Chop Saw Vs Miter Saw – Know the Difference to Make an Informed Choice. Chop saw mitre
If you’re in the market for a type of saw for your DIY projects, one of the first investments you’ll probably make is either a chop saw or miter saw. Let’s compare them – it is chop saw vs miter saw! Learn the difference between the two saws so you can make the right choice for yourself.
Chop saw vs miter saw. Both are great for crosscutting. But what’s the difference between the two, and which is best for you? Let’s dive in and find out!
If you’re a fan of DIY, then you already know that having the right tools is essential. But with so many options on the market, it can be tough to decide which one is best for you.
We’re constantly learning what tools are best for what job and how to get the best results in our DIY projects in and around the home!
Table of Contents
This chop saw vs miter saw guide contains affiliate links, but nothing that I wouldn’t recommend wholeheartedly. Read my full disclosure here.
And today, I’m pitting two popular cut-off saws against each other – the chop saw and the miter saw. We’ll be touching on the key differences between the two and help you figure out which one is best suited for your needs.
So whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, read on to find out which of these woodworking saws are right for you!
Types of woodworking cuts
First things first, let’s define a few things to clarify some terminology we’ll be using in the article.
- Rip cut – cut with the grain of the wood. Used to cut wood boards to the correct width.
- Cross cut – cut across the grain of the wood. Used to cut wood boards to the correct length.
- Miter cut – angled cross cut. It is a cut across the face of the wood, like a cross cut, but not at that 90-degree angle. Mitered cuts can be done at several different angles with 45 degrees being the most popular.
- Bevel cut – Another angeled cut, but this time the saw blade tilts rather than rotates.
What is a chop saw (aka cut-off saw)?
A chop saw is a handy tool for your workshop! It’s like a power saw on steroids – creating straight and accurate crosscuts every time.
Chop saw is also very commonly called a cut-off saw.
Truth be told, a true chop saw is used to cut metal, not wood. But most chop saws that are sold in home improvement stores are “hybrid saws” or sometimes called “multi-cutter”, which means that they can cut both metal and wood.
Since we only FOCUS on woodworking projects here on the blog, we’re going to FOCUS on hybrid chop saws as it relates to woodworking in this article.
Now, chop saws can be used for cutting both wood and metal but can only cross-cut, and there’s no chance of cutting different angles, bevel cuts, or curves. Rip cuts are also a no-no.
Chop saw key features
- Can cut different types of material (from metal to wood)
- Makes straight cuts only (90-degree cuts)
- The blade does not rotate to make angeled cuts
The makeup of a chop saw is pretty simple.
There’s a cutting area with a table, complete with a fence guard at the back, designed to hold and support the material while you’re cutting it. Most chop saws will also come with clamps to hold the boards in place while cutting your straight line.
Cut-wise, everything is done via the saw blade that can simply be moved up and down. That’s pretty much all there is to the chop saw.
Just set up your saw, clamp or hold your board or material in place, line it up, and lower the saw blade while it spins. Just let go of the saw trigger button when you’re done to stop the blade from rotating. Next, lift up slightly on the handle and it’ll return to its original position, ready to go again!
From experience and a bit of research, I’ve found most chop saw setups tend to be quite big and might take up quite a bit of space, but their convenience certainly makes them worth it!
What is a miter saw?
There’s no doubt a miter saw looks and feels very similar to a chop saw. However, look closely, and you’ll find one very noticeable difference: the pivot. The saw blade rotates from left to right to make angled cuts.
A miter saw (sometimes called a mitre saw) is a perfect tool for making clean, precise cuts in wood. Don’t be put off by the intimidating look of this device; it’s pretty simple to use and can achieve some beautiful cuts.
When you need to make cuts at different angles (say, for instance, to install crown molding or make a picture frame), you’ll want to use a miter saw.
If woodworking is your hobby, the miter saw is one of the first tools we recommend to beginner woodworkers for DIY projects. Check out the other must-have tool ideas for beginner woodworkers that we recommend here!
Miter saw key features
- Ability to make angled cuts quickly and efficiently
- Used for an array of cuts, instead of just a cross-cut
- Eliminates the need for multiple saws
Quite simply, the front of the miter saw is rounded, and the stand it’s mounted on can pivot a typical 45 degrees, either left or right. Most will also come with an angle gauge to cut exactly where you need to.
