Is a miter and chop saw the same thing? What’s different?

miter and chop saws

To most people who aren’t familiar with both miter saws and chop saws it can be a little confusing as to the differences between them. The truth of the matter is that miter saws and chop saws are not the same thing. 

Though very similar in the way you use them, they are designed to cut different types of material. Below I’ll get into the details of how miter and chop saws differ.

The difference between miter and chop saws

At a glance these two saws are very similar. They both use a circular saw blade and move in a chopping, up and down motion. Heck, they’re even about the same size in some cases. 

So what’s unique about each saw?

Many people refer to both miter and chop saws as chop saws. This is because they both do the same thing. They chop material in half. The reason most people don’t distinguish between them is because chops saws are used for metal and miter saws for wood. It’s not common for someone to frequently use both types of saws in the same project.

Chop Saws

Chop saws are “technically”  cut-off saws that are designed to cut metal. Though they’re just as commonly referred to as chop saws, so call them want you want. Chop saws typically use an abrasive wheel which is far better for cutting metal, than a miter saw’s blade.

Chop saws usually don’t have many added features, maybe only an adjustable miter gauge that allows you to make angled cuts up to 45 degrees.

Here’s a quick video on chop saws:

As you can see, there’s a lot of sparks. Chops saws keep this in mind and have guards to deflect the sparks away. Miter saws also have similar guards to collect dust and wood chips, however, these are often plastic, where as chops saw’s are metal.

Miter Saws

Miter saws on the other hand are designed for wood. Just like a miter saw won’t cut metal as well as a chop saw, a chop saw isn’t going to be as good at cutting wood as a miter saw.  Miter saws are able to make angled miter cuts as well as bevel cuts, depending on the model of saw you have.

This means that miter saws are more versatile than chop saws. But they are still used for different applications.

Miter and chop saws

So, we’ve looked at what the differences are. Chop saws are simple up and down saws that are meant to cut metal. Usually they have a mite gauge to allow angled cuts.

Miter saws on the other hand are designed for wood and wood composites and can have a lot more features like a bevel pivot or sliding rails.

Chances are you’re either looking to purchase a saw that can cut wood or metal, not both. So choose the saw that’s going to be best suited for the tasks you most commonly have at hand!

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