What Is the Difference between a Chop Saw and a Miter Saw?

What is the difference between a chop saw and a miter saw? This is one of the most confusing questions faced by a good number of woodworkers and DIYers.

To add to the confusion, many expert woodworkers use the name chop saw in reference to a miter saw. If you work in a construction industry or take on DIY projects involving the use of wood and metal, it’s easy to confuse the two saws.

Chop saws and miter saws belong to the circular blade saws family. Not only do they work on a similar principle, but they share pretty much the same features.

Both saws have round cutting surfaces, a stationary base, and a hinged arm. Owing to these similarities, most people – especially amateurs – tend to struggle differentiating chop saw vs miter saw.

Chop Saw vs. Miter Saw

A chop saw and a miter saw are two different types of saws that serve vastly different purposes within a workshop. Without a doubt, they both look identical to an untrained eye, but each one has its strengths, weaknesses and capabilities depending on the task at hand.

That means a chop saw will be the correct choice for a specific job while a miter saw will be a bona fide candidate for a completely different one. In this guide, we’ll be differentiating between a chop saw and a miter saw.

Remember, understanding the fundamental differences between these two saws will help you determine which one you should use for a certain task. Now, let’s cut to the chase and break down the distinct differences between the chop saw and the miter saw.

What is a Chop Saw?

A chop saw is a powerful, robust and efficient power tool commonly seen in commercial and industrial shops where cutting of large volumes of metal takes place. It has a round blade that’s attached to a hinged arm, and a stationary base that supports the workpiece.

What sets a chop saw apart from a miter saw is its blade, which is always perpendicular to the stationary base to make 90-degree straight cuts. And even though it can still make angular cuts, it’s more difficult to control it than a miter saw.

A chop saw isn’t meant for creating precise cuts, but rather for cutting tough pieces of metal, such as a steel pipe and wood littered with nails. It has a large blade for cutting various kind of metal, and is a fine choice for home building and framing tasks.

Other names used to imply to a miter saw include abrasive saws and cut-off saws. Simply put, you can distinguish between these saws by looking at their blade and angle of their blade.

What is a Miter Saw?

A miter saw is a precision power saw whose high accuracy and repeatability makes it possible to create bevel cuts, miter cuts, and crosscuts. It looks like a standard saw, with a plastic guard and a handle mounted at the top.

The biggest difference between chop saw and miter saw is that the latter is capable of making angled cuts, which is useful in woodworking, framing, or crown molding project.

Since a miter saw has a smoother blade, it makes clean and precise cuts, providing a neat finishing. Designed for people who work with wood or aluminum frames, a miter saw is mostly great for every woodworker, carpenter, plumber, or home DIYer who needs to carry out home improvement tasks.

 There are three variations of miter saws: compound miters, sliding compound miters, and dual compound meters. A compound miter saw makes angled cuts using left and right pivoted blades. It can also create beveled cuts, whereby you’ll need to tilt the pivots in a single direction.

A dual compound miter saw, on the other hand, tilts in both directions, so it’s possible to craft beveled cuts at any angle. Then there’s a sliding compound miter saw, which brings onboard all the features of a miter saw, plus a sliding function as a bonus.

You can move a sliding compound miter saw’s blade backward and forward. Miter saws are essential when working on complex projects where pieces must be fitted together.

Distinguishing Between a Chop Saw and a Miter Saw: The Differences Debunked 

  • Chop Saw vs. Miter Saw: Blade Size

A majority of chop saws have 14-inch blades that are considered to be an abrasive wheel. Due to the abrasive nature of the wheel, a chop saw causes the material to scorch when you just finish cutting.

Miter saws have blades ranging in size from 10 to 12 inches.  These blades are not only manageable in size, but they also do not produce any sparks when material is being cut.

  • Chop Saw vs. Miter Saw: Usages

You can differentiate a chop saw from a miter saw in terms of usages. On the one hand, a chop saw is more powerful than a miter saw. For this reason, it’s the best candidate for cutting through ferrous and non-ferrous metals, tiles, and even concrete. In general though, a chop saw is used in metal working for cutting to size various metal bars and rods.

On the other hand, a miter saw has lower power than a chop saw, and is recommended for cutting softer materials like plastic, wood, and plywood. This saw type is a good candidate for such projects as woodworking, trimming, and crown molding.

  • Chop Saw or Miter Saw: Safety

When it comes to safety, you’ll find that a chop saw is not a safe saw to use due to its immense power. Typically, these saws generate a lot of sparks, which can be a safety hazard if you ain’t careful. True to that, these sparks aren’t likely to burn your skin, but just make sure there aren’t any flammable objects around the vicinity.

