Either you are a professional carpenter or a DIYer who fancies woodworking, one tool you can’t do without is a power saw. For every woodworking project, you need a power saw to make cuts. However, getting one can prove to be tricky as there are tons of power saws out there to choose from.
Two of the most popular saws used in woodworking are circular saws and table saws. Both saws are great individually and they both use a circular spinning blade to make cuts. So what then is the difference between circular saw vs table saw?
The difference between the table saw and the circular saw is that the table saw is a stationary tool and is bigger than the circular saw. The circular saw on the other hand is a handheld power saw which means it’s smaller than the table saw but that’s not all.
What are both tools used for? And most importantly, which of the power saws should you get? This post will highlight and explain all you need to know about circular saws and table saws as well as some expert tips to figuring out which of the two you will need for your task.
Let’s start by taking a look at circular saws.
What Is a Circular Saw and What Is It Used for?
A circular saw is a versatile handheld power saw capable of making different cuts at varying depths. Circular saws are more common in worksites than workshops because of their mobility. There are different types of circular saws and they are differentiated based on their sizes and usage.
Though circular saws differ in terms of size and function, all circular saws use a circular blade with teeth to make cuts.
Just as there are different types of circular saws, there are also different types of circular saw blades. Each blade is suited to a different task.
Rip blades are used to cut along the grain, crosscut blades are used to cut across the grain, and combination blades are used to cut along and across the grain.
The circular saw has a knob usually on the side of the saw that can be used to adjust the blade’s cutting depth.
Many professional carpenters use circular saws to make crosscuts and angled cuts on wood though the saw can also make cuts on other materials like plastic and metal as long as you use the right blade.
The corded circular saw is usually lowered on the material to be cut. The main strength of the circular saw is its mobility. Now, let’s take a look at table saws.
What Is a Table Saw and What Is It Used for?
A table saw is a large power saw. They also use a circular blade with teeth to make cuts. The blade is usually mounted on an arbor located below the table. The arbor makes it possible for the blade to protrude through an opening on the table.
Table saws are more common in workshops than on sites because they are heavy and can’t be moved around easily. There are different types of table saws differentiated based on their size and power.
Table saws are known for their cutting power and accuracy. They also have different types of blades suited to specific tasks.
The table saw according to its name has a flat table with a fence. The blade sticks out a bit from underneath the table and the material to be cut is fed into the path of the spinning blade.
Table saws are mainly used to cut wood. The wood is placed on the table and against the fence. The presence of the table and the fence gives the table saw increased accuracy.
Table saws can make crosscuts but they are almost second to none when it comes to making rip cuts. The main strength of the table saw is its power and versatility.
Circular Saw Vs Table Saw: Head to Head
Though both power saws are used to make cuts, they have more apart than in common. Let’s compare both tools.
When comparing power saws, the blade is always a good place to start, after all, that’s what cuts. Circular saws and table saws both use a circular blade to make cuts. The blades of both saws have teeth which makes cutting and ripping easy. The difference comes in terms of size and the number of teeth.
Circular saw blades are smaller than table saw blades. Circular saws use a 7-inch circular blade to make cuts while table saws use a 10-inch blade to make cuts. Though both power saws can take smaller blades, the blade of the table saw is always bigger than the blade of a circular saw regardless of the size you use.
Another difference in blades is the number of teeth on the blade. Circular saw blades have fewer teeth than the table saw blades. The usual 7-inch circular saw blade has 60 teeth while the 10-inch table saw blade has 80 teeth.
When it comes to speed, there isn’t much difference between both saws. Most table saw blades spin at 3450 RPM. Though, the belt-driven table saws can spin the blade at over 4000 RPM. Circular saw blades on the other hand can spin as fast as 5000 RPM while some models especially the ones with non-geared motors don’t go over 3000 RPM.
With both saws, the size of the blade, the motor, and the model you have determines the speed of the blade. Though the speed of both saws depends on the above-mentioned factors, both power saws are fast enough to make the needed cuts.
The Size and Weight
When it comes to size and weight, table saws are way bigger and heavier than circular saws. Table saw have different parts and accessories which is why the power saw is usually big and heavy. The lightest table saw is between 35 and 45 pounds while some heavier models can weigh well over 100 pounds.
The size of the table saw depends on how large the tabletop is. The tabletop takes most of the space. The tabletop of a table saw can be as wide as 100 centimeters and some models have wider tables that can be retracted.
Circular saws on the other hand are handheld saws which means there are smaller and lighter than table saws. Circular saws usually weigh between 5 and 15 pounds depending on the model you have. For instance, battery-powered circular saws usually weigh about 15 pounds because of the extra weight of the battery.
