When it comes to woodworking, there are a multitude of different saws that you must learn to work between. While some of them cross the lines and serve a variety of purposes, there are some that are definitely better at certain tasks than others.
While you might think there is no comparison, you would be surprised how often someone has no idea what a certain type of saw might be able to do for them. One such comparison is the chop saw vs. the band saw.
These saws are similar in some ways but they really are also very different. We’re here to walk you through a side-by-side comparison of each saw so you know just what they are and what they are capable of. In the end, you can determine which one you need and you might even decide that you need both of them in your workshop.
Let’s start by taking a closer look at the chop saw. This saw is comparable to your circular saw but rather than being a handheld saw, it’s usually on a stand and you pull the saw blade down into the wood to make your cut. By design, it’s similar and comparable to a miter saw but again, they are still different.
There are also handheld chop saws but the description we just shared that looks like a miter saw is really what the majority of chop saws will look like. Chop saws are traditionally used for make square cuts that are accurate and precise. This is very popular in the world of cabinetry.
Chop saws can be used for both metal and wood most of the time. Their primary purpose is to be able to make square, precise, and accurate cuts. Chop saws can be portable to some degree. They are popular on work sites because you can line up your materials and just cut.
There are industrial models that are much larger but for the most part, it’s a stationary saw that can be carried by one person. It’s also known for being able to miter. The chop saw cuts fast and it cuts accurately, which is really what most users take advantage of.
The chop saw is absolutely one of the most portable saws out there. While it’s generally not a handheld saw, it is typically lightweight and easy to move around. They can be heavy but they probably won’t weight more than about 50 pounds, unless it’s an extra-large industrial version.
The chop saw blade is a round blade, much like table saws and circular saws are. The blades can be changed to different sizes and kerfs and even different types of blades to handle different types of materials. Changing a chop saw blade is usually a quick change.
These blades are not designed for smooth, small cutting. They are more of a rough cut that is designed for speed so you can expect large kerf that just moves fast.
Again, the chop saw looks a lot like the miter saw and it can be used to make miters, even though that isn’t the primary function. These saws are meant for making quick cuts to any material.
If you’re cutting wood or ripping lumber, the chop saw can most definitely pull through. It can handle thick materials and it moves FAST! When you compare is to the band saw, these move more slowly because they are designed to be precise overall.
You will find that the chop saw is fast but still precise because you’re making quick cuts without decorum. It’s just a straight and simple cut that you need to be precise and square and the chop saw delivers that in a matter of seconds really.
This saw is really all about speed and performance, which is the complete opposite of the band saw in some ways.
Dust and Debris
We want to touch on this point because it will be a noticeable difference between the two saws. The chop saw remember is used for fast work. It doesn’t have a dust port on it and it will be messy. Your dust, shavings, and debris are just left wherever the saw leaves them so you may need an alternative method for cleanup with this saw.
In addition, it is a very loud saw. It’s build for speed and power and you can expect the noise to accompany those details.
Finally, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using a chop saw.
Pros and Cons
Now, let’s take a look at all of the same specs but in regards to the band saw and see just how these two saws really stand up against each other.
The band saw is an overall more versatile saw. Where the chop saw is used for speed and quick but precise cuts, the band saw is used for precision and a multitude of cutting functions. You can cut curves, straight cuts, ripped cuts, cross cuts, and even re-saw cuts. This is a unique tool with a whole different set of capabilities.
Band saws can be used to cut a variety of materials as well. They are typically designed for wood but there are many that can also handle metal just fine. These saws don’t really look like any other saw and they don’t really compare to just one single saw either.
A band saw can replace a table saw, a chop saw, a miter saw, a scroll saw, or even a circular saw in some regards. While it’s not a true replacement of these, it allows you to do a lot of the same things in its own way. This saw is multi-functional but it is also designed to be slower and more precise as a saw.
The band saw is unique when it comes to portability because there are a lot of different models out there. This type of saw can be portable but there are also stationary models out there. What you will find is that there are two different kinds of band saws. There is the compact band saw and then there is the band saw.
The compact band saw is actually a handheld model. It’s obviously going to be the most portable but it also may be more restrictive is some capacities. However, it has plenty of power and can be useful for making quick cuts on the job, ripping lumber, and some other functions as well.
From there, you will find the standard band saw mode. Now this can come in benchtop band saw options or a freestanding band saw option. The benchtop model is designed for just that. It doesn’t have a stand but rather will rest on your worktable or work bench. You can usually bolt it or clamp it down to make it stable.
Some band saws can be portable, while others are not. The benchtop models and freestanding models are much heavier, weighing 30 pounds and above. The compact models are designed to be portable so they are not nearly as heavy.
