If you’re someone who cuts metal frequently, it may be time for you to switch from an abrasive saw. Abrasive saws not only create a lot of sparks, but they tend to produce a rough cut that requires smoothing after the fact. Fortunately, cold saws help mitigate this problem.
Cold saws are designed to cut through metal. It’s what they live for. They’re an alternative to abrasive chop saws, and we find them a lot more pleasant to use.
Enter the cold saw. You’re probably here because you like the idea of a toothed metal-cutting saw, which avoids sparks and makes cleaner cuts by applying a steady stream of coolant.
If you want to buy a cold saw but you’re daunted by the selection, our reviews are here to help you out: we’ve tested six of the best-known models to decide which we like best, and which could be the one for you. After the list, read on to see our Buyer’s Guide for cold saw first-timers.
Features to consider in Cold Cut Saws
As is the case with any acquisition, the most expensive saw is not necessarily the best. There is no universal cold saw guaranteed to fit everyone’s needs. Before listing the best cold saws on the market, it is useful to take the following features into consideration.
There are two types of cold saw blades. The good news is that both types can be used numerous times before being discarded, and both can be resharpened.
Solid HSS Blades
Solid high-speed steel blades (or HSS) can withstand high temperatures without losing their hardness, and can therefore cut faster than high carbon steel (hence the name “high-speed steel”). The general recommended heat treatment for HSS blades is at room temperature. On the Rockwell scale (which is a scale based on the indentation hardness of a material), HSS grades above 60, which means it displays high hardness, as well as abrasion resistance.
Tungsten carbide-tipped (TCT) blades have the advantage of keeping their sharpness for longer than other materials. Since the blade’s main body is made of steel, the small carbide tips are brazed onto its body. In comparison to a steel-tipped tool, a carbide tip could hold an edge 10 to 20 times longer. Carbide tips are categorized based on one of 4 grades.
Now let’s make that blade spin without frying it! Before purchasing any motorized heavy-duty tool, make sure to know the power specifications of your outlets. If you use an electric circuit of 220 volts (or have the ability to run two separate regular 110-volt hot wires to the same point-of-use), you can choose a single phase-powered motor. For more heavy-duty activity that would require a 3-phase motor, you would need an electric circuit that is suitable for 415 volts.
As with any power tool, safety features are essential. You’ll want to make sure that your cold saw comes with safety features, such as blade guards and spark deflectors.
No matter if you’re purchasing your first cold saw or you have years of experience using the machinery, safety features are not something that you should overlook.
How We Tested
We looked at the features that were available with high-end models such as flexible sizes, a wide range of cutting speeds, the ability to handle large and small cuts, durability, and a good warranty in place. We talked to experts in the metalwork industry and spoke to fabricators, construction workers, and automotive technicians to find out what they looked for in a top-quality cold saw. Next came looking at tool blogs and magazines to learn about features and qualities. We wanted to have an excellent idea of what made up a high-quality cold saw versus a lesser-quality model that would be better off passed over.
1. DeWalt DW872 Cold Saw
Surprised to see DeWalt at the top of yet another list? We aren’t. Their saws top our rankings so often it’s become a running joke here at the workshop.
The DW872 14-inch cold saw is a versatile metal-cutter that slices through any material quickly and precisely. It’s ready to go right out of the box, with a 14-inch, 70-toothed, carbide-tipped blade that’s one of the few factory blades you’ll never want to replace. It cuts up to 4 times faster than a chop saw, yet cuts will still be cool when completed.
It’s also solidly built: a heavy, reliable saw that can last for many years with proper maintenance. Our favorite thing about the DW872, though, is how cleanly it cuts, not only leaving a flat plane on the metal every time but requiring minimal burr clean up afterward.
The only issues we have relate to the base, where DeWalt made some questionable design choices. It can be hard to get smaller workpieces to rest comfortably on the corrugated base, and the clamp, while fast and user-friendly, is somewhat weak. You might want an extra clamp to keep smaller pipes more stable.
2. Makita LC1230 12” Metal Cutting Saw
This saw leaves the shop much cleaner than others. It has a very sturdy yet user-friendly design – especially the D-shaped handle – for those who intend on using it for longer periods of time. It can cover a wide range of projects, and stands the test of time and usage.
If time is of the essence, this is the perfect cold saw for you. A solid contender from a brand name manufacturer, the Makita LC1230 12-Inch Metal Cutting Saw is found in the top picks of any respectable saw user. This tool saves time by reducing a job that would normally take a full day to a mere three hours, and does so by leaving clean, burr-free cuts behind. It comes with a lock-off button to prevent accidentally starting the machine, as well as a comfortably D-shaped handle to make gripping easier.
Thanks to its adjustable guide plate and dual-finger trigger/lock-off button, The Makita LC1230 can cut through a 2 x 2 box tubing with a 1 / 4“ wall thickness in a minute, which is pretty impressive. It manages to stay cool throughout the cutting process, while the resulting cuts are precise, quick, and accurate. Customers noted that the Makita has the ability to cut four times faster than a traditional abrasive saw.
3. Milwaukee M18 Fuel Metal Cutting Circular Saw
Milwaukee m18 (model 2982-20) is one of the fastest, and longest-lived metal cutting circular saw for industrial professionals. This compact and lightweight metal cutting saw is an excellent choice for those metalworkers who need something with speed and stamina.
