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Abrasive saws generate heat and a shower of sparks like Mount Vesuvius on a bad hair day. But cold saws, using toothed blades which make cool-to-the-touch cuts, are the way to go for most people. If that’s what you’re looking for, then you’ve come to the right place to get some hints and tips that will help you choose the one that’s best for you.
There’s no one saw that’s right for everyone. Depending on the stock you’ll be cutting and the projects you’ll be working on, you’ll want to consider several factors beyond mere cost. That’s where it gets tricky because every company under the sun is trying to get in the game, creating a real swamp to wade through on your way to making a purchase.
Our reviews are based on research into the saws on the market—which ones are the best, which ones give you the best bang for the buck, which ones are easy to use, and so on and so forth. In other words, we’ve done the hard work for you and whittled the findings down to a manageable list.
Keep an eye on the details and soon you’ll be using your new cold saw.
|Makita LC1230||1 Year||4.6/5|
|Evolution Power Tools RAGE2|
(Best for the Money)
|Evolution Power Tools EVOSAW380||3 Years||4.3/5|
|JET J-F225||2 Years||4.1/5|
The cuts from this saw are smooth and straight with no burr clean up afterward. It uses a carbide tipped blade that does a great job with very little dulling. It takes very little pressure on the handle of this tool to cut through heavy pipes or solid bars, quickly and easily. Prior to welding, you can cut pipes or other materials and you’ll be a happy camper. It’s also good for making miter cuts on handrails and other such items.
When cutting heavy stock, there will be occasional sparks and heating, although not as much as you’d think. On smaller stock though, there isn’t any significant sparking to worry about and the material remains cool to the touch.
This tool cuts four times faster than chop saws and eight times faster than portable bandsaws on 2x2x1/4″ angle iron. The carbide blades are expensive but the slower dulling—if you refrain from putting excess pressure on the handle—will give you an excellent benefit-to-cost ratio, which saves money in the long run.
The clamp on the fence is somewhat weak, but that’s the only complaint we have about this tool. It deserves its place at the top of the list.
Our runner-up cuts through a 2×2 box tubing that has a 1/4″ wall thickness in about a minute—very good timing for a very good saw. A cutting job that would normally take all day can be reduced to three hours, a huge time-saver. It stays cool throughout the process.
Like our top pick, the Makita makes cuts that are accurate, quick, precise, and free of burrs. It has a D-shaped handle for easy gripping and comes with a lock-off button which prevents accidental starting, a very nice safety feature. We also liked the tool-less adjustments on the fence.
For all that, the chip collector tray catches only about 10% of the chips. Dust and chip collection will always be an issue on any saw, but the design on this one lets too much slip through. The second issue we found is the intermittent quality control at the factory. Most of the units they ship are good, but the factory, located in China, sometimes produces a lemon that can’t be fixed.
Other than that, this is a solid contender from a brand name manufacturer.
This is an impressive saw, especially considering the low cost. It goes through angle iron, square tubing, and similar stock like a hot knife through butter. It’s more like chopping 2×4’s than steel. It cuts oak wood full of nails and then turns around and cuts steel fence posts with no problem.
Setting up to make miter cuts is easy and the saw holds the angles quite nicely. It leaves a clean, cold cut and has good durability on the blade teeth. The blade that ships with it, however, is a general-purpose one. You’ll have to get other blades for specific materials.
On the downside, this saw is very loud even before it starts cutting. So get some earplugs. The base and clamp are stamped steel instead of cast. Consequently, there is flex that shouldn’t be there. You’ll need to reinforce it when cutting at an angle. Additionally, the clamp doesn’t have a quick release for making fast adjustments. You’ll have to use an Allen wrench to get the job done.
This is a good, low-cost saw with just enough problems to keep it out of the top two.
Evolution disappointed us with this saw. Once again, we see a cold saw that works great, BUT . . .
It easily cuts a wide variety of materials with a clean, cold cut and minimal burrs. It eats 3/4″ rebar for lunch. It’s easy to use and we like it.
The BUT comes from the fact that it lacks a quick-release on the clamp. Adjustments have to be made with hex wrenches (included), turning something that should only take a few seconds into several minutes of finicky work.
Another huge problem was the amount of play or wobble in the blade—up to 1/4″. On close inspection, it appears to originate from the pin which mounts the saw to the base. This is unacceptable. And by the way, the base is made of aluminum instead of stronger cast iron. Furthermore, the base isn’t level and doesn’t have any method of being mounted to a tabletop. Evolution went cheap on this saw.
This could be a really good saw if Evolution would only address these problems, but until then it stays in fourth place on the list.
