You may have just stepped into the woodworking profession – or started your DIY workshop. Now you must ask yourself – should you go for a stationary table saw even as a beginner? Or is a handheld circular saw enough? Don’t let the Table Saw vs Circular Saw dilemma confuse you!
Before you find the answer to your question, you must know all about the two power tools and how to use them for different purposes. Today, we are going to tell you all about table saws and circular saws, their mechanisms, cuts, and everything else.
If you decide that you want only one of them at the moment, we’ll guide you in picking a high-quality tool for your professional and DIY projects with the help of a detailed comparison between the two. So keep reading!
What is a Table Saw?
A Table Saw is a versatile tool popularly used by woodworkers. The name is derived from the design of the instrument. It has a round blade mounted on a metal table in a slightly tilted and raised position. There are two main categories – portable saws and stationary saws.
Table saws are motor-powered devices that run on electricity. The power reaches the motor directly or via belts or gears. This tool is mainly used for wood. But it can also cut brass, plastic, aluminum, etc., in the form of sheets or pipes. It offers all-around performance.
This tool is used for rip-cutting and cross-cutting. One of the greatest advantages of this tool is that it can achieve remarkable accuracy and swiftness, even when the material is large and thick. Its direct-drive blade protrudes from the tabletop, offering support to the material.
What is a Circular Saw?
A Circular Saw is a tool equipped with a toothed rotary blade. This abrasive disc rotates on an arbor to make cross cuts and rip cuts in materials like wood, plastic, metal, or masonry. It is usually handheld, but the expensive models are designed to be mounted on a surface.
A circular saw is commonly powered by electricity, though there are variants with gasoline engines and hydraulic motors. You can connect them with other heavy equipment to eliminate the need for external power sources. They are not ideal for precision.
That’s because circular saws aren’t engineered to allow support while making cuts. You must clamp the material securely or hold it in a vise to chop it directly. The saw’s base – or shoe – sits on the material. You must adjust the angle to make a bevel cut.
Circular Saw vs. Table Saw: Purpose of Both Saws
Now that you have a basic idea of what circular saws and table saws are, here’s a quick comparison between the purposes of the two tools.
Purpose of a Table Saw
A table saw has a broad rip capacity, which is why it is an excellent choice for rip cuts. You can use it for making long and straight cuts. The tool is ideal for a large-scale workspace to handle bulk projects. It is possible to adjust its height and cutting depth for more control.
A table saw is effective in cutting straight lines and giving basic shapes to edges. You can also use it for making angled cuts. Besides large-scale tasks, it can manage smaller tasks when required. But it’s not ideal for precise cuts needed in detailed and intricate designs.
Purpose of a Circular Saw
A circular saw is one of the top tools for regular tasks and small-scale projects. It is a saw that comes in handy when you have to handle repair jobs, DIY projects, etc. It is useful when you have to work on multiple job sites. Its biggest advantage is its mobility.
That’s because it is handheld. You just have to pick the right blade. Doing so will allow you to cut through a wide range of materials. A circular saw is thus the obvious tool of choice for making cross cuts or overhead cuts with precision – much like miter cuts.
It can also handle ripping cuts. The accuracy level achieved by this saw is usually low, though it can be improved by working at a slow speed, using a guide, and practicing. So, it is best if you use it only if you’ve achieved some expertise – and have a complex task at hand.
A Table Saw is capable of making various cuts like cross cuts, miter cuts, dado cuts, rip cuts, rabbet cuts, etc. But it is mostly used for quick crosscuts and ripping. Expert woodworkers with exceptional skills also use it for cutting wood in innovative ways.
Let’s understand the parts and types of a table saw to know about its working mechanism.
Table Saw Parts
The rotary blade is mounted on the table on an arbor at a particular angle firmly and steadily. Typically, you will find 10-inch table saws, but there are larger blades, too, for cutting wood pieces that are large and thick. The blade can be moved and tilted.
There are four types of blades used for a table saw. These are as follows –
- FTG: Blade with long teeth for general cutting and ripping.
- TCG: Blade with small-spaced teeth to rough out cuts in dense materials.
- ATB: All-purpose blade with angled teeth along the top edge for clean cuts.
- ATBR: Blade with ATB/FTG combo for moderate smoothness on rigid materials.
Usually made of cast iron and steel, the table is where the working material is laid. The blade is mounted on the table with a part of it exposed at the top. It has features like markings or measurement units and slots for the miter gauge and rip fence.
This is the gear surrounding the slot for the blade to move up and down. It protects the blade and the table, besides providing reinforcement. For all basic cuts, a standard blade plate is sufficient. But for dado cuts, a special dado plate is needed.
The cover sits in the saw blade and protects the user from injuries and cuts during use. It has a curved structure to match the circular blade’s shape. You have to lift it and let the cover rest on the workpiece for protection against kickstart.