Its power state brushless motor with 3,900 RPMs speed and 30t carbide-tipped metal saw blade delivers the most onerous duty work smoothly, quietly, and cleanly with powerful fastest cutting speeds and most extended tool life on the market.
Moreover, the powerful red lithium battery pack delivers up to 370 cuts in ¾” EMT, which is every time you pull the trigger; it offers one reduction per minute for over 6 hours straight. At the same time, the high output XC battery stays cool under severe loads.
4. Evolution S355CPSL
The Evolution S355CPSL is the younger brother of the S380CPS that is cheaper but still gives a cold cut with a carbide tipped blade that massively outperforms abrasive blades. This saw isn’t as heavy duty the S380CPS, the base on this saw is stamped steel compared to the solid cast aluminum of the S380CPS. It has a chip deflector to help control the spread of metal chips, but doesn’t have the chip collection tray or 45° locking pin of the S380CPS. Obviously, not having these features does make it cheaper than the S380CPS, which makes it a great option for home buyers on more of a budget. It does still have some great features such as the square thread clamp with quick release and easy blade change. Furthermore, it’s actually one of the cheapest cold cut chop saws on the market, making it incredible value for money.
With this machine, you can get a 14″ chop saw that cuts metal square and clean. The lower RPM and carbide tipped blades reduces sparks and means you don’t need to cool the metal after cutting. All this at a price not too much more expensive than an abrasive blade chop saw makes it definitely one to consider. This is a budget friendly high-quality chop saw that’s perfect for hobbyists.
5. Baileigh Manual Circular Cold Saw
We get that price is a major concern for a lot of hobbyists and professionals, so we wanted to spotlight the Baileigh CS-315EU, the best cold saw for the money we’ve reviewed this year.
In case you’ve never heard of a “manual” cold or chop saw before, don’t fret – it doesn’t mean you have to provide the power on your own. “Manual” means you manually control the speed of the chop saw by depressing or releasing a lever, instead of by squeezing a trigger. This is a little more awkward physically but gives you a lot more power over how the saw works.
On top of that fine-tuned control and its amazingly affordable price, the Baileigh CS-315EU hits all the other high notes we look for in a cold saw, making fast, clean cuts that are cool to the touch.
A few things are keeping us from giving the fullest possible recommendation. The coolant tank is located in an awkward position on the back of the saw, making it a hassle to refill. Also, the factory blade isn’t made to the highest standards — you might want to replace it, making this saw less budget-friendly.
Check Out The Parts
We advise a part-by-part approach to comparing cold saws. In this section, we’ll list the components you should evaluate.
- Like we said above, this will vary based on the type and thickness of metal you’re cutting. As a rule, the harder the workpiece, the more teeth you want. If you like everything about a certain cold saw except the blade, you can replace it — but nothing’s better than when the pre-installed blade works.
- The motor drives the blade. More power equals more RPM equals a faster cut with less bouncing. Use 15 amps as a soft minimum for engine power.
- Bevel/miter angle. If you need to cut at an angle, buy a saw that can do that. This isn’t something you want to jury-rig.
- Coolant system. This is a common point of failure on cold saws. Make sure whatever you’re buying has a tank, pump, and hose that won’t come apart under stress.
- Cast iron is the gold standard. Be suspicious of anything softer than that. Why would you use a base that your saw can cut through?
- Chip collector. A perfect cold saw wouldn’t leave any debris whatsoever, but no tool is perfect. Look for a cold saw with a tray where burrs and other solid residues can gather for easy cleanup.
If you’re not familiar with a cold saw, you may find yourself asking numerous questions. Fortunately, we’ve taken the time to answer some of the questions most commonly asked when using a cold saw.
Will I need to lubricate my machine?
Yes. Like any other saw, you’re going to need to oil or grease lubrication points frequently. You may also need to change the gear oil box every so often. Doing so can help preserve the longevity of your saw and will help improve the efficiency of your cuts.
What Is Cold Saw?
A cold saw is a kind of circular saw that uses circular, toothed saw blades to cut metal. As its name, it uses a liquid coolant to transfer the heat to the chips created by the saw blade when cutting and carrying the heat away from the material and edge and leaving it in a cold state. It also avoids sparks and makes cleaner cuts by applying a steady stream of coolant.
This is a complement to an abrasive saw, which abrades the metal and creates more sparks than a welding torch and a great deal of heat in the metal and cutting blade.
Can a cold saw cut metal?
Hand saws and power saws are both used to cut through metal materials. The type of blade that a builder will choose is usually determined by the composition of the piece being worked on, but some blades can be designed for cutting either wood or steel. The blade and tool used to cut a thin piece of metal differs from the one used for cutting hard, thick sheets.
The powerful nature of your miter saw means that it can be used to cut through a wide range of dense materials. That said, you might want to take note of the type of blade before using the sliding compound miter saw on metal or aluminum because its teeth are not designed for this job and they will likely get damaged if you try cutting these substances with them.
Are you planning to buy a cold saw that will allow you to easily cut all kinds of metal pieces with their powerful motors and durable blades? Then there is enough information that will help you find all of the features of the various types of cold saw available.