Interestingly, there’s such a thing as a compound miter saw, which is basically the same, except it can tilt horizontally while remaining parallel to the table. This is designed for making bevel cuts.
Types of miter saws
- Traditional miter saw: Blade can pivots left to right for angled cuts, blade can be pulled down over the workpiece but doesn’t slide forward to back
- Sliding miter saw: The entire blade will slide forward and backward as you pull it down over the wood piece, allowing you to cut wider boards.
- Compound single bevel miter saw: The blade can pivot left to right, but it can also tilt in one direction for bevel cuts. A compound miter saw can make 90-degree angle cuts, miter cuts, bevel cuts, or compound cuts (which combine with miter and bevels).
- Compound dual bevel miter saw: The blade can pivot left to right, but it can also tilt up and down for bevel cuts in two directions. A compound miter saw can make 90-degree angle cuts, miter cuts, bevel cuts, or compound cuts (which combine with miter and bevels).
- Compound dual bevel sliding miter saw: The blade slides forward and backward and can be pivoted and tiled to make both miter and bevel cuts. This is the most advanced type of miter saw you can get. If you’re really serious about upleveling your woodworking game, this is your best bet.
Each type of miter saw will also come either corded or cordless and be available in various different sizes based on the blade (7-in, 10-in, 12-in, etc).
Chop saw vs miter saw: how are they similar?
- Both are power tools
- Both are cross-cutting machines
- Both have a circular blade that is pulled down over the top of the material to make accurate cuts
- Both use a round saw blade that spins away from the person using the tool
- Both tools have a flat surface to put your material on and a back fence to keep it aligned
- Both are a stationary power tool
Chop saw vs miter saw: what’s the main difference?
The most significant difference between the chop saw and the miter saw is the miter saw’s ability to rotate the blade to make angle cuts whereas the chop saw can only make 90-degree cuts.
That’s it. That’s the main difference between the two!
Excuse the pun, but these saws are pretty cut and dry regarding how straightforward they are.
How to choose a saw?
How you choose which of these power tools is best all comes down to the type of project you’re working on.
- If you’re looking for straight cuts on metal or wood, break out your trusty chop saw and get to work.
- If the job requires precise angle cuts in wood or trim, a type of saw like a miter saw is your best tool for the job.
In order to decide which is right for you, let’s summarize the kind of projects you would use them for.
Chop saws that only cut crosscuts with their abrasive blades are ideal for working with different types of materials like:
- Metal and plastic pipes
- Metal rods
- Metal sheet
- Building materials like posts and guttering
- Wooden constructs
Miter cuts can do all this but have much more flexibility with how the materials can be cut, thanks to their saw blades that rotate.
Typically, you’ll use a miter saw for carrying out tasks like:
- Cutting baseboards and corner beads to a length
- Cutting through hardwood floors
- Cutting angled wood for frames and Windows, pictures frames, and so on
- Bevel cuts for joints at a 90-degree angle
- Compound angles (combining both a bevel and miter) when installing crown molding
Most power miter saws you get these days will be a compound miter saw variety – meaning that it can do bevel cuts as well as a miter.
Now, there’s no right or wrong when choosing between a miter saw and a chop saw. Both are great at what they do, but there’s one clear way to decide.
If you’re only making crosscuts, plain and simple, a chop saw is a way forward. They’re affordable, easy to use and get the job done.
However, if you think you’re going to need to make more complex cuts, not even now but also in the future when it’s worth paying a little extra for the miter saw.
At the end of the day, a miter saw cuts everything a chop saw can and more, so if you can afford the initial investment, then it’s undoubtedly future-proofing yourself!
So, if you’re searching for the best saw for your next DIY project, do your research before making a decision.
So what do you think… chop saw vs miter saw, what is the right tool for you?
Chelsea @ Making Manzanita
Chelsea is the founder of Making Manzanita. a DIY and renovation blog. where it’s all about making your house a home you love one DIY at a time. Chelsea and her husband, Logan, have been renovating homes since 2015 and have seen the sweat equity pay off. They enjoy teaching readers how to renovate with confidence. As an influencer, Chelsea has collaborated with brands like The Home Depot, Etsy, Behr Paint, DAP Products, Walmart, Frog-Tape, and Kreg Tools. Making Manzanita has participated in One Room Challenge and was a finalist in the Fall 2019 Jeffrey Court Renovation Challenge.
