Table saws and circular saws are two of the most commonly used power saws and are both great options for cutting materials like wood and metal. They can be great for beginners and pros alike.
With each of the two offering unique features, though, it can be a little overwhelming to choose one. This article will help you with exactly that by going through the basics of the two tools as well as the major differences between them.
Circular and Table Saws: The Basics
Before jumping into each tool’s differences, let’s start by taking a look at what each tool is and how it functions.
What Is a Circular Saw?
A circular saw is a powerful tool that cuts through materials using a specific disc or blade. It can be mounted on a table, or it can be used as a handheld tool. If handheld, you have the unique option to choose a left-handed or right-handed saw.
A circular saw also allows you to make a variety of cuts. This is due to the type of blades that are available for you to attach.
What Is a Table Saw?
A table saw is a tool that uses a blade to cut through the material and is driven by an electric motor. This saw is usually used for woodwork but can be used for other materials as well.
Table saws are typically stationary and great for those who want to get a feel for using power saws. While it can be more powerful than a circular saw, it is also less versatile.
Circular Saw vs. Table Saw: What Are the Differences?
Now that you know the basics of what each of the two tools is like, let’s dive deeper into their differences. After all, these are what will make you lean towards getting either of the two.
Table saws offer a lot more precision than circular saws since they use a fence to keep the blade straight. Newer versions of the tablesaw make it possible to make various depths of the cut, which is essential in any cutting project.
The saw’s ability to cut at various depths is due to the blade being able to move up and down through the table’s slot. You can also adjust the angle of the blade.
Since you will be moving around when you are using a circular saw, the instability may make it difficult to get a precise cut with it. The table saw’s design, blade, and other features like the miter and tip fence, allow for perfect and precise cuts, making this the winner for precision.
Another option, a compromise that makes the circular saw more accurate while keeping it mobile, is to get a track saw.
Table saws tend to be a lot more expensive than circular saws. They usually cost a few hundred more dollars. This may not be the best choice if you don’t plan on using the saw regularly as this can be a large investment.
Circular saws are the better choice if you are on a strict budget and don’t want to make a huge investment in a power saw just yet.
The circular saw is lightweight and portable, unlike the table saw. It can also be cordless and battery-powered so that you are able to use it in places with no outlets. This comes in handy when working at jobsites with different conditions.
Table saws, on the other hand, are usually permanent fixtures. You can only use them in a specific spot in your garage or workshop. You would also have to dedicate a lot of space for it. That said, there are some (relatively) mobile table saws too.
Table saws have an efficient sawdust disposal system so that you won’t have to worry about the dust flying everywhere. This is because the sawdust goes into the special compartment making it easy to clean up.
In comparison, circular saws have no sawdust disposal. This means there will be a cloud of dust surrounding you the whole time you work. This makes for less than optimal working conditions.
Table saws have an exposed blade on the top. This presents a significant danger to both the novice and the seasoned user. This also presents a threat to those working around the table saw. Even though they are equipped with additional safety features to prevent injury, the design of this tool makes it relatively unsafe.
Circular saws, on the other hand, have a contained blade making them the safer option. Still, make sure to learn and follow the common safety precautions before picking one up.
Circular saws are some of the most versatile power tools for cutting. They can cut miter cuts, crosscuts, and even bevel cuts. You would need a variety of blades that can handle the job accordingly, though.
On the other hand, the table saw is usually used for woodworking. It is able to cut plastic and softer material as well. Interestingly, equipped with the right blade, table saws can make dado cuts too.
You can cut metal too, but the size restriction of the table saw might impact this. For example, If you have a large piece of metal, you’ll need a larger table and additional supports.
This size of the material is not a factor for circular saws. This makes them the best option in terms of versatility.
Ease of Use
Table saws are a lot easier to use than circular saws. This is because when you are using a table saw, you are only focused on cutting the material in front of you. You’re not worried about whether or not you are carrying the saw safely due to its stationary position.
A circular saw requires that you are always practicing safe handling techniques. Of course, safety is still important to practice when handling equipment like table saws. However, continuously checking to make sure you are carrying the circular saw correctly can be challenging to master, especially for the novice user, and requires a lot more practice.
Which of the Two Should You Use?
If you have a large job that requires a lot of precise cutting, like building furniture, for example, then it’s best to use a table saw. It is also great to use when you are first collecting power tools and want something that is powerful yet precise.
Since the circular saw allows you to move around freely, it is excellent for a job that requires a lot of mobility. Jobs that require you to move worksites frequently will benefit significantly from using a circular saw. It’s also an excellent choice if you share your tools often with friends, family, or co-workers since it can be easily transported.
Which Is Better for Beginners?
A table saw is an excellent choice for beginners. Novice users won’t have to learn how to safely move around with them since they are stationary. This means they can focus more on the materials they are cutting and less on safe carrying practices.
Making crosscuts and ripping boards using a table saw is a lot easier than a circular saw. The design of the table saw makes it great for the beginner who isn’t too comfortable with their ability to make precision cuts just yet.
Which Is Better for Cutting Plywood?
Even though a table saw is made for woodworking, a circular saw is surprisingly the better option for cutting plywood. It is actually built for cutting a variety of materials, and plywood happens to be one of them.
The circular saw’s portability also makes it more efficient if you are going to be moving from one work site to another.
Just make sure to get the right blade for the job, and you’re good to go.
For more details, check my guide detailing the process of cutting plywood with a circular saw.
Can a Circular Saw Be Converted into a Table Saw?
A circular saw can absolutely be converted into a table saw. You must take all the necessary safety precautions, however. Even table saws that have been professionally put together come with their share of danger. A DIY table saw will surely come with additional risks. If you still want to know how, this guide explains it in detail.
It can also be a lengthy process. In an effort to save money from purchasing a standard table saw, you will be using up a lot of time and putting yourself in a hazardous situation.
You may want to consider that this process can’t be done in reverse, so there is no use in converting a table saw into a circular saw. It’s better to buy one that is already assembled.
Table saws are great for beginner woodworkers who have a large amount of space and are concerned about their cutting skills. However, they’re a bit pricey and are not the safest option due to the exposed blade.
Circular saws offer more versatility and mobility. They can cut through various materials with the quick switch of a blade. Learning how to handle them may be difficult for novice users.
To pick the power saw that is suitable for you, take into account your project, experience level, and budget.
How Do Circular and Table Saws Compare with Other Tools?
See how circular saws compare with: angle grinders | bandsaws | hypoid saws | jigsaws | jigsaws and reciprocating saws | miter saws | plunge saws | reciprocating saws | rotary saws | track saws
See how table saws compare with: bandsaws | cabinet saws | flooring saws | jointers | miter saws | panel saws | routers | tile saws | track saws