Every home shop woodworking enthusiast has their favorite power tool, which they consider indispensable in the shop. Perhaps it’s a miter saw, or maybe a table saw, or a planer. But, what do you do when your space or budget is limited, and you have to choose?
The choice should have something to do with the types of projects to tackle and your talent level. Do you make a lot of picture frames that need those perfect 45-degree cuts? Or are you making cabinets for your kitchen? How about the new dining room table that will seat eight people? Do a lot of trim work around the house, like baseboards around corners?
All of these projects require precision cuts of one nature or another. If your shop has a miter saw, you likely use it for those cuts. But, those cuts can also be made with a table saw. Whether bevels or angle cuts, a table saw can be just as effective as a miter saw with the right skill and the right jig.
We’ve written about using a table saw to make perfect 45-degree cuts for frames, and you’ll find it here. All you need is the right jig, and the job becomes easy.
If this is so, do you really need your miter saw?
Table saws can make accurate bevel cuts just as easily as can a miter saw. The framing principles of each are identical so that blades can be set accordingly. And with that jig, 45-degree angles can be just as accurate with your table saw as with your miter saw.
The one advantage a miter saw has over a table saw with some cuts is on longer boards. If this is not a concern in your shop, though, or with the projects, you are likely to take on, then the advantage is unimportant.
Aside from types of projects, then, it comes down to space availability and budget. Obviously, if you can afford both, and have the space, then it’s a luxury to have both power tools in your shop. No jig will be required on a miter saw for that angled or beveled cut since that is what miter saws do.
If you’re working with a tight budget, though, and have to make a choice (space not being a problem), the table saw can do everything that table saws do PLUS what a miter saw can do. The money will be better spent on the table saw, then, for everything else it can do that a miter saw can’t – ripping comes to mind.
If your budget is solid, but your space won’t accommodate both, then the answer is also to choose the table saw. It will make the same cuts, and although perhaps not quite as conveniently as a miter saw can, they’ll still be accurate.
The considerations, then, are:
- Likely project needs
If you can swing both, buy both. If you have to choose for any of those reasons, a table saw should be your first purchase. And then, when you move your shop out of the basement and into the more spacious garage, grab a miter saw, too.