Miter saws and chop saws share a lot of similarities in terms of appearance. They both feature circular blades on hinged arms over a stationary base.
However, they serve very different purposes. Which one you need will depend on the type of work you need to do.
This guide will help you decide which tool is the right fit for your workshop. By the end, you will gain an understanding of the main differences between miter saws and chop saws.
Differences Between Miter Saws and Chop Saws
|Feature||Miter Saw||Chop Saw|
|Price||$130 - $700+||$150 - $700+|
|Design||Hinge mounted blade.||Hinge mounted blade.|
|Type of blade||Fine tooth saw blade.||Abrasive disc.|
|Material||Wood.||Metal and masonry.|
|When to use||Fine woodworking.||Large construction projects.|
|Ease of use||Fiddly to set up each cut.||Simple to use but intimidating.|
|Portability||Highly portable.||Portable but heavier|
|Safety||Relatively safe.||Medium safety.|
Miter saws and chop saws are similarly priced.
Budget miter saws start from around $130. The starting price for a chop saw is around $150.
High end models for both can reach up to thousands of dollars. A reasonably priced professional miter saw will run you $600-700. A comparable chop saw costs about the same.
How It Works
Both use a circular blade mounted on a hinged arm. The stock remains stationary as the blade is moved down on to it.
The miter saw uses built in miter and bevel gauges to produce angled and bevelled cuts. The chop saw only produces 90° cuts.
Chop saws are generally larger than miter saws. Miter saws commonly use 8-12” blades, whereas the smallest chop saws start at 12”.
Chop saws use abrasive blades, whereas miter saws use toothed blades. Some chop saws use a cold cut blade to reduce heat while cutting metal.
One key difference between miter saws and chop saws is the type of material they are designed to cut.
Miter saws are primarily used to cut wood. They are well suited to making angled cuts for crown molding and baseboards. They are also effective for smaller tasks such as shelving and picture frames.
Chop saws are used for harder materials such as metal. They are particularly good for cutting metal pipes and steel rebar.
It is possible to use a chop saw for woodworking projects.
When To Use
If you are cutting metal or other heavy-duty materials you should use a chop saw.
They are mostly professional tools. If you only rarely do home improvement or DIY tasks you will rarely need a chop saw.
A miter saw sees a lot more use around the home. Common woodworking and DIY tasks can benefit from a miter saw.
Putting in new crown molding or baseboards will require a miter saw. It will also come in handy for picture frames, birdhouses and other smaller projects.
Miter saws also use a less powerful motor. This minimises noise, making them more suitable for home use.
Both of these saws are portable. You can move them around your workshop or take them from site to site quite easily.
The chop saw is more powerful and larger. This does make it slightly less portable, but it is not a major difference.
Ease of Use
For somebody with little power saw experience, a miter saw is a gentler introduction.
That being said, a miter saw does require you to set up the angle and bevel of the cut. This makes a simple crosscut more time consuming with a miter saw.
A chop saw is simple to use because it only performs straight crosscuts. It is designed to make these cuts quickly and efficiently.
However, it is a more substantial piece of equipment that can be intimidating for first timers. They are meant to be used by professionals, so hobbyists might prefer a miter saw.
Another key difference between these two types of saws is their relative safety.
The miter saw is a safe piece of equipment. It has a smaller motor and is designed to cut through softer materials like wood. There are few dangers if you are following sensible safety precautions.
Chop saws are much more powerful and are designed to shear through metal. They throw off sparks, give off a lot of noise and generate heat.
Abrasive blades can also break, endangering the user.
Professionals are trained to use chop saws safely. The home user can face more risk when using a chop saw due to unfamiliarity with the proper precautions to take.
What Is A Miter Saw?
A miter saw is a circular saw with a blade mounted on a hinged arm.
They are mainly used for carpentry projects involving crosscuts on wood.
You operate it with one hand, bringing the blade down to the stationary stock. The blade can be tilted and manipulated to perform angled and bevel cuts.
It usually has an 8”, 10” or 12” blade with a high tooth density. They also come in sliding and non-sliding varieties.
What Is A Chop Saw?
A chop saw is a circular saw with an abrasive disc mounted on a hinged arm.
They are used for cutting through heavy duty materials such as metal and masonry.
Unlike the miter saw, they are only able to make 90° cuts. However, they operate in basically the same way. The blade is brought down to the material.
The chop saw is a larger, more powerful piece of machinery. The cutting disc is specialised for fast cutting of metal. This is especially useful for substantial construction projects.
Whether you choose a miter saw or a chop saw will depend on what you are using it for. Home renovators and DIY enthusiasts will get far more use out of a miter saw. Chop saws are mostly used by professionals but can be used for home construction projects.
Do you have any questions or comments about these two types of saws? Feel free to leave a comment in the section below.