How to Cut Metal

Close up of a circular saw cutting through metal

When cutting metal, you have many options on how to do this job. There are also a wide variety of tools to use.

In this guide, we will show you how to cut metal correctly and safely. We will also show you what tools can be utilized. These include tin snips, hacksaws, jigsaws, and many more.

Before cutting this material, you’ll need to take extra precautions. A newly cut metal edge has sharp and rough burrs. Eye protection, gloves, and other safety gear such as a dust mask must be worn all the time when you’re working with metals.

Here are the 5 different methods you can use to cut this tough and rough material. Decide which is best for you, depending on the tools you have on hand.

5 Methods for Cutting Metal

Cutting Metal Using A Dremel

A dremel is a rotary tool similar to a high powered scroll saw that’s utilized for a wide range of purposes like cutting, sharpening, polishing, and removing grout. This tool can also be used for cutting thin sheet metal and aluminum.

Here’s the step-by-step guide on how to cut metal using a Dremel.

Close up of a circular saw cutting through metal

Step 1: Prepare the workplace and tools

In this method, you will need to prepare the following items:

  • ​Wrench
  • ​Marker or pencil
  • Tape
  • ​Dremel rotary tool
  • Dremel attachment or bit
  • Workbench
  • ​Clamp

Cutting this material can be a scary endeavor. Sparks tend to fly and smoke comes out when cutting. Hence, it’s best to work in an open air environment that is well ventilated and doesn’t pose any fire risk.

Step 2: Mark the metal for cutting

Before doing this, make sure to clamp your sheet metal onto your workbench to keep it stable.

After that, with your marker or pencil, mark the area of the metal where you would like to make cuts. For making incisions or small cuts, a dremel is a great option.

As an alternative to a marker, you can utilize an adhesive tape strip to mark the area you will be cutting.

Step 3: Cut the metal

Before you begin cutting, you need to position your tool in a way where the cutting wheel is perpendicular to the material being cut. Turn the tool on high or medium speed to offer you the precise amount of power needed to cut through the metal.

Using a low yet firm pressure, cut the material. However, make sure not to cut all the way through during your first cut. Afterward, go to the area for a second time until you obtain the required deepness. Maneuver next to the line of the marked area.

If you prefer to make more accurate cuts, consider installing a smaller attachment or bit for this.

Step 4: Smoothen the cut area

To smoothen the area where you make cuts, mount a grinding bit and grind the area. When you’re doing this, make sure to utilize less force. You don’t want to damage the surface of your metal.

Cutting Metal With an Angle Grinder

The distinct position of the blade of a grinder sets it apart from other kinds of portable saws. With this tool, you will be able to cut metal with force as well as using sweeping and broad motions.

Here’s how to cut metal using an angle grinder.

Step 1: Choose the correct grinder for your project

Since they cover a wide range of materials and are stronger, electric grinders or angle grinders are the perfect tool for doing more extensive jobs. For DIYers, a pneumatic grinder can be a great option as it is easier to use.

Step 2: Pick the right disc

When cutting masonry, metal sheet, or metal pipe, you’ll need to use a cutting disc. However, if you need to grind metal, you need to use a grinding disc. For finishing the job, consider using either a sanding disc or polishing pad.

A red angle grinder on metal

Step 3: Read the instructions

Before you start cutting, make sure to read the instructions provided by the manufacturer. This way you will know how to use it properly.

Step 4: Secure the metal

After choosing the right disc and grinder, place your metal in a secured surface. If you’re working with a metal sheet, consider clamping it in a stable workbench.

Step 5: Measure and mark the area where you’re going to make the cut

Using a ruler, measure the area you want to cut. Next, mark it with a marker or pencil so you’ll have an idea where you are going to make cuts.  

Step 6: Manage the cutting process

When cutting, keep your chosen angle grinder with a solid grip towards the body of your material rather than on the edge. Once you’re comfortable with your grinder handling, you can begin the cutting process.

Run the tool through the body of the metal in the handle’s direction in order to prevent the disc from slipping. If it slips, it may put you at danger and damage your job. You will also escape throw back which is dangerous as well.

Step 6: Finishing

Once you finished cutting, pull your grinder off the surface. Do this with a smooth and gente motion.

Cutting Metal Sheet With A Tin Snip

A tin snip is a scissor-like a tool that is ideal for cutting soft metal sheets. This works well on ​tin, brass, aluminum, and steel with 24 gauge or thinner.

Depending on the shape you want to cut, you can use either a straight, left-cut, or right-cut snip. This is usually specified by the color of the handle.

The following are the steps on how to cut sheet metal using a tin snip.

Step 1: Choose the right tin snip

There are various types of tin snips. It is recommended you choose the right one that is best suited for your project. However, a right-cut thin snip is more utilized compared to the left ones.