These spiked claws sit on the blade cover’s rear side and angle down on the material being fed. Thus, they hold the material down to prevent it from flying off as a result of kickback. This reduces the risk of hurting you or nearby items.
It is designed for stability and provides steady guidance at the time of making a rip cut on the workpiece. Thus, it ensures that the material doesn’t move. It runs parallel to the saw, and you can adjust its position to move it to the sides.
Bevel Angle Gauge
Almost all table saws need you to check the angle of the blade as they can make bevel cuts. The bevel angle gauge is perpendicular to the saw cage under the table. It has a handle to adjust the angle, so you can tilt the blade correctly.
It is a gear that usually sits on the left side of the blade area and rests against the material being cut. It can be adjusted to let you place the board at an angle between 0 and 90 degrees to make miter cuts. And it slides up and down in the slot area.
Blade Height Adjustment Handle
Usually located above or below the bevel angle gauge, this handle crank helps adjust the height of the blade. You can crank it in any direction to move the blade up or down the slot to control clean cuts or kickback.
If the saw is not set securely on a worktop, the tool will have a stand. Based on the table saw type and design, the functions of the stand will vary. Portable tables have collapsible stands, while in stationary ones, the stands are bolted to the saw.
Sawdust Disposal Bag
This is an additional gear that you can attach to the vacuum attachment of the table saw, along with a hose. It can effectively trap flying sawdust and contain it while you work. It prevents the dust from creating a mess in your workstation.
Table Saw Types
It’s one of the smallest table saws for benchtop mounting – with a collapsible stand. It is also called a compact table saw and is highly portable. Its rip capacity is smaller, and the motor of this type of saw is less powerful.
This table saw brings a combo of higher capacity and mobility, though it’s larger and more powerful than the benchtop model. But it can be lifted by a single user. It is ideal for job sites, thanks to the collapsible stand with wheels.
This is a heavy-duty model for pro usage. It is the biggest in size and has the highest power of the motor and assemblies. It comes with a large table with ample surface space with a vast rip fence to slice materials without torque loss.
This model is preferred for stationary usage in the shop. The saw is smaller than cabinet table saws but offers similar motor power. It also has a large saw and incredible rip capacity. You’ll get low vibrations during intense work.
This model brings a combination of features of a cabinet saw and a Job site saw. Thus, the user gets to enjoy incredible versatility without handling too much weight – as a job site saw. Simultaneously, it is stable – like a cabinet saw.
This model is quite rare – but it is available on the market. It is designed to cater to hobbyists and starters for building models. It can be as small as 4-5 inches – with small parts. Besides model-making, it has fabrication applications.
Now, let’s also check out the design of a circular saw to know more about this tool’s mechanism.
Circular Saw Parts
In a circular saw, the actual cutting is performed by a circular blade that rotates at top speed to perform various types of cuts in various materials. These saws are of different sizes and are made of materials like steel, high-speed steel, carbide, etc.
There are different types of circular saw blades, as mentioned below:
- Ripping Blade: Blades with large, straight teeth for clean cuts along wood grains.
- Cross-cut Blade: Blades kerfed teeth for smooth cuts perpendicular to the grains.
- Combination Blade: Blades with various tooth counts for rip cuts and cross cuts.
- Masonry Blade: Fiberglass toothless blades for soft materials like stone or bricks.
- Metal Cutting Blade: Abrasive toothless blades for cutting metal, often with heat.
- Tile Cutting Blade: Blades for slicing ceramic tiles – often with diamond tips.
This part of the circular saw is found in the middle of the tool, surrounding it on either side. The plate helps you set the tool down on the working material while sawing it. This boosts steadiness and level cuts. It also acts as a guide while moving the blade.
Near the front of the circular saw is a gear that lets the user adjust the bevel angle at the time of cutting the workpiece. It is slightly toward the side. It lets you achieve angular cuts easily in objects and may be controlled with a knob on the plate.
It is a safety gear on the top and bottom of the blade. It can prevent injuries due to unsolicited contact between your hand and the blade while you work. Also it stops debris from flying. Its front has an opening to feed the workpiece.
As you can understand from the name, this part of the circular saw is used to safely set the blade on the saw. It has clamping members with a spring-loaded mechanism. Just pull the clamp, place the blade and release the clamp to secure it.
The cord of a circular saw provides electricity to the saw for the motor to run when you plug it into the power source. Needless to say, a cable is only a part of a corded saw’s design. It is found at the back of the device. Some saws have a removable cord.
A circular saw’s handle allows you to hold and maneuver the device while working with it. When you choose a saw of high quality, you will get the advantage of an ergonomically designed handle and perhaps a rubber grip for stability and comfort.
The power switch is a trigger to turn the saw on to get it running – and switch it off to stop it. In some saws, there’s an electric brake to stop the rotation of the device almost instantly. Otherwise, it can continue spinning for as long as 15 seconds.
