A mitre saw is one of those power tools you love for its multi-functionality. This device will quickly cut through all forms of wood and other materials regardless of their density or hardness. However, is the mitre saw powerful enough to cut through metal?
You can use your mitre saw to cut metal if it has the right blade. A typical mitre saw can handle the toughness of softer metals, but the stock blade may not be designed for cutting metals. If you attempt to cut through metal without changing the blade of the mitre saw, you may damage the device.
This guide will explain how you can cut through metal with your mitre saw without damaging your tool.
How To Prepare Your Mitre Saw for Cutting Metal
Using a mitre saw requires an intermediate level of experience with power saws to get that perfect cut. In this scenario of cutting metal, the job is a little more complex, and you’ll need a lot more hands-on experience. So, it’s best to practice on some scrap metal first.
Not to worry, here are some steps you should take before embarking on this journey:
1. Check and Clean Mitre Saw
The first thing to confirm is the present condition of your mitre saw. It doesn’t matter whether the mitre saw has been performing excellently for years; you need to check it to be sure it’s in good condition. Cutting through soft material like wood is not the same as cutting through even the thinnest sheets of metal.
A mitre saw will cut through wood effortlessly if it’s in optimal condition. However, you can’t use its performance on wood to judge how it’ll work on metal.
Carefully run through the saw, its power source, body, engine, and other parts. Look for any dents, cracks, and other signs of damage. If you don’t see any of these signs, start the device to see how it sounds, and if you haven’t used it in a while, test-run the machine.
After checking for possible hiccups with the mitre saw, you must clean the device thoroughly. Your mitre saw must have performed excellently on other materials before you can consider using it to cut metal. However, these past projects will have left some debris on the mitre saw.
Dirt and debris will increase the friction between the blade and metal.
Cutting metal will also produce a lot of fine particles, which is way harder to deal with than wood. So, you should ensure your mitre saw is clean before you start.
This video will give a practical example of the proper cleaning process:
2. Check Metal Concerning Mitre Motor
The type of metal you are cutting is also crucial to the project’s success. If the metal is too hard or thick, it may affect the saw’s performance.
Some of the factors to check whole checking the metal include:
- Metal type
Hardness is the most important factor, as it determines whether the mitre saw can even cut through the metal.
Metals are often split into two different categories — ferrous and nonferrous. As the name indicates, ferrous metals contain iron.
Examples of ferrous metals include:
- Stainless steel
- Cast iron
Examples of nonferrous metals include:
Ferrous metals are typically tougher than their nonferrous counterparts. There are some hard metals that don’t contain any iron, such as titanium, tungsten, and iridium. But those metals require special tools, and your mitre saw would break the moment it touched any of them.
A mitre saw can cut through softer metals fairly easily, and it may even be able to handle thin sheets of ferrous metals if it’s equipped with the right blade and has enough power.
You can check the hardness of the metal you’re working with on the Mohs hardness scale.
While checking the metal hardness, it’s important to relate it to your mitre saw. You want to be sure that your saw can handle it by checking the owner’s manual.
If your mitre saw runs on batteries, it probably won’t be powerful enough to cut through metal. If it plugs into an outlet, it might be able to cut metal. The higher the amperage of the motor, the stronger the mitre saw. If you want to cut metal and your electric motor is lower than 12 amps, I’ll advise you to abort the mission.
3. Change Your Mitre Blade
The mitre blade is the part that does the hard job, and if your device is going to cut metal successfully, it has to be cut for cutting metal (pun intended).
Generally, mitre saw blades are classified by the cut type or material they make. The most common types are:
We’re discussing cutting metals, so none of the blades mentioned above fit correctly into the cutting metal category.
If you are sure of the iron in the metal you will be cutting, you can purchase a ferrous or nonferrous saw blade for the job.
For the nonferrous option, I recommend the TWIN-TOWN 10-Inch 80 Tooth TCG Aluminum and Non-Ferrous Metal Saw Blade (available on Amazon.com). The carbide teeth offer up to twice the lifespan.
If you’re dealing with ferrous metals, check out the Freud 10 X 50 X 1 Ferrous CERMET CSB (available on Amazon.com). The reviews on this product are nothing short of amazing, as a user described it as the “best blade.”
For more specific metal cutting, try out the following saw blades:
- Carbide. A carbide blade is the strongest and cuts through carbon steel and stainless steel. The DEWALT 12-Inch (available on Amazon.com) is an excellent choice for this category. The blade features a three-year warranty, indicating the brand’s trust in the product.
- Diamond. Diamond is one of the hardest materials known to men, and while most diamond blades aren’t real diamonds, they are extremely tough. The BOSCH DB1041S 10-Inch Segmented Rim Diamond Blade (available on Amazon.com) is your best bet. The segmented rim can cut through almost any metal effortlessly.
- Aluminum oxide. This is the weakest, but it’s the best for precision work on softer metals. Get the IVY Classic 40088 Swift Cut (available on Amazon.com) if you work with thin, soft metals and need accuracy.
If you don’t know what blade TPI from the product descriptions stands for, keep reading.
4. Check the Blade TPI
The part of the blade that actually does the cutting is the teeth.
The teeth ensure that you get a clean cut. Let’s assume you have two saw blades, one with ten big teeth and another with twenty smaller ones, and that both are the same diameter.
The blade with the ten teeth will give a good cut, but it can be pretty rough.
TPI is an acronym for teeth per inch — a measure of how many teeth are in the blade. As I have described, the more teeth there are, the smoother the finish.
However, the TPI you choose depends on the project you’re working on:
- 8–10 for thick sheets of tough metals.
- 14–18 for steel pipes.
- 18–24 for thin metal sheets because they require fine cuts.
As you can see, larger teeth tend to cut through stuff better, but you’ll have to do a lot of sanding afterward. In some cases, you may have to redo the whole cut because the edges are too jagged to work with.
5. Decide the Type of Cut You Want and Plan for Safety
According to Home Depot, you can achieve two cuts with a mitre saw:
- The bevel cut. This type of cut is over the thickness of the item at a particular angle.
- The mitre cut. This is also a cut at an angle, but you are cutting across the width instead.
If you know how to use the mitre saw adequately, you can achieve both of these cuts on metal.
However, it’d be best if you planned for safety while working with the mitre saw, regardless of the cut you want to achieve. Safety is critical, especially now that you want to cut metal with the device. Metal is more stubborn and can lead to injuries.
Here are a few important safety tips to bear in mind when cutting metal with a mitre saw:
- Always use the mitre saw at the same level as your waist. This gives you better control.
- Clear up your workspace and ensure you can see very clearly.
- Ensure your mitre saw stands firm at a point before and after its use.
You may also want to mount your mitre saw when cutting metal to make things easier. Check out my article discussing the topic if you want to mount your mitre saw.
It’s possible to cut metal with a mitre saw, provided it’s equipped for the job. You need to have the right blade and a powerful saw.
Also, while cutting metal with a mitre saw, it’s normal for your blade to shift, causing inconsistency in the cuts. You’ll need to realign the saw blade after you’re done with the project.