January 29, 2022
While most industries nowadays are shifting to automation, many woodworkers across the globe still get stuck with their manual and ancient woodworking tools. This is because most power tools are still expensive. Nevertheless, the moment you decide to transition to the use of power tools, you’ll soon get confronted with a wide array of power tools that can confuse you.
If you’re on a budget, you might as well choose among similarly performing power tools like the table saw, bandsaw, chop saw, and circular saw. And speaking of the chop saw and the circular saw, these two saws both use circular saw blades. Yet, this doesn’t mean that they produce the same cutting results. Therefore, it will help if you know the similarities and differences between the cuts and performances of these two powerful tools to decide which one is best for your needs.
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Understanding the Circular Saw and the Chop Saw
If you’re a beginner in woodworking, you might be wondering about how the circular saw differs from the chop saw. It will help, at the onset, to know the succinct differences between these two power tools to get you started on the correct path in woodworking. Below is a short description of each of these power tools:
The circular saw is a powered saw that comes with a circular blade. It got invented in the latter years of the 18th century. You’ll see its saw blade housed inside a robust handle. Moreover, its blade features an abrasive disc with teeth, and it cuts via its rotary motion. Furthermore, you can use it to cut various materials like wood, plastic, metal, or masonry. It also refers to the hand-held type of circular saw.
As you search for the best circular saw, you will discover that most circular saws come with cutting guides. You will also find corded and cordless circular saws. The corded, of course, is the most popular option, while the battery-powered ones offer excellent portability. You can use the circular saw safely to cut a wide array of materials.
The chop saw features a circular blade. You’ll see its saw blade mounted on its raised arm. Then, this arm is brought down during the cutting process as if you were chopping the material you will cut. Unlike the circular saw, the chop saw is affixed to a place. This means you can only cut down using the chop saw at a 90° angle.
So, you can make straight cuts using this saw, and you will find it very efficient when making straight cuts. This saw, of course, is less versatile than the miter saw, which is a compound chop saw. Hence, you will often hear woodworkers interchangeably use the terms chop saw and miter saw.
These saws, of course, have similarities, but they are not identical. The miter saws, unlike the chopping saw, can make linear chopping motion. Thus, you can use it to cut at an angle. Likewise, some miter saws are easily adjustable for cutting at preset angles, while others allow full customization.
The chop saw, however, exhibits more cutting power because it comes with fewer moving parts. This additional cutting power can come in handy in professional setups, but this additional power is negligible at home workshops.
Deatiled Comparisons of Circular Saw and Chop Saw in Different Aspects
If you got all the money to buy expensive power tools, you would not need to choose between power tools. Yet, if you’re on a budget, you will need to figure out which among similarly functioning power tools is the more advantageous one to choose. To help you decide between the chop saw and the miter saw, you can check out this short comparison of the succinct features of these two power tools:
Chop saw produces the ideal crosscuts at a 90° angle on different lumber types. It can also make bevel and angled cuts, and it comes with a secure base. As such, you will find it easier to cut through small lumber pieces using its chopping motion. Meanwhile, a circular saw can make crosscuts, as well as miter cuts. Nevertheless, it can never make bevel cuts. Moreover, it can produce rip cuts which the chop saw can’t do.
Width of Cutting Material
You can utilize the chop saw to cut molding, lumber, and decking. Moreover, you can use it for other non-ferrous metals. Yet, it can only cut materials within a specific size, which means size restrictions limit it. If the material is too wide for the chop saw, the chop saw will fail to cut it. However, with the circular saw, the width of material that you can cut is wide enough. You can make long rip cuts without any problem using a circular saw.
Another aspect worth comparing is the portability of these two powerful tools. The chop saw is fixed. As such, you need to bring your material to the chop saw. If you are working with small materials, bringing your materials to the chop saw will be easy. Yet, if you work with larger ones, it will be inconvenient for you to lift your material onto the chop saw. A circular saw, however, is portable and movable. You can bring it to your materials or your workplace, and it is portable.
When comparing the level of safety of the use of these two power tools, you will find the chop saw safer to use than the circular saw. Your hand will be farther away from the blade of the chop saw when cutting.
Moreover, you will have a lower risk of injuring yourself with the chop saw.
With the circular saw, however, the risk of injury is higher. Kickbacks can happen anytime if the blade binds. So, it will help if you are extra careful. Yet, whether you are using the chop saw, or the circular saw, you should always ensure that you are on the safe side. Don’t forget to wear safety gear when working on any power tools. However, there are several circular saws with built-in safety brake features you can find on the market.
Ease of Use
Between the chop saw and the circular saw, you might find the chop saw easy to use when it comes to making straight cuts. The reason is that you can secure the material and blade during the cutting process using the chop saw. Hence, you allow for minimal room for error.
When cutting straight lines using the circular saw, however, you need to practice and be patient. You should mark your cutline and use cutting guides or jigs when making straight cuts.
The thing about power tools like a chop saw and circular saw is that you should use them with care. It will help to understand how you should use them and the safety tips when using them. Both these power tools can come in handy to make your woodworking tasks light and easy. Yet, you should not lose focus when using these two power tools, for any miscalculation might lead to injuries.
Now that you understand the fundamental differences and similarities between the chop saw and the circular saw, you can now choose wisely which between these two saws is perfect for your present needs. As mentioned above, you don’t have to choose between these two power tools if you have enough money and want a complete set of power tools at your disposal. Yet, if you are bereft of enough budget, it will be best to know which is ideal for your present needs.
Jason is a 40-year-old woodworker, carpenter and author who have been involved in the woodworking and woodcraft industry with 17 years of experience. He is expertise in technical aspects, woodcraft and furniture building projects.