Leaseman

Miter Saw vs. Table Saw

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Hello Everyone,

As a new woodworker I notice that most woodworkers tend to use a table saw over a miter saw. Why is this? I understand the table saw is used to rip stock, etc. but to make cross cuts it seems the miter saw (or better yet a miter saw station) would be the most efficient. Just lay down your board, set your stop and your done. What am I missing?

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Accuracy!  Rarely do miter saws give you 100% accuracy. A table saw with a miter or crosscut sled properly tuned, gives you way better accuracy. And it's what you need for "fine woodworking". If your just making "stuff" a miter saw will do what you need.

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The 2 tools are not interchangable.  A cross cut sled on the Table Saw will be more accurate than a miter saw provided the sled is accurate.

I have a miter saw station with a Festool Kapex in it and still use my table saw way more than my miter station.  The table saw is typically the center of most shops.  With the right sleds and jigs, it can do anything that a miter saw can do and more.  Dados spring to mind.

Now, with that said, I do use both.  Reality is though that the miter saw gets used mostly because it's more convenient and mine does a good job for me.

There are some here that do not have a miter saw in their shop and get along just fine without it.

 

Welcome to the forums!

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Richard is correct, it is the accuracy of most miter saws.  Having said that I have a Bosch Glide that hold its accuracy very well and I do use it for a lot of cross cuts.  I also do a fair amount of cross cuts on the table saw with the sled or miter gauge.  I think it comes do to witch miter saw you are using and does it hols a setup properly.

 

 

 

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I think the reason I "struggle" with this is it would seem that a miter saw bolted down to a station set up with a fence permanently in place would be at least as accurate as a table saw with a miter gauge/sled and more convenient. Even a miter saw attached to a well made stand where the saw is bolted to the stand would work and then could be stowed away for those of use with space issues. Are the miter saws themselves somehow inaccurate?

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24 minutes ago, Leaseman said:

I think the reason I "struggle" with this is it would seem that a miter saw bolted down to a station set up with a fence permanently in place would be at least as accurate as a table saw with a miter gauge/sled and more convenient. Even a miter saw attached to a well made stand where the saw is bolted to the stand would work and then could be stowed away for those of use with space issues. Are the miter saws themselves somehow inaccurate?

Yes.  Miter saws were designed for the contractor where accuracy is just not as important as it is for building furniture.  We have just incorporated them into our world but, the manufacturers primary sales are to the contractor so, why improve the accuracy for our needs?  Go look on the free site at Marc's reviews and see the issues he had with a Makita slider.  A lot of moving parts in a miter saw to get the kind of accuracy that building furniture requires.  As Chet said, there are a few that come pretty darn close but, you do get more accurate results from the table saw in the long run.

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I make rip cuts on my table saw. Cross cuts on the miter saw would seem more efficient for the reasons I stated above but I guess this is all coming down to accuracy. To be honest I have tried to make a cross cut sled for my table saw and can never seem to get square; hence my obsession with the miter saw. 

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2 minutes ago, Leaseman said:

I make rip cuts on my table saw. Cross cuts on the miter saw would seem more efficient for the reasons I stated above but I guess this is all coming down to accuracy. To be honest I have tried to make a cross cut sled for my table saw and can never seem to get square; hence my obsession with the miter saw. 

There's a few good videos out there for building a miter sled.  William Ng probably has the best ones.  Once you get one right, they last a long time!  I think mine has been in my shop for better than 6 years and it's still dead on accurate.

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Yep, his is a great video:

He's pretty entertaining to watch too

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I have both and honestly the miter saw is really unnecessary. I use mine but only because it's there.

Dust collection at the table saw is leaps and bounds better. With a vac on my bosch glide it's way better than no vac but there is still a lot that gets missed.

I have built about 99% of the framing for the 16'x12' shed I'm currently building and haven't touched the miter saw once. So i honestly think they are just marketed at people for convenience. Though mine being in my shop is really inconvenient for any work done outside the shop.

