Chop (Miter) Saw vs. Cut-off Sled

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Forum topic by mdoleman posted 01-21-2016 03:32 PM 928 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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39 posts in 860 days

01-21-2016 03:32 PM

Topic tags/keywords: table saw chop saw miter saw cut-off sled workshop space

I am putting-out a very general request for feedback, here, with the title of the thread being fairly self-explanatory…

I have a very small shop (converted, one-car, detached garage) in which space is a premium. I’ve been in the process of building some nice shop furniture, and was about to construct a nice cabinet/stand for my Bosch 12” compound miter/cut-off saw. But I stopped to think for a second, and am now wondering if that’s a good area to save on some space.

I have a really nice DeWalt table saw, and am wondering if I would be fine without the shop saw if I put my efforts into creating a couple nice cut-off sleds, and be rid of the miter saw. When I’m doing my cutting to size, I DO find that chop-saw to be quite convenient, of course. But I almost never use it as a proper “miter” saw, and I think I may have used the compound feature exactly one time. 99% of my cuts are either 90 or 45 degrees.

Question is, for folks that get by with just a table saw/cut-off sled, are you okay with it? Or do you wish you had a dedicated cross-cutting machine?

I already know that the “best” answer is to have both, since each can serve a specific purpose, for different needs. But I am looking to simplify and downsize, due to limited space. The chop-saw seems like the likeliest candidate to go, given that it is the one large-scale tool that really and truly does only one thing.


18 replies so far

View knotscott's profile


8011 posts in 3372 days

#1 posted 01-21-2016 03:37 PM

I only use my chop saw for very long pieces that are unwieldy on the TS. My TS is far more robust than my chop saw, and has a better chance of cutting accurately, so it gets the vast majority of crosscut jobs. A good miter gauge and/or sled is the key, and should yield excellent results for you. The CMS sits on a shelf unless I’m doing something like long molding or decking.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View WoodNSawdust's profile


1417 posts in 1173 days

#2 posted 01-21-2016 03:42 PM

I spent almost 20 years with only a table saw and sleds. Now I have both a table saw and miter saw.

IMHO if things are accuracy aligned a sled will be safer and produce a better cut. But, it is very hard by yourself to trim the end off of a eight foot long board. Yes you can setup a temporary support but I have found that sometimes in the middle of a crosscut the support will fail and then I am trying to support the entire weight of an 8/4 board with one hand.

Currently I use the miter saw to crosscut to rough length stock and the table saw with a sled to do the final cut.

You could substitute a circular saw for the miter saw for trimming large boards to length and then do the final cut with a sled on the table saw.

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

View mdoleman's profile


39 posts in 860 days

#3 posted 01-21-2016 03:54 PM

This all seems like good thinking, and about what I suspected, to be honest…

Miter saws have always struck me, anyway, as a “contractor’s” tool, for “carpentry” applications, not serious “woodworking.”

The thing that makes me hesitate somewhat is my work habits… I often don’t work in a way that is completely ordered and methodical, and thus find myself needing to make lengthwise cuts right in the middle of a project, at an inopportune moment. In such a case it is awfully nice to be able to simply step-up to the miter saw and get it done. It’s a nice saw. I paid about 400 bucks for it.

But on the other hand, perhaps being limited to the table saw + cut-off sled combo will cause me to develop better work habits, and be sure I’ve got my design dialed-in and pieces cut to length before I start in on other aspects of the project.

My plan would be to build two sleds. One would be a nice little “miter” sled, for handling smaller stock at angles up to 60 degrees, or whatever. This would be a highly accurate unit, with proper hold-downs and probably attached in some way to a “serious” gauge like an Incra. The second would just be a large, sliding support deck, for panels and longer stock…

I think that’s the route I will go. Then I’ve only got 3 tools with floor footprints: the band saw, table saw, and drill press. Everything else is bench-top/portable. I’m sure there will be moments of regret, but in the long run I can see it working out.


View Sundowner's profile


40 posts in 1931 days

#4 posted 01-21-2016 03:54 PM

I have both and find that the miter saw is invaluable for processing large pieces and for mitering. If I have to chop more than 2 pieces at exactly the same length, I use a sled on the table saw.

I will also add that I have also rarely used my miter saw for much besides 90’s and 45’s for cuts. I also see no need for big honking 12” chop saw (but I do have one for deck and framing work), and have been perfectly happy with the little 7.25” dewalt slider in the shop. It lives on a wall mounted stand that fold down flat when I’m not using it. In a small shop, every square inch counts

View mdoleman's profile


39 posts in 860 days

#5 posted 01-21-2016 04:03 PM

Yeah, that’s another option I have considered: send the big ol’ 12-incher away, in favor of a more “bench-top friendly” little 7-1/4 unit. I can store it away and pull it out when needed. The Bosch saw that I have is enormous, and I do not enjoy the process of dragging it out and putting it away. I used to have a dedicated stand for it, but got rid of it when I started-in on the process of building myself some actual, proper shop furniture.

