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Table Saw vs. Circular Saw: Which is Best?

Time to choose: table saw or circular saw? 

On the surface, table saws and circular saws are very similar tools. They both feature a circular blade and enable you to make precise cuts in a variety of materials.

However, despite their similarities, there are some key differences in how these tools are used and the tasks they excel at. If you don’t have much experience using them, it might not be obvious which one will be better for the task you need to tackle.

In this article, we will explore the table saw vs circular saw question to help you determine which one you should use. This includes looking at their cutting power, versatility, user-friendliness, and safety.

Key Takeaways

  • Table saws are stationary, providing more stability, and are great for bulk wood-cutting tasks, while circular saws are portable and can cut a variety of materials with the right blade.
  • Table saws have a fixed blade and are more accurate for making repeated precision cuts, while circular saws require more skill and a steady hand.
  • Table saws excel in large-scale projects that require precision and speed, while circular saws are better for on-site jobs that require general sawing.
  • Both table saws and circular saws can experience kickbacks, but table saws are more dangerous due to their blade placement.

Quick Comparison Chart

Features Table saw Circular saw
Accuracy Reliable accuracy Requires a steady hand
Portability Less portable and better left in situ Designed for portability
Price Expensive Affordable
Skill level Beginner and above Some skill required
Ease of use Requires set up Doesn’t require setting up
Lifespan Very long-lasting with proper maintenance Reasonable lifespan
Material Generally wood Wood, concrete, brick, metal, plastic, tile
Cuts Rip, cross, miter, dado, square cuts Rip, cross, miter, square, dado
Best for Bulk jobs that require precision and speed On-site jobs that require general sawing

What Is a Table Saw?

Table Saw
Photo by: Dewalt

A table saw is also called a saw bench. It has a circular saw blade mounted on an arbor that protrudes through a slot in its work surface. These saws are used for making crosscuts, angled cuts, and rip cuts.

A table saw differs from a circular saw because the table saw blade is fixed in position, and the material is maneuvered toward it to make cuts. Table saws have a miter gauge to help you make accurate angled and cross cuts. They also have a rip fence that holds the workpiece in place as you cut with the wood’s grain.

Table saws are very popular as they are suitable for the vast majority of wood-cutting tasks. They won’t always achieve the same finish as a specialist tool but a table saw will still deliver high-quality results when making a wide range of cuts.

Although they are versatile tools for cutting wood, table saws are ineffective at cutting other materials. They are also far less portable than circular saws, especially cabinet-style saws as they are so heavy. It is possible to buy smaller portable versions, but these have a greatly reduced cutting capacity.

Why Do You Need a Table Saw?

A table saw is the workhorse of any woodshop. They are excellent tools for bulk wood sawing jobs. If you are working on-site, a job site table saw should significantly speed up any wood-cutting projects. In short, if you are a professional woodworker, you should have a table saw in your tool collection.

Table saws are the most versatile of all woodcutting tools. They can make rip cuts, miter cuts, cross cuts, dado cuts, rabbet cuts, and square cuts. They can even be used for cutting basic shapes on the edges of wood stock.

These saws are ideal for large-scale projects that require precision and accuracy but deliver these high-quality results quickly.


  • Makes rip cuts
  • Increases productivity
  • Versatile
  • Accurate
  • Easy to master for general use
  • Beginner-friendly woodworking tool


  • Less portable
  • Larger than circular saws
  • Requires skill to make complex cuts
  • Dangerous to use
  • Prone to kickbacks
  • More expensive than circular saws

What Is a Circular Saw?

Circular Saw
Photo by: Dewalt

A circular saw is a hand-held power tool used for making rip cuts, cross cuts, and miter cuts. They are light, versatile, and easy to take wherever they are needed. Circular saws can also be adapted to cut materials other than wood. All they require is a specialty blade.

Unlike table saws where the blade stays in the same position, circular saws are used by moving the blade along the cutting line on the material. This means they are far less restrictive and can cut a workpiece of any length.

Circular saws require more skill to use and a steady hand when making long straight cuts. It is much easier to make a mistake when using a circular saw as they are not fixed in place. Every piece you cut will require the same level of care, which makes working with circular saws much slower than table saws.

Why Do You Need a Circular Saw?

If you want a versatile cutting tool that is lightweight, compact, and gives you the freedom to work anywhere, a circular saw is an excellent option. You will be able to take a circular saw wherever you need it.

They can also be adapted to cut different materials. With the right blade, you can get your circular saw to slice through wood, plastic, metal, concrete, tile, or brick. Table saws are more limited as they are designed for cutting wood.

Whereas the table saw is the workhorse of a woodshop, a circular saw is a great versatile tool for construction workers. While you won’t be able to make as many types of cuts as with a table saw, you will be able to cut a much greater variety of materials.


  • Lightweight
  • Versatile
  • Easy to transport
  • Less expensive than table saws
  • Cuts various materials
  • Requires less setup
  • More suitable for smaller jobs


  • Requires more skill to use
  • Harder to make straight cuts
  • May require a jig
  • Much slower at bulk sawing

Table Saw vs. Circular Saw Recap

The fundamental difference is that table saws have a fixed blade that you move the stock toward, while a circular saw is moved along the material to cut it.

