Chop Saw vs Miter Saw: Which One Do You Need?

The workers who regularly have to deal with materials like metal and wood know about the importance of the tools used. It’s vital to understand their specs and the differences between them.

Many people tend to confuse a chop saw and miter saw or even call both of these items chop saws. No surprise, they do look awfully alike. However, their purposes and functions are quite different.

If you’re choosing what to buy: chop saw vs miter saw, read this article to know the key differences between the two. This way, you can choose the saw that will be the most appropriate for your needs.

Chop Saw vs Miter Saw
The main difference between chop saw and miter saw this is chop saws are stationary tools that are used to cut pieces of wood, while miter saws are portable tools that can be used to cut wood or other materials.

What Is a Miter Saw?

As you could’ve guessed, the purpose of the miter saw is to make miter cuts. It is designed to make cross cuts while being accurate and quick. When using a power miter saw, the material should be held against the fencing.

It helps to create secure and proper positioning when the saw’s blade passes through. You have to bring a blade down on the wood in a short motion. Some miter saws are sliding, and others are not.

The more professional kinds of miter saws offer you the adjustability of cut angels. Others provide preset angles. They are most likely to be 30 or 45 degrees since these are probably the most popular measurements. Lots of them are able to make even 90-degree cuts.

makita milter saw

A spoiler alert: this is considered to be a specific feature of chop saws! But despite the fact that miter saws are capable of that, they still aren’t powerful enough to be used instead of the chop ones. Moreover, the cordless models are weaker.

So, what is a miter saw used for? This tool is mostly used for wood. This is why this saw doesn’t really need to be as powerful as a chop saw. Every miter saw is primarily designed to make crosscuts on wood, including framing lumber, trim, etc. You can also cut steel, aluminum, and plastic.

There’s a great selection of sizes and types when it comes to miter saws. You can choose between 10 and 12-inch models. You can also pick the type of tool (compound, sliding, and dual compound) according to your needs.

Miter saws are used with carbide-tipped blades. Their sizes can vary up to 12 inches. Consider the main benefits and disadvantages of this kind of device below.

  • Versatility: can cut different materials
  • Doesn’t cut large pieces of wood
  • Various cutting angles
  • The cuts are smooth and clean

What Is a Chop Saw?

The chop saw definition itself makes it clear that this tool fundamentally differs from a miter saw. This saw type is very powerful, and it is mostly used for cutting metal.

That’s probably the main difference you’re about to notice when comparing miter saw vs chop saw. The chop saw motor and blade are bigger than in miter ones. Some call them cut-off saws as well.

chop saw

What’s also notable is that this saw can only make straight 90-degree cuts. Its blade doesn’t provide a miter or bevel. Speaking of the blades, chop saws use abrasive discs without sharp edges and teeth.

They spin and cut the material required quite quickly. That’s one of the main reasons for this saw to cut through pretty tough materials quickly and easily.

The size of the blade can be up to 15 inches, but the most common ones to use are 12–15 inches. Such blade sizes provide chop saws with the cutting capacity needed for completing some big projects.

The features above provide the answer to the question “what is a chop saw used for and capable of?” These saws are mostly used by professional workers due to their power. Chop saws are powered by hydraulics, and you have to use knee or foot switches in order to control it. This way, both of your hands are free for feeding the material through.

  • Extremely powerful
  • Makes only 90-degree cuts
  • Functional: it efficiently cuts a great variety of materials
  • Knee or foot switches provide hands-free operation

Difference Between Chop Saw vs Miter Saw

milter saw

There are few reasons to mix these saws. They both are designed for cross-cutting different types of material, have a back fence that holds material during the process of cutting, not to mention that they both feature a circular blade. Therefore, they might look alike.

Note that both of the tools should be used equally carefully. The key differences are the purposes, kinds, and functions of the saws.

Here’s what makes a miter saw an outstanding device:

  • Beveled or straight cuts
  • It is designed to cut wood
  • Carbide-tipped blades
  • The sizes of blades vary up to 12 inches
  • Overall, it is less powerful

Examine the peculiar features of a chop saw:

  • Straight, 90-degree cuts
  • Cut different types of metal
  • Abrasive cutting wheels
  • The sizes of blades vary up to 15 inches
  • Extremely powerful and used only by professionals

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FAQ About Chop Saw vs Miter Saw

I have come across lots of questions about this topic. Here are the most popular and frequently asked queries considering saws and brief answers to them.

What is a chop saw good for?

A chop saw is great for professional contractors. It’s very powerful and can easily cut big, thick pieces of metal and wood. That’s an essential tool to have at your workshop for professionals or people involved in big projects that require such powerful tools.

Do I really need a miter saw?

Miter saws are very handy and considered to be a must-have tool for DIY workers. They are very versatile and powerful enough for non-professional projects. Therefore, most of the needs of an amateur carpenter can be fulfilled with this saw.

What is the difference between a chop saw and a cut-off saw?

The main difference is in their purpose: a chop saw is more powerful and mostly used for cutting tough metal materials. A cut-off device cuts wood and features less power. A chop saw makes only 90-degree cuts, while a miter saw offers different cutting angles.

Which is better: a miter saw or a table saw?

Both miter and table saws are efficient and do their job excellently. It’s not about being better but about the purpose of such saws. A table saw is capable of making different types of cuts at several angles efficiently and quickly.

It also features an adjustable blade height, which allows cutting at different depths. A chop saw provides a single type of cut, a straight one. This tool is mostly used for more specialized and complex kinds of work.

Perfect Saw for Your Project

To choose between a chop saw or a miter saw, you have to understand what exactly you need the tool for. With the first option, you receive a precise professional tool that is not versatile enough but very powerful.

Choosing the second one, you get a multi-purpose saw for wood-cutting and small projects. Both of these options are great at what they do, so it’s up to you to decide.

Do you use any of these saws? If so, what do you use it for? Did you know the differences mentioned here? Share your experience and thoughts on this topic in the comments section.

Sean Chapman
Sean Chapman

“A good tool stays with you for many years and choosing carefully ensures the job is done right, your work is neat, and the tool is always a pleasure to use”

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