Chop saws...pros 'n' cons


Jan 1, 2004
Edinburgh, Scotland
Having just returned to framing after a 20 year absence, I have decided to try and go it alone at some point in the future. Having looked at equipment until my head was fit to burst, not to mention my wallet, I have several questions. The main one at the moment is what we over this side of the pond call 'chop-saw's.' I used one many years ago, but mainly for mouldings that were to big to cut on the morso. But, i have to be honest, I'm going to have to give the morso a miss due to it's expense and have therefore decided to go with the 'chop saw.' I'm going to sound like a typical Scottish idiot, but what would one look for in a good/ relatively cheap saw? What rpm? And does the dust extraction really work? Do any of you chaps use chop saws, as apposed to the morso? Any advice on setting up cheaply would be much appreciated! thanks, Doug.
Welcome to the Grumble.

When I started 20 years ago, the shop I took over had only a Jyden chopper. We stil lhave it.

Good equipment will last a livetime or more.

We currently mostly use a double miter saw that was purchased used (Pistorius M 200). It will last another 50 years! It does a good job and is fast, but it is big and expensive. Isn't there a trade show south of you in the Spring in England? If so I would go and see what the vendors have as the latest and the greatest.

For the budget minded, look at a miter saw or sliding miter saw with a specialized in feed / out feed measuring gauge. The measuring gauge ease of use is a "must have". Next look at the quality of the angle adjustment and its locking feature.

Here in the States there has been a trend to the larger size mouldings. 4"-5" (10-13cm) is not uncommon. Make sure the the saw will cut a moulding that size. That is why I also suggested a sliding miter saw.

Also, do not skimp on the saw blades. We use a 80 carbide tooth blade that is ment for wood only. They cost about $200 each.
Doug, Welcome to the Grumble and back into framing.
There are several seasoned framers on this forum that used and still use relatively inexpensive equipment to cut their mouldings. A decent quality power miter box and a calibrated bench will serve you well if you take Jerome's advice and get Framerguy to once again post his tutorial on fine tuning one of these saws.
It's really best you buy 2 saws though, so you can have each dedicated to one angle.
Hi Doug

Welcome to the Grumble.

If you can you should try and make the Spring Fair at the NEC Birmingham there is a whole hall devoted to picture framing, it’s the show to go to start your reintroduction to framing.

This is the link to some of the exhibitors who sell picture framing equipment….. “Little Back Book list”

In particular you should look out for Lion and Wessex they fight it out at this show to try and be the least expensive for equipment……..I have being astonished at some of the deals available……wayyyyyyyyy below list price on lots of gear.

You should also try Loot you may find some second hand equipment for sale……..and I’m sure Reynard your fellow Scot on the Grumble will give you some directions as to what your best options are in Scotland…… the other thing to do is keep an eye on this is the Irish version of Loot you may find some equipment for sale there…….with the way the Euro is against Sterling you could get a very good barging even if you have to hire a van and make a trip over to collect.

Good luck with your venture and if you want any further help let me know.



[ 01-03-2004, 04:38 PM: Message edited by: Dermot ]

Welcome to the Grumble where you will get more information on any subject than you ever thought existed!!! ;)

Before asking me to spout off again about zeroing in a miter saw, try a search (click on "search" at the top of this page) and type in "chop saws" and you will find an entire evening's worth of good reading on most of your questions about chop saws. My methods for calibrating a saw should be buried in there somewhere too.

It will pay off immensely to take a little time and closely check out whatever type of saw system you decide to buy. Make sure that it is cutting a true vertical and a true 45 degree angle. Nothing more or less is acceptable in my shop. If you are careful about the calibration of your saws, keep really sharp blades on them at all times, and don't chop anything but picture frame moulding on them, (hedge posts with buried nails and barb wire is a definite NO NO!!), your need for any backup system to touch up miters should be minimal.

I intend to buy a miter sander this year but it won't be used as much for wood as it will for metals. I have sold more metals down here in my new shop since July than I sold at my old location up North in 2 years!! Not that I like them but the jobs help pay the bills. Given my "druthers", I'd pull every metal off the display and make that much more room for some neat wood samples. But that's just me.

Good luck on your search for answers.