Best Cut-Off & Mitre Saws
If you’re looking for a new power tool to complete a DIY woodworking project, or to cut through heavy metals, understanding the differences between mitre and chop saws can help you make the right selection.
Latest review: This is an excellent saw. The detents are accurate. Unlike the Dewalt saw, you cannot alter the detents, but that's only really needed with sliding mitre saws. Mine was assembled in Japan, I think.
Latest review: Top dollar machine and don’t expect discounts. Accuracy of cuts however is outstanding. Dust extraction with the 36mm vacuum hose is extremely good. If your looking for a top quality machine this is i
Latest review: Bought this saw in Sept 2020 after spending weeks comparing specs and researching. To start with at 70 x 312 mm 0° it has as far as I'm aware the best cut capacity for a 216mm saw including mitres
This 216 mm Slide Compound Mitre Saw is designed for the following uses: mobile use in assembly settings, to cut boards and panels, trim strips, profile and square timber, and adjust skirting boards and cornices accurately without calculations, thanks to the bevel-cut function.
Latest review: We had this in a timber workshop with casual amateur users - so a tough environment for any tool to shine. We got two years of half-day light use before the motor bit the dust - one more year would
Latest review: Spotted this saw/stand combination on a recent Bunnings visit. Whilst I had been looking for a sliding mitre saw, was cautious about tools that “looked” good bit did not have the quality required for
Latest review: I've had this saw for two years now and apart from a few problems - the fence is weak in the centre, the accuracy of the detent could be improved and the connection points for the dust extractors are
Latest review: I do not have a workshop so I need a sliding compound mitre saw that is easy to move and not too heavy (compared to my previous large, heavy 240V one). I own quite a few Makita cordless tools so I
Latest review: reasonably accurate with straight and angle cuts slide arms prone to corrosion unless oiled occassionally. rebate depth guide stop plate has to much give to be accurate. a stiffer metal swing arm
Latest review: I have been using this product for a week and it is great cuts are square and very happy with the stand that they have made for the saw ! Only problem was the laser needed to be squared up before use
Latest review: I purchased this Mitre Saw in Victoria and had problems on the first day with it. I returned it under warranty and they found it had a warped blade - straight from the factory. Following this I
Latest review: I have one of these machine, I use it for demolition and concrete cutting as a builder. Its excellent, provided you follow the book by the letter and have the correct fuel, two stroke oil is very
Latest review: On my first time, I almost had an accident with mitre saw. The timber support is weak. I had this problem the first time. I lost faith in this mitre saw. This mitre saw is dangerous. Now I am
Latest review: First surprise was the comic book style 'Original Instructions'. Previously had a CMS 1825 which lasted 8 years and came with an 'Owners Operating Manual' which came with well written instructions
Latest review: This is review of the specifications. This saw looks great on paper and feels well made in the shop, but is let down by 0 degree right bevel. Why would the engineers at Bosch do such a silly thing?
Latest review: Bought as a barely used second hand tool. Same as the previous two reviews. The saw does not cut accurately. Had to modify the guide just to be able to adjust it to get an accurate 90 deg cut.
Latest review: I often once wondered how QC of Japanese quality Makitas's would be effected once they became involved with Chinese production short-cuts.. Well unable to choose any-longer here in AU between those
What is the difference between a mitre saw and a chop saw?
Cut robust materials like metal, masonry and concrete
Better for everyday woodwork, and cutting plastic and composites
Can only cut straight at a set 90 degree angle
Can make angled cuts or ‘mitres,’ as well as beveled and compound cuts
Large blade size is typically 14 inches minimum
Smaller blade that’s usually 10-12 inches in diameter
Stationary cutting motion - can’t pivot left and right
Versatile cutting functions - can rotate, pivot left and right, and sometimes cut on an axis
Fast and efficient as an abrasive blade spins very fast - around 5, 000 RPM (revolutions per minute)
Slower and less powerful due to the smaller motor and non-abrasive blade. These spin at around 3, 000 RPM.
Visually, the design and look of chop saws and mitre saws is similar. Both are tabletop saws, and both have circular blades mounted on a pivoting arm.
There are two main differences. Firstly, a chop saw is only able to make straight cuts at a 90 degree angle. A mitre saw owes its name to the ability to cut at angles. The second main difference is that the type of blade each saw type uses is different.
Cut-off saws are abrasive, whereas mitre saws have toothed blades, which don’t have the brute force of chop saws to cut through durable materials.
What does a cut-off saw do?
Cut-off saws can perform a wide range of heavy-duty and rather impressive tasks. This is because their blades are designed for power. As a standard, cut-off saws come with an abrasive blade which - unlike most saws - is toothless.
Instead, a cut-off saw’s blade is a smooth spinning disc, usually with a diamond coating (this kind of blade is constructed from powdered metal over a steel core, with tough, synthetic diamond crystals mixed through it).
