them a favorite for masonry work. When operated at a low speed, circular saws can also cut through metal (with the right blade attached) or any type of plastic.

Circular saws are also very convenient as you can change or sharpen the blade when required. The one main benefit circular saws have over table saws is their mobility. You can can easily stuff a circular saw in your tool bag and venture on out to a jobsite making them an ideal power tool for contractors on-the-go.  

Materials Can Be Cut With A Circular Saw

Table Saw Vs Circular Saw: Main Differences

Portability

As you can see, each saw has its pros and cons. The main difference is the portability of each. Table saws are big, heavy, and very hard to move around.

Circular saws are lighter, smaller, and far more portable. They can also be used as a table saw if needed while table saws can’t work as circular versions.

Cutting Capacity

Both table saws and circular saws have just about no size limit to their cutting capacities. However, a table saw can become difficult to control if a piece is too long to cut.

Also, if you need to rip a piece of board precisely, you’ll have to use a tracking guide such as a long piece of plywood or a circular saw.

Cost

Circular saws are more affordable than table saws but don’t tend to last as long.

Nonetheless, with proper maintenance, both tools should last a good amount of time.

Accuracy

Table saws are typically better at offering dead straight cuts. Its circular blade makes it easier to handle the saw along with judging the depth and length of your desired cuts.

Circular saws can become weak in your hands making mistakes far more likely.

In Conclusion

It is hard to say which is the outright winner between the table saw and the circular saw.

Depending on the material you need cutting and the way it needs to be cut will require each tool at different times. Each has unique designs that make them stand alone in their uses.

The circular saw has a wider range of uses. With practice, you should be able to do anything with this type of saw. There’s also its added bonus of easy portability that helps it stand out.

If you’re a beginner, table saws are the way to go. They will help you get precise cuts and are highly convenient if you have enough space.

If you had to choose between the two, the circular saw is probably recommended for its affordability and portability. Invest in a quality model and you’ll be cutting with absolute ease.

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