Proper Aluminum Chop Saws or the “Big-Box Store Version”

19 October, 2022

Aluminum chop saws are one of the most commonly used machines and economic tools for cutting aluminum extrusions.

It is a circular saw machine used to chop profiles into smaller pieces.

People use this saw in the wood and general metal industries. Someone from the metal industry may argue that it should be called an aluminum cut-off saw, while someone with a woodworking background will call it an aluminum chop saw. Both names refer to the same machine.

Continue reading to learn how to distinguish the real deal saws from the ones you can buy from any big-box store.



You’ll find many fabricators that use “big-box store saws” to cut aluminum extrusions. Sometimes they don’t even bother to change the wood blade that comes on them.

The saws sold at big-box stores are:

  • Mainly designed for homeowners and construction contractors to cut wood, plastics, and lightweight non-ferrous metals in low volumes.
  • Very light-duty machines compared to the ones that should be in an aluminum fabrication shop
  • Saws with small single-phase motors.
  • Not used with proper clamps nor have blade cooling. Weak pivot mechanisms, in particular, make them short-lived under the conditions of constant aluminum profile cutting

In the end, the results you will get with these little machines are:

  • Poor finish quality
  • Short blade life due to dry cuts
  • Higher risk of injury
  • Poor clamping
  • Lack of rigidity

Additionally, you will have to replace them frequently. Although the initial investment amount is substantially smaller, ultimately, you’ll end up paying more money.

On the other hand, you can invest in a proper aluminum chop saw from the beginning; you could cut parts faster. The machine can almost last forever, if well-maintained.


Benefits of Investing in a Proper Aluminum Chop Saw

aluminum chop saw

There are many benefits to buying a proper aluminum chop saw.

  • Industrial aluminum chop saws come with bench and conveyor connection holes so you can easily integrate roller conveyors and measuring tables into them.
  • Industrial aluminum cut-off saws have different blade sizes and styles in terms of mitre direction and operating mode. Although the typical and decently proper saw blade size is 400mm (~16”), they can also be as small as a diameter of 250mm (~10”).
  • Some aluminum cut-off saws come with only a rotating table; typically, the whole head, together with the table, is tiltable both towards the right and towards the left. Others have both rotation and tilting functions combined, giving more flexibility in the cutting orientation of the aluminum extrusion and allowing small compound mitre cuts.
  • Regarding operation mode, industrial aluminum cut-off saws have a manual or semi-automatic blade movement.
    • On the manual version, the cut is executed simply by grabbing the handle and pulling the head down on the aluminum extrusion.
    • Semi-auto versions use dual push buttons and a hydro-pneumatic actuator to move the head. This style is not much preferred due to the slower cut execution speed, frequent feed speed adjustment requirement, and the price getting close to the following step-up saw types.


Let’s Learn More

Let us explain how a semi-automatic aluminum chop saw can be slower than the manual one since it might sound somewhat counterintuitive. Unlike the upcut saws, the blade on the aluminum chop saws is above the profile at its highest position while the aluminum profile is resting on the table.

For the cutting to start, the saw blade must travel the gap between the saw blade and the top of the profile. The smaller the profile being cut, the greater this distance is; therefore, the longer the time for the blade to reach contact with the profile.

On a manual aluminum chop saw, the operator can adjust the saw blade feed speed during the cut. So he can pull the head down faster until the saw blade starts cutting and then slow down. On the semi-automatic machine, however, the saw feed speed is consistent from start to finish.



To get accurate results, you must have the appropriate tool. The industrial aluminum chop saw is a suitable entry-level machine for cutting aluminum profiles. The big-box store saws are not for you unless you are cutting super thin profiles at low volumes and don’t care much about quality and safety.

You may feel like saving quite a bit, which is valid in terms of initial investment; however, you may be paying more in the long run. Check out our industrial aluminum chop saw here.


Choose From Our selection of Aluminum Chop Saws

INT Machinery is Canada’s Aluminum and PVC MAchinery Distributor.

Choose from our wide selection.

In the long run, you will save money by getting the right saw at the start. Int Machinery will assist you in finding the perfect aluminum chop saws for your business.

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