Last updated: August 5, 2021

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"All beginnings are difficult" is often what people think when they want to learn a new skill. Many budding hobby craftsmen do the same. Hardly anyone wants to walk into the DIY store uninformed and then have to ask an employee "stupid questions" about the products. Even though there are no stupid questions in our opinion, we understand this need.

Therefore, in this article we would like to introduce you to one of the most important tools in the trades: The chop saw. Here we explain everything about topics such as speed, mitre cuts and different saw blades so that you can make an informed choice when buying your saw.




Summary

  • A crosscut saw is an all-round tool for both hobbyists and professional craftsmen. Its simple handling ensures that anyone can operate it.
  • Depending on the equipment of the device, you can cut at different angles of inclination and mitre. Selecting a saw with a higher wattage also often ensures that cuts are more precise.
  • To cut different materials, it is necessary to select a suitable saw blade. A universal saw blade is usually included in the scope of delivery of a chop saw, but this cannot cut metal, for example.

The Best Chop Daw: Our Choices

Buying and rating criteria for chop saws

If you search for "chop saws" on the internet, you will find yourself in a forest of potential buying options. So that you don't get lost in this variety of products, we have summarised the most important buying and assessment criteria here to help you buy a suitable saw:

Of course, we don't want to leave these criteria uncommented here, but explain them in more detail below. There are several other technical features that can be decisive when buying a cross-cut saw. However, these are the five most important.

Power

Power is an important feature of a chop saw: if you try to cut harder materials, the motor speed of the machine will drop on saws with lower power. This can lead to unclean cuts and fraying at the edges of the cut. Therefore, we recommend that you choose a saw with a power of 1000 watts or more.

Idle speed

The idle speed of the saw is also important for precise work and clean cutting edges. This indicates how many revolutions the saw blade makes per minute. As a rule of thumb, you can remember this: Your saw should achieve at least 3000 rpm.

Rotating saw plate

The next two criteria are to ensure that the saw can be used for cuts at various angles. With the help of a rotating saw plate, usually rotatable from -45° to 45°, you can turn the saw horizontally and thus, for example, also make horizontal mitre cuts. Some professional saws also have a so-called undercut function. This allows you to work at angles of more than 45°. Although this function is very practical, it is not absolutely necessary for hobby craftsmen.

Tilting saw head

This function helps to turn the saw vertically. With most machines, angles from 0° to 45° are possible here, which means that vertical angle cuts can also be made. Here, too, there are professional machines with an undercut function that allow even larger angles. However, this is not absolutely necessary in this case either.

Maximum cutting width and cutting depth

These parameters determine whether you can cut through the piece of material you want to work on: The cutting width is directly related to the diameter of the saw blade, which we will discuss later. The largest cutting width is achieved when you cut at a right angle. The depth of cut, on the other hand, indicates how deep a workpiece can be so that it can still be cut. It is also related to the size of the saw blade.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about chop saws answered in detail

When buying a chop saw, the same questions often come up. In the following paragraphs, we have therefore summarised and answered a selection of the most frequently asked questions regarding the saw.

What is a chop saw and who is it suitable for?

A cross-cut saw is a tool for craftsmen that enables them to cut through various materials. Especially when cutting wood, this type of saw is used to achieve a high degree of precision on the cut edges of the material. Cross-cut saws equipped with a metal saw blade are also used in the heating and plumbing sector.

Kappsäge-1

The saw blade of a chop saw consists of "body", the inner part, and the "teeth" that come into contact with the material. The choice of saw blade affects what material can be cut
(Image source: unsplash / Tim Foster).

It is available in different versions, and can therefore be used by hobbyists as well as professional craftsmen: The handling of the saw is very simple, but it still has great functionality.

What distinguishes a cross-cut saw from a mitre saw?

Both chop and mitre saws cut from top to bottom and have a circular saw blade. However, chop saws tend to be more powerful than mitre saws and are therefore more often used in professional craft workshops for chopping heavy materials, including metals. Many cross-cut saws are now equipped to produce angled cuts like mitre saws.

How much does a cross-cut saw cost?

As described above, chop saws are available in a wide variety of models. They are available for less than 100€, and you can spend up to 1000€ for a professional saw. We have listed different price categories in the overview.
Price range Available products
Low-priced (50 - 100 €) Often less powerful, fewer functions and features
Medium-priced (100 - 300 €) Already some additional functions (e.g. working laser), can also cut harder materials due to higher wattage
High-priced (300 € and more) Extensive functions, various settings of tilt and mitre angles possible, often also with enlargement of the saw table

Here it is obvious that with increasing functions of a cross-cut saw, one would have to spend more money on it. Many craftsmen therefore resort to the option of renting equipment, for example from providers such as Obi or miet24.de, or buying it second-hand.

What functions does a cross-cut saw have and what materials can be cut with it?

Depending on the model and design, a cross-cut saw has various functions. Of particular interest to craftsmen are the free adjustment of different mitre and inclination angles as well as the cutting widths and depths. Depending on the saw blade, a wide variety of materials can be cut: The usual method is, of course, to cut wood, but with stronger saw blades and a higher power of the device, it is also possible to cut metals.

How do I choose the right saw blade and how do I use it?

In most cases, a universal saw blade is already included with the purchase of the cross-cut saw. However, there are a wide variety of saw blades to be able to cut a wide variety of materials efficiently. You can find a brief overview here:
Type Description Suitable for which material?
CV saw blades (chrome vanadium) simple saw blade, teeth and body of the saw blade made of steel, cheaper firewood
HM or HW saw blades (carbide / carbide material) body made of steel, teeth made of brazed carbide material carbides, heavy materials

Other factors in choosing the right saw blade are the chip space, the rake angle and the tooth shape of the saw blade. These are especially important to consider when sawing materials other than wood.

Conclusion

The cross-cut saw is a tool that is not only part of the everyday life of many professional craftsmen, but also of many hobbyists because of its ease of use. As with many other products, the same applies here: The more expensive the device, the higher the quality. Especially for professionals, it is worth spending a few euros more.

With the right functions, which we have described in the buying criteria section, the saw is an all-rounder: you can make cuts at all angles and inclinations and adjust the depth and width of cut. When cutting harder materials, it is also important to use a saw blade other than the universal blade supplied.

Image source: unsplash / Vance Osterhout

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