I’m Chelsea and he’s Logan. And we are so glad you’re here!
We’ve found that many couples don’t know how to start renovating their homes, which is why our passion is teaching others how to make their house a home they love. one DIY at a time.
At Making Manzanita, you’ll find step-by-step home improvement tutorials and design inspiration.
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Chop Saw Vs Miter Saw – Know the Difference to Make an Informed Choice
It’s common for people, especially beginners to get confused between chop saw and miter saw. No surprise, as they do look awfully alike to the untrained eye.
Actually, some people use them interchangeably which isn’t a right choice as it can lead to unclean and inaccurate finish.
Despite their look, both these power tool have understandable differences. Knowing them helps you use the right one for the task.
If you are wondering about the differences, you can find them explained clearly in this article. Read the information thoroughly to get the answer for your question – which type of saw is suitable for your task.
Chop Saw vs. Miter Saw: Which Tool Reigns Supreme in Woodworking?
Before going into it, let’s first understand what miter saw and chop saw are along with pros and cons.
Overview of Chop Saw
The chop saw is used to cut lengths of metal or wood into smaller pieces. It does not cut angles, curves, or bevels and doesn’t make rip cuts.
The cutting range is composed of a table along with fence at the back that supports material that is getting chopped and a clamp for holding it in place. So, the cutting area is a circular saw mounted on an adjustable stand which extends to a foot above the table’s middle and pivots up or down.
For making the cut, usually the user holds the handle at the top and clicks the trigger. The blade is then lowered into material. After the cut is complete, the saw turns back to its original position and the handle can be released.
|Powerful motor||Loud noise|
|Suitable for cutting variety of materials||Will throw sparks|
|Only 90-degree cuts||Doesn’t cut in angles|
|Quick and easy operation||Increased risk of injury|
Overview of Miter Saw
A miter saw is mostly similar to chop saw. However, the stand that holds the miter saw is capable of pivoting left and right, often up to 45 degrees.
Unlike chop saw, a miter saw table’s front is not rectangular, and it has angle gauge marked on it. Once you have selected the angle, the handle that rotates the saw can extend out from the table. The locking mechanism stops the saw moving after you select it.
The compound miter saw also has an additional feature: It can rotate over horizontal axis parallel with table and lock onto a specific angle. It lets you make the bevel cuts that are not 90 ° in the vertical plane. When it comes to particular compound miter saws can be mounted over a horizontal track that allows user to move saw forward and back to cut large wood pieces.
Two Ways to Stop Wood Tear Out on a Miter Saw #shorts
|Suitable for professionals and home owners||Not so powerful|
|Safe to use||Only for wood cutting|
|Cuts in different angles||Not for large or heavy-duty projects|
|Perfect for detailed work|
|Beveled or straight cuts|
|Cuts are not so smooth and clean|
Chop Saw Vs Miter Saw – Comparison Table
Below is a table for represents quick comparison of chop saw and miter saw. If you don’t have much time to analyze then this table helps you make a decision.
|Factor||Chop Saw||Miter Saw|
|Suitable For||Cutting metals (iron, steel, aluminum), tiles, concrete||wood|
|Type of Cutting Disk/Blade||Abrasive Disk||Stainless Steel with Carbide coated teeth|
|Lifespan of Disk/Blade||Less as the diameter reduces with every cut||Very long|
|Chances of Sparks||Definite as you work with metal and other tough materials||Very less|
|Guard||Large guard to protect from sparks and shrapnel||Small – medium sized guard|
|Precision||Not very precise. We often use it for making rough cuts in metal||Very precise|
|Blade speed and size||Fast and 12 to 15 inches||Fast and 6-1/4 to 12 inches|
|Used by||Metal and Construction jobs||Woodworking (furniture, carpentry)|
|Weight and Portability||Heavy and not easily portable||Medium to heavy weight but portable|
|Cost||Relatively less (100 to 200)||Slightly more (250 to 350)|
In-Depth Comparison of Chop Saw Vs Miter Saw
If you want to know the differences in more details, then below descriptions can help you. We have provided detail description of each factor for your reference. Read through the information to make a wise choice.
The two main components of both saws are a metal working base and a spinning blade mounted on a radial arm. But the similarities stop here.