This cold saw requires the use of coolant to produce smooth cuts with no burrs that are cool to the touch. It gets the job done but will never compete with the rest of the saws on this list.
Adjusting the miter starts easy, but it grows increasingly difficult over time. Eventually, you’ll have to take the whole machine apart to clean and lube everything. Needless to say, this is cumbersome.
Adjustment problems plague this saw from beginning to end. Although it will cut materials square, it takes an inordinate amount of time to adjust it properly to get those cuts. Furthermore, no amount of adjusting will get rid of the painful vibration which results from its lighter weight.
The handles and knobs display a dismaying tendency to break off during normal use, requiring them to be welded or glued back into place. The switch also comes undone and the vice needs to be repeatedly squared.
This saw works but you’d be better off spending your money on something more robust.
Power tools such as cold saws represent a substantial investment of both time and money. Proper ventilation, safety equipment, and waste storage will dictate where and how tools should be set up and used.
Metal filings and chips are an environmental hazard and they result from using cold saws. Make sure you have a plan in place for collecting and disposing of them that are in accordance with all the applicable laws and regulations. Even if you’re only using it at home, you’re still subject to inspections by the city code enforcement officers, and fines can be expensive.
Cutting metal creates noise. Be considerate of others and put some sound barriers in place.
The first thing that makes a good cold saw is right there in the name—the cuts it produces are immediately cool to the touch the moment you finish cutting. Abrasive saws generate tremendous amounts of heat which leave metal hot enough to give you third-degree burns if you touch it. That kind of heat can also deform the metal.
If a cold saw generates a lot of sparks and heat, then there’s not much “cold” about it. A few sparks here and there are to be expected whenever you’ve got metal-on-metal, but a continuous shower of them is indicative of a bad saw. Send it back right away.
A good saw should also be stable, free of vibrations, and sturdy. Lightweight saws are none of those. Within reasonable limits, the heavier the saw is the better.
Smooth, fast cuts are a necessity in a good saw. If you’re in the market for a cold saw you’re probably going to be cutting more than just a few pipes. A slow saw can stretch a few hour’s work into an all-day marathon, whereas a fast one can keep you moving right along.
Warranties for power tools should always be read carefully before you buy. The fine print is where lawyers like to hide little unpleasant surprises. Even the largest reputable name brand manufacturers have to dance to the lawyer’s tunes, so don’t assume they don’t have escape clauses in their warranties.
Buying online has become increasingly popular but your local hardware store, if they carry the model you’ve decided to get, will let you pick it up and take it home—today. That’s an advantage no website can possibly offer. You’ll also be able to get your hands on it before opening your wallet, another advantage over buying online.
Where websites have the unquestioned advantage is the price. Because they don’t have to carry the expense of a brick-and-mortar storefront, they can undercut hardware stores on the price. Many of them offer free shipping if you spend more than a certain amount, so if you can wait, buying online might be the way to go.
The main option(s) you’ll need are extra blades. All blades will eventually wear out, but you can lengthen their useful life by using the right blade for the right job. The number and type of teeth will be different depending on the material you’re cutting. Blades can be expensive. Using the right one for the right job will save you a lot of money. Invest up front so you’ll have everything immediately available from the moment your saw arrives.
Close behind blades are lubricants. Moving parts always require lubrication and cold saws, even if they don’t use coolant, aren’t any different. Get some and keep it available.
Cleaning brushes are an option most people have a tendency to overlook. Blowing the chips away from the saw is one method of cleaning it but it’s not really the best. Metal can float back into your eyes, ears, nose, necessitating a trip to the doctor in some cases. There are a number of good brushes available on most websites that carry cold saws, so you might as well get some while you’re at it. They can extend the life of your saw with regular cleaning, they’re also one of the least expensive pieces of safety equipment out there.
It never hurts to have extra clamps and triangles available. The best saw in the world can’t keep everything in place or make every little measurement. Get a few extras and you’ll be able to save yourself a headache later on.
Our top pick in our reviews of cold saws is the DeWalt DW872. You’ll have a hard time finding anything to complain about with this tool. It does the job right, first time, every time. It cuts fast, adjustments are easy, and it doesn’t eat up expensive blades, which saves you a lot of money.
The “best for the money” pick is the Evolution Power Tools RAGE2. We were surprised and pleased at the punch this tool delivers for a fraction of the price of other saws. Invest in some earplugs and then watch it chew through every material in the shop.
These reviews are intended to make it as painless and easy as possible for you to decide which cold saw will deliver the value and performance you need for your particular uses and projects. Whether you’re making your decision based on “bang for the buck” or raw power and speed, it’s all here for you to use.