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Yea, don't even get me started on dust collection..  I have the Kapex hooked up to dedicated CT vac and the dust collection is marginal at best!

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1 hour ago, Leaseman said:

I make rip cuts on my table saw. Cross cuts on the miter saw would seem more efficient for the reasons I stated above but I guess this is all coming down to accuracy. To be honest I have tried to make a cross cut sled for my table saw and can never seem to get square; hence my obsession with the miter saw. 

Sorry, thought you were trying to make a decision on which one to buy

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2 hours ago, Leaseman said:

I think the reason I "struggle" with this is it would seem that a miter saw bolted down to a station set up with a fence permanently in place would be at least as accurate as a table saw with a miter gauge/sled and more convenient. Even a miter saw attached to a well made stand where the saw is bolted to the stand would work and then could be stowed away for those of use with space issues. Are the miter saws themselves somehow inaccurate?

It's not how the miter saw is attached to its stand but how the blade is supported by the saw.  Take any miter saw and put a little sideways force on it and you'll see the blade wiggle back and forth in response.  Do that with a (half way decent) table saw and nothing happens.  Miter saws are designed to be light enough to be able to be picked up and moved around by one person so they are at a disadvantage.

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You can buy an incra mitre gage . Does more tasks than a sled. For many including me the number one tool is the table saw. Second starts to vary but 2nd most important is the jointer. In my early days I would joint a face then rip it to thickness. Back then that allowed me 6" wide boards. Since you did not mention planers I will say in a project Step one is dressing your material. It is critical and affects the outcome. Learn that and get tools for that. Most here prefer to dress their own lumber. Start with rough sawn boards. All that can be done with hand tools and some here do that. It is slower but can be very accurate.

I have a mitre saw and  use it for longer pieces. A mitre saw would be 8th or 9th on the my list.

 

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I've got my mitersaw bolted to a piece of plywood and the plywood gets screwed to the bench it lives on in the shop.  That makes it easier to clamp to the saw horses when I take it to a jobsite. 

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20 minutes ago, wtnhighlander said:

Ever try to cross-cut a (full) sheet of plywood on a miter saw?

Can you do that? :o

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I have a 12" radial that I can flip flop and get in the mid 30's. After that cut which is more accurate than I thought I could get, I bring it to the table saw to true it a little more.

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1 hour ago, wtnhighlander said:

Exactly. No.

Not even if you do it upside down?

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2 hours ago, wtnhighlander said:

Exactly. No.

Wrong answer. You can rip with a miter saw if you take the time to convert it to a radial arm saw. It only takes a few nails here and there and a few scraps of pallet wood. Remember, safety first.

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3 minutes ago, Immortan D said:

Wrong answer. You can rip with a miter saw if you take the time to convert it to a radial arm saw. It only takes a few nails here and there and a few scraps of pallet wood. Remember, safety first.

I thought it was safety 3rd?

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The miter gauge route looks interesting; the Incra being the most mentioned. So allow me to "retool" my question (pardon the pun, LOL!). Which is better/more versatile (for cross cuts, etc.) a miter gauge such as the Incra Miter 1000/HD or a shop made cross cut sled? 

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3 minutes ago, Leaseman said:

The miter gauge route looks interesting; the Incra being the most mentioned. So allow me to "retool" my question (pardon the pun, LOL!). Which is better/more versatile (for cross cuts, etc.) a miter gauge such as the Incra Miter 1000/HD or a shop made cross cut sled? 

Generally home made sleds are going to cut 1 angle either 90 degrees or what ever angle you build it for. If you want to have a sled for 90 degrees and 45 degrees generally people make 2 sleds. It is possible to fit some sort of 45 degree holder to allow a sled to be used for more than 1 angle but i think it's most common for people to make a sled for 90 degree cuts and use a miter gauge like the Incra 1000SE/HD for any angled cuts. Also the miter gauge is useful for dados ect.

Fast answer both. Because sleds are generally made from scraps they don't end up costing much if anything. Just the time to make them and tune them up.

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