Chop Saw vs Miter Saw – Which One Is Better And Why

While miter saws and chop saws share a lot of the common functions, they are in fact quite different from one another. Many people assume that you can purchase a chop saw or miter saw and use them for the same jobs, but professionals know that isn’t the case. If you’ve been considering a chop saw vs miter saw, it’s important that you understand the difference.

Both saws feature a circular blade plus the standard drop down cut from top to bottom. The biggest difference between the two is that a miter saw rotates and produces angled cuts whereas a chop saw is only capable of straight, 90-degree angle cuts.

Another big difference is that chop saws use a minimum of 14-inch blades which is much larger and more powerful than a miter saw. You’ll find chop saws in many industrial or commercial shops where large volumes of material are being processed.

Generally speaking, most home improvement projects would benefit more from a 10 to 12-inch miter saw. They produce neater, finished cuts and are ideal for framing, molding or trim. It’s also a good choice for general woodworking purposes, along side a table saw or a tile saw, depending on your needs.

Let’s dig deeper into the difference of a chop saw vs miter saw and review a few that might work for you.


Table of Contents

PreviewNameAwardsPurchase

Evolution Power Tools

Best Chop Saw

DEWALT D28710

Second Best Chop Saw

Hitachi C10FCE2

Best Miter Saw

DEWALT DW715

Second Best Miter Saw


All about Chop Saws

Chop saws are aggressive, powerful machines. Welders and fabricators find great use for them when working with steel. Contractors building a home will also need a chop saw to cut rafters, studs, joists and trusses.

Most chop saws feature an abrasive metal cut-off wheel while others might have a multi-purpose blade. The abrasive blades tend to produce sparks and leave your material hot after the cut is performed. The cold-cut, multi-purpose blade is capable of cutting the same materials with little sparks.

There’s a great video on YouTube explaining the difference between the two:

How to Use a Chop Saw

Before you begin to use a chop saw, protect yourself with the proper equipment. This includes safety goggles to protect your eyes. Then, set your saw up. If you’re cutting a flat bar, your work would need to be in the clamp vertically. For cuts in angle steel, set it up on the two edges.

Many times, you’ll need to work with the saw on the ground simply because of the size of material you are cutting. Make sure you have something solid and flat under the saw. Then, use packers to support your steel. Sparks and debris can be discharged when using high speeds. Be sure to protect the items around the saw from damage.

See the basics of using a chop saw with this video:

When to Use a Chop Saw instead of a Miter Saw

The ideal time to use a chop saw is when working in a production shop or building site. Normally, these locations will have both the chop saw and a miter saw. The chop saw is essential to frame and build homes mainly because of the larger cutting capacity.

Miter saws aren’t capable of cutting the heavy-duty materials that a chop saw can cut. This makes them useful for cutting wood planks and metal at 90-degree angles.


Best Chop Saws Reviews

We’ve picked our two favorite chop saws on the market. Both of these models are available for prices under $250 making them quite reasonable when considering the amount of work they handle.

1. Evolution Power Tools RAGE2 Multi-Purpose Cutting Chop Saw, 14-Inch

Evolution Power Tools RAGE2

Multipurpose, cuts steel, aluminum, wood and plastics using a single blade

The RAGE2 is a heavy-duty chop saw capable of cutting PVC, metal and wood. The 15-amp motor is compatible with most any cold-cutting blade because it spins at 1450 RPM.

When holding the material, you’ll use the fence on one end with the clamp on the other end. The adjustable wheel is made from heavy-duty metal and the threaded rod offers smooth adjustments. If you aren’t used to having the quick clamp mechanism, this might be a slight change for you. Another advantage to the RAGE2 is that it has a slip-on round accessory to be used for the clamp. This is great when cutting material with a larger diameter.

The blade edge is covered completely around with the guard. As you lower the blade, the guard will split in both directions. The handle of this machine is a little different than you might be accustomed to. It’s a vertical grip instead of the horizontal style that is typical. There is also a thumb button to override for trigger safety.

The lightweight table is clearly value-focused when you compare it to some units found in production shops. Thankfully, it doesn’t affect the stability of the machine, but it a perk if you are looking for a machine that is portable.

What Customers Say:

Many of the customers have been pleased with the results of this chop saw. They’ve said it was powerful, made precise cuts and most importantly, worth the price.

Technical Specifications:

  • Model: Evolution Rage 2
  • Motor: 15 Amps
  • Blade Diameter: 14″
  • No Load Speed: 1450 RPM
  • Mitering Range: 45 degrees
  • Weight: 45 pounds
  • Warranty: 3 years
PROS:
  • Cuts multiple materials
  • Reasonable price
  • Makes precise cuts
  • Guard completely covers blade edge
  • Use with most any cold-cutting blade

CONS:
  • Table is lighter than some people like
  • Vertical grip handle instead of horizontal


 

2. DEWALT D28710 14-Inch Abrasive Chop Saw

DEWALT D28710 14-Inch

High performance aluminum oxide grain wheels provides for long life, fast cutting, and smoother running wheels

This DEWALT 14-inch Abrasive Chop Saw is designed to be powerful enough for contractors while still offering portability and ease of use. Metal fabricators, steel stud framers and mechanical contractors all find this chop saw to be valuable to their profession.

