Table Saw Vs Mitre Saw

4 Sep 2014
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United Kingdom

I am looking at investing in a mitre saw and I am wondering what the difference is between that and a table saw. I currently have a table saw which works fine but people say that the mitres aren't very accurate on a table saw and a mitre saw would be better.

If a mitre saw is worth it what would people recommend what to look for etc?


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The Makita LS1013 is the best mitre saw ever made. Use one daily. Discontinued now and are like hens teeth.
The DW717XPS is probably the best 10" SCMS out there at the moment. Have one sitting in my workshop also.
However I wouldn't take the gift of it in a swap for my ls1013. Which can slice through 100mm depth of timber with its 260mm blade and clever design.
With the dewalt your're limited to 88mm with its 250mm blade and inferior design.
Also the slide ways on the new dewalt don't run as smooth as my old Makita.
The design of the old Makita with the slide rods running through the base leads it to be better balanced imo.
The dewalt does have an LED shadow line which is useful. It is strong and well built.

A table saw is for ripping planks. A mitre saw is for chopping the planks into shorter pieces.
Neither one can do the job of the other.
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Table saws aren't designed for fine detail work. A mitre saw would cut the architrave for a door, and it'd be perfect; whereas a table saw would cut a plank down the middle in one go, but you'd then need to get a plane out to finish it off, so it's a first fix tool, not a final fix - if you see what I mean.

But having said that, you can get ripping blades on a mitre saw that have 28 teeth for cutting though joists, and then get 80 teeth saws for doing fine work.

I've got a Hitachi sliding mitre saw, and it's pretty good, but I know there are better out there. Might treat myself to something better soon, so I'll keep an eye on the comments.
Thank you both for your replies. I would be cutting up planks into shorter pieces and also cutting at angles. I will take a look at the saws you have mentioned @Roger928.

What would I be looking for as good qualities such as lights? laser pointer lines? No of bevels? Angle of swing on both sides? Cutting size, depth etc?

Also one thing which I am trying to work out is how would you cut an angle bigger than the angles set on the mitre saw. For example if I wanted to cut an angle of 108 degrees when the mitre saw goes at 45 degrees both ways?


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My Hitachi goes 48 degrees one side, and 50 the other, but you add 90 degrees to those figures, and get a cut of 138 degrees, and 140, so any mitre saw on the market will happily do 108 degrees.

When you cut a 45 degrees, (or 135) then the depth of wood that can be cut decreases, so make sure you check the depth of wood you need to cut at an angle of 108 degrees.
Ah right so to find the angle literally just subtract 90 from it and cut at that angle on the mitre saw? And I presume if it's much bigger you divide by 2 and subtract 90? So if the angle was say 240 degrees?


A table saw is for ripping planks. A mitre saw is for chopping the planks into shorter pieces. Neither one can do the job of the other.
There we do agree. Whilst a table saw can be used to make mitre cuts and cross cuts its' length of material is extremely limited - you wouldn't be able to cross cut an 8ft length of timber safely on the average small table saw, for example, whilst the majority of mitre fences are nowhere near as accurate as even modestly specced mitre saws can be, even assuming that you've taken the inevitable slop out of the mitre fence

The Makita LS1013 is the best mitre saw ever made. Use one daily. Discontinued now and are like hens teeth.
The DW717XPS is probably the best 10" SCMS out there at the moment. Have one sitting in my workshop also.
Having owned an LS1013 for about 10 years in the past as well as having used the DW717XPS and both the LS1016 and LS1018 (both replacements for the LS1013) on site I'd have to say that I prefer the LS1013 in most areas, but also that the Makita isn't the best 250/260mm SCMS out there. My current Festool Kapex KS120 which can be set to 1/4 of a degree on mitre cuts and dialed-in to 1/2 of a degree or better on bevel cuts is considerable better than both IMHO. It is more accurate, has a better laser than the LS1013 had (mine was laser-equipped) and has far better dust collection than either. It is also noticeably faster to use. The big downside is that even with a £100 voucher from Festool it still cost me a bomb! One point worthy of mention is that saws like the Makita use a cast turntable plate with the detents cast in. Over time and with use (probably more than a DIYer could ever give it) these wear unevenly which affects the accuracy of the saw. The only cure is an expensive replacement turntable and a far from enjoyable adjustment (where the fence needs to be re-aligned then the bolts carefully pinched up to keep it all nice and square). Both the DW and the Festool Kapex use a screwed-on detent plate which is far cheaper and far easier to replace and/or adjust.

