Cold Saw, Circular Saw or Chop Saw?

It’s a question we come across a lot working in the metal cutting machinery industry, and our answer is always the same. They are all technically the same machine. Over the years terminology changes, it evolves and sometimes that causes confusion. Terminology evolution means we can call these machines a few names, cold saws, cold cutting saws, circular saws, and in a great deal of cases they are referred to as chop saws and circular cut off saws. It does all basically mean the same thing; An electrically powered saw that uses a circular saw blade to cut through metal. While the general premise is the same, there are differences in terms of how they get the job done. These differences are important to consider before buying a circular style metal cutting saw.


Cold Saw Machines

As mentioned in the introduction, cold saws, cold cutting saws, and circular cut off saws are the same machine.  Different industries or regions use different terms. Popular among fabricators, cold saws are built for cutting medium / thin-walled steels and small solid profiles, including stainless steel. These machines are reliable and, in most cases, very affordable when it comes to cutting steel bars and tubes. This type of saw uses high-speed steel (HSS) saw blades to cut through those steel materials quickly and with ease. Industrial cold saws are available in many different forms, in manual format where the operator has control over the cutting. Or automatic versions that are controlled by a computer built into the saw. What you need depends on what you are cutting and the output needed from the saw.


Circular Saws

A quick google of the word circular saws will mostly bring up saw blades or hobby style tabletop sawing machines. These types of machines are rarely suitable for consistent use within the professional or industrial metalworking sector. They do make good DIY or craftsmen / mobile construction machines due to their portability and relatively low cost. Industrial circular saws or cold saw machines (remember, they are the same for industrial applications) are different from table top style circular saws. Their functionality is of a higher spec, they can cut through a wider range of materials and are more powerful. The industrial saws generally come with a pedestal and while they are portable within a workshop or factory for repositioning, you can’t grab them and put them in a van. If you’re looking for an industrial circular saw, search for exactly that phrase.


Chop Saws

This term is regularly used to describe both standard circular cold saws mentioned above and more increasingly now, abrasive saws. Even asking google will return confusing results. It’s worth knowing that abrasive saws are designed to cut dense metals that a standard cold saw just can’t get through. Instead of using a traditional saw blade, these saws use abrasive disks, very similar to what you find in angle grinding machines. We do not recommend abrasive saws like angle grinders for regular metal cutting where speed, finish and high output are key. These do tend to create a lot of heat when cutting.



As we have covered, there are many names for the same type of metal cutting machine – and I’m sure there are more terms that we haven’t covered.

We have mentioned google a lot above as it’s the leading search engine.  Different search engines will yield different search results so if you’re looking for a circular chop saw, you can start by looking at our range so you know what kind of machine will work for the materials you need to cut. Follow the links below to see our machines.


Manual Circular Cold Saws
Semi-Automatic Cold Saws
Automatic Cold Saws


Alternatively, the quickest way to find what you need is by calling us on 01384 264 950. Our expert team can guide you through finding the right circular type saw for your application. We can then provide no-obligation quotes to your exact requirements – including any saw blades and cutting oils.