Chop saws and miter saws are an integral part of your DIYer arsenal, regardless of the type of material you are dealing with, or the form of cuts you want to make. If you are new to using saws, you may find them both seem to have similar looks and functions. Well, that’s where this guide about Chop Saw vs. Miter Saw comes into play.
The most noticeable difference between a chop saw and a milter saw is their size; the former is larger while the latter is smaller. Apart from that, chop saws are only cut at 90o while a miter saw can cut at a range of angles. Lastly, each is designed to cut different types of materials.
There are plenty of details that go into the aforementioned differences and our guide below will be taking a dig into them.
So, let’s begin!
What are Miter Saws?
A miter saw consists of a circular blade, attached to a vertical pivoting arm. This blade rotates to cut slopes, miters, or to make compound cuts.
Some miter saw blades can swing in both directions so you don’t need to flip the material if it needs to be cut from both sides.
With their blades ranging from 8-12 inches, miter saws are much smaller than cop saws.
Miter saws produce a ton of dust while in use so be sure to wear a dust mask beforehand.
They are categorized into two types, namely Compound Miter Saw and Sliding Compound Miter Saw.
Compound Miter Saw
A compound miter saw is used to make miters and bevel cuts.
For miters, the base of the machine is rotated between 8 o’clock and 4 o’clock. The angle that seems to work the best for miters is 45o although several compound miter saws also have the capacity to cut up to 60o.
As for the bevel cuts, all angles, going backward from 90o to 45o can be chosen.
Sliding Compound Miter Saw
Aside from the features of a compound miter saw, a sliding compound miter saw comes with the additional sliding feature.
By allowing the motor unit and the saw blade to move along the telescopic rods, the sliding feature greatly enhances the cutting width capacity of the tool.
A sliding compound miter saw is also very portable due to its compact shape.
What Do We Use Miter Saws For?
When it comes to making precise and intricate cuts, miter saws are your top choice.
Whether it is a crown, window frames, or base moldings – all the detail work in them is carried out by a miter saw.
It is also worth mentioning that miter saws can add the professional-looking finish, that you desire, to your work.
However, a miter saw can’t cut tougher materials like metal and masonry.
What are Chop Saws?
A chop saw, on the other hand, is composed of a toothless, abrasive spinning disc – made up of resins, grit, and reinforcing fibers, that is attached to a vertical pivoting arm. The blade is coated with a diamond which makes aids it in abrasion.
Unlike miter saws, a chop saw blade cannot swing left or right. Rather, it makes cuts at the angle of 90o only although by adjusting the clamp on the machine’s base, cuts of up to 45o can be made. It is also much heavier in comparison to a miter saw.
With blades up to 14 inches, chop saws are much larger than miter saws. They have an impressive cutting force which makes them ideal for working on robust materials.
However, while working with chop saws, you should keep in mind not to have any combustible material in the vicinity since abrasive chop saws produce many fly-offs.
Also, the cutting capacity of the abrasive blade reduces as the disc wears on.
TCT Chop Saw
A Tungsten Carbine Tips (TPT) blade is a toothed variant of chop saw blades. It works quite similarly to its abrasive counterpart although it practically sparks and is dust-free.
If we talk about the downsides of this blade type, unlike abrasive discs, it has quite a limited lifespan on hard materials. Plus, on very thin materials, it is liable to snag.
What Do We Use Chop Saws For?
Due to its exceptional brute force, a chop saw can deal with just about any type of material, whether it is wood, masonry, metal, or composite material.
Furthermore, its toothless, abrasive disc allows it to make cuts as precise as possible.
There are also toothed variants of chop saw blades available in the market. However, they pose the risk of harmful kickbacks and hence, serious injury.
Can a Miter Saw be Used as Chop Saw?
As you might have noticed by now, a miter saw functions pretty similar to a chop saw. With a miter saw, you can cut at a variety of angles, including 90o for which chop saws are most suited.
However, the speed and power of a chop saw are far greater than those of a miter saw. To give you an idea, while a chop saw generates 5 horsepower, a miter saw can generate only half as much.
If you still want to give your miter saw a try with a chop saw blade, you can go on but you could end getting your saw damaged.
Comparison by the Cut Material
Although you may have gotten an idea of which of these two types of saws are suitable for which material, we’ve detailed just that below anyway:
- Wood – Both can cut wood but we recommend using a miter saw.
- Plastic – Again, both can cut this material. However, a miter saw is the better choice.
- Metal – Chop saws are ideal for the job. Milter saws can also cut through metal to some extend if equipped with the right blade.
- Composites – Both can cut through composites, but for better accuracy, a miter saw is a tool to choose.
- Masonry – Between these two saws, only the chop saw is good enough to slice through masonry. That too, with ease!
- Concrete – Only chop saw can chop through concrete.
Comparison by Cost
Both Chop Saws and Miter Saws can cost from $100 to several hundred dollars.
However, if you make certain tweaks to the tool that you are buying, for instance, adding things like laser lines to a miter saw, the cost inevitably gets higher.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will a 10-Inch Miter Saw Cut a 4×4?
Yes, a 10-Inch will make the required cut perfectly. However, it won’t make the cut in one go since you’ll have to flip over the material and deal with the other side as well.
How Thick of Wood Can a 10-Inch Miter Saw Cut?
Around 5 ½ inches wide.
Can a Milter Saw Cut Straight?
Although designed primarily to make angled cuts, yes, you can make straight cuts with a miter saw.
We sincerely hope that this guide has answered all your queries regarding the chop saw vs. miter saw debate.
To reiterate, a miter saw is a small-sized saw that is great for making angled cuts in wood, metal, and composites whereas a chop saw is a relatively larger saw that whose blade drop-down is fixed at 90o and it’s ideal for all forms of masonry work.
To figure out which one of the two can serve your needs the best, factor in the desired application, the size of the workpiece, and the material with which the workpiece is made.