Best Circular Saw to Cut Metal: Buyer’s Guide
Circular saws are one of the most versatile tools you could own. They’re great for crosscutting and ripping boards down to size. Sure, there’s a bit of sanding needed after dimensioning the boards, but it’s a heck of a lot quicker and easier to use than many other types of saws.
One great thing is that the circular saw can be used on several different materials. Apart from tearing through wooden boards, a circular saw can chop plastic, crush cement, and even cut through metal. Some circular saws are an all-in-one type of ordeal, but in other cases, there will be circular saws designed for use on a specific material.
What Are Metal-Cutting Circular Saws Used for?
This type of circular saw is designed to do much of the same work that a traditional circular saw can do but on metal and only to a certain extent. A metal-cutting circular saw is used for light-duty cutoff jobs, as well as dimensioning sheet metal and paneling. Most times, you’ll see people using this saw for cutting off the ends of metal pipes.
Why Not Use a Regular Circular Saw on Metal?
This is a fair question. The magic secret sauce behind cutting metal is the blade, right? Can’t you just mount a metal-cutting blade onto your circular saw and call it a day?
You technically could, but it won’t produce the best results. See, there are two main differences between wood and metal circular saws. The first is the speed. Wood circular saws can reach up to and beyond 5,000 RPM, whereas metal circular saws are limited to around 3,900 RPM.
Higher speeds are better for making clean cuts through wood, whereas slower speeds are necessary for slicing through metal beams, pipes, and conduits. If you use a high-speed wood circular saw on metal objects, you risk damaging the blade and burning the tool’s motor.
Metal-Cutting Circular Saw Buying Guide
If your line of work calls for cutting metal on a regular basis, then you might need to consider purchasing a circular saw built for the job. The following segment will help you grasp an understanding of what to look for when looking for the right circular saw for cutting metal.
When it comes to metal, you need to ensure that the unit has enough torque to slice through dense materials. Greater torque is found in models with higher amp and voltage ratings. Depending on how thick a metal piece you want to work with, you can get a “light-duty” saw with a 5.8-amp motor or something as beefy as 15 amps.
In addition to checking out how powerful the motor is, you also need to ensure that the tool doesn’t have a maximum speed outside of the 2,700 to 3,900-RPM range. Anything lower and the blade will bump feebly against the metal object; anything higher and you lose a ton of precision when making contact on metal.
Versatility is one thing that many craftsmen prioritize. Having one tool that can be used for multiple applications and/or materials is how you can save a ton of money.
Metal circular saws can also be versatile in the sense that it can slice through materials like wood and plastic. However, remember how we said that speed affects how cleanly the blade can cut? If you want a versatile circular saw, make sure that it comes with variable speed.
Variable speed allows the user to adjust how quickly or slowly the blade spins, depending on what materials they’re cutting. Crank up the speed when chopping wood, but bring it back to first gear when it comes time to slice metal and plastic piping.
In addition to being able to select how quickly the blade spins, you’ll also want the right blade for the right job.
There are two types of blades that you can choose: carbide-tipped and abrasive discs.
Carbide-tipped blades are the preferred option since they can last a long time (depending on how and what you cut) and will leave smooth, clean edges after the cut since there are no sparks. Abrasive discs, on the other hand, leave rough edges – it produces a fireworks display of sparks in your workshop – and probably won’t last you more than a couple months.
Be sure to select your tool based on what type of blade it uses since many models don’t support both abrasive discs and carbide-tipped blades.
The tool needs to be comfortable in hand. The grip can affect how precise you are when pushing the blade into a material. Make sure that the grip is contoured to fit the shape of your hand. The ON trigger, located on the grip, should also be in a place that’s easy for your fingers to reach and pull.
Common safety features for circular blades include a blade guard (sheaths the blade when it’s not in use) and lock-off lever (prevents the unit from running due to an accidental pull of the trigger). You should also consider the materials used to construct the tool; they need to be durable and house the sensitive inner components well to avoid accidental splashing when working in wet environments.
The overall weight of the tool is also an important consideration to make. Even though most – if not all – of the cuts you make will be made horizontally, there may be some instances where you need to work high off the ground or overhead. The last thing you need to think about is whether the tool will weigh you down, especially when a rapidly spinning blade is spinning inches away from your face (WEAR SAFETY GOGGLES!).
So there you have it, folks. After reading this article, hopefully, you’ve learned the main differences between metal-cutting and wood-cutting circular saws and determined whether you need one for your line of work or not.
If you don’t have a circular saw already, you may want to consider purchasing a versatile tool for cutting through metal, plastic, and wood. Just be sure that the circular saw is equipped to handle several jobs without the risk of burning the motor or damaging the blade. Take a few moments to study the most important specs, namely motor power and speed, variable speed, and the type of blade used that the unit uses.