As every contractor or avid DIYer knows, slicing through steel rebar is no easy job. But the best metal chop saw can make your task easier. In truth, there isn’t much difference between a wood and a metal chop saw.
I’ve used chop saws for multiple redecoration projects, and more often than not, the difference is in the blade.
However, aside from blades, there are a few objective criteria to consider when picking the right tool for the job.
You must think power, torque, and revolutions per minute. Then, it all comes to subjective criteria regarding the brand or specific model. I’ve tried many chop saws throughout the years, and only a few lived up to my expectations for cutting metal. Check my top picks below.
- Best Metal Chop Saw Comparisons - 2019
- Top 5 Metal Chop Saws for Your Workshop-Reviews
- What is a Metal Cutting Saw?
- Types of Metal Chop Saws
- How to Choose a Metal Chop Saw
- Can You Cut Metal With a Wood Chop Saw?
- Chop Saw vs. Miter Saw - What's the Difference?
- Chop Saw Safety
- Final Verdict
Best Metal Chop Saw Comparisons - 2019
Top 5 Metal Chop Saws for Your Workshop-Reviews
1. Evolution Power Tools EVOSAW380 15-Inch Steel Cutting Chop Saw
I pick the EVOSAW380 as the best metal cutting saw on the market because this dependable power tool withstands heavy-duty jobs in commercial or industrial environments and exceeds expectations in a home workshop.
For cutting through steel plate, round plate, scaffolding, cladding, and metal sheets, to name just a few, this aluminum chop saw impresses with its unique high-torque gearbox, which delivers sufficient power to the blade to slice through metals like a knife through melted butter.
This tool outperforms the abrasive saws by far thanks to its 15-Amp motor and 1,800 watts of driving force.
The heavy-duty construction of this dry-cut chop saw includes a cast aluminum base built specifically for industrial metal cutting, while the top-notch cutting blade included in the box boasts a long lifespan and adds value for money.
A thing I like is the availability of this chop saw in three different sizes; this tool suits many projects, and you can pick the right blade size from 7 1/4-inch to 15-inch. I find the 15-inch variant to be the most versatile, but if you don’t need such a large blade and want to save a few bucks, the other styles come with similar features.
The EVOSAW380 obviously has its flaws, including a useless miter gauge and unimpressive chip tray. Yet, all in all, this metal chop saw does live up to the expectations.
What we liked
What we didn’t like
Evolution Power Tools EVOSAW380 Video Reviews By purgatoryironworks
2. DEWALT DW872 14-Inch Multi-Cutter Saw
The DW872 metal chop saw from DeWalt is one of the most expensive on the market, but the quality of the build and set of features will pay off in the long run.
Featuring best-in-class qualities and industrial power, this workhorse finds its place in a contractor’s workshop and is easy to transport for job site applications.
More than a metal chop saw, this is a multi-cutter designed to rip through metals, wood, plastics, and a variety of engineered materials.
I love the burst of power this multi-cutter saw has, and its outstanding speed delivered by the 4-horsepower motor.
I also like that the DeWalt 14-inch chop saw is one of the largest saws in its class; it is capable of performing deep cuts up to 5 3/16 inches for circular applications and 4 1/2 x 6 1/2 inches for rectangular applications.
Furthermore, the unit comes equipped with a resilient 14-inch, 70-tooth carbide-tipped blade, which is much more resistant and higher-performing than a standard abrasive cutting wheel.
Designed to deliver accurate cuts that are cool to touch and boasting impressive features, this is no doubt a best metal cutting chop saw for a contractor or avid DIYer.
What we liked
What we didn’t like
3. Makita LC1230 12-Inch Metal Cutting Saw
With a smaller cutting capacity but best-in-class features, the Makita LC1230 withstands industrial use, although I consider it more suitable for an amateur’s workshop. Like my two picks above, this electric metal chop saw is perfect for small home repair applications, such as cutting pipe and tubing.
Nonetheless, the unit is powered by a reliable 15-Amp motor running on 120 volts and delivers a maximum cutting depth of 4.5 inches when used with a compatible carbide-tipped blade. Regarding the blade, the maximum size accepted is 12 inches.
Its no-load speed of 1,300 revolutions per minute and bevel cutting capacities are two other features that caught my attention while testing this chop saw. Able to cut four times faster than other chop saws in its class, the LC1230 model is perfect for light chores.
The tool is also incredibly easy to use. It comes with a D-shape ergonomic handle and has a well-balanced center of gravity, ensuring smooth cuts without hassle. This makes it perfect for beginners or for home users happy to spend a few extra bucks on unrivaled quality.
