Chop Saw vs Miter Saw – Which One Should You Use?
There are many different kinds of saws that people should familiarize themselves with. We understand that it can get confusing at times, especially if you are new to wood making and crafts. Most often, people confuse a chop saw with a miter saw, thinking that they are both the same. However, there is a major difference in what they can do and what their purpose is.
This guide will help you differentiate between two common saws: the chop saw vs miter saw.
What is a Chop Saw?
A chop saw is the saw used when cutting straight and precise wood pieces only. Generally, chop saws are bigger and more powerful compared to miter saws. They look the same as a circular saw, but the chop saw works better and faster. The sizes of the blades of chop saws can cut wood with varying thicknesses. You can buy special blades to help you cut metal materials as well.
What is a Miter Saw?
A miter saw is used for cutting wood pieces from various angles. While chop saws can be more powerful, technological advancements also pave the way for powerful miter saws today. With powerful miter saws, cutting wood has never been easier. A miter saw can cut straight or cut angles. A miter saw is a tool that every wood maker should have in their arsenal.
Chop Saw vs Miter Saw: The Key Differences
The primary difference between a chop saw and a miter saw is how they cut. As said earlier, a chop saw can only cut straight 90° angles. Meanwhile, the miter saw is more versatile as it can rotate and cut in different angles. Often, you use a miter when you need to cut precise 45° angle cuts.
Power-wise, chop saws make use of bigger blades with a typical 14″ blade as its minimum. On the other hand, miter saws are used for finer cuts with typical blade sizes of 8″, 10″ and 12″.
Chop Saw vs Miter Saw: Where to Use Them
The usage of the chop saw vs miter saw also varies due to their differences. Simple square cuts that only need to be cut up and down require a chop saw. You can also use it for cutting a large number of heavy-duty materials like metal from aluminum to brass. Construction works that require cutting of wood, steel bars and pipes to desired sizes make use of a chop saw. A chop saw also helps cut large volumes of materials faster and more accurately.
While some people use a chop saw to cut wood and other soft materials such as plastics, many experts do not recommend the use of it for woodcutting since it is too powerful. Also, it cannot cut wood accurately. Here comes the purpose of the miter saw.
For woodcutting, the best-recommended tool to use is either a table saw or miter saw. Woodcutters use a miter saw to achieve finer cuts for crown molding and trim. You can use it for window casings and the like. Furthermore, you can make regular crosscuts, angled cuts, and bevel and compound angle cuts using a miter saw.
Our Recommended Chop Saw: PORTER-CABLE PCE700 Chop Saw
The chop saw that we recommend is from Porter-Cable. It makes use of 14″ blade diameter and features an impressive 3,800 RPM motor. It guarantees clean cuts as well as longevity for your tool. Changing blades has never been easier. It features a spindle lock that allows you to conveniently replace old and dull blades. Moreover, it has a heavy-duty steel base for added stability when you are cutting. And even if it is a chop saw, it has a unique ability to cut 45° angle just like a miter saw does. This is a special added bonus for you!
What we like about it:
- Strong 3,800 RPM motor for power and durability
- Easy cutting and removal with a quick-release material clamp
- Spark deflector provides good visibility for precise cutting
- Spindle lock for convenient blade replacement
- Heavy-duty base made from steel for stability
The cutting fence comes with a miter adjustment that allows 45° angle cutting.
It is not as powerful as expensive brands. However, it is still a good choice for hobbyist cutters. If you need to get things done faster, this might not be a good choice for you.
Our Recommended Miter Saw: Tacklife PMS03A Sliding Compound Miter Saw
Miter saws can be pretty expensive, especially if you go for top brands like BOSCH and DEWALT. However, tight-budget individuals have another pocket-friendly option with Tacklife’s miter saw. This is a double bevel sliding compound miter saw. It is powered by a 15 amp motor that delivers 3,800 RPM, resulting in efficient and precise cuts.
What we like about it:
- With a laser guide that is controlled by a single switch
- Double bevel cutting design
- Head can be adjusted at 45° angle left and right
- Impressive cutting capacity
- Comes with a dust collection bag that takes in 70% of dust produced
- Comes with a 35mm dust port for vacuum cleaner connection to contain 100% dust
- 40T TCT blade cuts wood, soft metals and plastics smoothly
- Vice clamping system for safe cutting operation
- Ergonomic d-handle design for a comfortable grip
Tacklife’s PMS03A miter saw features an extended handle lever. It allows you to do more projects with varied cutting possibilities. Moreover, it comes with a precise miter scale that you can easily adjust to get your desired cutting angle. The scale reading is carved directly on the miter scale for easy visibility.
The 3,800 RPM is slower compared to other expensive brands. However, the quality of the cuts is still the same. While this is a great budget-choice miter saw, you might have to work at a slower pace.
The Final Verdict
Chop saws and miter saws are two different power tools. We cannot say one is better than the other because each has its own purpose. However, if you have to choose one a miter saw will give you more bang for the buck. It can deliver both straight cuts and miter cuts. A small home shop can do quite a bit with a compound miter saw and probably will be frustrated with just a chop saw. But, if you’ve got lots of room and lots of budget, you can certainly benefit from having both. Happy cutting…