Chop saws are one of the most useful tools in welder and fabricator shops, as they allow the user to safely and accurately make repetitive cuts. Whether cutting a piece of threaded rod, angle iron, strut or steel studs, a chop saw can be a perfect tool — provided the user is employing the correct and best wheel for the job.
United Abrasives offers one of the broadest lines of chop saw blades in the industry. We have seven unique formulations that cover a wide range of applications. In addition, United Abrasives chop saw blades are made in the USA and exceed the ANSI standards for safety! So, what do you need to know?
Today let’s take a look at how you can safely use a chop saw and which wheel is right for your application.
What is a Chop Saw?
A chop saw is a basic electric tool which allows the operator to cut accurately with the periphery of the wheel. The saw has a back fence (which, in many cases, is capable of rotating to make 45-degree miter cuts) and utilizes a built-in lockdown vise.
Normally used on a tabletop or on the ground, chop saws are portable and can be easily moved from site to site as needed. Due to their versatility, many weld shops, mechanical contractors and maintenance shops utilize chop saws.
What do I Need to Know?
A few helpful tips go a long way to safely and effectively using a chop saw:
- Use the correct wheel for the material you are cutting (more on this below)
- When mounting a new blade, the saw must be unplugged from the electrical source and proper paper mounting blotters must be between the flanges and the wheel surface (blotters are available from most tool manufacturers)
- Prior to making any cuts, the center of the material being cut should be directly under the center of the arbor on the saw to maximize cutting efficiency and life
As with many abrasive products, misuse of a chop saw can lead to wheel breakage and injury. In addition to complying with ANSI Safety code B7.1 — which outlines safe operating conditions for all abrasive cutting and grinding wheels — here are a few safety tips when using our wheels:
- Wear proper safety personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Visually inspect all wheels for possible damage before mounting
- NEVER hold the material being cut in your hand; always utilize the lock down vise
- Wait until the wheel comes to a full stop before reaching for any cut pieces
- NEVER make a cut and then remove the burr from the cut using the side of the wheel. These wheels are designed for cutting on the periphery of the wheel ONLY! Grinding on the side of the wheel can damage the fiberglass reinforcement within the wheel, leading to wheel breakage and injury
Which Wheel Should I Use?
With seven unique formulations, United Abrasives has a wheel for most of the common materials used on a job site:
Iron Worker™: Designed for the professional welder and fabricator, the Iron Workers™ can cut a wide variety of carbon steel materials. Capable of cutting angle iron, structural steel channel, pipe and heavy rebar, it is the ideal choice of any user who cuts thicker carbon steel and needs to cut it quickly.
Z-TECH: Utilizing premium zirconium grain and a unique bond, Z-TECH is the best choice when a very fast, non-binding cut is needed, while maximizing wheel life. Z-TECH excels cutting carbon steel materials but is very capable of also cutting stainless steel and high tensile alloys.
Stud King®: Made from aluminum oxide, the Stud King® is designed for fast, burr free cuts on sharp metals like metal studding, thin rebar, light gauge metals and any other metals that have sharp edges.
SAITECH Steel Worker®: Made from premium ceramic grain, the SAITECH Steel Worker® is designed for use on stainless steel, high tensile alloys and ferrous metals. It features extremely long life and cool cutting.
Aluminum: This wheel’s special non-loading formulation is ideal for cutting aluminum and other, high loading, non-ferrous metals. Loading is common when cutting aluminum and decreases cutting speed and wheel life.
EZ Chop®: If your cutting a wide variety of materials, EZ Chop® will deliver cool cutting and a burr free finish. This general-purpose wheel is capable of cutting metal studs, angle iron, thin rebar and light or thicker gauge metals.
EZ Chop Attacker®: This general purpose, economy wheel is designed for fast cutting on thin metals. It can cut a variety of metals including metal studding, thin rebar and light to medium gauge metals.