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  1. #1
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    Circular saw vs Miter Saw

    I can see the obvious advantages to both. My question is for small projects is it worth it for me to spend $100+ dollars more for the miter saw? OR am I better off getting a pretty nice circular saw and learn to use some jigs then when my budget needs expand get a nicer quality Miter? What are your amps, and blade size minimums? I am not building a house or cabinets here, just maybe a work bench or a crude bed frame.
    a positive attitude will not solve all of your problems, but it may annoy enough people to make it worth the effort

  2. #2
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    I use my miter saw way more than I use the circular saw, but there are obviously some cuts that a circular saw works well for that can't be done with a miter saw.

    My miter saw is a relatively cheap one - I think a craftsman brand that I got on sale for a little over $100. IIRC its a 10" blade, which works fine 95% of the time. The other 5% of the time I wish I had a bigger blade or one of those fancy ones with the sliding arm.

    edit: if you need to borrow one, let me know - I'm just south of WF.

  3. #3
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    Totally different applications

    chop saw can't rip

    skilly can't cut trim (well)

    any self respecting man will need both in his life

    buck up buy both

    check Craigs, contractors are dumping tools like crazy

  4. #4
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    borrowing is a nice option . . . but you should always send the tool home with a nice new blade when you're done, making it more sensible to be maintaining your own equipment you can use whenever you want.

    If you really want to use just a circular saw for everything you need to do with a saw, it can be done: check out the Festool line of tools. If you buy the saw and a short guide and a long guide, a pair of clamps to hold it in place, and their special workbench with dogs and guides, there's almost nothing you can do with a straight-line saw that you can't do with their setup. Then buy a good jig saw for curvy lines, and you have a compact and precise--if a bit awkward--shop. It's highly portable, too, so you're not limited to working in your garage.

  5. #5
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    Both circular saws I've owned cost $5 each at garage sales and with fresh blades they've been great. Trying to do the trim work for a whole house with a circular and jigs would've taken way way longer and not come out as well. When I needed the miter saw, I needed it for real - the only thing I'd do differently is maybe rent it vs. buy it since I haven't used it much since(but frequently loan it out).
    another Handsome Boy graduate

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Foggy_Goggles View Post
    Totally different applications

    chop saw can't rip

    skilly can't cut trim (well)

    any self respecting man will need both in his life

    buck up buy both

    check Craigs, contractors are dumping tools like crazy
    Should I buy a scewdriver or a hammer? I guess I could always drive in nails with handle of scewdriver?
    Quote Originally Posted by Downbound Train View Post
    And there will come a day when our ancestors look back...........

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Foggy_Goggles View Post
    Totally different applications

    chop saw can't rip

    skilly can't cut trim (well)

    any self respecting man will need both in his life

    buck up buy both

    check Craigs, contractors are dumping tools like crazy
    QFT

    Buy the chop saw and find a skill saw at a garage sale.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by ms ann thrope View Post
    If you really want to use just a circular saw for everything you need to do with a saw, it can be done: check out the Festool line of tools. If you buy the saw and a short guide and a long guide, a pair of clamps to hold it in place, and their special workbench with dogs and guides, there's almost nothing you can do with a straight-line saw that you can't do with their setup. Then buy a good jig saw for curvy lines, and you have a compact and precise--if a bit awkward--shop. It's highly portable, too, so you're not limited to working in your garage.
    Holy hell you could buy a whole shop full of tools for what that setup would run you.

    Foggy killed it you will need both to do a job well. Your only other option would be to buy a table saw which can do both with a nice miter gauge. The only time a table saw lacks is when you try to rip whole sheets of plywood by yourself. I use my table saw for 80% of the work I do, the only time I really use my cic is when I frame. If you keep an eye out good deals can be had on tools just keep an eye out on craigslist and tooliday.com.

