Chop Saw vs Miter Saw — What Are Their Differences?

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When starting, I easily mixed chop saws with miter saws. I get the confusion. So, to save you from the same mix-up and ensure you get the right tool for the job, I’ve closely examined both tools. Here’s a friendly breakdown to guide you on which one might be your best pick. Don’t worry; I’ve kept things simple.

Chop Saw vs Miter Saw

What is a Miter Saw

A miter saw features a circular blade mounted vertically on a mobile arm attached to the base. Miter saws are much more versatile compared to chop saws, which can only chop up and down and cannot cut tiles like miter saws can. Miter saws can create bevel cuts, angle cuts and compound cuts due to the pivoting arm and swinging blade. I recommend that you use the compound angle calculator for precise computation for smooth and precise workpiece cutting and structuring of your compound cuts.

10-inch miter saw

There are even miter saws that are dual bevel, which means they can swing in either direction without the need for you to adjust the wood piece. 

Surprisingly, given that the miter saw is a more versatile tool, it’s also smaller than a chop saw. For me, this adds to the benefits of a miter saw since they are more compact and easy to store.



Purpose of a Miter Saw

The miter saw is the smaller model and is an excellent choice for small construction projects and DIY jobs such as picture frames. Crown molding [1] is another project a miter saw is used for.

SKIL 3821-01 Compound Miter Saw

The smaller size and precision blade allows the miter saw to make more complex cuts during home improvement. If you have smaller materials and require more intricate cut jobs, then I recommend the miter saw. 

There are dual bevel and compound miter saw options you can choose from. These power tools are staples in a job site, or in a contractor workshop. A miter saw is one thing many woodworkers cannot go without.

What is a Chop Saw

A chop saw closely resembles a miter saw in its physical appearance. It consists of a circular cutting blade mounted on a radial arm secured to the base. One key distinction between a chop saw and a miter saw is the blade itself. A quick visual assessment can help differentiate the two, as the chop saw blade typically lacks teeth.

Compared to miter saws, chop saws are less versatile and cannot swing from side to side. Instead, its range of movement is limited to just vertical movements and can only cut up to 90-degrees.

Fein Metal Cutting Chop Saw

As mentioned, I will remind you that chop saws are the power saws to go for if you require brute force. They possess all the power and can tear through what miter saws cannot. 

I tell people to be aware of the sparks that the chop saw produces due to the power and cutting speed. Make sure your hand is covered with gloves before operating these tools.



Purpose of a Chop Saw

Because these blades can cut through anything, a chop saw can handle wood, metal, stone and composites. If you have large projects and wood or metal pieces, then you need a chop saw in your arsenal.

black chop saw

Even though it’s so powerful, the chop saw can still cut through material with excellent precision thanks to the toothless blade. The blades on a chop saw are interchangeable, so you can switch to a kind of blade with teeth if necessary.

A chop saw is a reliable partner for construction workers and contractors dealing with large projects such as houses and buildings.

Main Differences Between a Chop and Miter Saw


The first main difference between a miter saw vs chop saw is the power they present. As the smaller choice, the miter saw is less powerful with RPMs at around 3000. The motor on a miter saw can handle 2.5 HP. Chop saws, on the other hand, can spin at 5000 RPM and have motors deliver 5 HP.

This means some compact miter saws are meant for wood, plastic and composites and chop saws can handle all the harder matter and can handle plastic and composites, but I suggest using a miter saw for more accuracy.

setting up miter saw

Cutting Capacity

Another difference between a chop saw vs miter saw is their cutting abilities. Due to the larger size and higher power, the chop saw is the way to go for large industry work such as building houses from the ground up. The miter saw is meant for smaller tasks such as DIY creations.

Cutting Angles

Thanks to the miter angle range, miter saws deliver way more versatility compared to chop saws. While they both operate with the same concept of a blade mounted on a pivoting arm, the miter saw arm can swing either way and create miter cuts, bevel cuts, angle cuts and most other cuts you need through soft material.

A chop saw can give you angles up to 90-degrees, but it is mainly meant for chewing through large material with a toothless cutting disc. I recommend the miter saw for usability and chop saw for power.

cutting metal with a chop saw


As we mentioned, chop saws vs miter saws are different in size. They are both heavy tools but the chop saw is the larger and bulkier of the two. Because it is larger, it also has more power to handle material types such as metal pieces and metal sheets.


I will sum up what materials a chop saw and a miter saw are best suited for. A chop saw is a tool you need for tearing through stone, metal and concrete. It can cut through everything, but I suggest the miter saw for softer materials such as plastic and wood.

Miter saws cut wood, plastics and composites very well and bring more variety to the table for different cut jobs and cleaner finishes. But there are some miter saws that can cut through metals as well depending on the power and durability. 


When looking at miter saws vs chop saws, we can see their assembly is the same at first glance. However, once you take a look at the size, the blade type and the power, and angles then they are easily identified. Both a chop saw and a miter saw are excellent tools to keep in workshops or job sites to tackle different purposes.

Looking for a suitable blade for your miter saw? You can check our review of the best miter saw blade here, too! 

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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