If you’re left-handed, it is best for you to use a cranked tin snip. In fact, it’s the simplest tool you can use in cutting sheet metal.

Step 2: Place the metal in the blades

As much as possible widen your blades before starting to cut. Place the metal right into the grip of the two blades. Doing so will make the entire process a lot easier.

Step 3: Position the snip

The fine side of the snip’s inside blade should be parallel with your sheet metal. If not, your cuts will become somewhat curved.

Step 4: Hold your snip straight up

As you cut, make sure to hold your tool straight to avoid damaging it. However, if the snips turned horizontally or twisted while you’re cutting, there’s a tendency that the connecting screw will extend and the snips will become unworkable.  

Step 5: Start cutting

Once you’re all set, grip the snips’ handles to start cutting the metal. Ensure that the jaw is not totally closed while making cuts or the tip of the blade may possibly cause holes in the material.

Keep the two blades in touch with your metal. Softly and slowly move the snips along while cutting. This avoids damaging the edge of the sheet metal. Drag the tool away from the metal in between cuts at all times. Keep in mind that if you didn’t do this, your metal will have sharper cut lines and dimples.

Step 6: Manage your way

Get rid of the waste materials out of your working space so you’ll be able to work freely and comfortably.

Close up of laser cutting metal

Cutting Metal Using A Hacksaw

The hacksaw is one of the most commonly used tools for cutting metal. This tool has a C-shaped and rigid frame that is connected to a gun handle grip.

When it comes to the teeth of the blade it will actually differ in spacing and size depending on the application. For instance, closely spaced and small teeth can make fine cuts, typically through thin or soft metal materials like aluminum and copper. The widely spaced and large teeth can make coarse cuts typically through hard or thick metal materials like iron as well as steel.  

Either way, read on and find out how to use this hand saw in cutting metal.

Step 1: Measure & mark the area

Before you start cutting you need to measure and mark the area of the material that you will be cutting. In this phase, you will need to use a ruler and a marker or pen.

Step 2: Choose the correct blade

If you’re working with hard metals considering using a blade that has wide spaced and large teeth. However, if you’re only cutting a soft or thin material, you can use a blade that has smaller teeth.

As a piece of advice, do not cut in both ways by dragging on the blade down. This could break your blade. 

Step 3: Prepare the material to be cut

Tighten the material that needs to be cut. If you don’t have a vise, make sure to fix the material on the edge of a table properly and securely.

Step 4: Cut the metal

When cutting, make sure to cut the material with light pressure and straight strokes. Take note to wear eye protection, like safety glasses before starting the cutting process. 

Step 5: Polish the edge

After cutting, it is normal that the edge of the material has uneven and sharp parts. Fortunately, they can be evened out easily through sanding or deburring.

Cutting Metal With A Circular Saw

Though it is not an obvious option, a circular saw is a great tool for cutting metal. In fact, the blade of this saw is made from premium quality materials to guarantee a long-lasting service and better reliability.

Keep on reading to learn how to cut metal using a circular saw.

Step 1: Choose the correct blade

Remember to pick the right blades, depending on the material you will be cutting. For metal, diamond saw blades can be a great option.

However, if you want to make sharp cuts, then a new and sharp blade is needed. In addition to that, the blade’s diameter should be identified before continuing with the cutting.

Cutting metal with a circular saw

Step 2: Insert the blade

Once you have picked the right blade, you need to install it in your circular saw. When the blade is properly installed, make sure all the bolts, nuts, and other important parts are tightened. This will actually keep your blade in its place.

The blade should be tightly held toward the circular for safety purposes.

Step 3: Adjust the blade if needed  

If you wish to adjust the blade of your saw, check the blade adjustment slide which is to be found on the side of the tool. The slide will help move your blade up and down.

It is worth mentioning that the blade’s depth shouldn’t be more than ¼-inch thicker than your metal that is held against the blade intended for cutting.

Step 4: Clamp your metal on a stable workbench

The part of the metal that needs to be cut should be hung over the blade’s edge. Doing so will offer uniform cuts.

By switching on the circular saw, the blade will start cutting the material at its desired speed.

Safety Tips When Cutting Metal

Aside from wearing protective gear, there are other safety precautions you need to take into consideration when cutting metal. Here are some of them.

  • ​Even though you’re wearing gloves, never run your hand over cut edges.
  • ​File down burrs quickly.
  • ​Keep your working surface or area free of scrap.
  • ​Handle sheet metals with extra care, especially if they’re wet. Moisture mixed with dirt and oil may slick the surface or make it difficult to grasp.
Sparks flying from cutting metal

​Conclusion:

There are lots of possible perils when working with metal. However, with the right tools and extra care, you will guarantee a more efficient, safer, and faster cut.

No matter what tool you’re considering, don’t forget to polish the edges of the material every after a cut. They will not cause any harm when touch accidentally.