How to Use a Chop Saw to Cut Wood

What You'll Need
Chop saw
Wood-cutting saw blade
Tape measure
Straight edge

Both miter saws and abrasive cut off saws are sometimes referred to as a chop saw. In either case, the circular blade is mounted to a vertical hinge with a handle that allows the operator to raise or lower the saw to the cutting surface. The operator does not move the wood while cutting. This is different from band saws, where the blade is stationary and the operator feeds the piece into it. Chop saws often feature a protractor fence and a straight fence. These allow the user to cut straight angles for applications such as door molding. Although abrasive cut-off saws are more commonly used to cut metal or PVC, they can be configured to cut wood with a few simple adjustments.

Step 1 – Obtain Materials

Use a circular wood-cutting saw blade of the appropriate size for your model. Obtain the lumber you wish to cut, whether it’s 2 by 4, baseboard, crown molding. Because of its design, a chop saw is probably not suitable for cutting large sheets of plywood.

Step 2 – Measure Twice, Cut Once

Use a tape measure or ruler to mark the length of your desired piece. Use a protractor to mark the desired angle.

Step 3 – Set Fences

Place the piece flush against the straight fence. Adjust the protractor fence by turning the handle on the base of the saw. The blade will pivot along with the base. Align the gap that the saw blade sinks into with the markings on your piece.

Step 4 – Check Cut

Before starting the motor, pull the saw blade down and verify that it lines up with the marking on your piece of wood. If it does, you are ready to cut.

Step 5 – Cut Wood

Flip on the power switch and the blade will begin to turn. Hold the piece flush against the fence with one hand while you lower the blade and push it across the piece with the other. Do not move the wood while you are cutting. The blade should cut it quickly and cleanly. If the cut has jagged edges it may be time to sharpen the saw blades.

Step 6 – Work Safely

The chop saw is relatively more dangerous than other types of saws. Although abrasive blades can cause burns and lacerations, a wood-cutting blade will readily sever a careless operator’s fingers. Never operate a saw without the blade guard in place. Avoid working with small pieces of wood or making tiny cuts if possible, for two reasons.

  1. Smaller pieces of wood require the user to place his or her hands closer to the cutting edge.
  2. If the end of the piece slips into the gap at the end of the straight fence, it can be ejected at high speeds. Always wear safety goggles when operating a chop saw.