table saw and no miter saw, stupid idea?

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Forum topic by Spikes posted 05-10-2018 08:40 PM 1393 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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125 posts in 1054 days

05-10-2018 08:40 PM


small shop, plus sharing with a section dedicated to electronics so dust is a major concern. Miter saws seem to be the biggest offender when it comes to dust no matter what dust cabinet one puts around it and I can’t afford a big DC system for now, can only use shop vacs.

On the other hand the table saw is nice and relatively clean with dust collection at the bottom and on top of the blade guard.

And so I was thinking, could I forgo getting a miter saw and go through all the work to setup a miter station and just use the table saw? I do work a lot with 2×4s and I can see the usefulness of a MS, but having little experience I can’t quantify how large that usefulness is. I’ve seen shop tours of ppl happily doing their work without a MS and not missing it, but then they don’t deal with a lot of 2×4s as I plan to.

Also lots of people mentioned that a TS isn’t as precise for miter cuts, but for those there seem to be some very nice sleds that give you a lot of precision.

thoughts? thanks,


-- Don't worry about making progress, worry about practicing. If you practice you will make progress even if you don't want to.

23 replies so far

View RobHannon's profile


347 posts in 1539 days

#1 posted 05-10-2018 08:47 PM

TS is harder to get precise for miters, but it is certainly possible to get incredibly precise with the table saw.

Is the work you do with 2×4 precision work or more rough work? A circular saw has been the weapon of choice for crosscutting framing lumber for a long time. Again, with setup and practice that can be pretty precise as well.

Miter saw is a great tool, but it is not what I would call a must have by any means.

View Loren's profile


11019 posts in 4656 days

#2 posted 05-10-2018 08:48 PM

Handling long stock on a table saw is more
awkward. That’s one drawback if you’re after
speedy crosscutting and mitering of stock of
modest width.

A miter saw can be left set up with a high tooth
count crosscut blade. It can also be set up for
different angles quite rapidly.

I get by without a miter saw these days but it
does slow me down not having one.

View GrantA's profile


3019 posts in 2416 days

#3 posted 05-10-2018 10:17 PM

Here is the solution. Except on long boards which are rare for me to be cutting miters on, I use the tablesaw with a miter gauge and auxiliary fence. I use a handsaw to get boards roughly to length

View TheFridge's profile


10863 posts in 2495 days

#4 posted 05-10-2018 10:46 PM

I don’t own a miter saw. So it’s possible. I do have a miter box like ^.

Trim carpentry is the only thing Id need a miter saw for.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View jat's profile


86 posts in 3780 days

#5 posted 05-10-2018 11:21 PM

I have an old Delta chop saw that I’ve had for more than 20 years. I use it very infrequently. I bought a DeWalt 10” sliding compound miter saw recently and it’s never been out of the box. I now have a SawStop Professional Cabinet table saw and I get perfect miters with it using the sled I made. I expect I’ll sell the DeWalt. The SawStop is very precise.

View PlanBWoodworks's profile


174 posts in 1491 days

#6 posted 05-10-2018 11:43 PM

I love my miter saw. I use it all the time. Can you get by without one? No question. In reality, you can get by without any of the tools that make up most workshops. There are a million ways to complete any woodworking task. That being said, the question is can YOU get by without one? That’s a question that only you can answer. If I were in your situation, I might consider partitioning off the electronics portion of the workspace. Even something like a tarp or shower curtain could significantly reduce cross contamination.

-- Why can’t I ever find my pencil???

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4586 days

#7 posted 05-11-2018 12:11 AM

Hi Spike welcome to Ljs
There are all kinds of tools to use for woodworking and many people make some amazing projects without any power tools at all, but for me, a miter saw is one of the essential woodworking tools in makes material sizing quicker and more efficient, along with a table saw,jointer, planner, and bandsaw. it makes woodworking much easier than just hand tools. Each woodworker has to find what works for them best and what tools they think works best for them.


View Andybb's profile


3164 posts in 1612 days

#8 posted 05-11-2018 12:15 AM

Small shop. Even though my table saw is probably the workhorse of the shop the miter saw is the most used, usually for about 5 seconds at a time. I can’t safely cut a pen blank or an 8’ long 2×4 on my TS without moving it and other stuff around. Miter saw is quick and always ready. Speeds workflow.