The 15-amp, 4 HP motor offers enough power plus overload protection to cut through materials such as angle iron, cast iron pipe, threaded rod, square tubing and conduit.

With this chop saw, it is easy to cut up to a piece of five-inch black pipe, 5-3/8” angle iron and various other pieces of material. The D28710 weighs just 36.5 pounds making it ideal for job site portability. Most of the comparable units weigh more. While heavier machinery seems to offer the stability that the lightweight versions don’t, there hasn’t been an issue with this model at all.

This chop saw also features an integrated carrying handle to allow for comfort and balance while transporting. The “D” handle gives users ultimate control while the saw is in use. There is also a quicklock vise that works great for clamping and releasing of materials. In addition, it comes complete with onboard wrench storage and a bonus adjustable spark deflector.

For the high-quality that DEWALT offers, this chop saw is priced relatively inexpensively. It also comes complete with a 3-year limited warranty, a 1-year service contract and a money back guarantee that lasts for 90 days. That shows the company stands by this product and it is well-made.

What Customers Say:

Many of the customers who purchased this product are already DEWALT fans so they know the quality is top of the line. One user also mentioned, “The saw has plenty of power to cut through a 2.5-inch diameter solid steel bar.”

Technical Specifications:

  • Model: D28710
  • Motor: 15 Amps
  • Blade Diameter: 14″
  • No Load Speed: 3800 RPM
  • Mitering Range: 45 degrees
  • Weight: 36.5 pounds
  • Warranty: 3 years
PROS:
  • Powerful
  • Capable of cutting many materials
  • Lightweight and portable
  • “D” handle for comfort
  • Amazing warranty and money-back guarantee

CONS:
  • Not designed for highly precise jobs
  • Only works with certain blades

Check out this video of this chop saw in action:


 

All about Miter Saws

The biggest difference with a miter saw is that it makes angled cuts, unlike a chop saw. This is essential if you are performing any type of framing, molding or woodworking project. Compound miter saws have the ability to tilt the blade on its axis. While this is a neat option, it’s rare that most people need this capability while working on a home improvement endeavor.

Most miter saws come in either 10 or 12-inch models. For general purpose usage, you probably won’t need to spend the extra money on a 12-inch option. The standard, 10-inch miter saw offers the best value for most people doing regular home improvement projects.

How to Use a Miter Saw

If you are using a sliding miter saw the steps to making cuts are fairly simple.

  1. Put your board against the fence and make sure to clamp it.
  2. Pull the saw toward you until you see the blade directly over the edge of the board closest to you. Do this before starting the blade.
  3. Start the saw and wait a moment as it reaches peak speed. Pull your blade down into your wood piece.
  4. With the blade rotating, push the saw away from you as the blade cuts the wood.
  5. When the blade is finished, raise your saw up and release your trigger. This will stop the saw.

Ryobi also has a great tutorial on how to use a miter saw:

When to Use a Miter Saw instead of a Chop Saw

The majority of home users only need a 10 or 12-inch miter saw to complete their projects. With that being said, many productions shops and contractors use them professionally as well.

Miter saws produce a neat and finished cut that is ideal for working with trim, molding or framing. There are also many general woodworking jobs that benefit from the use of a high-quality miter saw.


Best Miter Saws Reviews

Miter saws can be found in a variety of price ranges; you’ll just want to be aware that you purchase the saw with the features you need. Most miter saws come with a 10 or 12-inch blade. Most home users will find that a 10-inch blade is sufficient for their needs.

1. Hitachi C10FCE2 15-Amp 10-inch Single Bevel Compound Miter Saw

Hitachi C10FCE2 15-Amp

0-52 degree miter angle range, to the right and left for increased flexibility

This Hitachi 15-Amp 10-Inch Bevel Compound Miter Saw is lightweight and includes detents at the most common cuts to make woodworking even easier. It weighs just 26 pounds making it a light and portable option. The price is also in line with what a hobby enthusiast or DIYer would want to pay. It would even be feasible for a professional to have one of these as a backup saw in emergencies.

The padded and durable horizontal grip gives this miter saw additional stability. It also helps to offset any pressure while sawing. The scale goes from zero to 52 degrees in both directions. Miter stops include 0, 15, 22.5, 31.6 and 50 which are the most common you would use in woodworking.

Bevel stops are included to make more precise cuts and the bevel skill angle ranges 45 degrees to the left. With the onboard dust collector, your workspace stays cleaner with less effort. The saw also comes with a one-year warranty and 30-day satisfaction guarantee.

The Hitachi model features a pivoting fence which also increases stability and accuracy. In addition, the soft-start motor improves stability, safety and accuracy as well. With the electric brake, you can operate the saw safely and increase your precision. On top of that, the extended fence will raise four inches to accomplish vertical cutting.