Frankly, though, for small projects I would be happy with a Makita MLS100 which is capable of good work once properly adjusted (and they all need adjustment)
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What would I be looking for as good qualities such as lights? laser pointer lines? No of bevels? Angle of swing on both sides? Cutting size, depth etc
Lights? Not really found on mitre saws. Lasers? Nice, but not absolutely essential, either. Mitre angle? Depends on what you are doing, really. If you are installing skirting into an existing room where the corners aren't at right angles it can be useful to have a saw which can bevel cut more than 45 degrees both ways (to handle obtuse angles), but it isn't essential. The example you give of 108 degrees requires a bevel cut of 54 degrees. With the material laid flat, back down that would give an actual angle of 36 degrees on the bevel scale. Not a problem for any saw on the market. Go the other way, though, with a corner angle of 84 degrees and the bevel angle becomes 48 degrees (beyond the limit for many saws). If, on the other hand, you are dealing with smaller section stuff than tall, flat skirting, then the mitre angles become more important. Either way owning a good, sharp block plane and knowing how to use it to adjust or tweak angles a degree or three is a useful "get out of jail card" still employed by many joiners
Lights? Not really found on mitre saws.

The new dewalts have LED lights which illuminate the work area and gives "shadow line" for cutting accuracy and is deemed more accurate than lasers.
Nice saw the kapex. But still only has 88mm depth of cut capacity.
I been slicing 100mm deep planks with my LS1013 most of the day. Not possible with a kapex and it has the same blade size.
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It depends. If it's skirting then with the Kapex you pop it in upright at the back against the fence and it will cut 120mm tall skirting. The main problem I have is that a lot of the stuff I've cut for that last few years has been period stuff and way bigger than 4in. For that the bevel cut on the Kapex is far easier to set accurately than it was on the LS1013 or any other SCMS I've ever used. As to the shadow line being more accurate, have you actually used a Kapex? From experience of both the DW shadow line and the Kapex dual line laser I'd have to say that the Kapex is easier to use and easily as accurate. TBH in some way it's a moot point with me because I use a deWalt DW777 for a lot of stuff where extreme accuracy isn't an absolute must - it's good enough for 80% of what I do and it's a lot more portable than any 10in saw. And I wouldn't really use a chop saw for slicing-up 4in thick stock - far too likely to cause excessive wear, especially in that turntable on the Makita (and how do you think I learned that?)
Hi Job, hope I'm not hijacking this thread, but just how accurately can you set the Kapex. I make drum frames from about 18 sections of wood, and if I haven't got the angles correct, the frame doesn't line up properly. They're only 3x1.5" strips, but I'm getting close to just buying a couple of cheap machine, and just locking them in position once I've got the right angles. I swap between 10 degrees, and 11.25, and that ones a bugger to get right.
The bevel scale reads in 1.0 degree increments. These are far more readable than any chop saw I've ever owned or used and you really can set 0.5 degrees (well, more or less). Adjustment is effected by a rotating handle which drives the arm around using a cog on a rack arrangement. These two pictures show what I am talking about (just)
Festool Kapex bevel scale 001-01.jpg

Festool Kapex bevel scale 001-02.jpg

The mitre scale is more like a conventional mitre saw and is again marked in 1 degree increments but in that case the pointer in the sight is thin enough to easily "read" 0.5 degrees between the degree lines either side (which are somewhat wider). The 1/4 degree is then eyeballed, so dependent on how good my eyes are on the day. To get to 1/4 degree repeatedly on one job I used a magnifier and a very fine draughting pen to mark-up my own scale onto some clear self-adhesive mylar tape then stuck that on the stainless steel scale.
Festool Kapex mitre scale 001-01.jpg

