How To Cut Metal Studs

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If you work in the construction industry or want to take on a large DIY project, you will need to cut metal studs to provide metal stud framing. Metal stud framing builds the skeleton for a building out of steel, however, it does take some effort to do so correctly. Here’s some tips for cutting metal studs correctly.

What Is Metal Stud Framing?

There are countless benefits of using metal stud framing:

  • It shares the partitions of the structure. The partitions describe rooms, open spaces, and other structures.
  • It also shares where doors and windows are placed, and gives you a good idea of what the room will look like.

The framing is made up of metal studs, and you can think of them like the bones of the building. There are two types of studs that you can use to construct the metal stud framing, called

  • C studs
  • U studs

Like many things that are named after letters, these studs are named after the shape that they take.

The U studs go onto the floor and the ceiling of the building, and you need to hold the C studs in place. C studs will sit next to each U stud, and they will also go at predetermined intervals.

After you have the metal studs up, then cables, ventilation, installation, and drywall can be added.

Why Would You Use Metal?

Using metal for the stud framing has several advantages over wood and other materials. Some of the major benefits of using metal for the framing includes:

  • Metal Is Durable: Metal is much more durable than wood. It doesn’t rot, can’t be easily knocked over, doesn’t warp on contact with the wood, and you don’t need to worry about where to store it. You can store metal anywhere without any problems, and it will remain there without any trouble.
  • Metal Can Resist Water: Flooding, storm damage, and burst pipes can cause some serious problems for your home. This is why metal is used anywhere water is frequently present, such as your roof. Water can easily soak into the floor and the walls, causing damage to your walls, drywall, and other items. Drywall is very water soluble, and can easily take in and retain water. Metal studs can keep the wall off of the floor, and away from the water.
  • Metal is Easy to Set Up: Metal takes less time to set up, especially if you know how to cut your metal studs! They are also perfectly straight and will not shrink or split with time or weather. It’s also very user friendly when it comes to setting the frame up.

How To Cut Metal Studs

Cutting metal studs is a little more complicated than just simply cutting through metal. Here are the steps.

1. Prepare Your Workspace and Tools

You will need these tools to property cut and set up metal studs:

  • A cordless or corded drill
  • A tape measure
  • A level
  • Straight-cut aviation metal snips
  • A Miter Saw or Circular Saw

Prepare your workspace as well, because you should have a floor plan for the room that you are in. Take a look at the floor plan and make sure you know where the walls are going to be, because you don’t want to build a wall over where a door should be opened!

2.Check Your Height

Whether you set your metal studs on a table or a pair of sawhorses to help you saw them, you should make sure that they are at a safe height for cutting. The sawing surface needs to be at a comfortable height so you aren’t straining yourself and you aren’t at risk of the saw or the metal studs slipping.

You should be able to stand comfortably or sit comfortably. Putting pressure on the metal studs shouldn’t be difficult at all, and you should be able to snip through the metal without any real trouble.

3. Measure Each Stud

You should measure twice by using a pencil to mark on the stud where you would like to cut. You can then use a carpenter’s square to draw a straight line at that cut location, and you can keep all that going as you go down the line of metal studs.

After you have measured the studs twice, you are ready to cut once!

4. Cut with Metal Snips

To cut the metal studs, you should cover your hands in gloves and follow these steps.

  1. Use the straight-cut aviation snips to cut both of the side flanges of the steel stud. You can do this in one of two ways.
  2. First you can snip through both sides of the stud and then score along the back. After you bend the stud back and forth, you will have the stud break into two pieces.
  3. The second method is to cut through both the sides and the back of the stud, but the first will often get you a cleaner cut than the second method.

Optional: Cut with a Saw

Even though using the metal snips makes cutting the saw very easy, it is a very slow process. If you need to get an entire building frame up, then you need to do more and do it much quicker!

A miter saw is be a great way to complete the job, and after you make the measurement on your studs, you just need to place the flat side down. Use the miter saw to slowly cut down and through the stud.

You can also follow the same process using a circular saw. However, because even the best compact circular saw is handheld, it isn’t quite as accurate as a miter saw.

If you decide to go with this method, make sure to wear gloves, eye protection, ear protection, and long sleeves to protect from sparks. A dust mask is optional, but also very useful. If you are simply using the tin snips, then you can get away with just using a pair of sturdy gloves.

You can also use a table saw, scroll saw, angle grinder, or even a dremel to cut metal.

Installing A Metal Stud Frame

Once you have your metal stud frame cut, then you need to get it installed. You need to make sure that all of your U-studs are matching the exact specifications on the floor plan. Each and every single stud needs to fit the layout, because without every single stud being perfect, the floor plan could be ruined.

Then you need to start all over again! If you have placed the roof and floor U-studs correctly, you can start placing the outermost C stud and fit it into the floor stud. Then the roof stud is fitted for the initial C stud and then drilled into place. Once the U and C studs are placed into place, then other studs are put in to help brace the exterior walls.

Learn how to cut metal roofing in our in-depth guide.

Tips For Your Metal Stud Frame

Here are a few additional things to consider as you’re adding metal studs.

Measure Properly

From the cutting of the studs to the laying of the metal stud frame, measuring is very important. Your studs are going to be the structure of the house, and imagine if the bones in our bodies were even a few inches off? Catastrophe would happen! A metal stud frame is the same way.

  • You should make sure to measure your studs, as you are cutting them and as you are placing them.
  • Make sure to use a level to ensure they are straight, use a ruler or carpenter’s square when measuring your studs
  • Make sure to have a tape measure with you as you are placing the studs.

The process of continually measuring and remeasuring will ensure that your studs are properly spaced and level.

Use Minimum Wall Studs

If you want to have more space for insulation and less space for thermal bridging, then you can use minimum wall studs. This device has you only using the minimum amount of wall studs allowed by the building code. Then there is more space in between for insulation.

You will need to follow building codes pretty strictly, but it allows you to do more with less. You can use this advanced framing to produce less waste and reduce thermal bridging.

Make Sure To Protect The Cord

As you get done with the metal stud framing, you will need to install the electrical wiring into it. You can attach the wood blocking with self tapping drywall screws and then run the cord through it.

As you are working with electrical cords and electricity, always make sure that the cords don’t turn into tripping hazards or run the risk of being damaged in your workplace.

Stepping on an electrical cord that is resting on a sharp U stud can easily tear apart the wire and potentially lead to your injury. To prevent this, handymen cover the exposed track with scrap track that blocks off the sharp edges. They rest the wire over it, and that reduces the risk of accidents.

Summary

Cutting metal studs seems easy once you get the hang of it, and if you have the right type of tools you can cut the studs for the metal frame in no time. Then you will be able to set up frames for any occasion. With a little hard work and some practice you will be able to put up the barebones of a building. All that is left to do now is fill it in, and then build the building around it.

An expert at home repair, remodel, and DIY projects for nearly 40 years. His first experience came in completely restoring an antique home. Completely redone from the inside out, and restored to its original form, the home is a featured design by renowned Southern California Architect Cliff May, considered to be the father of the California Ranch Home. Now Dennis spends his time on fine woodworking projects and tool comparisons.