Table saws are better for bulk cutting and make large-scale jobs much quicker. They are also accurate, especially when you want to make precision cuts repeatedly without having to manually place the saw again. These saws are the workhorse of any woodshop.

Circular saws are more versatile as they are easy to transport and can cut various materials with the right blade. They are suitable for slicing through concrete, brick, plastic, wood, and metal. As the blade moves rather than the material, there is no limit on the size of the stock you can cut.

A circular saw can make rip cuts, cross cuts, miter cuts, and more. They are excellent general-purpose tools for professional construction work, as they can complete numerous tasks on job sites.


Can I Use a Circular Saw as a Table Saw?

There are many examples of people converting a circular saw into a table saw, so it is possible. However, just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should. You should only attempt this if you are experienced with these types of tools and know what you are doing.

Converting a circular saw into a table saw involves removing the shoe, the adjustment mechanisms, and the blade guard. These are all crucial safety features, and you will increase your injury risk greatly by removing them.

Our advice is if you want a table saw, buy a table saw instead of trying to convert another tool into one. The same goes for a circular saw. If you can afford both tools, they will each bring different benefits to your collection.

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Is a Circular Saw Safer Than a Table Saw?

Circular saws are much safer than table saws. The blade on a table saw protrudes upwards through the table. You also need to push the stock toward the blade. This increases the chances of kickback, losing your balance, and other dangerous outcomes.

Working this way is inherently riskier than using a circular saw. With a circular saw, you hold a handle above the blade, so your hands never need to be near the cutting edge. If a kickback occurs, the stock is below the saw, and your hands and face should still be at a safe distance.

Is It Worth Having a Table Saw?

A table saw can be a great investment for any homeowner or tradesperson looking to take on DIY projects around the home or small business.

Table saws can easily cut through various materials such as wood, plastic, metal, and more, providing a quick way to accurately lay out and execute your project plans.

With their simple setup process and lightweight designs that make them easily movable, table saws are becoming increasingly popular in professional environments such as workshops or woodworking businesses.

Whether you’re using it just around the home or as part of your regular operations as a professional user, having access to the precision of a table saw certainly makes any job easier.

What Should You Not Do with a Circular Saw?

Circular saw are powerful tools that can come in handy for many tasks. Still, it is important to use this tool responsibly and ensure that safety measures are taken before operating it.

Keep in mind you should never try to freehand the cut.

The blade of the saw is extremely sharp and spins at high speeds, so the accuracy and safety of your cuts depend on you properly securing the material being cut in a clamped position.

Be careful not to overtighten the nut that secures the blade. You must always use a wedge or guide that is clamped or fastened to the stock before you attempt to shred it.

During the cutting process, you should not force the saw. You should not use a saw that shakes or looks dangerous in any manner, so don’t even bother. Under no circumstances should your hand be placed under the shoe or the saw’s guard.

Additionally, one should never forget protective equipment when using this kind of saw; safety goggles, ear protection, and work gloves are all essential to protect yourself from potential injury and debris.

While using a circular saw can be an efficient way to get things done, take caution to ensure these rules are always followed.

What Should You Not Cut on a Table Saw?

Knowing what materials you should never attempt to cut on a table saw is important.

Power tools are powerful and an effective way to make precise cuts. However, it is not designed for all types of material, as inappropriate use can lead to serious injury.

Cut objects such as ceramics, fiberglass, thin metals or stone are not recommended due to the high power and speed of the blade.

Additionally, using a table saw for angling delicate plastic pieces might damage or cause a chip in the final product.

Can a Circular Saw Cut Tree Branches?

While the circular saw is often seen as a powerful, versatile tool ideal for making straight cuts through thick materials, unfortunately, it is not suitable for no cutting tree branches. This task requires specially designed tools to ensure the job is done safely and accurately.

When tackling thicker branches, consider using a hand saw or chainsaw designed specifically for woodcutting tasks and provide greater control over what you are cutting safely and effectively.

Do Table Saws Use Circular Saw Blades?

When it comes to sawing materials with a table saw, circular saw blades can be used but with certain limitations. The main limitation is that the blade size must align with any existing mounting hardware on the table.

For example, a 7-1/4 inch circular saw blade will not fit onto a miter gauge intended for 10-inch blades – additional parts may need to be purchased in order to ensure compatibility.

Also, you must also pay careful attention when choosing the blade’s tooth configuration, since some configurations are better suited for particular materials than others.

Since using an incorrect type of blade on a material can cause safety issues and damage, it is important to check the manufacturer’s guidelines before making any adjustments.

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About the Author

Mark Weir

Mark spent 24 years working in real estate, so he knows his way around a home. He also worked with contractors and experts, advising them on issues of planning, investments, and renovations. Mark is no stranger to hands-on experience, having renovated his own home and many properties for resale. He likes nothing better than seeing a project through to completion.