miter saw vs table saw w/ miter gauge - Router Forums
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-04-2013, 09:32 AM Thread Starter
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Default miter saw vs table saw w/ miter gauge

I've been trying to figure out why you would use a table saw to make a miter cut instead of the miter saw? I've seen many threads for building miter sleds and improvements to their miter gauge. I've also seen a couple of threads where the woodworker used a table saw to make a cut when there was a miter saw in the background.

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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-04-2013, 10:42 AM
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Well for starters you can get/build table saw sleds that accommodate 24" wide panels which will be impossible on a compound miter saw.

The sled can be used to accomplish much more of course, cut tenons, dados etc.

Some even build a double miter sled where the adjoining fences are exactly perpendicular to each other but perhaps not exactly 90 degrees to the blade. The resulting miter joint will still be a perfect right angle.

Maybe some just prefer to buy a good blade for the table saw and then use the miter saw as a rough cutting device.

Admittedly if I had that fancy new 12" Bosch that doesn't slide but pivots instead I may be using that very often instead of the table saw. At three times the price of my contractor saw, I doubt it will in the shop any time soon.

I'm keen to see other replies though.
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-04-2013, 10:57 AM
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Hi Everend

I, too, am puzzled by this. I can understand people wanting to use a sled to cut housings (dado grooves) and rebates with a stacked dado head, even though that job is more safely done on a radial arm saw, but the use of a table saw to make mitre cuts is a bit of a mystery to me when even a low cost simple mitre saw will handle timbers of any length (try cross-cutting a 16ft long piece of 4 x 2 softwood on a table saw). If it helps almost every joinery shop I've had dealings with crosscut solid timbers on crosscut saws whilst sheet materials are often crosscut on panel saws with large sliding tables (such as Altendorfs and Martins, but not Unisaws or anything that small)

Hi Hilton

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Originally Posted by cagenuts View Post
Well for starters you can get/build table saw sleds that accommodate 24" wide panels which will be impossible on a compound miter saw.
Perhaps the difference is in to quality of the saws we use and the fact that a lot of industrial RASs can do a 24in cut. Housings (dados) aren't used that often in commercial work in Europe these days (biscuits or Dominos are much faster, as are carcass screws). Tenons are faster, safer and more accuratly cut on a tenoner or spindle moulder (shaper) with appropriate carraige, especially as you can work the scribe profile at the same time as cutting the tenon

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Maybe some just prefer to buy a good blade for the table saw and then use the miter saw as a rough cutting device.
Seems like that is missing a trick. A mitre saw is easier to tune than a table saw IMHO.

That's the sort of EU trade response from a joinery perspective where we often deal with biggish bits of timber

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Phil

"Unfortunately there is lots of bad information online; some of it is really scary. It's probably not intentional, but I've seen some content that sets up the illusion that you can do whatever you want and get away with it" - Norm Abram in an interview with Jefferson Kolle

Last edited by Phil P; 04-04-2013 at 11:20 AM.
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-04-2013, 11:06 AM
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At first blush my thought is that miter saw costs a lot more than a Incra miter gauge and and Incra's Express Sled. The cuts made with these relative inexpensive are perfect when the gauge is properly calibrated. Now, if you have followed my thread s and posts on this forum you know that I am a green pea in regard to such matters so my opinion is worth about what you pay for it. I wonder if the issue is a little bit like what you like to drive, a Chevy or a Ford, either one wlll work, maybe it's just a matter of personal choice. I know two woodworkers that have high end miter saws and swear by them, but I believe that I can cut just as accurately with my TS set up and so, that's my story and I'm stickin to it.

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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-04-2013, 11:11 AM
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Tools can do more than what they're pigeon holed to do.

I have a good Makita miter saw, but I use it for framing my sheds, cutting long pieces. It makes a mess though using in the workshop.

Otherwise I use my table saw sled for reasons said, cutting panels, cutting very small pieces, safety is quite good with a sled. Accuracy can be insanely better on a sled.

I used the youtube video "5 cuts to a perfect table saw sled" to fine tune my sled. The accuracy of a cut is 0.0005" over every 12" crosscut (5/10,000") for my sled. I doubt you'll get that on a miter saw or RAS.

The dust collection on my table saw (Bosch 4100) is quite good, I sealed off the base and beveling holes and connect to a 4" system.

I don't bother using the miter gauge anymore for the table saw.

I can't crosscut 24" panels but 15" for sure. My Makita miter saw is fixed and not sliding, so it's limited there.