But yes, you can forego almost any tool.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View Spikes's profile


125 posts in 1054 days

#9 posted 05-11-2018 02:14 AM

thanks everybody for chiming in, lots of insightful comments as usual and it helps me a lot to get some perspective. At this point, since I don’t have a MS and dust is concern, I guess it makes sense for me to try without and see how I get by. I wanted to decide now because of planning the space, if I need to make a miter station I can’t put the table saw too close to the wall or I won’t have enough space to move around. However if I ignore that, maybe I can just make one of those carts with wings for the rails, then the MS can also be on casters.

thanks again to all,


-- Don't worry about making progress, worry about practicing. If you practice you will make progress even if you don't want to.

View Ottacat's profile


555 posts in 2860 days

#10 posted 05-11-2018 02:37 PM

I don’t have a MS either as I have a small shop. I get by quite well with a jigsaw for rough cutting to length and then using the TS and an Incra Mitre Express as my sled.

I assume you have a cover for your electronics area as ambient dust is pretty hard to completely eliminate. Consider a ceiling mounted air cleaner when budget allows. I have a WEN and they aren’t that expensive. Also get a DC as soon as practical. I have basic 2HP collector with a canister filter that sits mid-shop and I connect to each tool as necessary using the Dust Right quick connects from Rockler. It is a very effective.

View jerkylips's profile


495 posts in 3579 days

#11 posted 05-11-2018 02:53 PM

I think if you’re primarily cutting 90 or 45 angles, you could build a crosscut sled and miter sled for the TS and be set. If you do a lot of varying angles, then miter saw is going to make it easier.

View knotscott's profile


8410 posts in 4384 days

#12 posted 05-11-2018 03:12 PM

If the pieces aren’t too long for a TS, a good TS is the more robust tool with better potential for precision IMO. I just gave my CMS to my son….the only thing I use it for is framing, deck construction, or molding.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View jonah's profile


2136 posts in 4307 days

#13 posted 05-11-2018 03:53 PM

A miter saw is more of a carpentry/construction tool than a woodworking tool. It’s useful especially for cutting long pieces to length, but for crosscutting shorter piece, the table saw is just as easy and is more accurate. You can’t create double bevels as easily on the table saw, but that particular kind of cut is mostly used in trim work anyway, so again, construction tool.

For cutting stock to rough length, it’s just as easy to use a circular saw or track saw.

I have one, but every time it sprays dust absolutely everywhere I think seriously about getting rid of it. At least if I circular saw cut a piece on the floor the dust stays near the floor. With the miter saw it flies everywhere.

View Spikes's profile


125 posts in 1054 days

#14 posted 05-11-2018 05:23 PM

thanks for even more contributions.

@Ottacat, yes, I’m planning on making a box for the CNC (to avoid adding more dust to the shop) and for the laser engraver/3d printer, so machines will be covered. However there will be a table for electronics (soldering etc) and I don’t see how to cover that effectively and while I plan on keeping things tidy sometimes a project just takes longer than a day and needs to sit on the bench overnight.

@jerkylips indeed I’m really only making 45 and 90 deg cuts.

@Jonah, all good points, and that was my major concern – ie I will be doing a bit of both and especially now that the shop is being setup I’ll probably be doing more carpentry/construction than woodworking. However down the line the proportion will invert and so I’d like to think long term. That said your point on a circular saw is spot on, especially as far as dust collection goes, so I’m pretty much convinced to forgo MS for now, setup a TS with a few good sleds and use the circular saw to dimension lumber even if that’s gonna be a little slower than a nice MS station with a stop block.

-- Don't worry about making progress, worry about practicing. If you practice you will make progress even if you don't want to.

View bbasiaga's profile


1259 posts in 3004 days

#15 posted 05-11-2018 05:29 PM

I have a miter saw,but I hardly use it. I hang it from the French cleats on my walls when not in use to save space. I’ll take it down if I need to break up several large boards in to smaller ones. If it is just one board I will use a hand saw. I don’t have a miter box for it…just get close by hand. Then after planing and joining I can cut square and to length with my TS sled.

If I had more space I’d definitely it want that miter saw set up in a nice station. But I don’t do here I am.


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

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