If you are a woodworker looking to incorporate some metal into your projects, you might hesitate because you don’t want to buy new tools. And if you look around in your own shop, you might single out some power tools that you could use with metal. One of the most common tools that woodworkers assume can work with metal is the miter saw.
A Miter saw can cut through metal only if the metal is non-ferrous and thin. The cut is generally rough and good enough for downsizing but not good enough for precise project work. Unless the blade is swapped for a metal-cutting type, a miter saw is not good for metal.
In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about using a miter saw on metal, including the type of blades that work on metal and the types of metal you can and cannot cut with a miter saw. By the end of this post, you will know the best practices of cutting metal with a miter saw and whether some of the blades already in your workshop might work for this purpose. So let’s get started!
Can a Mitre Saw Technically Cut Through Metal?
When it comes to craftsmanship, the technical truth is often far from the practical truth. Practicality has to do with how well an application fits into the final product. Technicality deals with whether the application can be executed.
In the instance of Mitre saws cutting metal, the technical truth is that most non-iron metal alloys cannot stand up to a miter saw. Refer to the following table to see which metals you can and which ones you cannot cut with a miter saw.
|Metal||Can A Mitre Saw Cut Through It?|
|Aluminum||Yes, but only medium-depth sheets|
|Copper||Yes, but only sheets of medium thickness|
|Nickel||Yes, but only thin sheets|
|Titanium||Yes, but with a sharp blade|
|Brass||Yes, but only thin sheets|
|Bronze||Yes, but only thin sheets and with the right blade and only|
So the above table shows that a majority of the metals can be cut with a miter saw as long as the blade is right and the metal itself is in thin sheet form. But how does this reflect on metalworking practice? At what point do you need specialized tools to cut metal? And to what extent can you realistically rely on your Mitre saw?
Can a Mitre Saw Realistically Cut Through Metal?
Mitre Saw can be used reliably for practical metal cutting as long as the craftsman follows the best practices of metal-cutting and uses the appropriate blade. In the absence of specialized blades and without safety precautions, your Mitre Saw will incur damage over the long run.
More importantly, the metal itself would be ruined in the process. If you have a miter saw, it is currently optimized for wood-cutting. If you were to take the saw as it and start using it to cut compatible metals, here is what would happen:
- The blade will heat up – The speed of the miter saw blade set is best for cutting material that doesn’t conduct heat. Metal, even non-ferrous, conducts heat even when it is being cut. The blade itself is made up of metal and starts conducting said heat. It also goes through stronger friction as metal puts up higher resistance. This would make the blade hotter.
- The metal will heat up – Unlike wood, metal can conduct heat and will absorb some of the heat from the blade. A bulk of its heat, however, comes from the friction between two metals colliding. This can heat up the working material.
- The blade will catch onto the metal, making rougher cuts – As mentioned earlier, the default Mitre Saw Set is meant to cut wood. It has hook-like teeth that can get caught in metal sheets and result in rougher cuts. The table above shows that most metals can be cut only if they are thin enough. At the same time, the thinness can make the metal easy to “catch” in the saw teeth, which can result in rough cuts.
- You might get injured – Finally, metal-on-metal friction and the possibility of a kickback can make the action of sawing metal with a miter saw very dangerous. Extra measures need to be taken to ensure that one’s work environment is safe.
Who Should Use a Miter Saw on Metal?
With the above in mind, there are two types of people who might want to use a miter saw on meta:
- People who want to downsize metal working material – If you need to use your Mitre saw once or twice to downsize a large slab of metal into smaller pieces that are easier to work with, a solution as rough-cutting as a Mitre saw might be practical. Finishing, smooth-cutting, etc., would be done later, preferably with hand tools.
- People who want to cut metal consistently – This is a category of people who want to use their miter saws permanently with metal. They would need to swap out their saw blades and level up their working surface to make it more metal-friendly. But as long as they can take these steps, they would be able to cut through metal.
Best Blades for Metal Cutting with Mitre Saw
Having established that one needs a specialized blade to cut metal, let’s explore the options that work well with a miter saw. These blades range from the ones you might currently have in your shop to ones you might need to order in advance.
This is one of the best options for cutting metals with a miter saw because even its manufacturer stands by its compatibility with miters. Luckyway has not only mentioned non-ferrous metals in the product title but has also answered customer questions regarding the miter compatibility of this blade.
In other words, the manufacturer says that this product can cut metal. The manufacturer also says that this product fits miters. So one can conclude that this blade can be used to cut metal with a miter. But that’s only if we take the manufacturer’s word for it. For a balanced decision, one needs to factor in customer reviews.