A chop saw’s head is fixed. It can only move in one direction: up or down. This is why it can only make straight cuts. A miter saw’s head can be tilted to make bevel cuts. It could tilt either way depending on the model (that would be a dual compound wither saw).
A chop saw’s metal base is simple. The fence adjustment allows you to make angled cuts up to 45 degrees. It can also be used as a vice to secure the workpiece.
A fence is also included with the miter saw. It can be found on the back. To achieve precise angles, they also have a miter adjustment on the front. This regulation is more complicated, but it produces more accurate results when woodworking.
Speed and Power
When it comes to power and output, the chop saw and miter saws look very similar. Many users have reported that the saws are not the same in power or speed, but they feel different when used.
A chop saw is generally considered to be stronger. You will likely feel more in control when using a miter saw. This is likely to be due to the material you use. Hard metal is often a more difficult job than woodworking, and chop saws have to deal with it.
When it comes to power source, they both are electric saws. For miter saws, you have two options: corded or uncorded. But chop saws are available mostly in corded options. Though very few models are cordless, they are not so portable.
Size of the Tool (Dimensions Weight)
Compared to chop saws, miter saws are actually heavier in weight. Although their heads look the same, miter saws’ working bases are often larger because they have an extra regulation system. A miter saw is about 50 pounds in weight, and chop saws are 30 to 35 pounds.
Both are portable tools, regardless of whether they’re stationary or mobile tools. They are quite common to be seen on construction sites.
Let’s get to the blade talk. This is one of their main differences. It’s also closely related to their respective applications. The type of work that the saws are required to perform will determine the blade type.
Chop saws typically come with a 14–15-inch blade. Larger saws may require them to be 16 inches. Miter saws can be purchased in sizes 7 1/2, 10 and 12. Even though it is more popular, the latter model is quite popular. A 10-inch model is safe. There aren’t many jobs that need a 12-inch blade. The smaller 7 1/2-inch saw is not worth the cost. You can buy a larger model for about the same price.
A chop saw can be used for woodworking. In that case, it is advisable to use an abrasive knife. This would cause a lot of damage and could burn the cutting surface. Super abrasive blades are often used for concrete and asphalt. These blades last longer and produce less sparks, but they are more expensive.
Miter saws, on the other hand, are used primarily for woodworking and come in a box with a toothed knife. This type of wheel ensures precise and clean cuts. It may be necessary to purchase a high-speed blade made of steel, which can spin more quickly depending on the type of wood. You can use a miter saw on other materials if you have the right conditions. This will be discussed later.
Types of Cuts They Can Make
The cuts that chop saws and miter sees can make are different. Chop saws are limited to cutting straight lines, while miter-saws can cut at angles, making miter cuts.
Let’s begin with the chop saw. These are used mainly for crosscuts, which are straight cuts. They can be described as 90degree miter cuts.
The miter saw’s head can tilt, so you can make bevel cuts as well as miter cuts. They are very popular in woodworking because they offer a greater contact surface for joinery and are more pleasing to the eye. You can also make compound cuts with a compound miter saw. These are combinations of the two.
Ease of Operation
Chop saws have a fence adjustment which allows you to rotate your work piece and make miter cuts. Because the blade is fixed, you can’t make bevel cuts. It cannot move in a straight line.
Using a chop saw is much easier than using a miter saw. The fence is the only thing you need to adjust with chop saws. You might need multiple angles for complex cuts when using a miter saw. If you don’t, you won’t be able join your wood pieces later. Handling miter saws require more skill.
Most miter saws come with several safety features. Most important of all is the blade guard. This will protect the blade in any areas that aren’t being cut at the moment.
Chop saws are not the safest option but they’re stronger than other saws. Chop saws can produce large amounts of sparks that could pose a danger to your safety. These sparks are unlikely to cause skin burns, but you should be cautious about where the saw is being used and ensure that there aren’t any flammable objects in the area.
The price of a chop saw will vary from 100 to hundreds of dollars. Price will be affected by the size, brand quality and warranty as well as power. You may choose to buy a professional-grade saw depending on how frequently you intend to use it.
The miter saw will be priced the same as the chop saw. You can find less expensive models for around 100, but the price will rise to many hundreds of dollars. There are many options and features available for miter saws.
