If you are quite familiar with the carpentry industry, you will most likely come across the Miter and Chop saw. Both tools are used for cutting wood and metals. Looking at the two machinery, one could confuse one with the other due to their round cutting surface, stationary base, and hinge arm. However, when it comes to their primary features and purpose they can be used for, they are strongly dissimilar.
Read on for excellent knowledge on how the two types of saw differ!
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A miter saw (also referred to as Drop saw) is a wood cutting tool effective for making miter, cross cuts (at 0o and 90o) and bevel cuts on wooden materials. It comes with high precision and can perform cuts in a fast and accurate pattern. They are often found the best for normal home wood cutting projects in constructing frames and other precise bevel cuts. Some of the most common features you will find in a miter saw include:
Related article: Best Miter Saw Blades – Reviews & Buyers Guide
With a Miter saw in place, it is good for making miter, bevel, and cross-cuts for different kinds of woodworking needs. This allows for making frames, boxes, and more in the home or professional setting. It is applicable to cutting wood materials, PVC and thin aluminum.
DEWALT DW715 Miter Saw
This typical miter saw is a Dewalt model that has a powerful engine power of 15-amp delivering a max speed of 4,000 rpm. The engine power, combined with a 12-inch toothed blade allows for quick and precise cuttings. For safety purpose, the saw features a blade guard which covers the blade halfway. It has a lightweight design has it comes with size dimensions 26.8 x 21.9 x 18.9-inches and weighs 42.8 pounds. It comes with a carry handle for ease of movement.
A cam lock and stainless steel miter detent plate are included for repeatable angle cut accuracy. The saw can make both bevel and crosscuts. It can bevel cuts 0o-50o to the left and 0o-30o to the right for more capacity. For easy clamping, the saw features tall sliding fences which support 6 ½ and 5 ¼ inches of base and crown molding vertically.
A chop saw is a powerful type of saw for cutting sturdy materials (such as steel, aluminum, hardwood). Unlike Miter saw, the chop saw only makes precise crosscuts. They are more powerful and quite aggressive in their usage, making them suited for use in industrial and commercial applications. They include parts such as:
The chop saw is only good for making precise crosscuts across metals such as steel and aluminum. It is also applicable to cutting lumber (not plywood of large diameter). This tool allows you to make multiple precision cuts.
DEWALT D28710 14-Inch Abrasive Chop Saw
The Dewalt D28710 has an engine power of 15-amp or 4 Horse Power delivering a max speed of 3,800 rpm for increased cutting performance. It features an abrasive non-serrated Aluminum oxide wheel for fast cutting of tough materials. The wheel is covered halfway by a blade guard for safety. It is portable has it comes with a size dimension of 21.9 x 14.6 x 17-inches and weighs 36.5 pounds.
It features a 45-degree pivoting fence which allows for accurate crosscuts. The presence of a spindle lock allows for a faster wheel change. It also comes with a Quick-lock vise which allows the clamping of different materials. This type of chop saw features a top handle for easy maneuverability.
Indeed, both saw types are treated as being similar from afar. Both types of saws have a blade guard that covers the blade halfway. Also, the fencing system on both saw types allows for easy clamping of whatever material is to be cut. Additionally, the two saws can make cross cuts across a material.
For a beginner, it's quite easy to confuse both saw types because the kind of look is similar. However, there are some key differences in their features and functionalities. Below is a comparison table showing a summary of their differences.
Serrated Carbide blades
Blade sizes vary from 7- 12 inches
Not less than 14-inches
Type of Cuts
Bevel, angular and cross cuts
Thin aluminum, planks, plywood, and plastic
Tougher materials like Ferrous metals, and heavy-duty lumber.
Ease of use
Requires complex bevel setting
Too easy with only 90-degree crosscuts.
The definition of which saw type is the best depends on what exactly it is used for. We could classify a miter saw as best when it comes to small home-made projects for making different wooden frame cuts. The miter saw is also the best use in terms of versatility as it can make both angle and crosscuts. However, when taking a look at the power, the chop saw is extremely powerful and goes beyond cutting wooden materials to cutting ferrous metals, Decks, and steel. So on the overall, based on functionality, the Chop saw serves the best use.
The metal type is what determines if a miter saw can cut metallic materials or not. But when using a miter saw, it is advised to use only for cutting thin metals like aluminum (although not ideal) and not heavy ferrous metals. Also, it shouldn’t be in large amounts.
A 12-inch miter saw can cut lumber as wide as 7.5 inches and depth of 3.5-inches.
Yes, it is suitable for cutting wood. However, it is quite a powerful tool for cutting soft materials like wood as this will result in clogging or dulling of the abrasive disc in the long run.
Although both saw types do appear similar due to their ergonomic outlook. A closer look shows they are quite different from each other. This post aims to ensure you get the most appropriate saw for your needs by noting their key features. So if you need a saw for home projects (making wooden frames and small woodcuts), then the miter saw is your guy. While the chop saw is good for cutting heavy-duty wood and metals. Choose the type of saw that will meet your needs wisely!