This blade is what gives a cut-off saw its renowned ability to easily slice through metals, including ferrous metals.
Chop saws can also cut wood, masonry and composite materials. Even lumber that has nails in it isn’t an obstacle for a cut-off saw with an abrasive blade.
Cut-off saws are also commonly referred to as chop saws, abrasive saws and metal cut-off saws.
Can you use a cut-off saw to cut wood?
While making straight cuts on a piece of wood can be done using a chop saw, it will require additional steps to set up the cut-up saw correctly for the purpose.
This includes swapping out the disc blade of a chop saw with a wood-cutting saw blade with teeth. These multi-purpose blades are more similar to those you’d find on a regular cold cut saw.
Prepping a chop saw to cut wood also requires taking careful measurements, and ensuring secure positioning while you’re cutting the wood.
Since using a toothed blade to cut wood is not a chop saw’s original purpose, it can be dangerous. A toothed blade spinning at 5, 000 RPM can cause kickback and injury, potentially even severing a finger if extreme caution isn’t taken.
Who should use a chop saw?
Due to its pure power, a chop saw can be indispensable for commercial use and using in factories. If you’re a welder, contractor or fabricator you may find that a chop saw gets the job of cutting large sheets of steel done accurately. Thanks to their large, powerful motors, a chop saw will be efficient, too - getting the job done quicker than other tools.
Additionally, chop saws are useful for home construction. You can use them to complete tasks such as cutting stud joints, rafters and trusses, as well as steel tubes.
Chop saws often emit a lot of sparks, especially when cutting metal. Caution should be taken to remove any combustibles at close range, and take appropriate safety precautions to avoid the risk of burns or lacerations.
What is a Mitre saw used for?
A mitre saw, also called a compound mitre saw, is primarily used for cutting wood, but it can also be used to cut soft metals such as brass and aluminium, as well as plastics and composite materials.
It can’t cut through concrete, ferrous metals, or masonry.
A mitre saw is similar to a chop saw, as it also uses a circular blade on a moving arm to cut materials. However, it can also be used to make angled cuts or mitres, as well as bevel cuts and compound cuts.
- Mitre cuts: You can set the mitre angle to 45 degrees so it swings to either to the left or right. These are commonly used to make half a corner joint for a picture frame or a door frame.
- Bevel cuts: When you set the angle for a bevel cut, the blade will tilt on an axis to make the cut. Bevel cuts are often used on small pieces of moulding and trim. Dual-bevel ability means the direction of the angle can be towards the left or right.
- Compound cuts: This involves setting a mitre angle and a bevel angle together, so the blade swings either to the left or right, along with tilting on an axis. These are often used for crown moulding.
Do you really need a mitre saw?
Mitre saws are commonly used by DIY-ers for home woodworking projects. They’re also a must-have in the power toolbox of carpenters, woodworkers and contractors.
If you don’t need to cut through durable metals with iron in them (ferrous metals), a miter saw may be more useful than a cut-off saw.
Mitre saws are great for adding finesse to your woodworking. They can make complex cuts cleanly and precisely. Done correctly, they can add a professional finish to a wide range of woodworking jobs.
Can you use an abrasive blade in a mitre saw?
While this sounds like a handy function if you occasionally need your mitre saw to cut metal, this is not recommended.
While substituting with an abrasive blade will give you the horsepower you need, this may come at a cost. Due to the high speed,fragments of material will often fly off when using an abrasive saw, which can clog up your mitre saw.
There’s also a plastic insert above the blade of a mitre saw, and this will become extremely hot if you swap out your mitre-saw blade with an abrasive blade.
Should I get a 10 or 12-inch mitre saw?
If you’re not sure, the main thing to consider is both the frequency with which you’ll be using your mitre saw, as well as the size of the materials you’ll commonly be cutting.
While both a 10-inch and 12-inch mitre saw are capable of cutting a 4 x 4 inch sheet of material, a 12-inch blade will cut cleaner and faster. The blade is larger, the teeth will be sharper, and the number of teeth per inch are higher.
This means that if you’re using your mitre saw frequently, especially for large projects or to cut larger pieces of wood, a 12-inch mitre saw will save you a lot of time. A 10-inch blade can also be slotted into a mitre saw that originally has a 12-inch blade inside it, if you need to complete smaller tasks.
Some downsides of using a 12-inch blade compared to a 10-inch one are that these models are harder to source and replace, more expensive, larger and more bulky - so less easily portable.
Overall, whether you end up buying a cut-off saw or a mitre saw depends on the type of material you commonly cut, what kind of projects you’re usually working on and how much brute power you need to complete your jobs.
A cut-off saw is better for metal and cutting straight, whereas a mitre saw is more suitable for woodworking, and finessing your projects due to its versatility in creating angles and different types of cuts.