Pricing will go up when you consider features like laser lines or the ability to turn the saw to make difficult cuts. A miter saw that is high-quality and functional can be purchased at a reasonable price depending on your cutting requirements.
So, Which One to Choose – Chop Saw or Miter Saw
After reading my guide, we hope you have a better understanding of the differences between a miter and a chop saw.
Each saw has a purpose. For example, a chop saw is a great tool to make 90deg cuts in metal or other materials like tile and stone. For angled cuts in wood, however, miter saws are more suitable. So, the right choice entirely depends on your requirements or project tasks.
Some Frequently Asked Questions
You can’t make compound and bevel cuts with a chop saw. These angle cuts are reserved for miter saws. These cuts can be made with other types, such as Band saws. You can also use a miter saw as a chop saw: the head must be at a 90-degree angle.
If you have the ability to mount an abrasive knife on it, this is possible. A toothed blade could have a higher tooth count. However, I wouldn’t improvise. If possible, use the right tool for the job.
Yes, you can cut soft metals such as aluminum with a miter saw. It is not recommended for cutting tougher metals such as steel. It is possible to mount an abrasive knife on your miter saw. However, this would create sparks that could ignite plastic blade guards. Stick to wood and other soft materials. Use the right tools to cut metals.
All power tools have some risk. However, chop saws can be more dangerous than other tools. The miter saw is smaller and easier to use.
Professional contractors will love a chop saw. This saw is extremely powerful and can cut large, thick pieces of wood and metal. This is an indispensable tool for professionals and people who are involved in large projects that need such powerful tools.
The miter saw is a handy tool that DIY workers should have. These saws are versatile enough to be used for both professional and amateur projects. This saw can fulfill most of the requirements of amateur carpenters.
A miter saw and chop saw might look similar at first glance. They both use a circular blade to cut.
It’s easy to see why people think they can use a miter saw as a cutting tool. They are, however, quite different, as you can see in this comprehensive guide.
The chop saw is designed to cut through most metals, stone, and the miter saw is a great choice for wood projects. The project will determine which chop saw or miter saw is best for you.
So, which one did you choose? Did the information in this article has helped you make the choice? If you still have questions to clarify, we recommend writing to us in the comment section below.
Miter Saw Guide
Miter saws are versatile woodworking tools created for cutting a variety of building materials such as lumber, siding, flooring, or even PVC pipes. Used primarily for crosscuts, which are cuts that go across the grain of the wood, miter saws have mounted circular saw blades that you pull down to cut the workpiece. Many miter saws are stationary saws, as you bring the mounted blade downward, rather than running it horizontally along the workpiece. One that slides horizontally across the piece as you cut would be a “sliding” miter saw. Miter saws go by many other names, such as a chop box saws, chop saws, and miter box saws.
A miter saw’s standard cutting angle is 90 degrees. However, both single and dual bevel miter saws allow you to make bevel cuts, which are cuts that are along the material’s thickness at an angle other than 90 degrees. The bevel of a miter saw is useful for intricate work and often a major differentiator for buyers. The saw blade rotates — either to the left or right — allowing you to adjust the saw positioning to different angles, such as a 45-degree angle. Typical miter saw applications include making trim, molding, baseboards and other fine carpentry work. Miter saws allow you to achieve complex angles that are often required with woodworking and carpentry projects.
This guide to miter saws will explain the different ways you can achieve bevels cuts with two different types of circular saws: single and dual bevel miter saws.
Single Bevel Compound Miter Saws
A single bevel miter saw only adjusts its positioning in one direction: to the left or right. Therefore, a single bevel miter saw allows you to make one-directional bevel cuts. Single bevel miter saws can make both bevel cuts and miter cuts independently or together.
Depending on your project, you may need to make bevel cuts on both sides of the workpiece. Because a single bevel miter saw can only make bevel cuts in one direction, you’ll need to turn your workpiece around to achieve an additional bevel cut on its other side.
Even though a single bevel miter saw can only make bevel cuts in one direction, the saw can still accomplish the same thing a dual bevel does, just with a little more brainpower. If you need to make multiple cuts on both sides of your workpiece, it will take longer and require more effort using a single bevel miter saw.
Dual-Bevel Compound Miter Saws
The blade angles of a dual bevel miter saw can adjust to both the left and right, as opposed to just one side, like the single bevel saw. Some people call this type of tool a double bevel miter saw because it can be adjusted to make cuts in any direction.
