If your head is spinning trying to make a decision on which wins the table saw vs circular saw battle, then we’re here to help.
We would recommend a circular saw due to its portability, versatility, and range of prices.
To understand more why it’s better than a table saw, see the table below and then keep reading for a detailed explanation.
|Table Saw||Circular Saw|
|Best For||Workshop UseLong Cuts||On Jobsite UseShorter Cuts|
|Portability||Rarely Moved||Totally Portable|
|Versatility||Limited Uses||Variety Of Cuts, Materials and Locations|
|Accuracy||Precise||Depends On Skills Of User|
|Ease Of Use||Basic Knowledge Needed||Basic Knowledge Needed|
|Tool Life||Durable||Can Have a Rough Life|
|Price Range||More Expensive||Affordable|
|Safety||Safety Awareness Needed||Safety Awareness Needed|
What is a Table Saw?
A table saw is so called because it is a saw set within a table.
It consists of a fixed table with a circular blade sticking out above the flat surface on top.
It is mainly used to cut wood which is fed across the table and into the rotating saw blade to make the cut. Most will have guides and fences and measurements to assist in making precise cuts.
And the blade can normally be tilted to either side to make angled cuts.
While smaller models are available that can be moved from place to place, generally they are kept in one place like a workshop and the wood is taken there to be cut.
Advantages of Table Saw
The biggest advantage of a table saw is that because they are solid and fixed in place they are great for accurate and straight cuts, however long.
The table saw is set up for the width and angle of the cut and the wood is fed through it for a consistent cut along its whole length.
Disadvantages of Table Saw
Being a bulkier, less portable saw means a table saw isn’t very versatile. You can’t grab it, take it somewhere and make a quick cut in a piece of material while it is still in place.
What is a Circular Saw?
A circular saw uses a similar circular blade to a table saw but it is attached to a motor in a compact unit making it portable and handheld.
Advantages of Circular Saw
The main advantage of a circular saw is its compactness and portability.
It can be taken anywhere for large or small jobs.
It can cut a wide variety of materials as long as you use the appropriate blade, which can be changed easily.
Disadvantages of Circular Saw
Not being fixed and stable and only having short guides with less precise settings a circular saw relies more on the operator for accuracy and consistency.
So it could end up being less accurate and mistakes can be more easily made with a circular saw.
Table saws are best for consistent long and accurate rip and cross cuts in a workshop. Once it is set up, a table saw is good for repetitive tasks with consistent accuracy.
A circular saw is best for a variety of cuts. It can be set up quickly for small jobs and used all day on big jobs. You can use it anywhere – at home, in a workshop, on-site, up a ladder, in an attic, on the floor.
Being able to take your saw from site to site and move around easily for cutting can be an important feature.
A table saw is much bigger and heavier and needs to be near a power outlet. Some are very heavy and just stay permanently in a workshop.
Benchtop versions can be moved but are still quite bulky and heavy.
Circular saws can be carried around very easily, most with one hand, and take up little space in a vehicle.
Cordless/battery-powered versions don’t even need to be near a power outlet.
So a circular saw wins easily for portability.
When investing in a tool you’ll want to know how often you will use it, how many jobs you are likely to use it for.
A table saw tends to be mainly for cutting wood. And wood that you are able to take to the saw. Jobs like woodworking projects in your home workshop or preparing boards to be taken to a site.
A bit of time setting it up might mean sometimes you don’t bother for small jobs.
A circular saw’s portability and size mean it can be used anywhere and is very quick to get out and start using. It can be used on a wide range of materials.
This makes a circular saw extremely versatile and you are more likely to find yourself using it more than you expected.
Also Read: Track Saw Vs Table Saw
Most of the time accurate cuts are essential for a quality job.
A table saw being more solid and fixed is very stable and has accurate guides for cutting and setting blade angles.
A circular saw has much shorter guides so it is quite easy to go off the cutting line.
With a circular saw, accuracy is much more dependent on a skilled operator so a table saw is better for more consistent accuracy.
Ease Of Use
How much expertise will you need to operate each saw and how much setup is needed?
A table saw may need a bit of understanding on how to adjust the guides and change angles as well as feeding the wood into the blade safely.
A circular saw is a bit more ‘plug and play’. It can be picked up and used straight away with a few pretty straightforward adjustments if needed.
So a circular saw is slightly easier to use for most users.
If you are investing in a tool you want to know how long it will last for the money.
Table saws and circular saws both have similar moving parts and controls so those parts should have a similar lifetime.
But a table saw leads a pretty easy life sat in the same place, so will last a good few years.
However, a circular saw can get dropped, knocked, kicked and all sorts of rough treatment being dragged around from job to job.
So a table saw would normally last longer than a circular saw.
How much can you spend on a basic model and the best?
The cheapest table saws will cost more than the cheapest circular saws. At the opposite end, you won’t break the bank for a top-of-the-range circular saw but you could spend a lot of money on the top table saw.
Circulars saws are more affordable at both ends of the price range.
Table saws and circular saws both have an extremely hazardous cutting blade so a proper understanding of safe use is essential and care must be taken at all times.
So we would call this a tie.
Conclusion: Table Saw vs Circular Saw: Which One Should I Buy?
While a table saw is great for specific types of jobs, the best overall is a circular saw.
A circular saw can be used quickly and easily to cut a wide variety of materials in various sizes.
And it can be used anywhere you can carry it.
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Lawrence D. Reynolds is an experienced carpenter and woodworker who started this site to help others get into this craft by providing advice on choosing tools and materials and sharing How-To guides about woodworking. He has been into Woodworking for over 25 years and enjoys nothing more than sharing his knowledge and helping others learn about this wonderful material.