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Chop Saw? What is a Chop Saw in a Metal Shop, in a Machine Shop?

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  • Chop Saw? What is a Chop Saw in a Metal Shop, in a Machine Shop?

    I have seen many references to using a "chop saw" in metal and machine shops. When I look up that term on the internet I get images that look to me like a saw that would be use to cut dimensional LUMBER at a construction site. They usually have a circular blade that is 10, 12, or 14 inches in diameter and that is mounted directly on the shaft of the motor. So they spin at what, 1200, 1400, 1750 RPM? It seems that some even rotate at up to 8000 RPM. That's 5500 feet per minute cutting speed with a 12 inch blade spinning at 1750 RPM!

    Recommended speeds for steel range from 20 to 200 fpm. Aluminum perhaps up to 1000 fpm. But no metal has a recommended cutting speed above that. Sure you can do it, but just how long would the teeth last?

    I have used a chop saw to cut wood. I have used a chop saw with an abrasive blade to cut thin metal, like tube and sheet metal shapes, even extrusions. Yes, you can force your way through a steel solid with an abrasive blade in one or with a carbide tipped blade through aluminum. but that seems like asking for trouble to me. When I have cut steel in a chop saw with an abrasive blade it was a spectacular light show and abrasive dust was everywhere and that was just sheet metal. Not in my shop, please! And a toothed blade, carbide or not, for a steel solid (like a 1" x 6" rectangle) would be something I would not even attempt. Even if you could have a slower speed, like a few hundred RPM or less, hand feeding a toothed blade into something like steel seems like something that would easily stall or break a tooth. And wouldn't coolant be an absolute must?

    So someone please tell me where I am going wrong here. Are chop saws in metal shops or machine shops geared down models that run at slower speeds? Are there special models for metal that I haven't found yet? Or do they only use abrasive blades? Or only for thin gauge sheet metal? Is there some other kind of "chop saw"? Or what? And what kind of blades are used for things like even a soft steel?

    If I recall correctly, all the metal and machine shops that I have visited had band saws for cutting the metal stock prior to machining it or even welding it. Welders almost always had angle grinders handy and I am sure they cut stock with them. Perhaps I missed something.
    Paul A.
    SE Texas

    Make it fit.
    You can't win and there IS a penalty for trying!

  • #2
    I've seen a so called chop saw with a fine toothed carbide blade rotating at wood cutting speeds cutting metal pipe and rod dry all day long. It does't need coolant and you have to see it to believe
    Helder Ferreira
    Setubal, Portugal

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    • #3
      Have a look at Evolution mitre saws. Will cut heavy section steel angle up to I think 4"x4". More to do with blade technology than ultra low rpm.
      West Sussex UK

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      • #4
        Here is an example

        https://www.amazon.com/Diablo-D1260C...0411638&sr=8-6
        Helder Ferreira
        Setubal, Portugal

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        • #5


          "Recommended speeds for steel range from 20 to 200 fpm" That is like HSS speed. Carbide tolerates more and cermet even more than carbide. Add in short engagement per tooth and huge number of tooths and you can up the cutting speed to nearly same what is used on wood.

          "Chop saw" and "cold saw" are almost similar looking machine and sometimes terms are intermixed. "cold saw" is low rpm saw for HSS blades and "Chop saw" is high speed version for carbide tipped blades.

          Chop saws with carbide tipped blades are old tech (like 30 years old..)

          But You might be amazed what the current cordless tools can do:
          https://youtu.be/SqTQ4nxU_qE?t=188

          I bet you would be struggling to make that cut faster with large corded angle grinder!
          Last edited by MattiJ; 09-18-2020, 03:41 AM.
          Location: Helsinki, Finland, Europe

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          • #6
            chop saws work but you wouldnt like the chips covering the whole shop. yeah, the above looks great, if you have $500 to spend.

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            • #7
              I am not Even going to read the posts...

              "
              Paul Alciatore started a topic Chop Saw? What is a Chop Saw in a Metal Shop, in a Machine Shop?

              "

              I have used a Makita 14" chop saw for 25+ years.

              I still have the original "Made in Japan" blades. Old but better.

              A chop saw for heavy cutting is meant to be a pleasant shift, eyes and ears needed please.

              The simple lever of the saw does the work, not the blade.

              Chop Saw. Handle, light down pressure till it bites.

              Now use two or thre digits to hold her in the groove or go cook some food?

              I am always hungry. Cali, land of the Salad.. JR
              Last edited by JRouche; 09-19-2020, 02:13 AM.
              My old yahoo group. Bridgeport Mill Group

              https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/...port_mill/info

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              • #8
                Often called a Cold Saw by manufacturers.
                https://www.grainger.com/product/DAK...tomatic-40F069

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                • #9
                  Some people will also refer to abrasive cut-off saws as "chop saws" due to their resemblance to wood cutting miter saws. It's a fairly loosely defined term. The saws that cut metal at high blade RPM using a toothed blade simply have blades designed for the purpose. I've never used one but people that have them seem to really like them.
                  Last edited by alanganes; 09-18-2020, 07:17 AM.

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                  • #10
                    Are you talking one of these?
                    Click image for larger version

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                    • #11
                      stock reduction by unskilled labor. not clear why you had to ask.

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                      • #12
                        A regular Home Depot or Harbor Frieght chopsaw for cutting wood, with a steel cutting blade. The blades are what are "new". I've watched videos on YouTube, it works, great for sizing rough stock, not to mention getting nice square cuts that don't require further machining.

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                        • #13
                          For many years the only thing I knew of as a "chop saw" was somewhat as you describe with the most common variety being fixed (moveable fence) blade angle with a 14" abrasive blade. Its only in recent years that I have seen variants using toothed blades (last ten years maybe). There were always slower saws of a similar setup that were much slower and used a toothed blade, but they were never called "chop saws" that I recall. They were always called cold cut saws, and cost 4 to 10 times as much as the most expensive chop saws. I never owned a "cold cut" saw. Instead I went with a horizontal bandsaw. for roughing stock to size, nearly always to be finished on the mill or lathe to square and final dimension.
                          *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.

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                          • #14
                            So it is all or at least moslty in the blade. And the blades are about the same price as the wood blades. I do love the way it seemed to cut that steel scrap almost effortlessly. Makes me wonder if a plain, old circular saw would do that with the proper blade.

                            I may just have to try one. Someday, other priorities right now.
                            Paul A.
                            SE Texas

                            Make it fit.
                            You can't win and there IS a penalty for trying!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Paul Alciatore View Post
                              So it is all or at least moslty in the blade. And the blades are about the same price as the wood blades. I do love the way it seemed to cut that steel scrap almost effortlessly. Makes me wonder if a plain, old circular saw would do that with the proper blade.

                              I may just have to try one. Someday, other priorities right now.
                              I use negative rake & smaller than original blade size in cheapo LIDL circular saw to cut aluminium plates and I have tested it to steel also. 20x20mm 1045 steel goes surprisingly easy.
                              Titanium was like lightning fireworks or flares in the shop!

                              (Smaller than original blade helps to reduce the speed closer to metal cutting circular saws without sacrificing torque with the speed control)
                              Location: Helsinki, Finland, Europe

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