Chop Saw Reviews
Our Top Pick is the Makita 2414NB
A chop saw is basically a circular saw that is mounted to an arm that pivots, creating greater stability and more accurate cuts. A chop saw that is used to cut wood is called a miter saw, and a chop saw that is used to cut metal and other hard materials such as concrete or brick is called a chop saw. Other terms that are used interchangeably are an abrasive saw, metal chop saw, abrasive chop saw or a cut-off saw. The biggest advantage of the chop saw is that it comes with an abrasive disc instead of a blade. This disk has no teeth which allows it to easily cut through very hard material like steel, re-bar, or cast iron. A chop saw is to metal workers what the miter saw is to woodworkers. It is an essential tool for cutting, building or framing with solid, non-wood materials.
We considered 18 of the top abrasive chop saws on the market. We completed a thorough evaluation and the Makita 2414NB stood out from its competitors as the saw to beat. It is lightweight with a powerful motor and able to tackle steel and re-bar with ease. It also includes safety features like the Guard Spark Diversion and a secure lock-off which prevents unexpected starts. The Makita provides the highest quality at this price point of any chop saw on the market.
Who Should Buy This
For those looking to tackle metal-cutting and welding, the chop saw is an essential tool to own. It has more power than nearly any other saw on the market and is designed for the hard surfaces that steel and other hard metals require. Its construction is rugged and built for hard work and abuse. The blade guard is designed to deflect sparks shot off by the metal to keep them off the cutter and direct them behind the saw. While occasional cutting for softer metals like aluminum or copper can be accomplished with a miter saw, heavy metals like steel requires a dedicated tool for clean precision cuts.
What Makes a Good Chop Saw?
Chop saws can make both straight and angled cuts, typically up to 45 degrees. The chop saw is designed for cutting hard metals and so while they may look similar to a miter saw the construction is very different. A few features that are universal with chop saws include a fence that the material is held against. The blade is operated by bringing the handle down across the material. A blade guard covers the blade and retracts as the blade meets the metal. Clamps are also included to secure the material against the fence to create an accurate cut.
The type of blade you decide to use will impact the performance of the tool you choose. Cheaper blades wear out faster and leave a rougher cut. It is also important to choose a blade based on the material you want to cut. Top quality blades are made on a composite carbide tipped disc that essentially grinds the material. This disc will cut most metals cleanly without much debris. Straight cuts and angled cuts may be available on top models up to 90 degrees. Things to pay attention to when cutting metal include heat buildup on the material and the saw, and flying sparks and splinters. Most quality models offer a hood in addition to the blade guard to protect you from flying sparks and splinters.
Blades wear down more quickly when cutting metal than when cutting wood. As a result, blades should be checked frequently and changed regularly. Different discs are available depending on what type of metal you will be cutting. The size of the disc will be determined by the size of saw you are working with. The 14” and 16” wheels are the most common disc sizes used for homeowners and small shop workers. The two most common blade types are used for cutting steel and for cutting nonferrous metal. Steel cutting blades range from 6000 to 7500 rpm and are built to tackle sheet metal, re-bar, and steel studs and pipes. Slower blades that run at 2500 rpm or lower are used to cut softer material. The slower speed prevents overheating. Nonferrous blades are cheaper and designed for addressing softer metals like aluminum, copper, PVC pipes and so forth. These also are available in 2500 or 7500 rpm depending on your needs.
Other features that are valuable to users include a soft start, an adjustable fence, spark guard and easy disc changes.
How We Tested
We gathered extensive information on various abrasive chop saws on the the market and reviewed each. This allowed us to narrow down the list for further inspection. We then consulted with industry specialists about what features were most valuable when looking for a metal cutting devices. From there we tested and completed an exhaustive search from blogs, tool specialists, and construction and metal cutting professionals to determine which models had the power, durability and value for both active hobbyist and professionals.
|RPM (no load speed)||3800|
|Blade Diameter||14 inches|
|Maximum Cutting Capacity||4 ½ inches at both 90 and 45 degree angles|
|Fence Adjustment||Goes 45 degrees to both the left and the right|
|Saw Weight||40.6 Pounds|
|Dimensions||19.7 X 11 X 23.6|
|Satisfaction Guarantee||30 Days|
The Makita 2414NB chop saw is a portable unit that has a 14-inch disc. The saw offers 15 amps of power and 3,800 rpm, giving you the power needed for heavy duty jobs cutting metal and other hard pieces of material. It can tackle angles up to 90 degrees and will adjust to 45 degrees on both the left and right sides, giving you more flexibility with angled cuts. The saw is powerful and durable providing precision cuts for most of the jobs you will ever come across. The motor is double insulated which reduces vibration and reduces overheating during heavy use.
