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Chop Saw Vs Miter Saw – Know the Difference to Make an Informed Choice

It’s common for people, especially beginners to get confused between chop saw and miter saw. No surprise, as they do look awfully alike to the untrained eye.

Actually, some people use them interchangeably which isn’t a right choice as it can lead to unclean and inaccurate finish.

Despite their look, both these power tool have understandable differences. Knowing them helps you use the right one for the task.

If you are wondering about the differences, you can find them explained clearly in this article. Read the information thoroughly to get the answer for your question – which type of saw is suitable for your task.

Before going into it, let’s first understand what miter saw and chop saw are along with pros and cons.

Overview of Chop Saw


The chop saw is used to cut lengths of metal or wood into smaller pieces. It does not cut angles, curves, or bevels and doesn’t make rip cuts.

The cutting range is composed of a table along with fence at the back that supports material that is getting chopped and a clamp for holding it in place. So, the cutting area is a circular saw mounted on an adjustable stand which extends to a foot above the table’s middle and pivots up or down.

For making the cut, usually the user holds the handle at the top and clicks the trigger. The blade is then lowered into material. After the cut is complete, the saw turns back to its original position and the handle can be released.

Benefits Drawbacks
Powerful motor Loud noise
Suitable for cutting variety of materials Will throw sparks
Only 90-degree cuts Doesn’t cut in angles
Quick and easy operation Increased risk of injury
Hands-free operation  

Overview of Miter Saw


A miter saw is mostly similar to chop saw. However, the stand that holds the miter saw is capable of pivoting left and right, often up to 45 degrees.

Unlike chop saw, a miter saw table’s front is not rectangular, and it has angle gauge marked on it. Once you have selected the angle, the handle that rotates the saw can extend out from the table. The locking mechanism stops the saw moving after you select it.

The compound miter saw also has an additional feature: It can rotate over horizontal axis parallel with table and lock onto a specific angle. It lets you make the bevel cuts that are not 90 ° in the vertical plane. When it comes to particular compound miter saws can be mounted over a horizontal track that allows user to move saw forward and back to cut large wood pieces.

Benefits Drawbacks
Suitable for professionals and home owners Not so powerful
Safe to use Only for wood cutting
Cuts in different angles Not for large or heavy-duty projects
Perfect for detailed work  
Beveled or straight cuts  
Cuts are not so smooth and clean  

Chop Saw Vs Miter Saw – Comparison Table

Below is a table for represents quick comparison of chop saw and miter saw. If you don’t have much time to analyze then this table helps you make a decision.

Factor Chop Saw Miter Saw
Suitable For Cutting metals (iron, steel, aluminum), tiles, concrete wood
Type of Cutting Disk/Blade Abrasive Disk Stainless Steel with Carbide coated teeth
Lifespan of Disk/Blade Less as the diameter reduces with every cut Very long
Chances of Sparks Definite as you work with metal and other tough materials Very less
Guard Large guard to protect from sparks and shrapnel Small – medium sized guard
Precision Not very precise. We often use it for making rough cuts in metal Very precise
Blade speed and size Fast and 12 to 15 inches Fast and 6-1/4 to 12 inches
Used by Metal and Construction jobs Woodworking (furniture, carpentry)
Weight and Portability Heavy and not easily portable Medium to heavy weight but portable
Cost Relatively less ($100 to $200) Slightly more ($250 to $350)

In-Depth Comparison of Chop Saw Vs Miter Saw

If you want to know the differences in more details, then below descriptions can help you. We have provided detail description of each factor for your reference. Read through the information to make a wise choice.

1. Design

The two main components of both saws are a metal working base and a spinning blade mounted on a radial arm. But the similarities stop here.

A chop saw’s head is fixed. It can only move in one direction: up or down. This is why it can only make straight cuts. A miter saw’s head can be tilted to make bevel cuts. It could tilt either way depending on the model (that would be a dual compound wither saw).

A chop saw’s metal base is simple. The fence adjustment allows you to make angled cuts up to 45 degrees. It can also be used as a vice to secure the workpiece.

A fence is also included with the miter saw. It can be found on the back. To achieve precise angles, they also have a miter adjustment on the front. This regulation is more complicated, but it produces more accurate results when woodworking.

2. Speed and Power

When it comes to power and output, the chop saw and miter saws look very similar. Many users have reported that the saws are not the same in power or speed, but they feel different when used.

A chop saw is generally considered to be stronger. You will likely feel more in control when using a miter saw. This is likely to be due to the material you use. Hard metal is often a more difficult job than woodworking, and chop saws have to deal with it.

When it comes to power source, they both are electric saws. For miter saws, you have two options: corded or uncorded. But chop saws are available mostly in corded options. Though very few models are cordless, they are not so portable.

3. Size of the Tool (Dimensions & Weight)

Compared to chop saws, miter saws are actually heavier in weight. Although their heads look the same, miter saws’ working bases are often larger because they have an extra regulation system. A miter saw is about 50 pounds in weight, and chop saws are 30 to 35 pounds.

Both are portable tools, regardless of whether they’re stationary or mobile tools. They are quite common to be seen on construction sites.

4. Blade Type

Let’s get to the blade talk. This is one of their main differences. It’s also closely related to their respective applications. The type of work that the saws are required to perform will determine the blade type.

