The 7 Best Wall Chasers
This wiki has been updated 11 times since it was first published in February of 2019. Wall Chasers are responsible for one of the toughest jobs you can ask of a saw: cutting into all sorts of concrete and masonry to carve out raceways for electrical wires, audio/video cables, and pipes for gas and water. At the higher end, these tools can be quite expensive, but we've also included several more-affordable options in our rankings – for casual users and those on a tight budget. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 09, 2020:
During this round of updates, due to a lack of available ratings, we decided to remove the Taishi Slotting Machine and CS Unitec EMF 180. We replaced these models, and slightly expanded our list, with three new choices: The HYJ MOD-JH133 — a 220-volt model that caught our eye with a few useful features, like a retractable blade guard that’s great for corner cuts, and an onboard alignment laser that runs on AAA batteries; the Bosch 1775E — which isn’t a true wall chaser, but rather a tuckpoint grinder that we felt would make a suitable stand in for for brick workers who’re asked to carve a few grooves out from time to time; and the Metabo MFE 40 – a rugged model equipped with soft-start technology, a constant-speed motor and restart protection, which prevents the possible safety hazard of the machine self-starting when power’s returned to it, if ever it trips a circuit breaker.
Speaking of circuits, one consideration that was never touched on in our July 9, 2019 editor’s note for these rankings is the voltage requirements of these tools. While there are many 120-volt options in this category – our new additions the Metabo MFE 40 and Bosch 1775E being two such examples – many other options – including our new addition the HYJ MOD-JH133 – require a 220-volt source. Although this spec appears to be most prevalent among entry-level selections in the category, it doesn’t necessarily imply inferior performance, but it does mean (for North-American users) that you’ll have a much harder time finding a suitable power source. If your crew’s workflow centers on a portable generator that’s equipped with a 240-volt outlet, this might not be a big deal to you, but it isn’t uncommon for job sites to supply 120-volt access only, which would leave your saw useless without the assistance of a costly step-up transformer. So, keep an eye out for this.
July 09, 2019:
While wall chasers are united by their purpose – to cut raceways for electrical wires, audio/video cables and pipes for gas and water into all sorts of concrete and masonry – they can vary considerably in design and utility.
The simplest design consists of a single, relentless blade chewing its way through whatever you put in front of it. Some of the best-built wall chasers on the market are built on single-blade designs – including the Metabo MFE 30 and both the Bosch GNF 56 A and GNF 35 CA. Some professionals will argue that single-blade options are best for the job, because less moving parts typically equates to less maintenance. However, it's also been said that they're inferior to multi-blade alternatives because a single-blade design demands the inconvenience of making a minimum of two passes for every slot you cut. The counterargument to this suggestion is that this inconvenience is totally neutralized by the way single-blade offerings cut so much faster than multi-blade.
If carving out both sides of your chase one by one doesn't sound like it's for you, you might want to consider investing in a parallel-grooves style wall chaser – like the CS Unitec EMF 180. These saws turn twin blades, typically an adjustable distance apart from each other, in unison – carving out both sides of your raceway at once. The simultaneous cuts may be a bit more convenient than a single-blade situation, but as with single-blade designs, you'll still need break out the meat of your raceway after your done cutting the edges. In a pinch, this task can be accomplished with a hammer and hand chisel. However, most times these days the task is tackled with an electric channeling chisel, which makes the job relatively painless.
But if chiseling out channels doesn't sound like it's for you either, then you might want to consider investing in a multi-blade wall chaser. These tools can accommodate a flexible amount of blades (usually a maximum of around five to seven), and users can set the desired width of their chases by installing a proportional amount of blades on the tool. There's no doubt that the idea of cutting out a perfect chase in a single pass is pretty enticing. But that being said, don't forget that these options are known to be heavier, cut slower and potentially break down more often.
Ultimately, the style and model of wall chaser you decide to invest in will depend not only on your budget and needs (maximum slot width and depth achievable by the saw), but also your preferences – perhaps a little longer handling a heavier saw doesn't sound so bad to you, compared to chiseling out channels inch by inch.
As is the case with all power tools, safety is a factor when dealing with wall chasers. Cutting brick and concrete can conjure up a catastrophic amount of dust, so always make sure you're properly equipped with, gloves, a respirator and a face shield or safety glasses when operating one of these machines. To mitigate the damage done by flying particles, many of these devices are outfitted to do wet-cutting (the Jian Ya Na Groove Cutting Machine even includes its own pump and water hose). In addition to this, your health, the cleanliness of your job site and the longevity of your wall chaser all stand to benefit by taking advantage of the saw's dust extraction capabilities – by attaching a separately purchased shop vacuum.
Some of these saws – including the Jian Ya Na Groove Cutting Machine – include trigger lock features. Speaking as somebody who nearly lost a thumb, due to workers around me not being careful while I was working with a drill under trigger lock, I've got to say: the things should be outlawed. Some tradespeople love the trigger lock feature, and understandably so - it's like cruise control for your tools, and the comfort is nice – but is sparing yourself a cramp in your index finger really worth risking losing a digit?
It should also be noted that wall chasers should always be operated below the shoulder level of the user. If the height of your raceway is out of reach, observe proper ladder safety and set a step ladder up for yourself. Or, if the option is present, set up a section of scaffolding. It might not be the most convenient or ideal arrangement, but the potential for kickback on these tools is very real, and could lead to serious injury or even death if proper safety protocol isn't observed.
While it is worth mentioning, while we're on the subject of safety, that one should never operate a gas-powered wall chaser indoors without proper ventilation present, it's also worth mentioning that all the items ranked on this page, at present, are electric models and at no risk of exhausting carbon monoxide.
Bosch GNF 65 A Professional Coming from a brand that's renowned for quality and adored by many professionals, here's an option that can grind grooves as deep as 65 millimeters, with 230 millimeter cutting discs. Be warned, though: that kind of cutting power doesn't come lightly – this unit weighs 8.4 kilograms. Users who don't quite need that amount of power might want to consider the company's GNF 35 CA model, which weighs in at a significantly-lighter 4.7 kilograms. bosch-professional.com
Makita SG1251J Although its parallel-grooves style of cutting does leave something to be desired (chase will still need to be chiseled out), this offering comes from a company that's known for producing tough tools, with a one-year warranty and a reputation for making quick work of difficult concrete. desertcart.us