Chop Saw vs Miter Saw: Which one to choose in 2021?

Chop saws and miter saws are said to be very similar tools when it comes to their functionalities. However, once you’re more experienced with these tools and have more knowledge on them, you’ll find that there are only minor similarities between these tools. So, how do you make your final choice when it comes to a chop saw vs miter saw? From experience to what you’re cutting, you’ll find many variables that factor in, but first let’s find out more about each tool!

Chop Saw

Chop Saw

Miter Saw

What Exactly Is A Chop Saw?

Chop Saw

A chop saw is mostly used by professionals or contract workers, since they are heavy duty saws. Why? They come with a hefty motor, which can easily cut through wood, but they are also very efficient at cutting through sheets of metal or even large pieces. 

Chop Saw Cut Types

One of the key characteristics of a chop saw is that they can only make 90 degree cuts, which limits versatility. However, this rarely causes any issue, since these are powerful machines mostly used for heavy duty work. 90 degree cuts that can be used to cut both wood and metal allow for this tool to be very desirable to serious, professional workers. They are definitely not the tool for versatility though, as angled cuts are impossible with a chop saw. 

Chop Saw Blade Type

As opposed to many other tools (especially miter saws), chop saws use an abrasive blade. These usually range around the 14 inch mark, and they come with no teeth. The chop saw blades are designed to tear through whatever material you put in front of them, and these abrasive blades make it quite an easy task. 

Chop Saw Safety

Considering how powerful a chop saw is, you’ll need to always be weary of the safety of using it. When you cut wood or metal, a chop saw will shoot out a lot of sparks, and this can be a safety hazard. Even though these won’t burn you directly, if you have any flammable objects nearby, it can lead to a disaster. Thus, you will always need to mind your surroundings, and also it is good to have some experience with the tool before deep-diving into serious work with it.

Chop Saw Prices

Chop saws like any other tool can range in prices. You can easily find ones that are cheap and very affordable, just as you can find ones that have a premium price. However, if you’re just an enthusiast, it is better to avoid a chop saw, since these are mainly used for professional jobs, or jobs that are very demanding. 

What Exactly Is A Miter Saw?

A miter saw is a much more versatile tool when compared to a chop saw. However, one thing that a chop saw will always have over the miter saw is its raw power. Chop saws can be used to cut both wood and metal with a lot of ease. A miter saw is still a very desirable tool to have for anyone interested in woodworking. Why? Let’s find out.

Miter Saw Types

Miter saws are available in various types. The main way to break it down is that there are three types of miter saws:

  1. Standard Miter Saw:

    A standard miter comes with the ability to only make miter cuts, with the help of the miter gauge. While this is standard, it still provides the user good versatility in making cuts, and also ensuring good finishes on their cuts.

  2. Compound Miter Saw:

    A compound miter saw not only includes a miter gauge, but also a bevel gauge, which includes the advantage of being able to make bevel cuts. This in turn also provides the opportunity of making compound cuts, which is a mixture of both a miter angle and bevel angle. This introduces a whole new dynamic, and this allows the miter saw to have more versatility than most tools on the market.

    Compound miter saws also have a further distinction in that some are single bevel miter saws and others are double bevel miter saws. This adds further versatility by being able to tilt your miter saw blade in both the right and left direction.

  3. Sliding Compound Miter Saw:

    While versatility, precision and clean finishes seem to be a key aspect in miter saws, it only gets better with further versions being added to the product. That’s where the sliding compound miter saw comes in. The sliding aspect adds more length to the cuts you are able to make, not only making your ability to cut longer pieces more realistic, but also that your work will become optimized with it. You won’t have to waste time moving around the wood piece in order to get the final cut, rather the mechanism will allow you to slide your blade forward with ease. 

Miter Saw Types of Cuts

With multiple various versions of a miter saw being available, you can imagine the opportunity of being able to make various types of cuts as well.