Chop saws typically come with a 14–15-inch blade. Larger saws may require them to be 16 inches. Miter saws can be purchased in sizes 7 1/2, 10 and 12. Even though it is more popular, the latter model is quite popular. A 10-inch model is safe. There aren’t many jobs that need a 12-inch blade. The smaller 7 1/2-inch saw is not worth the cost. You can buy a larger model for about the same price.

A chop saw can be used for woodworking. In that case, it is advisable to use an abrasive knife. This would cause a lot of damage and could burn the cutting surface. Super abrasive blades are often used for concrete and asphalt. These blades last longer and produce less sparks, but they are more expensive.

Miter saws, on the other hand, are used primarily for woodworking and come in a box with a toothed knife. This type of wheel ensures precise and clean cuts. It may be necessary to purchase a high-speed blade made of steel, which can spin more quickly depending on the type of wood. You can use a miter saw on other materials if you have the right conditions. This will be discussed later.

5. Types of Cuts They Can Make

The cuts that chop saws and miter sees can make are different. Chop saws are limited to cutting straight lines, while miter-saws can cut at angles, making miter cuts.

Let’s begin with the chop saw. These are used mainly for crosscuts, which are straight cuts. They can be described as 90degree miter cuts.

The miter saw’s head can tilt, so you can make bevel cuts as well as miter cuts. They are very popular in woodworking because they offer a greater contact surface for joinery and are more pleasing to the eye. You can also make compound cuts with a compound miter saw. These are combinations of the two.

6. Ease of Operation

Chop saws have a fence adjustment which allows you to rotate your work piece and make miter cuts. Because the blade is fixed, you can’t make bevel cuts. It cannot move in a straight line.

Using a chop saw is much easier than using a miter saw. The fence is the only thing you need to adjust with chop saws. You might need multiple angles for complex cuts when using a miter saw. If you don’t, you won’t be able join your wood pieces later. Handling miter saws require more skill.

7. Safety

Most miter saws come with several safety features. Most important of all is the blade guard. This will protect the blade in any areas that aren’t being cut at the moment.

Chop saws are not the safest option but they’re stronger than other saws. Chop saws can produce large amounts of sparks that could pose a danger to your safety. These sparks are unlikely to cause skin burns, but you should be cautious about where the saw is being used and ensure that there aren’t any flammable objects in the area.

8. Price

The price of a chop saw will vary from $100 to hundreds of dollars. Price will be affected by the size, brand quality and warranty as well as power. You may choose to buy a professional-grade saw depending on how frequently you intend to use it.

The miter saw will be priced the same as the chop saw. You can find less expensive models for around $100, but the price will rise to many hundreds of dollars. There are many options and features available for miter saws.

Pricing will go up when you consider features like laser lines or the ability to turn the saw to make difficult cuts. A miter saw that is high-quality and functional can be purchased at a reasonable price depending on your cutting requirements.

So, Which One to Choose – Chop Saw or Miter Saw

After reading my guide, we hope you have a better understanding of the differences between a miter and a chop saw.

Each saw has a purpose. For example, a chop saw is a great tool to make 90deg cuts in metal or other materials like tile and stone. For angled cuts in wood, however, miter saws are more suitable. So, the right choice entirely depends on your requirements or project tasks.

Also Check: Best Bow Saws

Some Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is it possible to use a chop saw instead of a miter saw?

You can’t make compound and bevel cuts with a chop saw. These angle cuts are reserved for miter saws. These cuts can be made with other types, such as band saws. You can also use a miter saw as a chop saw: the head must be at a 90-degree angle.

2. Is it possible to use a wood saw to cut metal?

If you have the ability to mount an abrasive knife on it, this is possible. A toothed blade could have a higher tooth count. However, I wouldn’t improvise. If possible, use the right tool for the job.

3. Does miter saw cut metal?

Yes, you can cut soft metals such as aluminum with a miter saw. It is not recommended for cutting tougher metals such as steel. It is possible to mount an abrasive knife on your miter saw. However, this would create sparks that could ignite plastic blade guards. Stick to wood and other soft materials. Use the right tools to cut metals.

4. Are chop saw and miter saw safe to use?

All power tools have some risk. However, chop saws can be more dangerous than other tools. The miter saw is smaller and easier to use.

5. What’s a chop saw good at?

Professional contractors will love a chop saw. This saw is extremely powerful and can cut large, thick pieces of wood and metal. This is an indispensable tool for professionals and people who are involved in large projects that need such powerful tools.

6. Are miter saws really necessary?

The miter saw is a handy tool that DIY workers should have. These saws are versatile enough to be used for both professional and amateur projects. This saw can fulfill most of the requirements of amateur carpenters.

Wrapping up

A miter saw and chop saw might look similar at first glance. They both use a circular blade to cut.

It’s easy to see why people think they can use a miter saw as a cutting tool. They are, however, quite different, as you can see in this comprehensive guide.

The chop saw is designed to cut through most metals, stone, and the miter saw is a great choice for wood projects. The project will determine which chop saw or miter saw is best for you.

So, which one did you choose? Did the information in this article has helped you make the choice? If you still have questions to clarify, we recommend writing to us in the comment section below.

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