Cutting steel beams, rods, and conduits is something that should only be done with a specialized tool. Sure, you can use a hacksaw to scrape thin layers of the hard material off manually, but why waste hours doing this when you could complete the job with the pull of a leverDitch the fatigue-inducing hacksaw and get a chop saw instead.
Chop saws are equipped with powerful motors for slicing through tough metals like a knife through warm butter. In this article, we’re going to take a look at one of Evolution Pro Tools metal-cutting chops saws – the EVOSAW380. Let’s find out what’s under the hood and how it performs.
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Construction and Design
Right out of the box we can tell that this is a special chop saw. It weighs a good 55 pounds which keeps it stable as you plunge the saw head time and time again into metal workpieces. The entire base is made of durable cast aluminum and comes with a tall 3-inch fence and quick-release vice which are made of cast iron. The vice can pivot up to 45° to the user’s right to make mitered cuts.
Cutting cleanly through metal requires a ton of power. Good thing the EVOSAW380 is equipped with a beefy 15-amp/1,800-watt motor which delivers more than enough strength for heavy-duty slicing through steel conduits and copper pipes.
Like cutting wooden boards, there’s nothing more annoying than having to flip the piece over to complete the cut. We prefer using larger blades since they can cut through workpieces in a single pass. The EVOSAW380 comes with a massive 15-inch blade that cuts 5 inches deep with a pull of the lever.
One thing that you must absolutely be aware of is that the EVOSAW380 comes with a 14-inch blade. Yep… It has the capacity to carry a 15-incher but is shipped with a 14-inch blade instead.
Dealing with sparks can be a hassle. Not only does it block your view, but it also poses a fire hazard if any of the sparks land on a pile of sawdust. With the EVOSAW380, sparks are not as big of a problem. The blade saws through steel and produces chips instead of red-hot pieces of metallic debris since the tool uses a metal blade instead of an abrasive disc. Because there are hardly any sparks, the EVOSAW380 doesn’t need a coolant. The quality of the blade will not deteriorate as quickly as it would in other chop saws. The manufacturer recommends a blade change every 1,000 cuts.
Something that many chop saws seem to lack, or at least seem to be ineffective, is the chip tray. As you plunge the blade into your work, the blade will toss chips everywhere, making cleanup a hassle. You don’t have this problem with the EVOSAW380 as the tray built directly under the entire length of the blade, catching most stray chips. To empty the tray, simply pull it out from the base and dump the contents into a trash bin.
To help keep chips from going airborne, the EVOSAW380 comes with a chip shield. The shield encases the entire top half of the blade. There’s also a retractable portion guarding the blade which retracts as the saw head moves downward so as not to block your view. It doesn’t work 100% of the time, but it does work well enough to block pieces of metal that go flying into your face (always wear safety goggles in the workshop).
One thing that’s most unfortunate about the EVOSAW380 is that the unit, when resting on a flat surface, is not level. The tool has two rather large rubber feet located on the bottom of the front-end of the tool. These feet leave the back-end dipping downward so that the cast aluminum base sits directly onto your workbench. Admittedly, it’s not as bad as you’d imagine; cutting through small pieces of steel isn’t a big issue, but when dealing with larger pieces, it becomes gravely important to clamp the piece down tightly using the provided vice.
After careful consideration, we can safely conclude that the EVOSAW380 from Pro Evolution Tools is one of the best chop saws available. The massive 15-amp motor powers a massive 15-inch blade which cuts as deep as 5 inches into square and cylindrical pieces. There are numerous features that keep the tool safe and free of debris. The two largest issues we have with the EVOSAW380 is that it doesn’t come with a 15-inch blade (you have to purchase one separately), and the tool isn’t completely level due to the two front rubber legs. In terms of performance, there’s absolutely nothing to dislike about this chop saw.