This blade has accumulated over 1900 reviews and ratings. Given that it takes over 500 verified reviews to make a sample reliable, this item’s average rating is pretty reflective of its actual quality and performance. Its over 1900 reviews and ratings collectively average 4.6 stars on a 5-star scale.
More specifically, it has been given its highest aspect-specific rating for accuracy, which is the sole reason for switching from regular miter saw blades to specialized metal-cutting ones. If you don’t want to buy it, you can always use a TCT blade that you already have. While you might not get the exact precision and performance of this 52-teeth blade, what you get will be comparable.
Once again, the key to cutting metal with a miter saw is to use a TCT blade. This option has more teeth than the last one. This leads to higher frequency cutting because more blade teeth hit the metal in each second. Please avoid using this blade on a miter if you plan to cut steel or iron.
Ferrous metals can’t be cut with a miter saw motor’s strength. The blade itself could be sharp enough to cut iron, but it cannot be used on a miter motor to do so. That’s why this product, despite being positioned as capable of cutting thin steel, cannot be used on a miter to cut steel.
You can use it on more powerful tools to cut ferrous metals or can use it on a miter saw to cut non-ferrous (non-iron) metals. If you follow the table from earlier, this blade is one of the best metal-cutting blades for a miter saw.
The rule of thumb for cutting metals with a miter saw is that blades that cut ferrous metal on higher power motors can cut non-ferrous metals on a miter. IRWIN Tools’ circular blade is positioned as a steel-cutting blade. However, it is not recommended for miter-mounting precisely because of this positioning.
As long as the product is not being used for cutting steel, it can be used on a miter. It has over 1500 reviews and ratings, which collectively add up to a global average rating of 4.6 on a 5-star scale. Its accuracy is also rated 4.6 stars, which is of interest because the regular miter blades produce very rough cuts on metal. This product’s Value for Money proposition is rated 4.3 stars, which is definitely a concern.
It is not a bargain, for sure. If you don’t want to buy it, you can use any steel-cutting blade from your circular saw blades on your Miter saw, and cut non-ferrous metals like aluminum, copper, and brass.
Best Practices for Cutting Metal With Mitre Saw
Once you have selected the right blade for the job, it might seem like you are ready to cut metal with a miter saw. But the more demanding your project, the more careful you need to be. For the lowest tier of accuracy and smoothness, you might not even need a specialized saw. Yet, for the higher tiers, you need specialized blades and additional measures. In this section, we will go over these best practices.
- Remove the debris below the metal before you start cutting – Metal-on-metal friction produces plenty of heat that the blade and the working material both conduct. Having anything below the metal can amplify the hazard.
- Wear safety goggles – This goes without saying and is mandatory even if you’re going for a rough cut. Metal chips will fly in your direction, and you need to protect your vision/eyes.
- Take appropriate measures to avoid pushback – Make sure the blade is tight, and the miter settings are holding fast. Any looseness in these can lead to pushback, which is more dangerous when you’re cutting metal.
- Stick thin sheets to a slab of wood – Temporrairly making thin sheets thicker by sticking them to wood can reduce the chance of the sheet getting caught in the saw teeth. Any time the saw teeth catch the working material, the cut gets rough.
- Protect the motor from metal chips – In closed housing, the motor is pretty well-sheltered. However, in open housing, tiny chips can get into the motor mechanism. With wood, this isn’t as big a deal, but with metal, it is. Metal chips can completely destroy a motor. You can tie a cloth over the casing to prevent chips from getting to the motor.
- Make sure the metal is secure against the fence – Finally, make sure once again that everything that needs to be tightened is tightened and everything that needs to be fastened is fastened. This contributes to precision but also to your own safety, so take it seriously.
Can a Carbide-tipped Blade Cut Metal?
A carbide-tipped blade can cut non-ferrous metal but not very well on a miter. If the blade is to be used on a miter saw, it should be Tungsten Carbide Tipped for maximum cut-through and precision. But if you have a carbide-tipped blade in your workshop, you can use it as a one-off.
Metal-Cutting Miter Saw
If you have not actually bought a miter saw and are wondering whether your purchase will be good enough for metal cutting, you need to learn more about metal miters. Metal Miter saws are saws with more powerful motors.
They are designed to cut metal and often come with blades that can cut through metal. Rage3 TCT Multi-Purpose Miter Saw is one of the best metal-cutting miter saws that can be used on wood and even ferrous metals like steel.
A Miter Saw motor is capable of pushing a blade through non-iron metal alloys and non-ferrous metals. However, the blades that come with a miter saw are weak. If you use a TCT blade, you can cut ferrous metals with more precision using a standard miter saw and non-ferrous metals with a Rage3 Miter Saw.