Helpful Tutorial Buyers Guide
Chop Saws and Compound Miter Saws
The Motorized Revolution
It wasn't that long ago that making accurate crosscuts in wood required a skilled hand, a sharp handsaw, and a chunk of time. But in the early 1970s, a new saw began to appear on job sites that promised to speed up these cuts: the motorized miter saw, or chop saw.
A chop saw is essentially a lightweight circular saw mounted on a spring-loaded pivoting arm supported by a metal base.
While these relatively small, inexpensive saws don't have the cutting capacity of a radial arm saw, they are very portable and rugged enough to stand up to daily use (and abuse) on the job and survive the pickup truck ride to the next job.
Chop Saw Cutting Capacity
A chop saw with a 10-inch blade and a hefty 12 to 15 amp motor can make quick, accurate 90-degree cuts in two-by-fours and two-by-sixes. If you rotate the blade left or right, they can also make miter cuts, and some of them can be pivoted past 45 degrees in one or both directions. But 10-inch chop saws have one major limitation: cutting capacity. Most of them are limited to about a 5 1/2-inch cut at 90 degrees, and even less when cutting miters.
For this reason, manufacturers also offer chop saws with 12-inch, 14-inch, and even 15-inch diameter blades, which enables them to make cuts that are wider (up to about 7 1/2 inches) and higher (up to about 3 1/2 inches). For some users, this capacity still isn't enough, which is why the pricier--but more versatile--sliding compound miter saws have become so popular. In fact, regular chop saws are disappearing from the marketplace.
Make Cuts Confidently and Quickly
The C10FCE2 has a 15 Amp motor that provides plenty of power for the most difficult cuts. The 10-inch blade lets you make long cuts to save time, and the thumb-actuated positive stops let you select preset points at specific angles, resulting in less set-up time and faster adjustments.
Swing and Tilt for Beveled Cuts
A compound miter saw is essential for making compound cuts, thanks to its ability to tilt on both of its axes. The C10FCE2 has a 0-to-52-degree miter angle range to the right and left, and a 0-to-45-degree bevel range to the left with bevel stops, giving you the range and precision you need for exacting work.
|With the C10FCE2 10" Compound Miter Saw by Hitachi, you'll make quick work of projects such as crown moldings, picture frames, and other angled cuts in two planes. Featuring a 15 Amp motor and a no-load speed of 5,000 RPM, this saw will let you handle even the toughest cutting jobs with ease.|
Compound Miter Saws and Fences
Chop saws that can make bevel cuts as well as miter cuts (and most of them can nowadays) are technically called compound miter saws . If you tilt the blade while cutting at an angle, these saws can cut crown molding while the stock lies flat on the table. But tilting the blade means that the fence has to get out of the blade's way when the saw head heels over. To achieve this, some manufacturers significantly reduce the height of their fences near the blade, then advise users to add a supplemental wood fence when making regular cuts that need extra-height support. But a better approach is to use a sliding fence, which provides full-height support and moves out of the way for bevel cuts.
Preset detent positions on the saw's turntable (typically set at 0, 15, 22.5, 30, and 45 degrees) help to position the blade quickly and accurately for common miter cuts. Some manufacturers also offer detents for the common crown molding angles on the miter and bevel scales. But the detents on some saws can be tricky to override if you want to make minute adjustments to the fit of a cut--say, a 32.25-degree miter instead of the 31.62 degrees that crown molding typically requires. The miter and bevel scales offered by different manufacturers aren't equally easy to read, either. This is particularly true of bevel scales, which are often partially hidden behind the body of the saw.
© Andrew Wormer ~ in association with Amazon.com