Difference Between Chop Saw and Miter Saw [In Depth Details]

Written by | Updated On April 26, 2020

As chop saws and miter saws in general have the same basic functions, it is innate to get confused with these two tools. However, if you dig into deep and if you have a wider field area of works, you will find some obvious difference between chop saw and miter saw. Because the more your works become larger, the more you need to be specific, precise and perfect.

If you are troubling with your confusion, this miter vs chop saw article will guide you properly, and clear out all your muddles. And then you can buy the right tool for you, can decide which one to choose and when to use it.

A chop saw is a very powerful tool that is used to make square and straight cuts in metal, steel, and wood. You may find it similar to a circular saw but chop saw is heavier and more powerful mostly used for metalwork and construction projects.

When Do I Need a Chop Saw?

You need a chop saw to get done heavy tasks that needs very powerful, higher speed and higher RPM. With a chop saw you can cut sturdy pieces of metals and make straight deep cuts. If you need to do a lot of metalworking and construction projects, you need the chop saw most.

Uses of Chop Saw:

  • Mostly used by metal workers and cabinet-makers
  • Used for only straight and square cuts
  • Faster and power cuts
  • Cut big metal, steel woods, etc.

What is a Miter Saw?

A miter saw is a power saw which lets you cut miter, crosscuts and bevel cuts. It can cut things very precisely and perfectly. One of the main uses of miter saw is it can make angle cuts with high accuracy and repeat-ability.

When Do I Need a Miter Saw?

You need a miter saw to finish most of the household light tasks like molding, framing, trimming on doors and windows, cut the PVC, aluminum and thin metals. Besides, when it needs to make angle cuts, a miter saw is a savior.

Uses of Miter Saw:

  • Mostly used by carpenters and woodworks
  • It is used when you need to make angle cuts
  • Quick accurate cuts on small pieces of woods, aluminum, PVC and sometimes thin metals
  • Framing, molding, and trimming
  • To make longer crosscuts around 11 ½”

Difference Between Chop Saw and Miter Saw: At a Glance

The main difference between chop saw and miter saw is a miter saw can rotate and perform angle cuts, whereas with chop saws you can only cut straight 90-degree angles. However, there are a few more differences between them. Let’s have a look at the chop saw vs miter saw table below:

Chop Saw Miter Saw
Larger in size (in general 14-inch blade).
Thinner in size than chop saws (8”-12”)
Stronger machine than miter saws.
Weaker in power than chop saws.
Can cut metal and steel.
Can cut wood and PVC.
Not suitable for cutting precise and fine cuts.
Suitable for cutting neat and precise cuts.
Best for cutting metal, rebar or steel and big woods.
Best for molding, framing, and small piping.
Chop saws only move both up and down (90° angle)
Miter saws can move at 15°, 22.5°, 30°, and 45° angle.
Can only make straight or square cuts
Can make angle cuts.
Chop saw works with rough wheels.
Miter saw works with a toothed circular saw blade
Safer than a miter saw.
Relatively safe.

Which One Is Better?

Of course, both the tools miter and chop saws come for a different perspective and different uses. Both the tools are good for their specific tasks. However, to wrap up the things here we are writing some points to clear out all of your confusion.

  • As miter saw can provide neat, fine cuts on small parts, for most of the household projects it is more appropriate than a chop saw. Besides, it is more suitable for general woodworking like making picture frames, molding, trimming out doors and windows.
  • If you need to cut big woods, metal or if you are building a house from the ground up, which needs a very powerful and constructional tool, you might want a chop saw.
  • If you need to make angles cuts, a miter saw will also be a good investment for you. If your works limited in straight or square cuts, you can go for the chop saw.
  • Chop saw is heavier than a miter saw. So, if portability and ease of use are your another considerations, a miter saw will be the right choice for you.
  • Another significant difference between chop saw and miter saw is the “power”. If you want a powerful, heavy machine that can cut through almost anything, go for the chop saw. But you need to be good at handling this tool. Otherwise, there might be some safety issues. For a newbie, chop saw should not be your first power tool.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions):

Can I use a chop saw to cut wood or plastic?

A: Yes you can. But miter saw will provide better results and comfort in cutting wood and plastic.

What is the difference between chop saw and cut-off saw?

A: They are actually the same power tool with different names.

Can a miter saw cut metal?

A: Miter saw cannot cut thicker steel and metal. With a 12” high-quality miter saw, you can only cut thin metal.

Can I use chop saw blade on a miter saw?

A: A chop saw blade can be used in a miter saw. But chop saw blades rotate faster and most of the saws have plastic pieces. So there is a possibility of getting hot and start a fire in the miter saw if you use the chop saw blade in it.  

However, you can use a miter saw blade on a chop saw but the performance will not same as you would use a chop saw blade.

Is a chop saw can perform 45-degree cut perfectly?

A: First of all, if you want perfect angle cuts, you shouldn’t do it with a chop saw.  But some modern chop saws have the angle and bevel cut features. Check if your tool has that feature or not.

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About John Mandich

John’s fascination with power tools and machinery made him a good crafter, along with a good reviewer. John has been a freelance writer for 10+ years, focusing mainly on professional tools, consumer product reviews, overviews, and how-to articles based on his real-life crafting experience and product tests.

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