The blade of the band saw is round but it is very different from a chop saw. It is an incredibly long and thing blade that runs through the entire machine, running around the wheels that move the blade and through the table space where you are cutting. It’s a large band, much like the name suggests.
The blade on a band saw runs on a continuous circle when you are cutting so it just keeps moving along while it is powered up. These are much smaller blades with thinner kerfs and a lot more teeth per inch along the blade.
This allows the blade of the band saw to make more intricate cuts, including the ability to make curved cuts, which the chop saw is not able to do. The cuts of this blade are smoother and more about the overall look of the cut.
The functionality of the band saw is very versatile. There is a lot that it can do and while it has certain limitations, it is quite a bit more multi-functional overall than the chop saw. You can make curved cuts, cross cuts, straight cuts, and more. These saws typically also allow you to rip lumber or re-saw materials as well.
The chop saw can make miters, and the band saw can do this also. The band saw does move more slowly and isn’t as powerful as the chop saw but the chop saw is designed to make a rough cut while the band saw is designed to make a smooth cut and can handle far more intricate needs overall.
This saw can do a lot but it’s not built for speed so that is an underlying difference.
Dust and Debris
The band saw is far more friendly when it comes to dust and debris. While not all of them have dust ports or a dust collection system, the majority of them do. This allows band saws to operate where the dust doesn’t build up or pile up and get in your way. For the most part, band saws can be attached to vacuum hoses to help keep dust and debris at a minimum.
Now, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using a band saw.
Pros and Cons
In closing, when you compare the chop saw and the band saw you find that they really are very different saws overall. Where the chop saw is designed to be quick and simply get through the cuts fast. A band saw is almost exactly the opposite and is designed to be precise and accurate.
When you really compare the chop saw vs. the band saw, you see that they can both be versatile and useful but they really serve different purposes as a whole. Which one is right for you really might depend on what your task is and even where you are working at the time. If you’re on a worksite, it might be more ideal to grab the chop saw.
If you’re looking for precision and the ability to cut curves, the band saw is the way to go. If you just want something powerful and fast but still accurate, the chop saw is a great option!
Amazon Recommended Chop Saws:
- 15 Amp, 3,800 RPM motor with replaceable brushes provides power and durability for the chop saw
- Quick-release material clamp of the metal chop saw allows for easy material cutting and removal
- Cutting fence with miter adjustment of the metal cutting saw allows up to 45 degree angles to be cut
- Spark deflector provides safety and clear line of sight for cutting
- Heavy duty steel base provides stability while cutting
- Stainless steel miter detent plate of the 12-inch miter saw blade comes with 10 positive stops
- The mitre saw has a precise miter system and machined base fence support
- Precise miter system and machined base fence support Cam-lock miter handle with detent override delivers quick and accurate miter angles for DEWALT miter saw
- Tall sliding fences support 6-3/4-inch base vertically
- Bevels 0 degree - 48degree left and right
- 2300W motor of the chop saw provides overload protection
- Ergonomically designed handle of the metal chop saw provides a more comfortable hand position, reducing fatigue and increasing productivity
- Quick-Lock vise of the metal cutting saw allows for fast clamping on different size materials
- 45 degree pivoting fence allows for fast and accurate angle cuts
Amazon Recommended Band Saws:
- 2.5 amp motor rotates the blade up to 2500 feet per minute
- Create cuts up to 3-1/2 inches deep and 9 inches wide
- Uses 59-1/2 inch blades anywhere from 1/8 to 3/8 inches in size
- Spacious 12-1/4 x 11-7/8 inch work table bevels up to 45 degrees
- Includes a 1/4-inch-wide blade, a 2-1/2 inch dust port, a rip fence, a miter gauge and a 2-year warranty
- 3.5 amp motor creates cuts up to six inches deep and 9-3/4 inches wide
- Uses 72-inch blades anywhere from 1/8 to 1/2 inches in size
- Spacious 14-1/8 x 12-1/2 inch cast aluminum work table bevels up to 45 degrees
- Operates at two speeds of either 1520 or 2620 FPM
- Includes a 2-year warranty, a work light, a 3-in-1 dust port, a fence, a miter gauge, and a 3/8-inch blade (6 TPI)
- Motor: 3/4 HP, 110V, single-phase 1,725 RPM
- Blade speeds: 78 FPM @ 40 RPM, 108 FPM @ 60 RPM, 180 FPM @ 80 RPM
- Blade size: 64-1/2" x 1/2" x 0.025"
- Handles and wheels for portability, Blade included
- Automatic shutoff