Miter Saw Types of Cuts

Cross Cut

A miter saw isn’t limited to making only 90 degree cuts, but it can definitely do so with efficiency. By keeping your miter gauge at 0 degrees, you can easily cut across the grain of the desired wood piece, and get a clean cross cut. 

Miter Cut

A miter cut can be achieved by the most basic miter saw out there, because it’s in the name. With the inclusion of the miter gauge, you can angle your saw to a certain angle, and get a desired cut. This increases the versatility achieved by miter saws, as opposed to a chop saw. 

Bevel Cut

A bevel cut can only be accomplished by compound miter saws or better, and is done by the usage of the bevel gauge. The bevel gauge allows you to tilt your blade to a certain angle, and make sure you get the desired angle to cut through the wood. Some miter saws come with one bevel gauge, while others come with two, that allow you to tilt your blade both sides of the saw. 

Compound Cut

A compound cut is achieved by adjusting both the miter gauge and bevel gauge to a specific angle. This will involve you angling both your saw and the blade, and will allow you to make a very clean cut. Compound cuts are important for various tasks, even crown molding. If you want to find the best miter saw for crown molding, there are numerous options out there on the market.

Miter Saw Blade Type

Unlike a chop saw, a miter saw will use a specific blade and in general they have around 80 teeth. These blades are designed to cut through wood only, and will provide you with very clean and accurate finishes. A miter saw’s primary goal is to make versatile cuts possible with the best finishes out there. The chop saw on the other hand is built to tear through both wood and metal with ease. 

Miter saws also come in various sizes, and the most common sizes are 10 inches and 12 inches. These refer to the diameter of the blades used in the saw, and determine mainly the cut depth of the saw. 

Miter Saw Safety

The more modern miter saws get, they tend to have many safety features set in place to help it make it easier for the user to remain safe. Unlike a chop saw, a miter saw doesn’t give off any sparks when cutting either. This makes the whole risk of setting off something flammable around you, void. 

Miter Saw Prices

Miter saws just like chop saws, can range in prices from very low to very high. If you’re new to the woodworking scene and want to get started with something affordable, you can definitely look into finding yourself the best budget miter saw out there. There’s tons on the market, so it shouldn’t take you too long. You can also get premium options too, and they may have perks to optimize your work even more!

Pros and Cons of Chop Saw and Miter Saw

Chop Saw

Miter Saw

  • Can cut through both wood and metal with ease
  • Very powerful
  • Can make clean 90 degree cuts
  • Can only make 90 degree cuts
  • Shoots off a lot of sparks when in use
  • Very noisy
  • Has great versatility in terms of cuts
  • Great for intricate work
  • Has good safety features
  • Can be used by both professionals and DIYers
  • Can only cut through wood easily
  • Won’t be as powerful as other saws

Deciding What’s Right For You

Now that you know more about these tools, which is the right tool for you? 

If you’re a professional or looking to get into doing big projects, a chop saw will be the right choice for you. They are very powerful and can easily cut through a variety of materials, including metal. This will make your job easier, and you won’t run into many difficulties that way. You’ll need to be weary of the safety hazards though, and prepare yourself as such. Using a chop saw also requires a certain amount of skill, so if you’re new to woodworking, it’s best to stay away from such a high powered tool for a while. 

A miter saw is the right choice for both a professional and a DIYer. This type of saw will allow you to easily make various types of angled cuts (bevel cuts and miter cuts), which not only allows you to engage in various types of projects, but will also make you better at woodworking. You’ll also be ensured safety, since these saws are often equipped to keep the user safe.

The Takeaway

Hopefully you’ve gotten the information you were looking for from this article, and it gave you the definitive answer for which type of saw you require. No matter what you choose, always keep the basics in mind, and you will surely learn to do woodworking better. Chop saw vs miter saw is a very easy competition if you know what exactly you’re looking to achieve, whether it’s angled cuts or straight cuts. Choose the right one, and have a great day!

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