Safety is also part of the picture, and this metal chop saw comes with an advantageous lock-off button designed to prevent accidental cuts.
What we liked
What we didn’t like
4. Evolution EVOSAW180HD 7-1/4-Inch Steel Cutting Circular Saw
If you’re after a reliable handheld chop saw, but the options on the market seem less than satisfactory, the EVOSAW180HD might come and save the day.
Not exactly a chop saw, but an easy-to-use and reliable steel cutting circular saw, this high-quality power tool is able to cut through most metals and perfect for semi-commercial demands.
Powered by a reliable 1.5-horsepower motor, this cutting tool delivers 3,900 revolutions per minute at no load and is able to cut mild steel without generating heat.
Ideal for heavy-duty residential jobs and light-duty commercial tasks, the circular saw rips tube and piping, scaffolding, cladding, sheet metal, and even I-beams.
The blade included in the package brings further value for the money thanks to its great quality. You’ll be able to cut up to 250 feet of a steel plate before replacing, and can even handle harder materials.
A slight drawback is the weaker motor equipping this unit. With only 9 amperes and 1,100 watts, this tool just can’t deliver the torque of the units above. However, although I wouldn’t recommend this tool for job site applications, the exceptional price point combined with the unit’s qualities make it a great choice for a garage or backyard workshop.
What we liked
What we didn’t like
5. PORTER-CABLE PCE700 15 Amp Chop Saw
If I had to describe the PORTER-CABLE PCE700 in just a few words, I would say that it is affordable and reliable. This chop saw comes with a 15-Amp motor capable of producing up to 3,800 revolutions per minute, and is ideal to use in an upscale amateur or beginner’s workshop.
Ideal for metal, but also suitable for cutting wood, this dependable tool comes with a quick-release material clamp for hazard-free cutting and with a quality cutting fence with miter adjustment.
A heavy-duty steel base provides stability while cutting, and I also found the spindle lock useful because it allows for quick blade changes. The 14-inch blade diameter is also ideal for most applications, while the 8-foot power cord ensures easy maneuvering.
Furthermore, the spark deflector comes as a handy safety feature.
As for cutting performance, this metal chop saw may be cheap, but it certainly doesn’t disappoint. It has bevel cut capabilities up to 45 degrees and a maximum cutting capacity of 4 3/4 x 5 1/3 inches.
Perhaps too weak to withstand industrial use, this metal chop saw is best in a home or beginner’s workshop.
What we liked
What we didn’t like
What is a Metal Cutting Saw?
At first glance, there is little difference between a metal cutting saw and a standard circular saw used for wood.
However, the two tools are slightly different, in that a metal cutting saw produces dry cuts, which require no coolant to keep the blade cool.
This is possible due to the blades’ teeth, which are designed to dissipate heat, keeping the temperature of both workpiece and blade as low as possible.
There are two types of blades involved in the manufacture of metal chop saws: high-speed steel (HSS) blades and tungsten carbide-tipped blades.
- HSS blades: Are typically used for coarse, high-speed applications and withstand speeds higher than 3,500 revolutions per minute. These blades can have a variable number of teeth.
- Tungsten carbide-tipped blades: Are usually used for lower-speed precision cutting, although most blades can also withstand higher speeds. The tougher material makes them ideal for cutting hard metals, such as steel, and these blades also have a longer lifespan.
Another characteristic of the metal chop saws is the powerful motor, equipped with a gear reduction unit designed to reduce the rotational speed of the blade at a higher torque. This is important because, like any hard material, the metal must be cut at lower speeds.
A question many amateurs ask is how to know if the circular saw they like is a metal chop saw. The answer is simple. Check the unit’s features.
If it’s a dry saw, it most likely can cut through ferrous and non-ferrous materials, as well as through an array of other materials, including wood and plastic. Some dry saws can even cut tiles and ceramic, while the most powerful units can sometimes cut through masonry.
Like I already told you at the beginning of this article, the component that dictates which materials your saw can or can’t cut through is the blade.
Types of Metal Chop Saws
Like most power tools on the market, metal chop saws can be classified in various types based of their power source. We can speak of gas, corded, and battery-powered machines.
- Gas-powered chop saw: Runs on gasoline and is the most powerful type. This chop saw can slice through all metals, including steel, and delivers higher torque and speed. However, these tools are noisy and require constant maintenance. They are also heavier and harder to maneuver than the other two types.c
- Corded chop saw: Runs on electricity received from a standard wall outlet. These chop saws are lightweight, quieter, and easier to maneuver, but they are less powerful than gas-powered chop saws. Nevertheless, they can still cut through most types of metal.