Because the saw head can rotate on a fulcrum towards both the right and the left, you can make identical bevel cuts in your workpiece without having to turn your material around. Double bevel miter saws allow you to make precise and uniform cuts on both sides of your workpiece. It also makes the job easier and quicker, as you can make faster repetitive cuts even on longer workpieces.
For contractors or highly committed hobbyists, a dual bevel miter saw will improve your workflow and efficiency.
Single vs. Dual Bevel Miter Saws
Both single and dual miter saws can make miter and bevel cuts, and both use circular saw blades for cutting. They are also both referred to as “Compound” miter saws because they can make miter cuts and cuts in 1 or 2 directions. Despite these basic similarities, there are some differences between each.
Pros and Cons of Single Bevel Miter Saws
Single bevel miter saws are more straightforward machines, ideally suited for the beginner craftsman or home improvement hobbyist. If you’re new to woodworking or looking for a lower maintenance saw, consider these pros of single bevel miter saws:
- They’re Cheap: Single bevel compound miter saws are typically a few hundred dollars cheaper than dual bevel saws of the same brand.
- Simplicity: Single bevel miter saws are straightforward and easier to use. If you plan on making most of your cuts at 90-degree angles, then this will do everything you need.
- Versatility: Single bevel miter saws are great for beginners or professionals since you can accomplish what you can with a dual bevel, with a hair more effort.
Despite their advantages, single bevel miter saws do have some drawbacks:
- Fewer capabilities: The main disadvantage of the single bevel miter saw is that it makes one-directional angled cuts, meaning you have to turn your workpiece around to make matching cuts. This matters most when installing crown molding or other types of trim.
- Less uniformity: Because you can’t make double cuts at once with a single bevel miter saw, any matching bevel cuts you make on the other side of your workpiece might not appear as uniform.
- Longer work time: If you’re working on a more intricate project requiring double cuts, it will take you longer with a single bevel cut miter saw.
Pros and Cons of Dual Bevel Miter Saws
Many professional contractors and advanced woodworkers prefer double bevel miter saws. If you’re a more experienced craftsperson, then here are some of the benefits of investing in a dual bevel miter saw:
- Take on more work: With a double bevel miter saw, you can take on more projects because you’ll be able to cut in both directions efficiently. This is very helpful for crown molding projects and other projects with trim.
- Meet tight deadlines: Being able to make bevel cuts in two directions without rotating your workpiece saves time, meaning you can get more done faster if you’re on a tight deadline.
- Make precise cuts: Having the ability to rotate the saw head allows you to make more precise matching cuts on both sides of the workpiece, improving the quality of your work.
It’s essential to choose the right miter saw for you, so first consider some of these possible disadvantages of dual bevel miter saws:
- expensive: Dual bevel miter saws are typically at least 100 more than single bevel miter saws from the same brand, so it’s important to consider the return you’ll get from your investment.
- complicated to use: Dual bevel miter saws have more extensive capabilities, making them more complicated and not as suitable for beginners. Typically the projects where these are most helpful, such as crown molding as mentioned above, are not beginner woodworking projects.
The Miter Saw Says it’s Sliding. What does that mean?
Both single and dual bevel miter saws can be sliding. Sliding miter saws are designed to expand the capabilities of the miter saw. The blade sits on a rail and slides across the board you’re cutting. This will allow you to cut wider boards. Some sliding saws allow you to cut boards that are 12″ or even 16″ in width, which you couldn’t accomplish with a normal miter saw. Instead of “chopping” through the board, you’ll slide the blade across the board since the blade sits on rails. To use a sliding miter saw, you simply pull the blade toward your body and push away as you cut. Typically single and dual bevel miter saws that are sliding cannot be adjusted to angles that are as steep as the non-sliding saws. This is because the rails used for sliding interfere with the side to side motion.
Blades You Can Use With a Miter Saw
Whether you use a single or a dual miter saw, the quality of your work still depends on the right type of blade for the job. Miter saws are versatile woodworking tools that you can use with a variety of circular saw blades. Here are some of your best saw blade options to use with a miter saw:
- Crosscut blade: Miter saws are meant for crosscutting, which is why your miter saw needs a good crosscut blade. For best crosscutting results, choose a blade with a high tooth count, so you can achieve smoother cuts.
