Miter Saw Vs Chop Saw – Which is Right for your Workshop?

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!

Description

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:

  1. 1
    Blade: A typical blade of a miter saw is circular and is serrated all around with teeth. The blades are entirely small and downright precise. It is found in varying sizes of 7 ½, 8 ½, 10 and 12 inches.
  1. 2
    Guard: Every power cutting tool/ saw often come with a guard for safety reasons. The blade guard of the miter saw covers the entire half of a blade from the top. The lower portion of the blade is attached to a hinge. The hinge allows the blade to open relatively to the extent of lowering.
  2. 3
    Handle/Power switch: This power switch is found on the saw’s handle. It allows for total control of the saw’s use. Its presence at the handle allows for quick accessibility in case of emergencies.
  3. 4
    Fence: It is a flat, stable, and durable surface you can place your wood against when cutting.
  4. 5
    Scale: The scale gives a direct measurement of the bevel cuts being made. It is usually built on the table of the saw. Scales could indicate common angles of 22.5o, 45o and 90o.
  5. 6
    Table: This is the base on which the actual saw is being placed. It also serves as a base for your workpiece.
  6. 7
    Onboard Dust collector: For effective clean-up and to prevent clogging, common models of the miter saw it comes with an on-board dust collector system.
  7. 8
    Motor: This is the engine of the miter saw, and it provides the power required for making effective cuts.

Miter Saw Types

  1. 1
    Standard Miter saw: This is a basic Miter saw that can make a perpendicular cut on wood at angles of 45o left and right.
  2. 2
    Sliding Miter saw: This is a miter saw that features a sliding rail which can be pushed across the wood material being cut. It allows for a larger cutting capacity.
  3. 3
    Compound Miter saw: This type of miter saw allows for rotation of the blade at varying angles other than 90o for making complex cuts.

What is Miter Saw Good For?

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.

Top pick for Miter saw

DEWALT DW715 Miter Saw

(Via amazon.com)

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.


What Is A Chop Saw?

Description

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:

  • Blade: The blade type is in the form of an abrasive wheel. It is a regular circular blade, and it is not serrated. Most models of the Chop saw uses a 14-inch and above blade type.
  • Blade Guard: The blade guard is put in place to protect any user from direct contact with the spinning blade.
  • Base: This is a frame that supports the entire saw. It is small and made either with aluminum or steel material.
  • Blade lock button: It is a safety component that helps locks the blade tightly and prevents accidental spinning.
  • Vice and clamp handle: This secures the workpiece against the fence when cutting.
  • Motor: This is the Chop saw’s engine that provides the needed power for cutting through sturdy materials. Most models come with power around 15-amp.
  • Trigger Button switch: It is an on/off switch that helps to control the Chop saw and prevent accidental starting (safety switch) of the saw. It appears like a Trigger that can be used with four fingers hence reducing fatigue.

Chop Saw Types

  1. 1
    Metal Chop saw: Such a typical chop saw applies to make cuts on metals. It is highly effective and can only make fast and efficient cross-cuts on metals.
  2. 2
    Wood Chop saw: This is the most common type of chop saw specially designed for cutting through wood materials. However, it is only suited for making cross-cuts (not bevel cuts)
  3. 3
    Abrasive Chop Saw: This typical saw has an abrasive wheel type blade suited for cutting through tougher materials like concrete stones and trims.

What Is Chop Saw Good For?

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.

Top Pick of Chop Saw

DEWALT D28710 14-Inch Abrasive Chop Saw

(Via amazon.com)

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.


Are There Similarities Between Miter Saw And Chop Saw?

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.

Differences between the Miter Saw, And Chop Saw

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.

Saw Type

Miter Saw

Chop Saw

Bla​de

Serrated Carbide blades

Abrasive discs

Blade diameter

Blade sizes vary from 7- 12 inches

Not less than 14-inches

Type of Cuts

Bevel, angular and cross cuts

Crosscuts

Materials cut

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.

Which One Is The Best?

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can miter saw cut metallic materials?

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.

How much can a 12-inch miter saw cut?

A 12-inch miter saw can cut lumber as wide as 7.5 inches and depth of 3.5-inches.

Is it suitable to use a chop saw for cutting wood?

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.

Conclusion

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!

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