I am intrigued by the notion of the fold-down table. That sounds great, and something I will consider as well.


View HokieKen's profile (online now)


4987 posts in 1135 days

#6 posted 01-21-2016 08:00 PM

I rarely use my miter saw for anything but breaking down long stuff and construction chores. The only time I use it for anything else is when I need to miter something that’s awkward to get set up on the TS. I put mine on a flip-top stand I built with my planer on the opposite side. The planer’s on top 95% of the time but the CMS is there if I need it and isn’t taking up any valuable floor space.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2106 days

#7 posted 01-21-2016 08:09 PM

My miter saw only gets used outside of the shop, for things like trim jobs. I don’t even keep it in the shop.

For breaking down rough stock, a jigsaw works wonderfully. No kickback or stuck blades, easy control, low noise, the dust stays nearby, and you can leave it right at the lumber rack. After drawing rough furniture parts right on the boards, I can cut them at any angle, even rough rip some pieces, before heading to the jointer.

Something to be every wary of when using a miter saw to break down rough stock is what will happen as the board is cut. Once upon a time, I got a Forrest Chopmaster stuck in an rough 8/4 maple plank that shifted as I cut it. If you do this at the miter saw, make sure to block or wedge things to keep them stable as you cut. My blade badly warped, requiring Forrest to reflatten it at the factory.

View TheFridge's profile


9453 posts in 1482 days

#8 posted 01-21-2016 08:13 PM

A good hand saw will cut a 12” wide pics of ash in a 2-3 minutes. I haven’t used a miter saw in about year. Or when I discovered how imprecise they can be. Some good ones out there. Not mine.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Sundowner's profile


40 posts in 1931 days

#9 posted 01-21-2016 10:05 PM

A good hand saw will cut a 12” wide pics of ash in a 2-3 minutes. I haven t used a miter saw in about year. Or when I discovered how imprecise they can be. Some good ones out there. Not mine.

- TheFridge

for trim work in houses, I have a good X-cut back saw and a small benchhook with 90 and 45 degree slots. light, no dust worries, and it hooks right over any counter or table top.
I call it my cordless saw.

View cabmaker's profile


1730 posts in 2805 days

#10 posted 01-21-2016 10:57 PM

boy…not believing these responses . If your doing serious woodworking, a chop saw is invaluable. I use em daily and extensively Even for very small profiles. I do use tablesaw sleds as well, but mostly for panel cutting.

If your just doing hobbiest type stuff and have to question which is a better choice….youll probably be fine either way.
enjoy the journey JB

View devann's profile


2246 posts in 2689 days

#11 posted 01-21-2016 11:20 PM

You’re correct, having both would be best. But if the choice is one or the other I’d take the tables saw. You can rip & crosscut on a table saw. Can’t make much of a rip with a miter saw.

That said I do agree with cabmaker ” If your doing serious woodworking, a chop saw is invaluable.”

But then you already stated you didn’t believe a miter saw was for serious woodworking. Someday you’ll rethink that.

-- Darrell, making more sawdust than I know what to do with

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2106 days

#12 posted 01-22-2016 02:52 PM

boy…not believing these responses . If your doing serious woodworking, a chop saw is invaluable.

I like to keep it light hearted, not too serious…

FWIW, I know professional furniture makers who have built museum pieces who don’t even own a chop saw. But they’re not really serious about it, it’s all a joke. ;^)

View bigblockyeti's profile


5112 posts in 1717 days

#13 posted 01-22-2016 03:10 PM

You could make a rotating top stand for your Bosch, it would have to be pretty heavy duty but you could mount a planer or something else of similar size/weight on the opposite side and take up only the footprint of what you’re already thinking of doing.

View mdoleman's profile


39 posts in 860 days

#14 posted 01-22-2016 03:32 PM

I’m pretty sure that what I’ve decided to do is this:

1. Get rid of the giant, 12” Bosch CMS (anyone in the market?)
2. Acquire a reasonably-sized, single-miter, cut-off saw—something that can sit on a shelf most of the time and then more easily make its way to a bench top when needed.
3. Get a decent miter gauge, and build a nice cut-off sled, as well, for the table saw

The chop saw will be used only when I have occasion to cut longer/heavier stock, usually for rougher “home improvement” and carpentry type projects. The table saw will handle most of my cross-cutting and mitering work for proper “wood working” projects.

From everything I hear, a nice miter gauge, like an Incra, will give me better results, anyway, and I believe it. But, again, 99% of my cross-cuts are 90 or 45 degrees, so I’m not terribly concerned. I’ll build a 90/45 cut-off sled first, and see if I get-by with just that.

Now I’m looking for “the ultimate” cut-off sled design… :-)

View Ger21's profile


1074 posts in 3127 days

#15 posted 01-22-2016 04:34 PM

I use my table saw for everything if possible, as it’s far more accurate and gives better control.
I pull out the chop saw to rough cut boards to length, or for anything that’s too long or tall to crosscut on the table saw.

Now, if I’m building a deck, or framing a house, I use the chop saw for everything.

-- Gerry,

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