Last edited by bnaboatbuilder; 04-04-2013 at 11:15 AM.
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-04-2013, 11:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bnaboatbuilder View Post
I used the youtube video "5 cuts to a perfect table saw sled" to fine tune my sled. The accuracy of a cut is 0.0005" over every 12" crosscut (5/10,000") for my sled. I doubt you'll get that on a miter saw or RAS.
I doubt whether you actually need it, though, John. Industrial panel saws are rarely set to that accuracy, nor can they hold it. Wood being wood it does tend to move with the weather and tradtionally mitre joints were/are adjusted with a block or mitre plane to take into account any discrepancies. Rarely need to do that, though, because my mitre saws are normally set-up to be good enough. BTW how would you get on trying to use a sled to trim a 7ft door casing leg with your set-up?

Regards

Phil

"Unfortunately there is lots of bad information online; some of it is really scary. It's probably not intentional, but I've seen some content that sets up the illusion that you can do whatever you want and get away with it" - Norm Abram in an interview with Jefferson Kolle
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-04-2013, 11:45 AM
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Phil,

There will always be people who say it's wood, you don't need to be so accurate. I don't need to be that accurate, but in the first try setting the sled, that's what I got. I can't complain.

I can't tell you how many picture frames I've seen which weren't cheap with pretty poor miters. A crosscut sled can do just about as perfect miters as possible. Nothing wrong with achieving the best results. All too often in business, it's just "good enough" mentality.

I don't do production, I am a photographer by trade, I build things with wood almost daily for fun.

I have a Festool track saw I use to break down sheet goods. I think it would be more than sufficient on a 7 ft door, which in and of itself wouldn't require even the accuracy of the Festool.

Everyone has different levels of expectations, mine happen to be high. I have to deliver photos of excellent quality to clients, do the best photoshop work, etc. I just take that to my own hobby work. No harm in that.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-04-2013, 12:23 PM Thread Starter
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Using a sled to cut miters does make sense to me. I did build a crosscut sled for my table saw that gets used often and I can see how adding a miter stop to the sled would be helpful in producing multiple exact cuts.
I'm still don't understand the use of a miter gauge on a table saw. The miter bar is only about 12" long, so unless you have a really large table with a long miter track, that limits the width of your cross cut to effectively 8"-10" max since you'll need to seat the miter bar in the track and still have room for the piece between the face of the gauge and the saw blade.
This question is coming from my recent visit to the Woodcraft store where the salesman convinced me I needed the INCRA v120 for my soon-to-be built router table (and existing table saw). He (and my wife rushing me out the door) also convinced me to buy the Kreg router table fence. I'm taking the fence back (unopened) on Saturday since I really wanted to build my own fence. But I'm just not sure if the miter gauge is really something I need.
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-04-2013, 12:50 PM
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Everend; Phil summed it up pretty thoroughly, but I'll add my two cents worth anyway.
From my perspective, I use both machines concurrently (just not at the same moment in time). If I'm building a cabinet for example, I'm using the TS for all my rips, and most of my panel cuts. I'm using the SCMS for crosscutting all my material that's less than 12"across, especially the hardwood. I can leave the TS fence set at a specific size while I chop other material. It's just really convenient. The subject of mitres didn't even arise in that case.
Another issue is My workshop size...12' wide with the TS in the ctr of the 12'. 6' is the max. I can have hanging out either side. The SCMS (or my chop saw)? I take it outside and I can crosscut to any length, or any angle up to 55deg. I also don't have to fight against the weight of a honkin' big chunk of lumber!
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 04-04-2013, 01:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bnaboatbuilder View Post
I have a Festool track saw I use to break down sheet goods. I think it would be more than sufficient on a 7 ft door, which in and of itself wouldn't require even the accuracy of the Festool.
Actually, John, a door casing isn't a door. It is the "framework" if you like which goes around a door, although if you think in terms of the stile of a conventional frame and panel door it's the same sort of size. In accuracy terms fitting a door into an existing door in an old building is much more down to judgement (and judicious use of hand planes, etc) because it doesn't need to be right, but it has to look right.....

The point I was trying to make is that for anyone in a shop of limited size hanging a 7ft (or longer) piece of timber off the side of a small table saw introduces potentially considerable inaccuracies due to flexing of the timber, lack of support, etc. not to mention space issues. To me that limits the usefulness of a sled on a saw to smaller pieces. But then that sort of echos what Dan said on the subject

As far as poor quality frames go, don't picture framers in the USA use mitre guillotines, such as the Morsø? They are pretty much universal over here and are extremely accurate, but in that case it's the use of a guillotine blade rather than a saw blade which improves the visual quality. If an idiot is using it, it can still end up a botch job

Regards

Phil

"Unfortunately there is lots of bad information online; some of it is really scary. It's probably not intentional, but I've seen some content that sets up the illusion that you can do whatever you want and get away with it" - Norm Abram in an interview with Jefferson Kolle

Last edited by Phil P; 04-04-2013 at 01:07 PM.
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