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The Chop Saw

A chop saw is a lightweight circular saw mounted on a spring-loaded pivoting arm, and is supported by a metal base. A stationary power tool that cuts material with a downward, chopping motion.

The chop saw (drop saw) is a Miter or Abrasive saw, although both are entirely distinct classes of power tool.

The Miter Saw

DW872miter-sawA miter saw is used to make quick, accurate crosscuts in a work piece and at a selected angle.

Common uses include framing operations and mold cutting. Most miter saws are relatively small and portable, with common blade sizes ranging from eight to twelve inches.

Power Miter Saw Types

Standard: fixed vertical pivot, with rotating cutting table. Allows for horizontal angle (miter) cuts while the blade stays vertical.

Compound: rotating vertical pivot. Allows the cutter head and blade to tilt (bevel) sideways in addition to its horizontally rotating table. Offers vertical and horizontal angled cuts and cuts angled in both planes.

Single action: they tilt to one side of the vertical, and not both.
Dual action: will tilt both ways.

Both make identical cuts, but single action saws may require flipping the work piece between cuts.

Sliding compound: horizontal sliding arms for the cutter head, allowing for cuts on wider boards and can be single or dual action.

Chop Saw in Action

A chop saws electric motor turns a high-speed abrasive wheel. A spring-mounted guard keeps sparks confined and protect users from potential blade break.

There are two basic parts: a blade mounted to a hinged arm, and a stationary base that supports the material. Typically has a bigger motor.

Used most often in production shops or at building sites, and due to its bigger cutting capacity is better able to cut two-by-fours, two-by-six studs, and larger pieces of lumber at 90 degrees. The chop saw blade remains perpendicular to the table and is only capable of performing 90-degree cuts.

To use a chop saw, line up the blade with the work piece cutting mark. One hand holds the piece against the fence, and the other hand pulls the blade down through the material and back up to start position.

The blade guard retracts as the blade descends, sheathing the blade as it rises.

Chop saws have a clamp (vise) to secure the material in place against the fence: vital for safety and an accurate cut.

Chop saws are invaluable in both woodworking and metalworking projects. For exact, square cuts, consider the use of a chop saw.

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