Miter Saw vs Chop Saw Buying Guide: Which One is For You?

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Hobbyists and do it yourselfers are well aware of the fact that maintaining a well-stocked shop can be expensive. Depending on what you use your workspace for, any number of tools could be needed but unfortunately, it isn’t always easy knowing which is best for your needs.

Miter Saw vs Chop Saw

In order to help you make sure that you are acquiring the right tools, today we will be comparing the miter and chop saw to help you see the differences between the two, and use each of them safely should you decide to add one to your collection. Sit back, relax, and enjoy your Miter saw vs. chop saw guide.

Ok, so what is a miter saw?

A miter saw is a tool that is designed to give you access to cuts with a wide variety of angles. It accomplishes via the swing arm that the saw itself is mounted onto. This arm is able to be moved left or right to provide more angles for cutting than other saws are typically able to deliver.

Most miter saws now will also allow you to tilt the blade so that you can employ an even wider range of cuts. This is referred to as a “compound miter saw”. While it is worth confirming before you make a purchase, you can assume that most of the miter saws you encounter as you shop around will have this feature.

Given how versatile the miter saw is, it is a tool that can comfortably be used on a wide range of projects. In fact, many do it yourselfers consider it a must-have tool. It’s the perfect saw for any project that requires angled cuts of any kind. Whether you are making a frame, a shelf, or a countertop the miter saw boasts a range of motion that should simplify your approach.

And, what’s a chop saw?

The chop saw is actually in the same family as the miter saw. With this tool, you are still getting a saw attached to a pivoting arm that yields a wide range of cuts. The chop saw, however, uses what is referred to as an abrasive blade, which makes it a great option for those that work regularly with cutting steel.

While you can use a traditional saw blade to work with steel products, the “teeth” that characterize these tools yield a lot of variables that can lead to problems and inconveniences.

Of course, this tool naturally is not going to be as useful to some people as it is to others. If you are a do it yourselfer, you may encounter the need to work through steel products, but if woodwork is your primary niche, you may find this tool slightly less suitable for your needs than a traditional miter saw.

Naturally, we will dive deeper into this matter as we now take a look at how these tools are similar, and how they are different. Keep reading for more on the miter saw VS. the chop saw!

The Miter Saw versus Chop Saw

How are Miter Saw and Chop Saw Different?

The biggest difference between these two tools is in their versatility. If you want a powerful tool that is going to be very handy for a wide range of tasks, the miter saw is pretty much definitely for you. It will be the perfect tool for the majority of woodworking jobs, and with the right preparation, you can even use it to work through plastics and steel materials.

Meanwhile, the chop saw is a really great tool for the handy-person with a very specific set of needs.  The chop saw is going to equip you to work through a much wider range of metals than the miter saw. If this is a capability that you need out of your tools than choosing a chop saw is something of a no-brainer.

The chop saw will also be able to make straight cuts with wood, but given its reduced range of motion, you probably would not choose it if your situation is that you will be working mostly with wood.

How They Are Alike:

As I have mentioned already, both saws are in the same family of power tools. In fact, you will often enough hear them referred to interchangeably. Both tools are designed similarly, featuring the saw mounted onto an arm that rotates and pivots.

They even look similar, with size being what will mostly allow you to tell them apart (the chop saw is generally going to be larger than the miter saw).

Both tools will allow you to work to a certain extent with woods and metals (with each saw of course having its own specialty) and both will also be great for making straight cuts.

Indeed, for all the ways in which these tools are similar, it is the small differences that will help shoppers decide between them. It is ultimately the heightened power of the chop saw that will make it the more appropriate choice for an industrial setting, and the larger range of cuts that will make the miter saw more appropriate for the home maintenance setting.

Safety and Maintenance:

Given the deep similarities between these tools, the way that you approach safety and maintenance will be the same with both. As far as safety is concerned, always be sure to wear appropriate protective gloves and eyewear, and keep your limbs away from the cutting area.

Maintenance is also a crucial component of using these tools safely. Your first step (with the tool off and removed from any power source) is to blow dust particles from the surface of the saw using compressed air. You will then wipe down the surface of the tool using a dry cloth rag.

You may apply these same steps to the fence and cutting table, feeling free to also make use of a scotch bright brush pad for areas with caked in particles.

Cleaning the blade will be its own challenge. Given how sharp it will be, handle with extreme care. You may wish to use a brush with a handle for your initial wipe down, but you will eventually also need to apply cutting oil to the surface using a circular motion.

A clean tool is a safe, and highly functioning tool, so don’t forget to maintain your miter or chop saw!


As you can see, when it comes to the miter saw vs the chop saw, neither tool really comes out on top. Both present do it yourselfers with excellent opportunities. In order to choose the right one, do your research, inventory your needs, and choose the saw that is most capable of performing the work that you need doing.

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