Circular Saw Types
Depending on the power source, circular saws are of two types – corded and cordless. Corded saws run on electricity and can work without interruption. On the other hand, cordless saws depend on batteries for power. They are great for indoor and outdoor job sites.
This circular saw, also called an in-line saw, is the most popular. It has the motor on the saw’s side to make it compact and let it sit on the solid side of the workpiece. It is lightweight and ideal for overhead cuts at high speed.
With a motor on the back side, a worm drive circular saw can make long, narrow cuts. It has two gears angled at 90 degrees for the cutting power of the blade. It increases the torque but reduces the speed for easy plunge-cutting.
It uses a spiral bevel gear whose axis isn’t in-line with the meshing gear’s axis. It enhances blade contact, power, and efficiency – with reduced noise and a small but powerful motor that easily drives the blade into the workpiece.
Main Difference Between Table Saw and Circular Saw
Clearly, table saws and circular saws are similar in terms of some of the cuts. But there are some major differences. The main difference is that a table saw is for large-scale industrial use, while a circular saw is more appropriate for smaller tasks or hobby projects.
Table saws are larger and more stable, with less mobility. But circular saws, whether corded or cordless, are highly portable due to their small and lightweight bodies. Table saws are considered superior in terms of precision, while circular saws are easier and more specific.
Table saws are usually used for wood cutting, while circular saws can cut a wide range of materials like wood, metal, ceramic, concrete, etc. Circular saws are easier to assemble than table saws and also less expensive.
Table Saw vs Circular Saw: Aspects in Which they Differ
Table saws provide more precise and accurate cuts and make clean rips. Circular saws lead to burrs on the edges. You need great practice for cleaner edges.
Circular saws are smaller and weigh around 6-20 lb. On the other hand, table saws, usually with a 10-inch blade, are about 600 lb – and hence, less portable.
A single table saw makes a wide range of cuts but is mainly for wood. Circular saws handle various materials, though each material needs a different model.
Corded and Cordless
Both saw types can be corded or cordless. The cordless ones are mobile. But cordless table saws are pricier than cordless circular saws.
Both use a wide range of similar blades. But circular saws need smaller ones. They differ in material, tooth shape, number, etc., which affect their impact.
Table saws are sturdy and durable but have many small parts and need maintenance. Circular saws have a short lifespan but require less maintenance effort.
Ease of Use
Circular saws need higher expertise levels and more practice to achieve precision. But table saws are easier to use as they provide more stability.
Pros and Cons of Table Saw
- Wide range of cuts with a single device
- Great fence guide and precision
- Can accommodate accessories
- Ideal for industrial use and bulk projects
- Stable and easy to use
- Large, heavy, and not portable
Pros and Cons of Circular Saw
- Small, lightweight, and portable
- Can cut through various materials
- Ideal for small tasks and DIY projects
- Can make specialized cuts
- Needs expertise and practice
- For specialized cuts and small depth
Which Saw Suits You?
Now you know the basic details about circular saws and table saws. But which is the best saw for you? The answer needs careful consideration of all the factors that we have mentioned above. You must remember that both saws have different variants.
So, you need the best table saw for ease of use, stability, and versatility required in industrial bulk projects. But if you want portability, affordability, specialized cuts, and the ability to handle various materials – you must find the best circular saw for your projects.
As a beginner, it’s better to start with a table saw. It will also serve you well when you become a professional. As you become more skilled at your cuts, you can add different circular saws to your collection.
We hope we’ve settled the Table Saw vs Circular Saw debate for you. A single table saw can serve various purposes, from the time you start using power tools right till you become a pro. Meanwhile, circular saws can bring portability and handle multiple materials. So make your choice wisely.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a Circular Saw be Used as a Table Saw?
A circular saw may not be the ideal alternative for a table saw, especially when you have just started working with power tools or want to handle large-scale projects. It also cannot provide the same level of precision. But over time, you can learn to use it to get more finesse.
Which is Safer: Table Saw or Circular Saw?
Both table saws and circular saws come with blade covers to protect the user while working. They offer different security features. Table saws are easier to use, more stable, and offer greater space. But circular saws are lighter, more mobile, and have smaller blades.
When Would you Use a Table Saw?
There are different types of table saws, and they are all used primarily in woodworks for making various cuts. A table saw is the best for industrial projects. It is an excellent choice if you want easy usage and can expect great stability while handling big projects.
Can you Cut a 2×4 with a Circular Saw?
Cutting wood along the grain can be achieved easily with the help of a ripping blade equipped with fewer teeth. Such blades are perfect for large and thick materials. For ripping work or cutting a 2×4, a circular saw with a thin kerf blade is thus a great choice.
Why Does My Circular Saw not Cut Straight?
If a circular saw fails to cut straight, it’s likely because the tool is faulty. The problem might occur due to the warped edge of the blade. Or the blade could be unstable. You may also be operating the saw all wrong, because of which you cannot get straight cuts.