The fence features 3 adjustments enabling you to move the fence based on the size of material you are cutting. The total unit only weighs 40.6 pounds making it easily portable. The clamp has a quick-release feature which enables you to adjust the material quickly between cuts. The D-shaped handle has a firm but soft grip and uses less energy to pull, thus alleviating stress when the tool is used over long periods of time. There is also a lock-off which prevents accidental startups.
The guard includes a spark diversion feature which keeps the sparks behind the saw and not in the line of site during the cut. Included in the design is a shaft lock which enables you to change the wheel quickly. With a maximum cut capacity of 4 ½ inches for both straight and 45 degree angles you have enough room for even larger pipes or conduit.
Other notable features include a vise that remains stable during operation and a quick release that provides for multiple cuts at the same measurement quickly. There is an adjustable depth stop allowing you to make exact repeated cuts the same size. The abrasive wheel is changed with a socket wrench, which can be stored on board, preventing you from losing the tool.
Who Else Likes It
The professionals at Mach Power Tools had this to say about the Makita 2414NB: “This compact & heavy-duty abrasive cut off saw is ideal for both site & workshop use…the Makita 2414NB is ideal for clean & accurate cuts in ferrous metals. The fitting of alternative discs enables this machine to be used for cutting and trimming bricks, concrete blocks and masonry.”
Amazon reviewers gave it a 4.7 out of 5 stars and the saw has a total of 87 reviews. One 5-star review describes the saw like this: “The 2 things I was looking for was something that didn’t way a ton and was well built…We cut a lot of 4×4 1/8 tubing, mostly hot rolled and some 1/4×4 flat bar cold roll and this saw handled it with no problem. When it came to cutting aluminum I put on a carbide toothed blade and it ate through that aluminum like it was hot butter. I liked it so much I bought one for my home workshop and after 12 years it’s still going strong.”
The Step Up
The Dewalt 872 is a step up chop saw that cuts 4 times faster than traditional chop saws and 8 times faster than portable band saws. The saw slices through steel and nonferrous material without straining the motor and can handle a heavy work load and lots of abuse. The carbide tipped blade that comes with the saw offers both precision and cuts that are free of burrs. Typically saws come with cheaper blades that often cannot be used effectively.
Featured in the Dewalt 872 is a spindle lock for fast blade replacement and onboard storage for the change wrench. The handle is parallel to the blade reducing tension as you pull it down and make the cut. This upgraded power can be yours with a 3 year warranty.
Top Chop Saw Comparison
Care Use and Maintenance
When the metal disc hits the metal material, sparks are created, which can affect your ability to see the cut. This makes it essential to wear safety glasses at all times the saw is in operation. Wearing a dust mask and heavy work gloves is also recommended as tiny metal splinters can be both in the air or cut your hands.
If you are using the saw on the ground place something (like plywood) under the saw to prevent the sparks from making permanent stains on concrete. Sparks are generally directed to the rear of the saw so ensure there is nothing behind the saw that can be stained or damaged by flying sparks. It is also a good idea to add supports to the end of long pieces. The supports should be lower than the saw to prevent the metal from sagging which may result in less than perfect cuts or the blade jamming.
Be sure to clean the blades frequently as debris will build up. This happens both around the blade and in the guard. The guard material is generally very rugged and you can use a hammer to tap the guard and loosen any metal that has settled in the guard. Clearing the guard after each use will prevent buildup.
Don’t force the blade through the material as this will prematurely wear out the blade. Worn blades will have increased vibration indicating that it is time to change them. When working with the blades always heed warnings. Use the right blade for the saws speed and never use anold or worn blade.
Cut ends can be very hot right after the cut. Take caution when picking up freshly cut pieces of metal.
Wrapping It Up
Chop saws are an essential tool for those who will be cutting a lot of metal or using the saw to cut heavy metal. Finding a saw that will have the power to tackle steel and other hard metals will leave you with satisfying results. If you take the time to care for and maintain your saw it should last for many years.