What Saw To Cut Through Metal? Metal Cutting Guide
Professional construction workers are continuously on the search for the best-performing metal-cutting saws. The time-tested traditional method of cutting through metal pipes and bars employed the use of a hacksaw and junior hacksaw. However, when we realized that manually rocking your arm back and forth to provide enough power to slice through metal was a tedious task that nobody looked forward to, our planet’s best engineers came up with a wide range of power tools to take over.
As we mentioned earlier, the hacksaw is the oldest, non-powered tool used to cut metal pipes and bars. The carbon blade used in handsaws provides enough strength to slice through thin metal with relative ease. Of course, the efficiency of the work depends on how muscular your arms are since using a hacksaw requires muscle to use. In addition, it’s the only metal-cutting tool that has a risk of inducing fatigue in the user.
Handheld Circular Saw
The first option that workers can choose is the handheld circular saw. This type of saw was initially built to cut through soft materials like wood and aluminum, but as time went on, the production of durable blades has gone up a notch. Nowadays, you can purchase specifically-made carbide blades for metal-cutting purposes. Circular saws provide enough speed and power to cut through metal with ease, and with the benefit of being a portable, handheld tool.
Metal Chop Saw
The next power tool that you can use to slice through metal is the metal chop saw. Similar to a miter saw, this unit uses a plunging motion to bring the quick-spinning blade downward and in contact with your metal stock. However, these saws are limited in use since they’re mostly used for cutting through ferrous metals like stainless steel, carbon steel, cast iron, and wrought iron. When dealing with non-ferrous metals like aluminum, zinc, and brass, the high-speed (at least 5,000 RPM) motor of a chop saw will most likely end up warping the sheet or stock, resulting in an unclean, unsatisfactory finish.
Another popular choice among construction workers who need to cut metal to size is a bandsaw. This type of saw works great on a wide range of materials, including both ferrous and non-ferrous metals. The high surface-feet-per-minute (SFM) allows the blade to pass through both soft and dense metals without hiccups. The only drawback is that due to the blade’s thin, flexible design, the teeth of the blade can accidentally become chipped with prolonged use against metal objects. Replacement blades are relatively inexpensive, but you may need to purchase in bulk or purchase frequently when using a bandsaw exclusively for metal-cutting purposes.
The reciprocating saw is another device that construction workers can use to cut metal. Many models come with variable speed triggers, dials, or knobs, so you can use them on both dense metals and malleable metals like aluminum and brass. However, similar to cutting wood with a recip saw, there’s no way of making perfect cuts every time you contact the blade with your metal pipe or stock. The vibrations of the unit combined with the lack of a clamp or fence means every cut you make is unique, increasing the risk of mismatching finishes.
The final power tool that is used for metal-cutting purposes is the multi-cutting saw. Also known as a multi-purpose saw, this saw works similarly to the chop saw – a fence keeps the metal stock or pipe in place while the blade enters the material via a plunging motion.
In fact, in appearance, there’s hardly any difference between the two models. What does make it different is the limited speed (around 1,200 to 1,500 RPM for residential-grade models) which lets operators use this tool on all sorts of materials, including wood, PVC pipes, ferrous metals, and non-ferrous metals.
Furthermore, this cold saw produces little to no sparks and heat in the metal so there’s virtually no risk of leaving burn marks on your expensive metals, nor is there a risk of warping your metal object beyond usability.
When cutting dense material like metal, it’s important to use the right tool with the right blades. We’ve provided six saws that construction workers can use for their metal-cutting tasks, but in our opinion, the most effective, efficient, and versatile tool is, hands down, the multi-cutting saw. This type of saw produces no heat on the metal object, can be used on all sorts of materials including wood and plastic, and works similarly to a chop saw or miter saw so there’s no cost of learning a new skill.