The Best Chop Saws: Make Smooth, Precise Cuts
Enhance your woodworking experience with these top-rated chop saws
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BY Corrina Murdoch / LAST UPDATED ON October 12, 2020
When you’re equipping your home workshop, it’s important to cover your bases with the essentials. Hand tools, a few cleaning products, and commonly used hardware all need to be within reach at a moment’s notice. If you take on more involved projects, power tools are a must. One tool that will earn its keep quickly is a high-quality chop saw or miter saw. The difference is the ability to create angled cuts, and it’s worth considering which is best.
Once you get a taste of how efficient, powerful, and versatile these saws are, you’ll probably look for excuses to use one. Remember that tools aren’t something you purchase – they’re something you invest in.
Featuring a powerful blade and thick cutting abilities, this saw catches dust as it works. It’s constructed using sturdy, durable materials.
Can cut material over six-and-a-half inches thick, and it handles massive projects. Blade is easy to replace and the whole piece is easy to upkeep.
Cord-operated, so you can only work near an outlet. Sturdy and quite heavy.
This miter saw is an affordable tool that’s ideal for precision. It works over a wide-angle and is quick and easy to adjust.
A laser for exact cutting; also comes with a dust catch. User-friendly bevels and low price point adds to its value.
Powerful, but can be tricky to maintain. Vulnerable to rust in certain places.
Coming with a foot-long blade and quick rotations, this saw is tough and powerful. It cuts through over six inches with ease. The durable blade doesn’t wear down quickly.
Strong motor offers a quick, accurate cut. With variable angles, it's great for detail. Easy to control and reliable.
It comes at a higher price point, but very well-equipped. Getting proper alignment can be tricky.
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What is a Chop Saw used for?
If you’ve ever done a woodworking project, chances are you’ve come across the need for a chop saw. These pieces are used to make quick, precise cuts in your material. These powerful saws feature a fast-rotating, reliable blade that slices through tough surfaces like butter. You can use this type of saw on all types of boards, plus metal and plastic. From pipes to siding, the idea is to prevent frays at the cut site. When you want smooth, even lines, a chop saw is a great way to go.
What Do You Do with a Chop Saw?
Also called a miter saw, you can use a chop saw for a huge range of projects. You can use it to make light work out of everything from redoing floors to making fences. It cuts through two-by-fours in a jiffy and gives you an accurate angle at the end. You can also use this for brickwork. If the saw is strong enough, it can get through stone quickly and prevent breaks in the rock. This way, your masonry stays on point. For those focused on plumbing, you can use a chop saw to cut the pieces down to the proper size. It all depends on the angle of the saw’s range and the depth through which it can cut. Provided you opt for a heavy-duty chop saw with a strong saw support structure, you can use it for large-scale renovations, too.
Benefits of Chop Saws
- Very accurate. Construction projects (whether plumbing or woodwork) rely on flush surfaces that line up correctly. These saws often incorporate a laser line to help you create perfect lines every time.
- Catch dust while you work. Messes are natural in a worksite, but too much dust can lead to fire risks. Chop saws often include a dust catch to help you keep the area clean while you work.
- Work quickly. Unlike manual saws, a chop saw gets through thick surfaces without any strain. For large tasks like fencing or flooring, this lets you get through the project more efficiently.
- Powerful Blades. These saws feature durable blades with distinct teeth. Though all tools eventually wear down, chop saw blades are long-lasting. It’s also easy to find replacements when you prepare for upcoming work.
- Versatile. Depending on the size and range of the saw, you can tackle a lot of different sized projects. There are chop saws that are able to work on very thick material and some designed for smaller-scale tasks. This lets you opt for the best-suited option for your needs.
- Work on diverse surfaces. You can use chop saws on a huge array of surfaces, ranging from plastic piping to metal sheets. Instead of requiring multiple tools, you can tackle countless projects with a quality chop saw.
Types of Chop Saws
This standard woodworking tool is fairly straightforward in application. The saw can rotate horizontally, enabling you to slice through the surface at an angle. This helps with crafting stones for masonry, pipes for attachment, and corner parts on floorboards. The miter saw uses marked angles so that you can clearly see where you’re cutting and ensure accuracy.
A more complex type, sliding saws incorporate a moving part. This slide lets you move the piece forward. This lets you cut through wider surfaces than the blade-size would typically enable. Though this type is higher-maintenance, it is suited to large projects. It lets you cut through different widths and is less restricting than other options.
Compound Miter Saws
By incorporating bevels, compound chop saws let you opt for a wide range of angles. There are single-function saws within this category. This is when the beveling feature is only on a single side. Conversely, the two-function compound saw incorporates beveling on both sides. This enables you to diversify the angles. It is ideal for complex woodworking tasks since you get a more versatile cut range.
Black + Decker
A leading power tool supplier, Black + Decker retails tools under multiple trade names, including DeWalt. With a focus on creating supplies for construction and manufacturing professionals, this American company sells tools worldwide.
A Japanese company that was founded in 1915, Makita began its operations by fixing all types of motors and equipment for lighting setups. Eventually, the company expanded its operations and began manufacturing power tools which it supplies to the international market.
Known for its user-friendly, tough power tools, this Japanese brand has a diverse selection of products that range from hardware to printers, tools to automotive supplies.
Chop Saw Pricing
- Under $200: You can get an effective miter saw within this price range. If you need to cut through minimal widths and focus less on angles, there are a lot of saws you can find within this budget. Usually, there is no slider and limited beveling, though the blades are powerful and effective.
- $200 and up: Most compound miter saws fall within this price range. Typically, these saws are able to cut through thicker materials. Generally, these saws include dual-sided bevels and additional features like dust catchers and laser sights.