- Cordless chop saw: Gets energy from a rechargeable battery, typically NiCad or Li-Ion. These machines are the weakest; they are typically ideal for light-duty jobs, such as cutting aluminum, but they rarely withstand heavier-duty tasks.
How to Choose a Metal Chop Saw
Merely picking a type of metal chop saw is insufficient when it comes to picking the best tool on the market. There are other features to consider before deciding which chop saw is best for you. Here are some of the most important things you should check.
- Size: The size of a metal chop saw determines its cutting depth, and ultimately its suitability for the project. Dry chop saws come in different sizes that are more or less suitable for industrial use. For light-duty home applications, a smaller unit with a blade of 12 inches or less is usually sufficient, and also pocket-friendly. Heavier-duty applications and industrial use may require a blade of at least 14 inches. Decide which size is best for you based on the average size of your workpieces, checking it against the size of the blade.
- Speed: When it comes to cutting metal, know that you don’t need the fastest tool. Metals are harder materials, thus they must be cut at lower speeds for both safety and results. Soft materials can typically be cut at higher speeds that exceed 3,000 revolutions per minute, but I wouldn’t recommend exceeding 3,500 RPM, even when cutting aluminum or other soft metals. Harder metals require a speed way lower than 3,000 RPM. A good rule of thumb is to keep the speed on the lower end of the spectrum to improve the results and to ensure safe operation.
- Power: While cutting metal requires a low speed, this operation also requires high power. Due to the strength of the material, slicing through metal requires high torque. Choose a unit with a motor of at least 15 amperes and at least 1,100 watts of operating power. To calculate the watts, multiply the amperes by the voltage of the machine.
- Angle cuts: Regardless of what type of cuts you want to make, chances are you’ll need to cut at an angle at least once. Most metal chop saws come with adjustable miter gauges and tilt capabilities that allow cutting at angles up to 45 degrees. Some industrial metal chop saws even have more positive stops, ideal for accurate, repeatable cuts.
- Portability: If you’re mostly working on job sites and need a metal chop saw to take with you, a gas or cordless unit could be your best bet. On the contrary, if you mostly work in your workshop, investing in a corded unit could be cheaper. Corded saws are also more powerful than the cordless ones, which means you’ll achieve better cuts.
Can You Cut Metal With a Wood Chop Saw?
We’ve already established that you can cut wood with a metal chop saw, but what about the reverse? Can you cut metal with a wood chop saw?
Long story short, yes. However, you probably won’t be able to cut all types of metal with a wood chop saw.
Chop saws developed specifically for wood are typically designed to spin faster. The best wood chop saws to use on metals are those designed to cut through hardwood and plywood, as they have either adjustable speeds or slower spinning blades.
Obviously, the wood chop saw you like must also have removable blades. Luckily, most wood chop saws are compatible with metal cutting blades.
Chop Saw vs. Miter Saw - What's the Difference?
You’ve noticed by now that most chop saws have miter gauges and bevel cut capabilities, so what exactly is the difference between a chop saw and a miter saw?
Not so long ago, the difference between the two models was neat. At the time, chop saws could only cut straight 90-degree angles, while miter saws were employed for 90-degree crosscuts and bevel cuts at different angles.
With advancements of technology, chop saws have also been equipped with miters, so it’s difficult to know when to choose one tool over the other.
The main difference between the two is the size. Chop saws can typically produce deeper cuts, which means they are ideal for coarser work.
Miter saws are smaller and typically employed in precision wood or metal cutting.
Miter saws produce accurate, fine cuts and perfect straight or angle repeatable cuts.
Chop Saw Safety
Chop saws are dangerous and potentially life-threatening machines.
They are often equipped with several safety features, including trigger stops, overheat and overcharge shutoffs, and the best-performing units can even detect skin contact and stop to prevent injuries. But regardless of the safety features, you must also learn how to operate your tool safely.
Finding the best metal chop saw is far from easy. There are many features to consider, and it is also hard to decide between the vast array of tools on the market.
Nevertheless, you now know some of the top picks and how to choose the machine that is most appropriate for you.
Can I use miter saw blades on my metal chop saw?
Yes, you can, but that doesn’t mean you should. Miter saws are created for wood and spin faster. Metal chop saws spin slower, which means the miter saw blade could become too hot on the metal chop saw. If you want to cut wood with a metal chop saw, get an appropriate dry saw wood blade.
What is a soft start?
A soft start function is a safety feature that gradually increases the speed of the blade from 0 to the set revolutions per minute, allowing for safer operation by increasing the control during the initial surge power phase.
Can I make angle cuts with a metal chop saw?
It depends. Some metal chop saws come with miter gauges designed for angled cuts and some don’t. Check the features of the specific model you like and see if they match your requirements.