Making the Right Decision Between a Table Saw and a Circular Saw

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You have discovered a love for woodworking and you’re excited about trying your hand at creating some simple pieces of furniture. Only, your newly discovered passion has brought you to a crucial decision: what tools to buy. For instance, what kind of saw should you get?

A saw is a basic tool for woodworking; without a good saw you’re stuck with a pile of wood. But what to get – a table saw or a circular saw? They do different things, do not handle in the same fashion and produce different results, so you must weigh these factors before committing hard-earned money to a tool that might not serve you optimally.

The big difference between these two tools is the way they handle. A table saw is easy to handle, even for novices, while a circular saw is a power tool that requires a steady hand.

With a table saw, you can rely on the tool to make precision cuts, but with a power tool like a circular saw you really have to be able to handle the tool manually very well to produce accurate cuts.

The Table Saw – A Precision Tool

The table saw is a precision tool that makes it easy to produces cuts exactly as you planned them. The table saw is extremely efficient at making cross-cuts and rip cuts.

Cross-cuts go across the short dimension of a piece of wood and rip cuts go along the length of a piece of wood.

The reason a table saw is so reliable at delivering accurate cuts, is the fence systems it uses to keep the wood in place. Here is an excellent video that explains the process.

If you have set up the fence accurately, you are assured of an acute cut – it’s almost impossible to screw this up.

The Circular Saw – A Versatile Power Tool

While the circular saw can be a very versatile tool, it is a power tool that requires a steady hand a firm grip to produce the desired results.

The general consensus is that the circular saw lacks precision and reliability, however in the hands of an experienced woodworker, there is nothing a table saw can do that a circular tool can’t do.

Circular saws come with a host of adjustments to accommodate what you want to do. You can adjust the level of the blade to show more or less of it, you can adjust the angle of the blade so you can cut the wood at any angle you require and of course you have range of different blades for different purposes.

To get accurate cuts and to prevent injuries, you must make sure the wood you’re working with is securely held in place. You can do this with the aid of a saw horse or a pair of saw horses.

Watch this video to see a good explanation of how to handle a circular saw.

The Table Saw – Mostly Clean Air

One great advantage of a table saw over a circular saw is dust collection. With a table saw, the dust naturally collects under the work table.

Some table saws come with a dust bin compartment that collects all the dust.

Some woodwork enthusiast build a customized saw collector for their workbench making small work of sawdust disposal. There are loads of videos online where you can follow the steps to make your own.

The Circular Saw – Choking in Dust

With a circular saw it’s another story. As you perform cuts, it’s natural for a lot of dust to be generated all around you and your workspace.

This dust has nowhere to go but right into the air where you work. It can obscure your vision and hamper your breathing, so it’s best to always use a facemask and goggles when using a circular saw.

Table Saw – Stationary Workhorse

One of the biggest disadvantages of the table saw is the biggest advantage of the circular saw.

A table saw, as its name implies, works as part of a work table in a workspace. You don’t have the convenience of picking it up and taking it with you, unless it’s a contractor table saw.

Circular Saw – Take it with You

The circular saw on the other hand, can go with you wherever your next project may be. The circular’s saw’s portability makes it a convenient and practical tool to acquire.

Table Saw – Built to Last

Provided you maintain your table saw on a regular basis, you have a woodworking tool that can literally last you a lifetime.

Circular Saw – Things Break Down

For whatever reason, circular saws don’t last indefinitely – at some point in time, your circular saw will bite the dust, so to speak. This tool cuts through anything for you, for a period of time, and then it might just suddenly break down. There is nothing you can “do” to maintain a circular saw: you use it and at some point it simply stops working.

So What’s the Bottom Line?

If you want a precision tool that will last you a lifetime and you are working mostly from a workshop, a table saw is the obvious choice. However, if you’re a handyman or a contracted professional, you wouldn’t be able to run your business without a circular saw by your side.

If you are a novice though, it might be a good idea to start out with a table saw – to produce quality work with a circular saw takes a lot of practice and skill.

Making the Right Decision Between a Table Saw and a Circular Saw