By using tough blades, usually made out of high-grade material, you can slice through thick materials. Even up against dense hardwood and PVC plastic, the blades aren’t prone to quick wear. Generally, a single blade can last you for multiple small tasks or a single large-scale project. The motor compels a large number of revolutions per minute, giving you the benefits of quick cutting.
Angular Cutting Abilities
Since chop saws often rotate over the horizontal plane, you can cut corner pieces easily. The precise markings at the base let you know exactly where you’re cutting. This offers benefits of consistency and accuracy with every cut. Since the chop saw works quickly, the angular cuts are free of flaws and you can achieve them efficiently.
With a powerful motor and a sharp blade, an important feature is a strong base. This prevents slipping and keeps you safe while you work. It ensures that there is no slipping (even over a small degree). This further ensures the accuracy of your cuts. While the bases are sturdy, they can also be quite heavy. Though it may be tricky to move the tools around, it means they are well-equipped to deal with heavy-duty materials.
Efficiency goes a long way when working in a hands-on manner. Since miter saws tout thousands of revolutions per minute, you can cut through thick surfaces in a jiffy. The quick cuts also ensure that the saw doesn’t snag on knots in the wood. It prevents fraying by getting through the material quickly. This gives you reliable results and prevents issues caused by the saw moving at faulty angles mid-cut.
If you need to cut through something that is fairly wide, the extension feature of chop saws is particularly useful. By incorporating a slider, these saws help you craft a controlled cut even with larger areas. The clear markings of the tool reach into the extension. It holds the materials steady and the consistent rotations provide a clean cut (even when you’re tackling big surfaces).
- Power Supply. While the majority of miter saws are powered by a cord, there are some options that use a battery. Depending on where you need to work, this is an important consideration. So long as you are within range of an electrical socket or generator, cord-operated miter saws are a suitable choice.
- Laser Sights. To add precision, especially with a sliding miter saw, a clear, accurate light is helpful. Consider the requirements of the task ahead before choosing your saw. Laser sights provide a focused beam that gives you a clear-cut direction while you work. Usually LED, these lights help you work efficiently and prevent wasted materials.
- Replacement Blades. Another important factor in choosing a saw is how readily you can find replacement blades. Though most saws come with blades, they all eventually wear down. By choosing something with wide compatibility or easily accessible supplies, you can prevent worksite downtime. If your saw fits with many different blades or has blades that are easy to find, you should have no issues.
- Dust Catching. Whether you’re working with wood, plastic, or metal, cutting materials leaves a lot of fine particulate in the air. By opting for a chop saw that incorporates a dust catching feature, you can prevent breathing in too much debris. Since sawing creates a lot of heat, you can also help to avoid fire risks. Not only does this add to maintenance ease, it keeps your area free of clutter while you work.
- Safety Features. By incorporating a cover over the saw blade, you can prevent injuries on the worksite more easily. In conjunction with other tools like gloves for safety, you can stay safe throughout. The saws usually incorporate a safety button to let you control the cut and ensure that your hands stay safe as you work.
User Manual: Especially for beginner contractors, or those new to miter saws, a tool that features instructions is important. Getting a full picture of chop saw details is a helpful consideration. It enables you to be fully informed before actually getting to work. This preserves the materials for your task and your personal safety.
Best Chop Saw Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Check the width and thickness capabilities. Before you get started, consider what materials you need to cut and ensure that the chop saw can keep up with the demand.
- Ensure you have a reliable power source. Look into how long the cord of the saw is. Figure out whether you’ll need an extension cord if you plan to work outside.
- Look into the revolutions per minute. The quicker the blade turns, the more efficiently you can cut through surfaces. This prevents snags and adds to your working speed.
- Check into safety features. Be sure that there is a good cover for the blade and that it is easy to maneuver. This helps you stay safe while working.
- Investigate the beveling. If you plan on doing precision work, be sure that the chop saw incorporates bevels to help you with accuracy.
- Find out the angles. Figure out, beforehand, the range over which the saw can move. Cross-reference that against the angles you will need to cut for best results.
- Be sure there are clear markings. At the base of the saw, there are markings to help with measurements. Make sure that you can read these clearly to prevent issues.
What is the difference between a chop saw and a miter saw?
A: Though often used interchangeably, chop saws and miter saws have a couple of differences. Miter saws generally have more advanced features, whereas chop saws just make straight cuts through the material.
What is the best chop saw for wood?
A: The best chop saw for working with wood depends on the size of the planks. For optimal results, choose something with a slider. Opt for a saw that can move through variable angles and can tackle thick wooden pieces. A favorable choice is the Dewalt Sliding Compound Miter Saw.
Can you cut PVC with a chop saw?
A: Yes, you can cut through PVC material with a chop saw. The chief consideration is the width of the pipe you plan to slice. Ensure that your chop saw is able to cut through that thickness. Provided it can, you should have no trouble making smooth, accurate cuts.
What is another name for a chop saw?
A: Going by different names, chop saws are also called miter (or mitre) saws. Both refer to power tools with a mounted blade shaped like a circle. Regardless of the name, chop saws provide quick, accurate cuts on a variety of surfaces.
How do you unlock a chop saw?
A: Important for blade changes, chop saws have a locking feature that’s helpful for safety. There’s also a lock to open the angle feature. Just find the knob and loosen it. With the blade safety, find the release trigger and open it. Ensure all knobs are reset when you finish.
Now that you know the ins and outs of chop saws, you can cut through the noise and make the best choice. With a quality chop saw at your side, you can enhance your next project’s efficiency. You can't go wrong with the Dewalt Sliding Compound Miter Saw.