- Combination blade: If you use a variety of materials besides lumber, then a combination blade is a good option. Combination blades allow you to achieve smooth cuts in materials other than lumber.
When selecting your saw blade for your miter saw, be sure to choose high-quality blades that are built to last longer and perform better.
Choose Luxite Saw Blades for Superior Woodworking
Whether you’re a professional craftsman or carpenter or you’re new to hobby woodworking, choose Luxite woodworking blades for high-quality woodworking results. We offer superior carbide-tipped circular saw blades that are made to last, giving you a better return on your investment.
For more information on Luxite saws, reach out to our representatives today. Call us at 1-800-654-7297 or contact us online.
Miter Saw vs Circular Saw. What’s the Difference?
Are you curious about the difference between a miter saw and a circular saw? Are you trying to decide which power tool you should buy first? No worries! In this article, I’ll share the information you need to make the right decision.
Miter saws and circular saws both have a toothed, circular blade that can be used to cut wood, PVC and even aluminum. While there is some overlap between these two power tools, there are also some important differences.
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Differences Between a Miter Saw and a Circular Saw
A miter saw can do most of the same tasks as a circular saw, but both tools have their strengths and weaknesses.
- A miter saw is stationary and the blade is pulled downward onto the wood, while a circular saw is handheld and the blade is pushed through the wood.
- A circular saw excels at breaking down sheet goods, and a miter saw is best for cutting down longer boards.
- A miter saw can make more accurate cuts, due to the handheld nature of the circular saw.
- A circular saw is less expensive than a miter saw, and it’s more portable.
- A miter saw is safer to use than a circular saw.
- A circular saw can make both rip cuts along the length of a board and cross cuts across the width of a board, but a miter saw can only make cross cuts.
What is a Miter Saw?
A miter saw is a stationary cutting tool that makes cross-grain cuts. The miter saw is sometimes known as a “chop saw,” because you bring the blade down onto the wood in a chopping motion.
As their name implies, these saws are used for making miter cuts, or an angled cut. For example, a 45 degree miter cut is used for the corners of a picture frame.
Miter saws are also used to make bevel cuts. A bevel cut will create an angle along the end of the board. Learn more about how to use a miter saw here!
Types of Miter Saws
Let’s go over a few different types of miter saws. You can find several of these features all in one saw!
- Single bevel. A single bevel miter saw can make miter cuts and bevel cuts in a single direction.
- Double bevel miter saw. The double bevel miter saw can make bevel cuts in both directions. This feature speeds up the process when you need to make a lot of angled cuts. Learn the difference between a single bevel and dual bevel miter saw here!
- Compound miter saw. A compound miter saw allows you to make compound cuts. Compound cuts are when you make a miter cut and a bevel cut at the same time.
- Sliding miter saw. This type of miter saw slides on a bar to allow the blade to move forward instead of just straight down. Sliding miter saws are capable of cutting wider boards than non-sliding models.
Miter Saw Blade Size
The size of your miter saw blade will determine how big of a board you’re able to cut. But bigger isn’t always better! A small miter saw is more portable, and is easier to store away when you’re not using it.
You can purchase small miter saws with a 7 ¼” blade, which are great for the occasional DIY-er. However, the reduced cutting capacity of a smaller blade can be limiting.
A ten-inch blade is better suited for most jobs. This size is most common, and can be found in a variety of price points.
A 12-inch blade gives you the most cutting capacity (up to 14″ wide), but are the most expensive and the heaviest of the bunch.
Frequently Asked Question About Miter Saws
Let’s answer some of the most commonly asked questions about miter saws.
Are Cheap Miter Saws Worth it?
When looking for a miter saw, you want to get the most value. Both inexpensive and expensive miter saws can be worth it. It all depends on what you need.
If you’re just cutting some trim, and that’s all you will use your miter saw for, then it might make sense to purchase an inexpensive saw with a small blade.
Note: It’s never worth it to buy a low-quality miter saw. My first miter saw was a cheap Harbor Freight model, and it never cut straight! Save yourself some frustration and get a better quality saw!
When Should I Use a Miter Saw?
Miter saws work well when you need to make multiple cuts on standard lumber, like 2×4 boards. The miter saw is also useful for cutting trim, deck planks, and dowels. Basically, any long, thin wood can easily be cut at the miter saw!