On the contrary, most miter saws are installed with a plethora of safety features. Any standard miter saw, for instance, comes with the blade guard by default. This safety feature helps cover the areas of the blade that aren’t cutting at that moment.  

  • Chop Saw or Miter Saw: Ease of Use

A chop saw is relatively simple to use. To use it properly, clamp the workpiece at the right length and gradually engage the abrasive blade on to the material you need to cut through.

For the most part, using a miter saw to cut compound angles can get complex. Even though a power saw like dual bevel sliding miter saw is extremely versatile, it might not produce satisfying result if you have no idea how to use it. We recommend getting a hang of its proper functionality, especially the angle settings.   

  • Chop Saw or Miter Saw: Application

A chop saw and miter saw can both accept wood and metal-cutting blades. However, the term “miter saw” is often used in reference to woodworking, while “chop saw” is more common in production shops and building sites.

Chop saws have bigger cutting capacity than their miter saw counterparts, which explains why they’re ideal for jobs like framing and home building. Chop saws are capable of cutting large wood planks or sizeable pieces of metal at 90 degrees.

The miter saw’s knack to craft beveled cuts makes it the best candidate for a fine woodwork finish in such carpentry projects as molding and baseboard installation. This type of saw is generally considered low-hazard because the workpiece is held against the fence as the saw head spins. Miter saws also experience minimal kickbacks and the user’s hands are kept off the blade.

  • Chop Saw vs. Miter Saw: Blade Size

A majority of chop saws have 14-inch blades that are considered to be an abrasive wheel. Due to the abrasive nature of the wheel, a chop saw causes the material to scorch when you just finish cutting.

Miter saws have blades ranging in size from 10 to 12 inches.  These blades are not only manageable in size, but they also do not produce any sparks when material is being cut.

  • Chop Saw vs. Miter Saw: Usages

You can differentiate a chop saw from a miter saw in terms of usages. On the one hand, a chop saw is more powerful than a miter saw. For this reason, it’s the best candidate for cutting through ferrous and non-ferrous metals, tiles, and even concrete. In general though, a chop saw is used in metal working for cutting to size various metal bars and rods.

On the other hand, a miter saw has lower power than a chop saw, and is recommended for cutting softer materials like plastic, wood, and plywood. This saw type is a good candidate for such projects as woodworking, trimming, and crown molding.

  • Chop Saw or Miter Saw: Safety

When it comes to safety, you’ll find that a chop saw is not a safe saw to use due to its immense power. Typically, these saws generate a lot of sparks, which can be a safety hazard if you ain’t careful. True to that, these sparks aren’t likely to burn your skin, but just make sure there aren’t any flammable objects around the vicinity.

On the contrary, most miter saws are installed with a plethora of safety features. Any standard miter saw, for instance, comes with the blade guard by default. This safety feature helps cover the areas of the blade that aren’t cutting at that moment.  

  • Chop Saw or Miter Saw: Ease of Use

A chop saw is relatively simple to use. To use it properly, clamp the workpiece at the right length and gradually engage the abrasive blade on to the material you need to cut through.

For the most part, using a miter saw to cut compound angles can get complex. Even though a power saw like dual bevel sliding miter saw is extremely versatile, it might not produce satisfying result if you have no idea how to use it. We recommend getting a hang of its proper functionality, especially the angle settings.   

  • Chop Saw or Miter Saw: Application

A chop saw and miter saw can both accept wood and metal-cutting blades. However, the term “miter saw” is often used in reference to woodworking, while “chop saw” is more common in production shops and building sites.

Chop saws have bigger cutting capacity than their miter saw counterparts, which explains why they’re ideal for jobs like framing and home building. Chop saws are capable of cutting large wood planks or sizeable pieces of metal at 90 degrees.

The miter saw’s knack to craft beveled cuts makes it the best candidate for a fine woodwork finish in such carpentry projects as molding and baseboard installation. This type of saw is generally considered low-hazard because the workpiece is held against the fence as the saw head spins. Miter saws also experience minimal kickbacks and the user’s hands are kept off the blade.

Final Thought

In a nutshell, there’s an appropriate saw for your particular cutting needs. The key is to choose the right saw in order to improve your efficiency, get perfect results, and maximize your tool’s capability.

Whether to choose a chop saw or a miter saw will be entirely dependent on the task at hand. If you’ll be cutting through tough objects like steel, then a chop saw will suit you best.

Also known as a cut-off saw, a chop saw is great for metalworking and construction projects. Conversely, a miter saw will be fine for works involving crown molding, woodworking, and trimming.

Leave a Reply