A miter saw is a prized tool to add to your workshop. Its ability to create precisely angled cuts makes it a go-to tool for crown molding, door frames, and other woodworking projects. But a common question is if they can be used on other materials.
A miter saw can cut through light metal like aluminum and steel with the right type of blade. However, miter saws are typically not purpose-built for cutting through metal, so there are a number of factors to consider before purchasing. For best results, it is important to have blades appropriate for cutting metal to prevent imprecise cuts, damage to the saw, and, most importantly, to prevent human injury.
It is also necessary to consider if the miter saw is going to be the best fit for the job. Is the metal going to be too thick, or is it possible there are other types of saws in the market that would be better for cutting metal? I’ll cover all of these questions. Consider this the full compendium of all things miter saw and metal.
What Kind of Blade Do I Need to Cut Metal with a Miter Saw?
This is an absolutely imperative question to answer before the guard comes up. There is a high probability of problems arising when not using the proper blade for the job.
Here’s what to look for when shopping for a blade:
- Aluminum Oxide Blades: This is a standard material for cutting metal due to its durability and heat resistance. These are also common in abrasive disks.
- Diamond Blades: These blades have synthetic diamond particles on the blade’s fine edge. These diamond blades are all certified to cut “ferrous metal.” This means these metals have considerable amounts of iron in them, which makes them tougher to cut. Blades like these can be found across home stores and hardware stores alike for around $12 to $40.
- Carbide Blades: Similar to diamond blades, carbide blades are extremely tough and will last a long time.
Also, any blade that says something related to cutting metal by a reputable brand should do the job well. It never hurts to check with the expert at your local tool shop, either.
Note: Diamond-tipped blades aren’t as pricey as they sound. These diamonds were made in a lab, so they’re economical. Diamond blades come standard on most saws that specialize in cutting metal. (See the list below.)
Teeth Per Inch (TPI)
Another important trait with these blades would be their teeth per inch or TPI. The higher the teeth per inch, the more precise the cuts are going to be, but this also means that the blade will have to move slower, so it’s not meant for quick work.
For cutting through metal, you want your TPI to be from 8 to 24, depending on how thick the metal is. It’s always a good idea to consult with the expert at your hardware store before making the wrong buy.
Are Some Metals Easier to Cut Than Others?
There are distinct variations in metals that should be considered for this job. The thickness will play a role, though it’s not as important as others since the saw cuts gradually. We’re not trying to lop it off like one would with a machete.
The kind of metal will drastically change the outcome. If you’re slicing tin for some reason, then no problem! That’s a very soft metal, but some common hard metals such as steel, tungsten, or cobalt are going to be a different story. These metals will take longer to cut through and require a special kind of blade.
A metal like aluminum, which is common among construction materials, is going to be very difficult to cut unless you’re merely cutting thin sheets. Since this is a “non-ferrous” metal, you’re going to need a blade, like this one (Amazon Affiliate Link), suited for cutting non-ferrous metals.
Other non-ferrous metals include:
Will Cutting Metal Damage My Miter Saw?
As long as you’re using the proper blade with the right technique for metal, even with a basic miter saw, everything should be fine, unless you’re looking to make a business out of it in which you’ll be doing the same cuts over and over again.
Like balding a tire, heavy and continual use can eventually wear on the machine, but if you’re more of a weekend warrior, you shouldn’t run into any problems.
A problem could arise if chips of metal are sucked into the machine. This wouldn’t be such an issue with wood clippings, but the metal can cause serious damage.
Make sure any intakes are properly shielded or filtered. Miter Saws made for metal usually consider this in their design.
Is Cutting Metal With a Miter Saw Particularly Dangerous?
Of course, cutting metal with a miter saw is going to be dangerous, but will it be more dangerous than with another saw? Should you perhaps switch to a different saw? Are you considering getting your buddy and finding the old two-man saw? That may make for backyard fun and lifelong friend estrangement, but that won’t be necessary.
Which Saws Are Better for Metal?
Many of these tools are made specifically for the metal in mind. This means the manufacturer has taken into account the appropriate needs for safety, such as the guard and bags for metal shavings.
They also usually have a clamp to ensure your metal stays it its place. However, if you choose to use it, the miter saw will be good for the job.
Why Does Anyone Choose a Miter for Cutting Metal?
The reason most go to a miter saw as opposed to the others would be its precision of cuts, and its ease of use when making lots of large cuts.
These other saws are handier when it comes to those hard to reach places or doing small quick cuts that don’t require a massive amount of precision.
What Are Some of the Best Saws for Cutting Metal?
Any quick google of “miter saw” or “chop saw” will show a list of prices if that’s what you’re looking for. If it’s quality you’re looking for, this is the right place.
All of these saws have been engineered and tested by teams of experts to ensure they can easily adapt to any metal matters, so all you’re left to do is bring the handle down like a battle-ax.
Only serious weekend warriors and craftsmen gear up with this line of options. (Amazon Affiliate links below).
|Makita LC 1230 12inch||This saw was made for metal. It comes with a tray for collecting scraps of metal and ample shielding to prevent loss of eyeballs. [Check the price]|
|Dewalt D28715 15inch||If you’re looking for a more portable unit, this is going to be a good option. It’ll get the job done just as well, and the fence pivots to get that perfectly angled cut. [Check the price]|
|Hitachi C10FCH2||This saw has all the features you want on a large scale. It has a bag for collecting metal shavings, and it takes its precision and flexibility seriously. Its fence is adjustable, but it can also turn past the standard 45 degrees all the way to 52 degrees. It was made to be a shop staple. [Check the price]|
|Porter-Cable PC14CTSD 14inch||This saw has a heavy metal base so it won’t be sliding around, and it has a built-in clamp for holding down whatever metal you can throw at it. It also has high horsepower compared to the industry standard, but it is not at all portable. [Check the price]|
|Dewalt D28730||Dewalt being the industry-dominating brand that it is, has another option on the market. It doesn’t leave any burrs, and the standard blade is “cold-cut” which gives it added durability and years. [Check the price]|
These are a lot of great options that can be easily found in stores or online. They all specialize in cutting metal so you can clear your mind of any difficulty or danger.
As long as you have the right machine with the right blade it’ll be smooth sailing. As smooth as the edges of your cuts.
Cheers, tools owners!