The Safety and Accessories
When you are thinking of which power saw to buy, one main concern is the safety of the power saw while using it. Table saws are safer to use than circular saws.
This is because of the design and build of the table saw. For instance, a large part of the table saw blade is buried underneath the tabletop. This means the table isn’t too exposed so the possibility of getting injured by the blade is limited.
Table saws also have other accessories like the dust collection unit to make cleaning easier, a riving knife to prevent kickbacks, and a blade guard to cover the blade when not in use. These extra accessories make it easier to use the table saw.
Circular saws on the other hand are not the safest of power saws. For starters, circular saws don’t have anything to prevent kickbacks.
They also do not have a dust collection unit which means the workspace is usually messy. Unlike the table saw, the blade of the circular saw isn’t buried and there is no table. The only safety accessory a circular saw has is the blade guard that is used to cover the blade.
When it comes to accuracy, the table saw wins by knockout. The table saw is much more accurate than the circular saw. Extra features such as the fence and the table make it very easy to make accurate cuts along and across the grain of the wood with a table saw.
The circular saw on the other hand isn’t accurate. The accuracy you get with a circular saw depends on the skill and expertise of the user.
The circular saw doesn’t have a tabletop or a fence to improve accuracy. This is why circular saws aren’t advised for straight cuts. Although, guide rails and other modifications can be made for a table saw to increase its accuracy, these modifications come at an extra cost.
In terms of function, the circular saw ranks higher. Since the circular saw is handheld, you can tilt the circular saw in different positions to make diverse cuts.
In the hands of an expert, a circular saw can make crosscuts, bevel cuts, angled cuts, and the likes. All you have to do is to attach the right blade and tilt the circular saw in a position that can make the cut you want.
Circular saws can also cut different materials ranging from plastic to metal. To cut hard materials like concrete and metal, you need a diamond blade for the circular saw. Diamond blades will cut just about any material.
The table saw on the other hand is limited in terms of the cuts it can make and the materials it can cut. Though the table saw can make some advanced cuts like bevel cuts, it is usually very challenging because of the position of the blade. This means the table saw isn’t as versatile as a circular saw.
In terms of materials that can be cut, table saws also come up short. Table saws are largely used for woodworking and for cutting plastic. Though some new models can also cut light metal, table saws can’t contend with circular saws when it comes to cutting tough materials. The table of the table saw also limits the capacity of the tool. To cut larger boards, you will need a larger table.
The Cleaning and Maintenance
Circular saws usually do not need any extra effort when it comes to cleaning and maintenance. All you need to do is just clean the power saw after use and store it. Table saws on the other hand need a lot of cleaning and maintenance because of the extra parts and internal features.
You need to clean the table, empty the dust collection unit, oil the moving parts, and even cover the entire table saw especially if you live in dusty or windy areas.
The bright side is that table saws last longer than circular saws. Not that circular saws aren’t built to last but table saws are more durable than circular saws.
Should You Buy a Circular Saw or a Table Saw?
Either the circular saw or the table saw will be a great addition to your workshop. However, the one you should get depends on the following factors:
Your Skill and Experience
If you are a professional painter or an experienced DIYer, then you might fancy getting a circular saw. The saw will be a great power tool if you have the skill and experience to operate it.
However, if you are a beginner looking to start your woodworking journey, then you should get a table saw. Table saws are relatively easier and safer to use than circular saws.
The extra features on the table saw will prevent accidents and you can be sure to get accurate cuts as well on a table saw than a circular saw. The circular saws should be left to the professionals.
The amount of money you are willing to spend on a power saw will determine if you get the table saw or the circular saw. You can get a good circular saw for about $xx while a quality table saw will cost you at least 6 times the price of a circular saw.
The Available Workspace
If you have a limited workspace, you should get a circular saw. Table saws require a large work area because of their size and weight.
If you need a power saw to take from your home to the worksite, you should get a circular saw. Circular saws due to their lightweight and size are portable.
The Material to Be Cut
If you would be working with soft materials like plastic and wood, you should go for a table saw if you have the money. Circular saws are more suited for tougher materials like metal, concrete, and tiles.
Your task is the main reason you are getting a power saw. The task at hand means the type of cut you want to make. If you need an accurate straight cut, you should buy a table saw.
Table saws are more suited for precision work because of their accuracy. Circular saws on the other hand are more suited to rough tasks or for tasks that don’t need much accuracy.
If you have a large task on your hands or you will need to make multiple cuts, then you should go for a table saw. Circular saws aren’t suited for large tasks. Table saws are quick and precise and you can also make multiple cuts at once.
So there you have it. If there is anything else you will like to know about either or both of the power saws, leave a comment below and I’ll respond to it as soon as possible. Have a great day.