There has always been a healthy debate over whether the circular saw or table saw is the better tool to have.
Both serve similar functions, and both are popular power tools. However, there are advantages and disadvantages of each that may change your mind as to which one you want to buy.
This guide will outline those differences and help you decide between getting yourself a circular saw or a table saw for your next project.
Differences Between Circular Saws and Table Saws
|$40 to $300
|$150 to $700+
|Handheld power saw.
|Stationary power saw.
|When to use
|Not generally portable.
|Wood, metal and masonry.
|Ease of use
|Relatively safe with training.
The first major difference between the circular saw and table saw is in affordability.
Circular saws are very reasonably priced. Budget models come in as low as $40. Even the high-end circular saws will only cost you around $300. Most models suitable for the home user fall into the $40-100 price range.
Table saws are considerably more expensive. You could get a mini table saw for around $150, but most decent sized models will start at around $250. Mid-range table saws tend to cost $500-600, with professional tables reaching up into the thousands.
It should be noted that table saws are more durable, so you should take that into account.
How It Works
A circular saw is a handheld power saw with a toothed blade.
It is fed through the material to make a cut. In most cases you will use a jig, guide or rail in order to make a cut accurately. Check out this video to see how a crosscut jig helps you make precise cuts with a circular saw:
A table saw is a stationary piece of equipment. It has a circular blade mounted beneath a large work surface. The blade pokes through a slit in the table.
You feed the material through the blade when cutting on a table saw. The rip fence aids with rip cuts and you can use a miter gauge to aid in angled cuts. This video shows you how to achieve a 45° cut on a table saw using a miter gauge and a framing square:
When To Use
A table saw should be used when accuracy matters most. It offers a more precise cut than the circular saw, especially for the novice user.
Both crosscuts and rip cuts can be performed easily with a table saw. A similar cut on a circular saw can require jigs and other accessories to get right.
However, a limitation of the table saw is that you have to bring the material to it.
If you need to make a cut in something that cannot easily be moved onto the table saw, then a circular saw will be a better choice.
This is especially important if you need to work in different areas of a work site. Moving materials over to your table saw could be more time consuming than simply carrying a circular saw with you.
Portability is the biggest difference between circular saws and table saws.
Circular saws are small, relatively light and easy to transport from site to site. Storage is simple, too.
A table saw is completely stationary. If you need to make a cut in a material, then you have to bring it to the saw. This can add time to a project that would be saved by a circular saw.
Circular saws also come in cordless varieties. This makes them even more portable as you are not bound by outlet availability.
Circular saws are commonly used for all types of materials. They can obviously cut wood, but they can also work with metal, plastic and masonry if fitted with the right blade.
Table saws are limited primarily to woodworking.
Circular saws are also able to cut through warped and damaged wood. A table saw should not be used for this as it risks kickback and splintering.
The size of the material is also limited for the table saw. Even with an extension table there is a hard limit to the size of wood you can cut.
Ease of Use
The table saw is much easier to use than a circular saw, especially for the novice user. Even if you are experienced with a circular saw it is easier to get a precise straight cut with a table saw.
Learning to use a circular saw requires more time than a table saw. Table saws have simple safety guidelines that are easy to follow, whereas a circular saw requires you to think more about the safety aspects.
You also need fewer jigs and guides for a table saw if you are making simple cuts.
Table saws are generally more dangerous than circular saws. This is due to the exposed blade and the need to use your hands to feed material through.
Circular saws do require proper use to maintain safety, but they are generally considered the safer of the two.
With both saws you must always follow proper safety guidelines. These are provided with the tools and are sometimes available on the manufacturer’s website.
What Is A Circular Saw?
A circular saw is a portable, handheld power saw. It has a circular blade or disc mounted on an arbor.
They are versatile in terms of the materials and industries for which they are used. They are common on construction sites due to their ease of use and portability.
They come in corded and cordless varieties. Corded varieties tend to be more powerful.
Circular saws utilise jigs, mounts and gauges to make a huge variety of cuts.
What Is A Table Saw?
A table saw is a stationary power saw. It has a circular saw blade mounted beneath a work surface.
Material is fed through the blade. The blade height can be adjusted to handle thicker stock and extension tables can help you cut larger pieces of wood.
Table saws are mostly stationary, with materials to be cut brought over to it. Some portable table saws are available but even these remain stationary once set up on site.
Now that you understand the key differences between table saws and circular saws it should be easier to choose the right tool for the job. While it may be best to have both, which one you buy first will depend on your specific needs.
If this guide has helped you, or you have further questions, why not leave a comment in the section below?