I utilize numerous methods to cut metal for my sculptures and to make the things I need.
Why cut metals with power saws?
Why might a DIYer want to cut metal with a power saw? Many shops are equipped with abrasive chop saws or angle grinders. Although these are quite powerful, abrasive wheels generate tremendous heat and leave a rough edge. With saws, it is possible to get a straight and clean edge with little heat and an edge that needs little treatment before welding or joining. This article covers the use of the variable speed jigsaw, metal bandsaw, metal circular saw, metal cold chop saw, and even the table saw!
Before I continue I think at least a brief safety paragraph is in order. First, make sure you have the right attire for using power saws. Some examples are eye protection and closed toe shoes. A leather apron would be ideal to keep shavings off clothing. Metal shavings can be very sharp and present a safety issue for eyes and exposed skin. Never force the tools let them do the work! Forcing a tool through a cut could cause a violent kickback that may result in serious injury! Never run bare fingers along cut edge of metal. Although saw cuts are clean, a very sharp burr could cause a painful laceration. Also, heed the safety warnings posted on the owners manual of the power tool!
Variable Speed Jigsaw
The jigsaw was invented from the concept of a sewing machine. Mainly used by wood workers, this tool is also effective in cutting metals and plastics as well. For metal cutting, I recommend a professional variable speed jigsaw. This is because you need to be able to run at slower speeds to cut metals such as steel and aluminum. The professional jigsaws typically have a motor with a higher amperage rating. This is important because the extra torque will be needed in guiding a blade through hard and dense metals.
Most jigsaw blades intended for metal are operated at medium speed. It is important to secure metal workpiece with suitable clamps and support material if the metal is not rigid so it can sustain the rapid up and down strokes of the blade without bending or getting caught and thus damaging the blade. If the blade gets bent in any way it must be discarded. Beeswax or cutting fluid should also be used to protect blade from overheating.
Cold Cutting Chop Saws
When I mention cold cutting chop saws, Im not talking about a saw to cut your sandwiches with. what Im referring to is using a chop saw with carbide tip blades as apposed to abrasive wheels to cut metal.
Abrasive wheels cut metal by wearing it away with bonded adhesive. Trouble is the abrasive wheel wears away and gets smaller and the process generates a lot of heat. So much so that you cannot pick up the drops without a glove. The heat generated and the nature of the adhesive wheel make the cut edge messy and likely not straight.
Cold cutting saws, on the other hand, cut with carbide teeth into the metal generating little heat. In fact, the cut off piece will likely be just barely above room temperature and can easily be picked up with bare hands. Whats more is that the edge is clean, straight with little deburring needed.
Advantages and Challenges of a Cold Cut Saw
Metal Cutting Poll
Portable Circular Saws for Metals
Just like there are cold cutting chop saws for metal, there are also portable handheld circular saws for metal. Chop saws have a size limit of metals they can cut based on movements of the blade and motor housing. With a handheld cold cutting metal saw, any size sheet or pipe can be cut so long as the thickness of the metal is within the capabilities of the portable saw. Cutting perfectly straight lines can be a challenge and a saw guide rail or a straight edge clamped securely in place is recommended.
There are recent additions of cordless metal saws in the market that can be very handy. They are usually slightly smaller that corded saws and are meant for lighter duty but are ideal where an electrical connection might not be immediately available.