Most of the time, though, it's a case of bisecting angles on stuff like cornices for which the more expensive Kapex (the KS120 which also has the dual line lasers and the 120mm high rear cutting position as well) is supplied with an angle bisector tool which measures directly and is not unlike the unit that Nobex sells, but is set-up the specifically align with the dual laser lines. The lines are sufficiently fine that rather than trying to eyeball a repeating setting at 11.5 degrees on the mitre or bevel I'd think more in terms of having a pre-made setting block and using that instead. There's a video which also shows the features I've been talking about (albeit briefly) here

Best way to find out if a Kapex will work for you is to ask a dealer to do you a demo. If they haven't got a tool themselves they will either know someone in the area who has one or they'll arrange for a demo when the roadshow comes around again. Alternatively you could always ask over in FOG (the Festool Owners Group forum) to see if there's someone local who can help you out. I'd offer, but Kent is about 250 miles from up here so maybe not the best of ideas!

If you do go Kapex it's maybe worth looking at alternative mobile bases - the Festool is a bit of a curate's egg and possibly a bit light for site use IMHO, although the extension arms are really good with excellent flip stops. The Bosch Gravity Rise (GTA2500W) is possibly a better, if larger and heavier, solution to that issue
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Whats the issue with the kapex electric motor?
If you follow the FOG, there seems to be a lot of guys over there saying their machine gave up after a year or so?
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TBH that's maybe a few dozen or so out of 100,000+ sales. If mine went wrong would I be unhappy? You bet I would, but one of the major differences between the USA (where almost all of the failures have occurred) and here is that in the UK Festool UK will generally have your tool picked up withing 24 hours and back to you within a week. The USA being so much bigger they aren't able to offer that kind of service because I think they only have a single service centre (but I may be wrong about that). By way of comparison if a DW or Makita goes wrong over here you can be stuck waiting for parts for 4 to 6 weeks before the local dealer even starts on the repair. Bosch and Hitachi are no better and Metabo are generally far slower. That's something I know from experience

I, too, was very wary of buying the Kapex because of these reported issues. I carefully read all of the comments, as well as the comments by guys who said that if theirs went down that they'd buy another one - note that, they'd happily buy another Kapex rather than a DW or a Makita or a Hitachi, etc. It's because they are so much easier to use, more accurate and less (far less) dusty. In the end what decided me was that I knew three other guys who'd all been using them for a number of years (the longest being 7 years at the time). None of them had had issues, and none of them knew anybody personally with a Kapex who'd had issues. Same went for the local dealer at that time who'd had one Kapex back out of more than 40 sold with a suspected motor issue. That turned out to be the user's site transformer which was a PoS (undersized and basically old and knackered). And if you are having problems with a Kapex in the UK, that's where the issues will possibly be (for some reason the motor problems don't seem to happen with 230 volt models). Anyone who remembers the old Elu and DW flip-over saws will remember that they used to eat start/run capacitors if you insisted on running them on an undersized transformer with undersized cables. It means that I have a 5kVA transformer, I don't share it with anyone else (to the point of removing offending cables and chopping the plugs off for repeat offenders a couple of times, a perk of being a foreman), I have a decent 32Amp (4.0mm section) cable and I only run one extension bit of electric string (i.e. one cable only) - not the half a dozen or so daisy-chained together some idiot site managers think is OK (it isn't, ask any qualified sparky). Oh, and I don't share with anyone on the grounds that there some absolute muppets out there calling themselves joiners these days (well, there always were a few) who can break anything. So most of the time I don't have problems. That said I don't take the Kapex out to do rough first fix - there are better tools out there for that
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Thanks all for the replies.

So to clarify the number of bevels does that mean if it tilts just one way or both ways? If so what would be the benefit of having it go just one or both ways? Also any suggestions for something around the £250ish mark for a good quality mitre saw?

Also I would like something which could connect to my Wickes vac for dust extraction without having to get adaptors.

Also are clamps on mitre saws generally or are they added extras?

I am also struggling with the different types of saw what exactly is a compound mitre saw? I have read it does two angles at the same time but I am unsure of what or how these come together?


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