    This is what I use though [ame="http://www.amazon.com/Milwaukee-6391-21-4-Inch-Circular-Blade/dp/B00005NMRS/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1281581556&sr=1-6"]Amazon.com: Milwaukee 6391-21 15 Amp 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw with Blade on Left: Home…[/ame]

  9. #9
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    I didn't say it was cheap. You can do amazing things with Festool setups, though: I have two table saws, a chop saw, router table, spindle sander, three sanders, a whole wall full of clamps, a dust sucker, two benches, a 6" jointer and an 18" planer and etc. in a 1200 square foot shop . . . but if I have to close down the shop, I know I can do just about anything with the Festool saw in a tiny space, if i have to. The euros do amazing things in small spaces with a few tools; a different approach, but it works.

  10. #10
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    Cheap circular saw and good miter saw.

    That said, when I was young and dumb I did some frightening freehand compound miters and blind dados with a circular saw. When you hold the guard back, Mr. Skilsaw is no longer your friend.

  11. #11
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    My vote would be for a table saw.. More versatile than either of those, and if you're worried about space there are some nice collapsible ones, or ones with no legs that you set up on a workbench/ tabletop.

  12. #12
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    Saws are no different then skis,a real man has a quiver.

    I find my table saw is the least used of my saws, but it is a close race between the miter and circular saws. They both do very different things.

    If you really don't do many angled cuts, a good back saw and quality miter box works very well, and is what I did for many years until I needed more power tools to keep my man card valid.

    I agree it is a constitutional right for Americans to be assholes...its just too bad that so many take the opportunity...
    iscariot

  13. #13
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    Two words, pawn shop. And you need both. Treat em right and they will be with you for the next 20 yrs.

  14. #14
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    A portable circular saw is a very versatile tool--it can do anything you need a saw for and you don't need expensive store bought jigs-clamps and a straightedge ripped from the edge of a sheet of hardboard will do. (For that matter you can do anything you want with handsaws, except for cutting your fingers off.) A miter saw can only do one thing--cross cut narrow pieces of wood. It can't rip or cut plywood. It can't cut part way through a piece of wood--eg-make dados. I built a wall of bookcases and a kitchen full of cabinets with a circular saw-and a crappy Sears one at that. So if you are only going to buy one you have to buy the circular saw. I have a makita but any quality saw will do. Stay away from the big worm drive Skilsaws--great for constuction but too heavy for the kind of things you're talking about. And if you do get serious about woodworking a table saw is the way to go.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by old goat View Post
    A portable circular saw is a very versatile tool--it can do anything you need a saw for and you don't need expensive store bought jigs-clamps and a straightedge ripped from the edge of a sheet of hardboard will do.
    Sort of. To get the straightest and most accurate such homemade setup, attach a straight piece of 1 x 4 (made of a plywood rip or a jointed-straight piece of lumber) to a piece of harboard (any 1/8 - 1/4 sheet material will do), then hold the edge of the saw tight against the 1x and rip the attached piece of hardboard . . . this will give you a straight edge right at the blade line, so you can just set that edge on your marks and get a straight cut without any tedious skoshing or remembered measurement.

    The problem is, edges of store-bought hardboard are seldom straight, and getting a straight edge 8' long on anything is a challenge. Such jigs do a pretty good job, but keeping the saw tight against the jig for the length of an 8' cut can be a challenge, too; depending on the material you're cutting, blade deflection can make the cut crooked, too.

    That's why I finally went to the Festool saw guide and plunge-cut saw: yes, it's expensive, but it makes your circular saw (well, theirs) into a tool nearly as accurate as a table saw, and capable of making any kind of diagonal cut you want, which a table saw doesn't do well on large sheets.

    Quote Originally Posted by old goat View Post
    A miter saw . . . can't cut part way through a piece of wood--eg-make dados.
    My Bosch sliding compound miter saw will make dadoes, in anything up to about 10" wide. There's an adjustable stop that limits how for down the blade will go. It's tedious, of course, making a 3/4" dado at 1/8" at a time, and it doesn't come out flat and smooth the way a good sharp dado set will on a table saw. Repeatability is awkward, too.


    Quote Originally Posted by old goat View Post
    I built a wall of bookcases and a kitchen full of cabinets with a circular saw-and a crappy Sears one at that. So if you are only going to buy one you have to buy the circular saw. I have a makita but any quality saw will do. Stay away from the big worm drive Skilsaws--great for constuction but too heavy for the kind of things you're talking about. And if you do get serious about woodworking a table saw is the way to go.
    And of course people made amazing things with hand saws and planes for a long time before any power tools existed at all. You can buy very good hand tools for a reasonable price, and if you learn to use them well can come up with nice results. Once the apocalypse or the EMP comes, we'll all have to do this anyway.