This Hitachi has a five-inch cutting capacity. This makes it ideal for narrow cuts for crown molding or trim. Wide cuts for decking and other projects might not be as easy with this tool. Another downside to this saw is that the bevel adjustment requires the use of a metric wrench. Some find this to be inconvenient. Ideally, this saw is best used occasionally by a home improvement enthusiast.

What Customers Say:

Many of the people using this saw have found it to be perfect for their around the house projects. They’ve also been quite pleased with the price. The possibilities are endless with this saw. To illustrate that, look at all this one customer has accomplished. He says, “I’ve used it to install baseboards, chair rail, and a variety of other wood trim. I’ve also used it to build some flower boxes and to cut hardwood flooring for a friend.”

Technical Specifications:

  • Model: C10FCE2
  • Motor: 15 Amps
  • Blade Diameter: 10″
  • No Load Speed: 5000 RPM
  • Mitering Range: 52 degrees
  • Weight: 26 pounds
  • Warranty: 1 year
PROS:
  • Powerful
  • Features a padded and durable horizontal grip
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Pivoting fence for increased stability and accuracy
  • Onboard dust collector

CONS:
  • Not designed for wide cuts
  • Bevel adjustment requires the use of a metric wrench

Want to see this Hitachi model in action? Here’s a video to check out:


2. DEWALT DW715 15-Amp 12-Inch Single-Bevel Compound Miter Saw

DEWALT DW715 15-Amp

Includes: a carbide blade, dust bag, blade wrench and comfortable side handles in the base

DEWALT makes some of the best miter saws on the market and this model is no exception. This is a favorite mainly because of its portability and power. If you are like most people, you tend to move your tools around often. With this model, portability isn’t an issue. It weighs just 42 pounds, which isn’t the lightest but still small enough to take with you.

One of the strongest assets of DW715 is the precise cutting job it performs. You can cut angles with intense accuracy thanks to the adjustable cam lock. This DEWALT miter saw allows you to make bevel cuts up to 48 degrees to the left and 3 degrees to the right.

With the well-made arm, you can ensure accurate bevel angles from either side. This is helpful when cutting corners for windows and doors. You can even angle it to make two angled cuts at a time. The carbide blade that comes with the machine is 12-inches which can cut through base molding up to 6.5-inches.

There is little that this powerful 15-amp motor can’t handle while it spins the blade at 4000 RPM. While power is great, safety is also important. The DEWALT miter saw has a blade guard that covers the blade completely while it is raised. As it lowers, the guard lifts out of your way for safe cutting. It is also equipped with an interlocking trigger preventing the blade from starting by accident and making cuts you didn’t want.

On a downside, there is no laser with this miter saw which I would’ve expected for the price. Thankfully, all the other features outweigh this so it’s easy to overlook. If you feel that a laser is necessary, there are plenty of compatible lasers you can add on.

What Customers Say:

Many people have been pleased with the array of projects that can be completed with this powerful saw. One user stated, “I bought this to assist in helping my wife with her never-ending quest to recreate everything she sees on Pinterest! I can now cut boards at a record pace, thus spending less time in the realm of etsy type projects. This allows for more time for man things.”

Technical Specifications:

  • Model: DW715
  • Motor: 15 Amps
  • Blade Diameter: 12″
  • No Load Speed: 4000 RPM
  • Mitering Range: 48 degrees
  • Weight: 42 pounds
  • Warranty: 3 year
PROS:
  • Precise cuts due in part to the adjustable cam lock
  • Durable arm to make bevel angles from either side
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Blade guard for safety
  • Generous 3-year warranty

CONS:
  • Cost more than many 10-inch miter saws
  • Doesn’t come with a laser

See an unboxing of this miter saw on YouTube:


Chops Saw and Miter Saw Safety

Despite their differences, chops saws and miter saws offer similar hazards. OSHA offers some great safety tips to remember when using either of these saws. Some important ones to remember are:

  • Inspect your power cord and plug prior to plugging the unit in. Watch for any cuts or damage.
  • Ensure your blade is the proper speed rating and size for your saw. Inspect the blade for any damage and make sure that it is installed properly.
  • Secure your saw so it doesn’t move.
  • Hold the saw handle firmly during operation.
  • Keep all saw guards in place as they are designed. Don’t try and adjust the guard to an always open position.
  • Always wear appropriate safety gear including goggles or face mask.

Craftsman has also bought together an informative video on some safety tips to remember:

Chop Saw vs Miter Saw Summary

Now that you understand the differences between a chop saw vs miter saw, you’ll have a better chance of determining which one is important for your task. They are similar and different in many ways so it’s important you know what you are getting into.

When determining if you need to purchase a chop saw vs miter saw, you’ll first want to look at the job you are doing. While both use a circular blade and cut from top to bottom, they don’t produce the same cuts.

Chop saws are larger and more powerful. These are best geared toward a commercial or industrial shop to process large amounts of materials. Home improvement jobs benefit mainly from the use of a miter saw. They produce a cut that is neat and finished. You’ll use it mainly for trim work, framing or molding.

We’ve shown you the difference between chops saws vs miter saws and even reviewed some of our favorites. Now all that’s left is to get out there and get your projects done!

 

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