Table Saw vs. Circular Saw| Differences Between a Circular Saw and a Table Saw

Many questions arise on which one between a table and circular saw is best. Both of these saws are useful for woodworkers, constructors, and those who want to carry out DIY projects.

The saw you choose will depend on what you need to cut, where, how you are planning to cut it, and your expertise. Both saws are made to cut straight, long, deep cuts, but they come with differing benefits.

Let’s look at each of these saws below; their definitions, their uses, and what exactly differentiates them from each other to be able to help you choose one that best suits what you need to accomplish.

What is a table saw?

It is a power tool, also known as a saw bench. The table saw gets its name from its look which is like that of a table with a saw protruding through its centre. It has a circular saw blade which is mounted on an arbour and driven by an electric motor.

The blade that goes over the surface of the table allows for cutting of large planks of wood as it acts as a support tool for the wood.

What is a table saw used for?

A table saw is the most useful and most versatile wood-working tool that a woodworker needs to spend on.

It is used for cross-cutting and ripping materials, cutting boards, doing crown moldings, straightening out curved boards, cutting square, miter-cuts, dadoes, rabbet, insets, and shaping the edges of a wood material. For cutting light materials such as plywood, a benchmark saw will do.

For cutting dadoes, two types of dado blades exist. These are the stacked dado blade and the single blade or the wobble dado blade. To straighten an edge, you can use a table saw with an incorporated jointer. The same applies to box jigs and tapering jigs for tables and chairs.

It comes with an adjustable guard rail on either or both sides that give it the edge of being able to make quick, accurate, and uniform cuts. The blade can, therefore, be adjusted to different angles or depths.

One can cut as deep or as shallow as they need to, by turning a crank and locking in the blade.

What is a circular saw?

It is also a power tool with an abrasive or toothed disc rotating around an arbour, used for cutting different materials including wood, metal, and plastic based on the kind of blade in use.

The saw spins and gives the wood a smooth cut, and is mostly used by carpenters and cabinet makers. It is mostly useful for cutting stationery material as it is portable as opposed to a table saw.

It is a versatile tool as there are blades available for a large number of cuts of different materials.

What uses can a circular saw be put to?

A circular saw has the same functions as a table saw, only that you need additional tools or special jigs to make things happen, as well as some good expertise.

Tools used here include a speed square to ensure a perfect, precise cut, marking for angled cuts, and as a guide to enable cutting straight down the angled line.

To rip, you’ll need to incorporate a shooting board or a rip fence jig. This will help you make straight strips as it is built to the exact dimensions of your circular saw.

For making insets, you need to mark the required area and use a speed square to make parallel cuts and finally knock out the parts using a hammer and a chisel.

Lastly, if you need to make miter cuts, you can do this as the circular saw can allow for up to 45 degrees angled cuts due to its adjustable plane.

Differences between a circular saw and a table saw

In spite of having many similar functions, the table saw, and circular saw have some differences that might be considered whenever you need to choose one power saw over the other. These differences are outlined below:


Table saws give accurate and precise cuts with very minimal chances of errors. This is because of its fixed nature, blade design, as well as other features including having a rip fence that serves to give excellent cuts.

The circular saw lacks precision as it needs to be moved about making it difficult to make precise cuts.

Disposal of wood or saw dust

When using a table blade, all the sawdust produced after cutting goes in one direction and is stored up in the dust compartment which eases cleaning after cutting is completed.

With a circular saw, you will end up with a pile of sawdust, making your cleaning a daunting task.

Ease of use

When making cross and rip cuts, the most common cuts that are made. Even an amateur will nail this using a table saw as you only need to set the miter or rip fence, and the table saw will do the work for you.

A circular saw requires additional tools to perform the same tasks as a table saw as well as some expertise. It is therefore difficult for newbies to use.


The table saw is a stationary saw that is fixed in place. It resembles a table with a protruding saw blade at the surface of the table. Contrarily, the circular saw is portable and lightweight, hence transferable to different workstations.


The table saw is expensive and is only suitable if you are planning to be using it regularly. Circular blades are way cheaper, costing only a fraction of what a table saw would cost and are suitable if you are on a tight budget.

Safety of use

The table saw is a dangerous tool because of the exposed blade. Inexperienced workers ought to exercise extra caution while handling the table saw. The circular saw is safer to use as it is handheld, hence offering ease of control.


A table saw is for woodworking precisely but can also work on softer materials such as plastics, while a circular saw in addition to all the above, can be used for cutting diamond, tiles, and bricks, when fitted with the correct blade.

Corded vs. cordless

Cordless table saws are rare and when available, are very expensive. Herein, Circular saws exist in both corded and cordless form, further increasing their portability.

Frequently asked questions

If you are still wondering which tool to use, the list below of three most asked questions about table saws and circular saws will be of use to you.

Between a table saw and a circular saw, which should I buy first?

For beginners, it is recommended that you begin with a table saw especially if you are planning to use it on wood and other lighter materials without much movement.

You will also gain the experience of using it, which will be useful when you finally need to purchase a circular saw for use on harder materials. If you want a portable tool, go for a circular blade.

Which between a circular and table saw do you recommend for cutting wood and plastic?

Buy a table saw as it is suited for use on majorly woodwork and lighter materials such as plastic. A circular saw requires some skill in its operations in case you are planning to carry out a DIY project, while the former is easy to use though quite pricey.

Why is a table saw quieter when cutting than a circular saw?

A circular saw uses a universal motor which runs on an AC and DC power, making it extremely noisy. The type of electric motor is specifically the brush-type whose brushes rub on the armature.

The noise also emanates from the gear train. A table saw runs on an induction motor which only operates on AC current, hence minimal noise.

Overall Thought

Both the table saw, and the circular saw work by rotating a circular blade at high speed with the help of an electric motor, and have a serrated edge which cuts through quite some wood materials.

In the hands of an expert, a circular saw will do everything that a table saw can do, but you have to incorporate a few more tools such as an edge guide, shooting board, and speed square.

If you can afford a table saw and plan to use it regularly, it is a good choice as it is easier to use, but you should proceed with caution because it is a dangerous tool.  For more versatility at a low price, you can learn how to use the circular saw.

Leave a Comment