An introduction to chop saws

Chop saws are saws used to make highly accurate crosscuts or miters. This is why chop saws are also called miter saws or mitre saws. They allow you to cut lumber at various angles, though a chop saw is not the right tool for making a board narrower along the length of the board. Instead, the best chop saw will let you make a board shorter as well as cut angles on the ends so they can be joined together. Let’s take a look at some of the best chop saws on the market.

01. Dewalt Brand Chop Saw, 14 Inch Blade, Model D28715

Amazon ID B000HHWWES

This corded electric chop saw is made for heavy duty use. That’s why it has a quick-change saw blade. It is capable of cutting both one inch metal rods and thick wood pieces.

Features

This chop saw by Dewalt has a 15 amp, 5.5 horsepower motor. The motor turns the 14 inch blade. The blades can be changed without a special wrench. The power saw has an ergonomically designed handle to make it easy on your hands. The soft-start motor reduces wear and tear on the motor gears. However, the motor may pull 20 or more amps on startup or when cutting heavier pieces, and that can trip a residential circuit breaker.

Accessories

It does have a quick-lock vise to hold wood in position while you cut it. Dewalt is generally known for replacement parts like batteries for their cordless saws, but you have to pay a lot for replacement switches and other spare parts. You don’t get replacement blades but they are easy to find.

Issues

This chop saw is fence-free. This reduces the footprint of the saw while reducing the setup and take down time between jobs. Yet the tensioner does a terrible job holding things in place. This makes it dangerous if you’re trying to cut long pieces of wood or metal.

There is no easy way to align the piece you want to cut, and this increases the risk of making a mistake. The solution is to use a separate tri-square to get the right angle before you cut. Combine this with the lack of fences and poor tensioner performance, and it is almost impossible to make a quick 45 degree cut. It does much better with 90 degree cuts.

02. Dewalt Model DW872 14 Inch Metal Cutting Saw

Amazon ID B0000302QS

This is the best chop saw for someone on a budget. It can cut both metal and wood. This is unusual for its product class. The ability to cut metal is also what differs this chop saw from the first Dewalt chop saw we reviewed.

Features

This chop saw puts out 4 horsepower and has a top speed of 1300 RPM. The carbide tipped blades cut cleanly. You hardly need to finish the items you’ve cut.

This multi-cutter cuts through both ferrous and nonferrous metals. For example, it can cut one quarter inch thick angle iron as well as wood boards. And it does so several times faster than other chop saws.

Accessories

The package we’re recommending includes a saw, wrench and vertical clamp. You’d have to buy replacement blades elsewhere. The blades on this chop saw wear out rather quickly, so stock up on them.

Issues

This chop saw has a clamping system, but the clamp is so forceful that it can push the fence out of the square. The solution is to check the fence before every cut. We wouldn’t recommend this saw if you need highly accurate cuts, such as when you make a lot of miter cuts.

This Dewalt chop saw has no real debris collection system. You will need to clean up dust and wood chips when you’re done.

03. Ironton Brand Dry Cut Metal Saw

Amazon ID B00XLHL6MK

The Ironton saw is designed to cut metal, as the name implies. It has a 14 inch blade. It is driven by a 15 amp motor that can spin it up to 1450 RPM. This electric saw pulls roughly 110 volts.

Features

This is the best chop saw for those who regularly work with light pieces of metal. It is capable of cutting square stock up to four inches thick and round pieces up to almost five inches thick. It can cut pipe, angle iron and conduit. The D-handle allows you to control the descent of the saw. You can adjust the saw to cut up to a 45 degree angle.

Accessories

The saw comes with a single carbide-tipped blade. It won’t generate sparks, and it doesn’t require a coolant system. It has basic safety features like a protective shield for your hand and saw cover. There is a basic tool-free guide plate. The quick-release vise allows you to quickly release and replace material, speeding up your switch-out time.

Issues

The unit can draw quite a bit of power at startup, and this could trip a GFI switch or circuit breaker if you are plugged into a standard wall outlet.

The blade is not always aligned with the base. Then it hits the heavy duty base instead of cutting the material underneath the groove.

A bigger problem is the blade itself. It wears out quickly, and they don’t provide a spare with the saw. Yet the blade guard may break off; stop using it if this happens.

04. Dewalt Model DWS779 Computer Miter Saw

Amazon ID B01ESCU5WS

This Dewalt miter saw has a 12 inch blade. More importantly, it has a sliding compound blade, so you can swing it around to cut the wood instead of you having to manipulate the piece into place beneath the blade.

Features

One point in favor of this saw is the fact that it can cut things up to 6.75 inches thick. You can easily cut a a 2×12 piece of wood at 45 degrees. With a 3800 RPM motor, it can cut through things very quickly.

This unit has an excellent dust collection system; that’s missing from most miter saws, including several similar saws by Dewalt. Just be careful not to damage the rubber on it. That can happen when you put a vacuum cleaner nozzle on it.

Accessories

You get a miter saw, 12 inch blade and the blade wrench necessary to install it.

This saw is compatible with Dewalt laser cutting guides and LEDs, but those are sold separately. Dewalt also sells a compatible miter saw stand with wheels.

Issues

This Dewalt saw does not have the bevel stop or slide lock lever that earlier models had. This makes it impossible to cut crown molding.

The cross-cut capacity is 13 inches, while the manufacturer says it is 16 inches.

Summary

What do you need to cut? How hard are you going to work the saw? The answers to these questions will help you determine the best chop saw for your workshop.

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