I’ve recently ventured into owning dry-cut metal saws instead of abrasive cutoff saws. The fast cuts, burr-free results, accurate alignment, and non-diminishing blade size (abrasive wheels shrink as you use them up) make dry cut saws like the Evolution EVOSAW380 a clear winner. It’s one of our favorite types of miter saws. Although the blades are much more expensive than abrasive wheels, in my experience, they last 25-50 times as long, depending on use/abuse.
I still use my horizontal bandsaw regularly for 90-degree cuts on thicker steel and 45-degree cuts on 2×6 metal tubing because of the limited capacity of most metal chop saws. The recent introduction of the Evolution EVOSAW380 and its 15-inch blade capacity to my shop may leave the bandsaw to collecting more and more dust.
Having tested Evolution’s Rage 2 and Rage 3 models as lower priced entries into the cold saw metal cutting (and really multi-material cutting) world, the EVOSAW380 is on the other end of the spectrum. It’s a pricier model but designed for heavy duty use in tougher industrial and production settings.
Evolution EVOSAW380 Design
Pulling the EVOSAW380 out of the box, it’s noticeably heavier (by about 25 pounds) than the compact 12-inch Skilsaw Dry Cut Saw I recently reviewed. It’s easy to see where the bulk of that weight comes from – the vise and fence are massive and made from cast iron.
The fence is 3 inches tall and the vise crank and quick release are easy to use – definitely the best vise/fence I’ve seen in any metal dry cut saw. I also really like the chip tray. It’s elongated and runs completely underneath the blade to catch as many metal chips as possible.
EVOSAW380 Metal-Cutting Saw Safety Features
The Evolution EVOSAW380 has a couple built-in safety features – the chip shield and the trigger lock. The chip shield comes down with the saw blade so it’s out of the way when you’re lining up the cut mark and right where you need it when the blade makes contact with the steel. The trigger lock is simple and easy to use with your right hand. When the saw is set up for 45-degree cuts, I’ll often use my left hand to lower the blade and the button isn’t quite as natural to reach.
Jumping in with Both Feet
The base of the saw has two very large rubber feet right up front, but unfortunately, that’s where the rubber feet end… The back of the base rests on the steel corners, slightly lower than the front so the base of the saw isn’t actually sitting level! This really isn’t a big deal when you’re working with small pieces. Correctly supporting a long piece of steel when the saw is setup for 45-degree cuts can prove to be a challenge if you want an accurate vertical drop down the steel.
This would be an easy fix for Evolution—add two more of those HUGE rubber feet to the back of the saw and you will have the most sturdy saw in this class along with the best vise/fence and highest cutting capacity with the 15-inch blade.
15-inch Blade Capacity
Great Scott! This 15-inch saw is going to cut some massive pieces of…. hold on a second… there’s a 14-inch blade on here…? Pro Tip: read the fine print. The Evolution EVOSAW380 has a 15-inch blade capacity, but ships with a 14-inch blade! Luckily I found a “good deal” on the 15-inch blade for $115 shipped (oof).
Using the Evolution EVOSAW380
While I waited on my 15-inch blade to arrive, I spent some time using the EVOSAW380 as my primary metal saw. It’s definitely an impressive product. The vise cranks up against the 3-inch high fence very firmly and gives you a rock-solid bite on the steel. The blade guard actuation is very smooth and the blade itself leaves a great finish cut.
I also really like that Evolution makes a separate blade designed for stainless steel. Stainless can really dull a standard dry cut blade quickly, so I’m more than happy to swap out for the stainless steel blade when I’m cutting that material.
The blade change process is easy; the attached hex key loosens the screw to the arbor guard, which swings out of the way and gives you easy access to the to the arbor bolt and blade.
Using a Larger 15-inch Blade
With the 15-inch blade finally in hand, I eagerly swapped out the 14-inch blade and set the fence at 45 degrees. I couldn’t wait to see if the Evolution EVOSAW380 would actually make a 45-degree edge cut down a piece of 2×6 tubing. I have to accurately make 16 of these cuts each time I sell one of our bed designs and this is time-consuming on the bandsaw because of the back and forth angle setup.
It makes the cut!
Barely, but it does. This is a HUGE improvement in productivity. I’ll probably end up building a permanent miter table setup with supports on both sides, fixing the EVOSAW380 with a 15-inch blade at 45 degrees and the Skilsaw at 90 degrees. I’ll save the expensive 15-inch blades for the cuts I actually need them for and use the more affordable 12-inch blades for the bulk of my cutting.
If you need serious capacity in a portable dry cut metal saw, look no further than the Evolution EVOSAW380. With the 15-inch blade, the EVOSAW380 can cut bigger steel than any other saw in this class.
There are a couple improvements Evolution could make to the EVOSAW380 (more rubber feet/level base and supplying a 15-inch blade with their 15-inch saw), but overall it’s a fantastic beast of a metal saw.
If you rarely cut steel larger than 4-5 inches, I’d suggest going for a smaller saw. The blades on smaller saws are less expensive to replace and they’re quite a bit lighter and more portable. On the other hand, if you need maximum capacity and a really heavy-duty design, the Evolution EVOSAW380 is a solid choice.
Evolution EVOSAW380 Key Features
- 15″ blade capacity
- Heavy-duty vice construction
- Quick clamp vise
- Clear spark guard attached to blade guard
- Chip collector runs entire length of base
- Slip on pipe attachment for vise
- Cast iron base
- On board tool storage
Evolution EVOSAW 380 Specifications
- Motor (120V ~ 60Hz) – 1800W / 15A
- Horse Power – 2.4HP
- Speed (No Load) – 1450RPM
- Weight – 62 LB
- Mild Steel Plate (Max Thickness) – 1/2″
- Square Tube at 90° (Mild Steel) – 5”
- Square Tube at 45° (Mild Steel) – 3-1/2”
- Rectangle Tube at 90° (Mild Steel) – 3-3/4 x 7-7/8”
- Rectangle Tube at 45° (Mild Steel) – 3 x 4-3/8”
- Round Tube at 90° (Mild Steel) – 5-7/8”
- Round Tube at 45° (Mild Steel) – 5”
- Wood at 90° (Nominal Size) – 4 x 8”
- Wood at 45° (Nominal Size) – 4 x 4”
- Warranty: 3 years
- Price: $379
You say ‘if you rarely cut steel larger than 4-5 inches, I’d suggest going for a smaller saw’
Are you able to recommend any? (of the same quality)