    So much depends on what you want to make and your expectations of what it will look like and your tolerance for error. I used a portable Bosch table saw for years, cobbled on a sliding table for crosscuts, and added a long fence for accuracy and larger pieces. Dadoes are central to most things I make, so I've now got a saw dedicated to nothing else.

    But I'm doing a project soon that I have to travel to with only a minimum number of tools. A generator and a Festool saw and guide can help build cabinets miles from a trailhead, if need be. Some people have a good eye and steady hand and can make amazing cuts with a Skil saw and a chalk line, too . . . but if you're concerned with tearout and a glue line without gaps for edge bands, or a host of other details, you need to get more elaborate.

    I have many friends who got married and inherited their father-in-law's tools. Generally the FIL would have bought the cheapest tools possible, to avoid impinging on family funds, and the unfortunate SIL ends up saddled with B&D crappy tools he feels obliged to use. If you plan to do serious woodwork, buy the best (not always the most expensive) tools you can afford, then learn to use them well and maintain them properly. It's amazing the people I see building with dull blades and rusty tops on their outdoor table saw, risking their lives and fingers for the sake of cheap and unmaintained tools.

  16. #16
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    I love my Festools.....but I'm a guessing you want a workbench to do basic crap. Wax skis. Assemble the odd piece o' junk from Ikea. Unscrew the battery compartment for your beacon. Try to flatten your avy shovel after unsuccessfully trying to pry that rock out.

    A cheap miter saw is what you need. The craigslist route is good for saving $. Most h improve stores will cut a sheet of plywood for you. That is what you'd need the circular saw for.

    You don't need a tool like a Festool. It wouldn't hurt so go ahead if you've got the $. But since you're going to be working with store bought 2x material, accuracy is of your tool is not going to be the limiting factor.

  17. #17
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    for a work bench or a crude bed frame a handsaw and some care should be fine. A Japanese Pullsaw is a useful thing to have around a shop
    http://japanwoodworker.com/product.a...&dept_id=13088

    For less money than the festool guides you can get an emerson guide; works with most any circular saw
    http://www.eemersontool.com
    Lord King of the Beater-Kooks

  18. #18
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    In the right hands the Japanese pull saw is an amazing tool. That said, it is real easy to fuck up a project with it too. Not that I am speaking from experience.

    I agree it is a constitutional right for Americans to be assholes...its just too bad that so many take the opportunity...
    iscariot

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Conway View Post
    For less money than the festool guides you can get an emerson guide; works with most any circular saw
    http://www.eemersontool.com
    Great...just when I thought I didn't need any more gadgets. Can you give me a good reason to spend the money for the C series over the A series?

    To the OP: I like this design for a workbench, have built several benches and shelves using the general design
    http://www.hammerzone.com/archives/w...below20xl.html
    (note that the author uses both a circular saw and a miter saw, as well as a jigsaw. You could do it all with a hand crosscut saw though) If you have to choose one and can set it in your garage and don't have to move it, I'd get a sliding saw. If you have to put it on a shelf and move it every time you want to use it I'd get a decent (dewalt, hitachi, milwaukee, etc) miter saw as well as a decent circular saw. Main problem with crappy ones is the blade will wander, table/guides won't be true, etc. I bought a higher-end craftsman miter saw and it's a POS. Buy it once...
    The killer awoke before dawn.
    He put his boots on.

  20. #20
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    Another fan of Japanese pull saws--I get mine at Mountain Hardware in Truckee--best hardware store I've ever been in-- a lot smaller than Home Depot but I don't think I've ever not found what I'm looking for (sometimes for more than I want to pay.) Got an all-clad skillet there on sale, Kincko gloves, ski wax, the list goes on and on.

    The OP sounds like he wants one tool, or that his choice is one good tool, or a crappy circle saw and a crappy miter saw. That being the case--get a good circle saw now and a good miter saw when you have the money. I like my 12in Dewalt.

