What’s The Difference Between A Circular Saw And A Miter Saw?

If you work in construction or do woodworking as a hobby, you have likely seen and/or use a power saw. Each is designed with a specific job in mind. Two of the most popular types are the circular saw and the miter saw. This begs the question, ‘what is the difference between a circular saw and a miter saw?’

The main difference between a circular saw and a miter saw is that a miter saw is more precise and angled, designed to cut bigger, thicker pieces of wood. It is also used for finishing work and intricate cuts whereas a circular saw is a smaller, handheld tool used for rough cutting wood. A miter saw can only do cross cuts, but a circular saw can do cross cuts as well as rip cuts.

What's The Difference Between A Circular Saw And A Miter Saw?

Now that you know the differences between a circular saw and a miter saw, let us take a closer look at each type individually and comparatively in more detail below. We will discuss what each saw is used for, why you would need to own one or the other (or both), and which make or model will give you the best bang for your buck!

So, if you are ready to learn more about circular saws and miter saws, then please continue reading…

* This article may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. 

What is a Circular Saw?

A circular saw is a type of power tool that uses a “toothed” blade to cut through different types of material including masonry, metal, or plastic but mainly wood.

It is ideal for rough or rips cuts on smaller pieces of lumber as well as slicing through the plywood. This saw is handheld and portable but can be mounted to a table, if necessary.

It can be either corded or cordless and comes in a variety of sizes – the 7 and a ½ inch blade style being the most common.

What is a Miter Saw?

A miter saw is a specialized power tool designed to cut a variety of angles in wood. It comes with a blade mounted to a swing arm that can pivot to the left or right for increased versatility.

This saw is perfect for making accurate and intricate cross cuts, which are done against the grain of the wood.

Most models, albeit relatively small and portable, are more of a stationary tool and can accommodate different sized blades, anywhere from 8 to 12 inches.

What is a Circular Saw Used For?

This tool is often used by framers, tilers, and bricklayers. It can cut through various building materials both quickly and accurately.

The circular saw is ideal for doing rip cuts in plywood or rough cutting long pieces of sheetrock.

What is a Miter Saw Used For?

This tool is used by woodworkers, contractors, and hobbyists. It can make precision or cross cuts in wood both easily and efficiently.

The miter saw is ideal for doing trim work including baseboards, crown moldings, door frames, window casing, etc.

How Much Does a Circular Saw Cost?

A circular saw price can range anywhere from $40 to $200. The cordless versions are usually more expensive, often doubling the purchase price!

Be prepared to pay anywhere from $80 to $400 for the convenience of a battery-powered model.

How Much Does a Miter Saw Cost?

Miter saws can cost anywhere from $200 to $600. They are more expensive than even most high-end circular saws.

If this seems too pricey, then consider renting the tool from your local hardware cost. The deposit is usually around $50 and averages about $35 per day.

Can You Use a Circular Saw as a Miter Saw?

It is possible to use a circular saw to make beveled cuts often done with a miter saw. However, you should have plenty of experience using a circular saw before attempting this.

Extreme caution must be taken when doing angled cuts using a circular saw, which is ideally suited for straight or rough cuts.

Should I Buy a Circular Saw or a Miter Saw?

Determining whether to buy a circular saw or a miter saw is dependant mainly on the kind of work you intend to do.

If you plan on doing finish carpentry or trim work (such as crown molding, baseboards, door frames, window casings, etc.), then you should invest in a miter saw.

Not only will it provide you with the accurate and/or intricate crosscuts you need, but it will do so safely and efficiently.

A circular saw, on the other hand, is more versatile. It is lightweight and portable making it easier to take with you on the job.

If you intend to cut plywood or do framing work, then this is the tool for you. As well, if you are on a budget and cannot afford a ‘luxury’ power tool like the miter saw, then you should buy a circular saw instead.

Do I Need a Miter Saw if I Have a Circular Saw?

Whether you need a miter saw if you already own a circular saw is not only dependant on the type of work you want to do but also your skillset, the quality of the circular saw, and the condition of the blade itself.

If you have years of experience handling a circular saw, you may be able to do a variety of cuts with it easily and accurately and therefore do not need a miter saw as well.

What is the Best Circular Saw for the Money?

One of the best circular saws on the market today is the DeWalt DWE575SB 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw. This power tool is available both in-store and online through Amazon.com.

Lightweight and compact, this saw is equipped with an electric brake and a patented 15-amp motor. It also has a 57-degree bevelling capacity and comes with an integrated dust blower.

The anti-snag ball bearing lower guard not only provides a smoother operation but also prolongs the life of the tool in harsh environments.

Go online and check it out today!

What is the Best Miter Saw for the Money?

One of the best miter saws you can buy currently is the DeWalt DWS780 12-Inch Sliding Compound Miter Saw. This power saw is available both in-store and online through Amazon.com.

Equipped with a 12-inch carbide blade, this tool is durable and easy to use. It features an integrated XPS cross cut positioning system with free cut line indication for better visibility and accuracy.

It also comes with a dustbag, blade wrench, and full 90-day money-back guarantee!

Go online and check it out today!


To summarize, the main difference between a circular saw and a miter saw is that a miter saw is better for doing precision cuts and trim work. It can also make angled cuts in bigger, thicker pieces of wood more quickly and with greater accuracy.

A miter saw is used for finish carpentry work whereas a circular saw is used for rough-cut jobs, such as interior and exterior framing as well as structural applications involving plywood.

A miter saw can only do cross cuts whereas a circular saw can do cross cuts as well as rip cuts. In general, a circular saw is more versatile and less expensive than a miter saw.

However, a miter saw is usually easier and safer to operate than a circular saw, which can be more dangerous (especially for beginners) due to its intense kickback.

If you were to purchase only one of the two options, most craftsmen tend to recommend the circular saw over the miter saw.

I hope this article has been of help to you. Thanks for reading and good luck with your future woodworking projects!

Cheers, tools owners!

Hi there! My name is Jack and I write for ToolsOwner. I have a passion for everything related to tools and DIY projects around the house. You often find me in my workshop working on new projects.