Can a Circular Saw Cut Metal?

By Tool Scout | Circular Saw Advice

Can a Circular Saw Cut Metal

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As you might know, a circular saw is one of the best hand-held tools out there, due to the fact that you can cut a variety of materials with it, and it comes at an affordable price compared to some of its competitors, such as angle grinders or a wet saw.

The main reason people fall in love with circular saws is due to the fact that they feature hard-toothed cutting discs that don’t have issues getting stuck in the material and can perform both straight and angled cuts. Along with that, these blades are more durable and powerful than regular stainless steel wheels, and while they are not universal or interchangeable, investing in a high-quality circular saw will pay off multiple times.

But while many use this tool solely for cutting wood, it doesn’t, and shouldn’t stay that way. In fact, there are different types of circular saws that can cut through different material including metal, tiles, plexiglass, and wood.

The same model can go through both hardscape and soft scape materials without much effort. Still, there are certain precautions that you should consider. In order to help you, we prepared a few tips and a complete answer to the question of whether a circular saw cut metal.

What Type of Blade Should You Use

The most important component of a circular saw is the blade that is at the top of it. Bearing in mind that metal is one of the hardest materials to cut, the blade should be extremely sharp and durable. Your best bet is to go with carbide-tipped abrasive cutting discs that will be powerful enough to go through a variety of metals and brass, without breaking or getting stuck in the material you are cutting.

Working with a cordless power tool is fine if you have a lot of experience and it is a light metal that you will be cutting. On the other hand, if you are thinking about going through steel and iron, you should invest in a more sturdy tool that will not have a heavy kickback, and has a number of teeth to ensure smooth in the precise cut. Doing the proper research before fully engaging in the process is going to go a long way towards a job well done.

What Type of Blade Should You Use

What You Need to Consider

Still, cutting metal with a circular saw is much more demanding than going through wood, which means there are a number of safety precautions related to it. The first thing that you should know is that deflected metal shavings can cause serious injuries, which is the main reason why you need to invest in proper goggles, gloves, and an outfit to protect your body.

Additionally, due to the fact that a circular saw cutting through metals operates at almost 5,000 rotations per minute, it heats up quickly which means that anyone that touches it can end up with burns. Last but not least, you should keep in mind that unless you are highly experienced and know how to keep the circular saw stable, you shouldn’t engage in the process. The reason? One slip can result in severe cuts to your hand or arm.

Concerns Related to the Circular Saw

To successfully cut metal or aluminum with a circular saw you'll ideally need a saw with a brushless motor as you'll likely cause less wear & tear on the motor when compared to a brushed type motor. Apart from the type of saw, the blade speed is also an essential consideration as cutting speeds are significantly lower as opposed to a wood-cutting framing saw.

With that said, you'll also be utlizing a blade a lot smaller than you would for chopping through wood. The average blade size for cutting metal or aluminum is typically around 5-3/8-inch or you'll find some saws specifically designed to cut metal up to 5-7/8-inches. Obviously this is a lot less than your standard 7-1/4 inch framing saw blade you'd use for chopping wood.

When you do cut aluminum using circular saws, it's advisable to use a non-ferrous carbide-tipped blade. For trimming, shaving and cutting thinner sheets of aluminum it's recommended to run the blade dry, it's easier and there's less mess to clean up. If you're going to cut thicker sections of aluminum you could always use a metal cutting lubricant like from Walter Coolcut. Using a lubricant like this helps to keep the blade from overheating and will certainly prolong the blade lifespan when you cut metal or aluminum with it.

When you're buying a blade look for one with a raker to it, straight tooth blades just do not cut meal or aluminum as effectively.

Another option to consider is making use of a Jigsaw if you have one. They are especially good for cutting complex shapes, but they are much slower than using a circular saw. Plus, there is also the concern of the reciprocating motion of the blade causing interference, just something to keep in mind.

One final thing worth mentioning when attempting to cut aluminum with a circular saw is to make sure to always wear a face shield, gloves, and other appropriate clothing, as the aluminum chips can and will get everywhere and can also create a lot of sparks when they cutting metal at high speeds.

What is the Best Metal Cutting Circular Saw?

If you're purely looking for a metal cutting circular saw, you'll also have to consider both the saw blade and the actual saw. The type of saw you choose for cutting metal can also, of course, be utilized for cutting wood.

You can very much take your pick from a wide range of circular saws manufactured from established brands like; Dewalt, SKIL, Makita, and you can check out the best circular saws available today in our most recent review and comparisons.

The majority of decent circular saws on the market will have no problem cutting dense metals and aluminum with the right metal cutting blade attached. But you can certainly find cutting saws that are specifically designed for metal cutting. If you're are a construction worker and would consider it cost-effective buying a metal cutting circular saw, you can take a look at the Makita XSC04Z 18V LXT Brushless Cordless Circular Saw which was explicitly designed as a metal cutting saw with the necessary saw blades already included.

But keep in mind, no matter what saw you go with, you need to add the right saw blade's to your arsenal to effectively cut metal and or other materials. There are three separate cutting saw blades required to effectively tackle just about any surface with your circular saw. The first is a carbide-tipped blade for cutting metal, a framing blade for cutting wood, and if you're attempting to cut concrete with a circular saw, you'll definitely need to use a diamond cutting saw blade.

Essential Safety Tips to Consider

Every year thousands of non-professional individuals and professionals are injured as the result of brandishing a powerful circular saw wrongly. Whether you're using miter saws, reciprocating saws or angle grinders, you need to take extra care while handling any type of saw.

Circular saws utilize a blade that produces much greater speed than a table saw, and with an outer edge spinning at over 120 mph, wielding these ferocious power tools incorrectly can result in severe bodily harm.

A recent study in Australia's Hazard Magazine concluded that of all reported saw injuries to human beings, circular saws consisted of the largest statistical average at 30%. Of the number of recorded injuries, 56% were related to DIY enthusiasts, with 99% being male, and with 68% of all male injuries within an age range of 20-to-39.

Rather starting when you think about it.

So here are a few safety tips to run through before you get started and will hopefully remind you of the potential hazards when using such power tools.

  • Perform regular maintenance on all your power tools, including circular saws
  • Be sure to clamp your workpiece to your workbench or vice so that you can keep both hands on the saw
  • Minimize the possibility of the blade binding in the kerf so that you cut with the outside the sawhorse edges and not ever between the two horse rails
  • Adjust the blade depth so that the teeth tips barely stick out beyond the thickness of the material to reduce the potential hazard of incidental blade contact
  • Always wear safety glasses and gloves
Essential Safety Tips to Consider

Conclusion

At the end of the day, cutting metal with a circular saw can be quite easy, especially if you consider the critical points and ensure that the tool you are working with is safe and sturdy for cutting metal. As when working with any tool, make sure you have and use the proper safety precautions, including protective gear, to keep yourself, and anyone in the vicinity, safe. 

We did our best to give you an insight into how the process looks. Now it is time for you to do the proper research, find the adequate saw for your needs, and remember that patience is always the key with circular saws — before, during, and after the cutting process is done.

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