  21. #21
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    So yeah I know I "need" both and that is the plan in the next six months or so. For now maybe the best idea seems get a decent circular saw and then a miter saw next. I will have to rip some ply wood to make a work bench. Anyone have any more suggestions for which kind. I was looking at these.

    Porter-Cable 423MAG
    Bosch CS5
    Milwaukee 6391-21

    I like that there light, around ten pounds. I know know not a worm drive but I wont be using it all that much. Is a worm drive really worth 5 more pounds? Or will this be good enough. I don't want to buy a new one in 5 years but I don't need the rolls royce either.

    for worm drive I am looking at this but it I wont be doing much framing or massive projects so it kinda seems like over kill.... am I out of line.

    Skil SHD77M

    I will look at the pawn shop but I kinda like having warranties with my stuff. Whats the collective on reconditioned tools?

    these look pretty cool.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Conway View Post
    Last edited by rludes025; 08-17-2010 at 08:52 PM.
    a positive attitude will not solve all of your problems, but it may annoy enough people to make it worth the effort

  22. #22
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    I have the 15 year old version of the Skil, it is heavy as hell.

    I use strictly for cross cutting in a shop. (rip everything with a table saw.)

    My friend who has probably framed 20 or more houses than me- me=0; him=20 still uses a battered old makita, much lighter and easier to use, especially when ripping.

    Avoid Craftsman chop or miter saws, I had to get one for my shop when I was cash poor, and it sucks donkey balls.

    I am pretty close to pulling the trigger on the Festool, but I have to build 2-3 crates a week for work, and I can't fit a panel saw or real table saw and table into my shop. For a hobbyist it would be a luxury.

    For me, the tool actuated dust collection will make it worth the price alone!

    If you are just starting out and building out your shop, you can get pretty far with just a circular. You can quick cut all your 2 X stock using a speed square as a guide.

    Once you have the bench built, buy and install the miter saw.

    Fear not the pawn shop- I have used tools professionally for 20 years and have not had a warranty issue ever. YMMV. I bought a 1/2" Milwaukee corded drill for $15 at a flea market 15 years ago and it is still going strong.

  23. #23
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    Oh and you will definitely need that clamped guide- I use one every time I build, much faster than clamping a homemade straight edge.

    I am hoping to see the Festool in action somewhere, it looks like most times you don't even clamp the track, it had that much adhesion to the wood.

    Can anyone here comment on that?

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuperGaper View Post
    I am hoping to see the Festool in action somewhere, it looks like most times you don't even clamp the track, it had that much adhesion to the wood.

    Can anyone here comment on that?
    Very true. Even for melamine faced boards. I think if you didn't use dust collection and had piles of sawdust everywhere the guide would slip....but then if you work like that you are probably not even bothering with a guide besides yer eyeballs.

    I've not needed to clamp my Festool rails. Now the system I tried before Festool, Eureka Zone, did require clamping.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by rludes025 View Post
    So yeah I know I "need" both and that is the plan in the next six months or so. For now maybe the best idea seems get a decent circular saw and then a miter saw next. I will have to rip some ply wood to make a work bench. Anyone have any more suggestions for which kind. I was looking at these.

    Porter-Cable 423MAG
    Bosch CS5
    Milwaukee 6391-21


    I will look at the pawn shop but I kinda like having warranties with my stuff. Whats the collective on reconditioned tools?

    these look pretty cool.
    I had the Porter Cable before it got stolen and I now own the Milwaukee. I like the Mil better more power better grip angle everything is pretty easy to use on it. I've never really felt like it didn't have enough power. Overall it's a pretty awesome tool that I would buy again. My grandfather gave me an old 8 1/4 Skillsaw. Thing is a brute shit ton of power but it's so damn heavy that it only gets busted out when I have heavy duty shit to cut like 6x6. Way to heavy for everyday or just ripping sheet goods. Go to Home Decrapo and see how the newer ones feel in your hands if you like one write down the model numbers and look online for reviews and a cheaper price.

    I've bought some reconditioned tools mostly nail guns. Most of the time you can't even tell they were used. Overall they have been great so if the price is right I would pull the trigger.

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