Can a Table Saw Do Everything a Miter Saw Can Do?

If you are a woodworker, you might have wondered whether you need both a table saw and a miter saw in your workshop. After all, both tools can make crosscuts and angled cuts on wood, so why not just use one of them for all your projects? Well, the answer is not so simple. In this article, we will explore the differences between a table saw and a miter saw, and whether a table saw can do everything a miter saw can do.

The short answer is no, a table saw cannot do everything a miter saw can do. A table saw is more versatile and can make a wider range of cuts, such as rip cuts, dado cuts, and bevel cuts. However, a miter saw is more precise and can make more accurate crosscuts and angled cuts, especially on wider boards. A miter saw can also make compound cuts, which are cuts that combine both a miter angle and a bevel angle.

Understand Table Saw and Miter Saw

To understand why a table saw cannot do everything a miter saw can do, we need to look at the features and limitations of each tool.

Table Saw

A table saw is a stationary tool that consists of a circular blade mounted on an arbor, which is driven by an electric motor. The blade protrudes through a slot in the table, which supports the workpiece. The height and angle of the blade can be adjusted to make different types of cuts. A table saw can make the following cuts:

  • Rip cuts: These are cuts that run parallel to the grain of the wood. A table saw can make rip cuts by using a fence, which is a guide that runs along the edge of the table and keeps the workpiece aligned with the blade. Rip cuts are used to cut boards to the desired width.
  • Crosscuts: These are cuts that run perpendicular to the grain of the wood. A table saw can make crosscuts by using a miter gauge, which is a device that slides in a slot in the table and holds the workpiece at a fixed angle to the blade. Crosscuts are used to cut boards to the desired length.
  • Dado cuts: These are cuts that make a groove or a notch in the workpiece. A table saw can make dado cuts by using a dado blade, which is a stack of blades that can be adjusted to the desired width. Dado cuts are used to join boards together or to create slots for shelves or drawers.
  • Bevel cuts: These are cuts that make an angle along the edge of the workpiece. A table saw can make bevel cuts by tilting the blade to the desired angle. Bevel cuts are used to create decorative edges or to join boards at an angle.
See also  Do French door refrigerators have more problems?

A table saw is a versatile tool that can make a variety of cuts, but it also has some limitations. Some of the limitations of a table saw are:

  • Accuracy: A table saw is not very accurate when it comes to making crosscuts and angled cuts, especially on wider boards. The miter gauge that comes with most table saws is not very precise and can wobble or slip in the slot. The fence that comes with most table saws is also not very reliable and can be misaligned or warped. To make accurate crosscuts and angled cuts, you need to use a high-quality miter gauge or a crosscut sled, which are additional accessories that you have to buy separately.
  • Safety: A table saw is one of the most dangerous tools in the workshop, as it can cause serious injuries if not used properly. The blade is exposed and can easily cut your fingers or hands if you are not careful. You also have to deal with kickback, which is when the workpiece gets caught by the blade and is thrown back at you with great force. To use a table saw safely, you need to follow some safety rules, such as using push sticks, feather boards, blade guards, and riving knives, which are devices that prevent kickback.
  • Portability: A table saw is not very portable, as it is heavy and bulky. You need a lot of space to set up and use a table saw, and you also need a power outlet nearby. Moving a table saw from one place to another is not easy, and you might need a truck or a trailer to transport it. A table saw is not suitable for working on site or outdoors, as it is not designed to withstand the elements.
See also  Is It Cheaper to Paint Your House Yourself?

Miter Saw

A miter saw is a stationary tool that consists of a circular blade mounted on a swing arm, which is attached to a base. The blade can be moved up and down to make cuts, and can also be rotated to make angled cuts. The base has a fence and a table, which support the workpiece. A miter saw can make the following cuts:

  • Crosscuts: These are cuts that run perpendicular to the grain of the wood. A miter saw can make crosscuts by lowering the blade onto the workpiece, which is held against the fence. Crosscuts are used to cut boards to the desired length.
  • Miter cuts: These are cuts that make an angle across the width of the workpiece. A miter saw can make miter cuts by rotating the blade to the desired angle, usually between 0 and 45 degrees. Miter cuts are used to join boards at an angle, such as for making picture frames or crown molding.
  • Compound cuts: These are cuts that combine both a miter angle and a bevel angle. A miter saw can make compound cuts by tilting the blade to the desired bevel angle, usually between 0 and 45 degrees, and rotating the blade to the desired miter angle. Compound cuts are used to join boards at complex angles, such as for making roof rafters or staircases.

A miter saw is a precise tool that can make accurate crosscuts and angled cuts, but it also has some limitations. Some of the limitations of a miter saw are:

  • Versatility: A miter saw is not very versatile, as it can only make crosscuts and angled cuts. It cannot make rip cuts, dado cuts, or bevel cuts along the edge of the workpiece. To make these types of cuts, you need to use a different tool, such as a table saw or a router.
  • Capacity: A miter saw has a limited capacity, as it can only cut boards up to a certain width and thickness. The capacity of a miter saw depends on the size of the blade, which is usually between 10 and 12 inches in diameter. The larger the blade, the wider and thicker the board it can cut. However, even with a large blade, a miter saw cannot cut boards wider than 16 inches or thicker than 6 inches. To cut larger boards, you need to use a different tool, such as a circular saw or a band saw.
  • Waste: A miter saw produces a lot of waste, as it makes a wide kerf, which is the gap left by the blade. The wider the blade, the wider the kerf, and the more material is wasted. A miter saw also tends to splinter the wood, especially on the back side of the cut, which can ruin the appearance of the workpiece. To reduce waste and splintering, you need to use a high-quality blade with a thin kerf and a high tooth count, which are more expensive than regular blades.
See also  How long does Cuisinart coffee maker stay on?

Conclusion

As you can see, a table saw and a miter saw are different tools that have different strengths and weaknesses. A table saw is more versatile and can make a wider range of cuts, but it is not very accurate or safe, and it is not very portable. A miter saw is more precise and can make more accurate crosscuts and angled cuts, but it is not very versatile or capable, and it produces a lot of waste. Therefore, a table saw cannot do everything a miter saw can do, and vice versa. The best option is to have both tools in your workshop, as they complement each other and can handle different tasks. However, if you have to choose one tool, you should consider your needs and preferences, and pick the tool that suits you best.