When you use a miter saw stop block, you can cut dozens of identical pieces without measuring each one. With a circular saw, you’ll have to measure, mark and line up your blade each time you want to make a cut.
Wider sheet goods like plywood can’t be cut at a miter saw unless it’s already in strips that are narrower than the cutting capacity of the saw. This job is better suited for a circular saw or table saw.
Do I need a miter saw stand?
Some miter saws come with their own stand, or you can purchase one that fits your particular model. It’s much more comfortable to work with the saw at a workbench, but you can always use the floor in a pinch!
If you plan to use a miter saw on a regular basis, you may want to consider building yourself a miter saw stand for the workshop or garage. It will help support the board on both sides of the blade, and makes it easier to set up a stop block system. I had a mobile miter saw stand for many years, and recently built this amazing miter saw station that gives me tons of storage underneath!
What is a Circular Saw?
A circular saw is a battery powered or corded cutting tool used for rip cuts, bevel cuts, and crosscuts.
The circular saw is handheld. Some people think of a circular saw similar to a table saw; however, with a circular saw, you push the saw, and with a table saw, you push the material.
Types of Circular Saws
While all circular saws have the same basic design, with a flat plate on the bottom and a blade on the side, there are three main types.
Miniature circular saws have blades under 5″ in diameter, and have a handle that extends behind the motor instead of on top. They have a limited cutting depth, but most can cut a 2×4 or plywood. This type of saw is perfect for:
- Keeping in your car to break down sheet goods in the parking lot of the home improvement store.
- Occasional DIY-ers who only need to make a few cuts every once in a while.
- Contractors who want a lightweight alternative for cutting boards up in the air.
Standard size circular saws range from 7 ¼” to 10″ diameter blades. These are the most common type, and are great for all sorts of cutting tasks.
Track saws are a special kind of circular saw that runs on a dedicated track system for more straight, accurate cuts. Tracks saws are much more expensive, but they deliver finish quality cuts and can replace a miter saw, circular saw AND table saw for most applications. You can learn more about the difference between a track saw and a circular saw here!
If you’re struggling to get straight cuts with your circular saw, but don’t want to shell out the cash for a track saw, try making yourself a circular saw straight edge jig!
Circular Saw Blades
Circular saw blades can have a high or low tooth count. Generally speaking, a lower tooth count is good for fast, rough cuts. However, if you want less tear out and splinters at the edge of your board, I recommend using a blade with a higher tooth count. Circular saw blades come with 24, 60, and even 120 tooth blades.
The most common blade size for a circular saw is 7 ¼ inches, but you can also find smaller ones that are easier to handle. These blade sizes aren’t interchangeable, so you should always use the correct one for the saw you have.
Frequently Asked Questions About Circular Saws
Let’s go over some common circular saw questions.
When Should I Use a Circular Saw?
Many woodworkers and DIYers love circular saws because they are incredibly versatile. Unlike miter saws, circular saws are easily portable and can make long rip cuts.
Many people use circular saws when cutting larger boards down to size. for instance, a large sheet of plywood or a 2×12 that would be difficult to cut with a smaller miter saw.
What Should I Avoid Doing with a Circular Saw?
Avoid operating a circular saw without a blade cover. Some people have removed these blade covers because they believe they “get in the way.” When used properly, blade covers do not get in the way. These covers are there to protect your fingers!
Are Circular Saws Dangerous?
Yes. If used irresponsibly or without educating yourself on how to use them, circular saws can be very dangerous. Kickback can occur when the blade gets pinched between the two halves of the board. The saw could drop through the cut and injure your foot or leg. Or your fingers could just get in the way of the blade. All these safety considerations should be kept in mind when using this tool.
Why Does My Circular Saw Get Stuck?
If you’re using two sawhorses to support both ends of the board while cutting through the middle, this can cause the wood to pinch the blade. I recommend laying your board on a large slab of rigid foam insulation. This provides support without pinching the blade, and also prevents your work surface from getting cut up.
Second, you might have a dull blade. Be sure your blade is sharp and that it has the right tooth count for the material you’re working with.
Finally, your circular saw may not be very powerful, or the battery may be wearing down. If so, charge the battery or upgrade to a more powerful saw.
Now that you know the difference between a miter saw vs circular saw, you can choose the right one for you with confidence! Both have their pros and cons, and you may end up buying both for your workshop for different uses!
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