When cutting metal, you have several options on how to perform this action and a large assortment of tools.
Discover the best ways to cut metal fast here.
Traditionally, we use metal to cut stuff up. Our ancestors invented knives, axes, and swords to cut, slash, hack, and pierce various things. That being said, what about cutting metal itself? We’re not talking about forging and hammering them into shape.
How do you cut metal such as rebars, steel tubes, round bar stock, or sheet metal?
If you have a project that requires cutting metal, you can probably bring out the good ol’ hacksaw. However, if you’ve tried that before, you know that it doesn’t always work. Here are some methods that are available to make your DIY life easier.
Hand Tools: Hand tools can still get the job done but they’re more suited for thinner, more pliable metals. You can use a hacksaw, tin snips, or hand shears to cut thin-gauged steel or aluminum. You can also use the hammer and chisel to remove excess metal.
Keep in mind that it’s harder to achieve more precise cuts with hand tools compared to using specialized equipment.
Using Machinery to Cut Metal: Power Saw: There are situations where doing things manually can’t cut it, pun intended. For larger projects, thicker metals, or more precise cutting, you’re going to need the extra power from machine cutters.
The first machine-based method is by using the power saw. They work using the same principle as a hacksaw, but with a little bit more oomph. There are different blades available depending on the required task.
These include abrasive blades, carbide-tipped blades, band saws, and cold saws.
Lathe Cutting: The metal to be cut is put on a lathe and spun at high speeds. A hardened cutting tool is fed against the revolving material. The cutting tool will trim off bits of the metal as it spins until you get to the desired shape.
Punch Cutting: This equipment uses a hardened tool (punch) to create a hole through the metal workpiece by sheer force. A die receives a scrap slug from the operation, which will then be reused, recycled, or discarded.
This method is the most cost-effective process for making holes in sheet metal for medium to high fabrication.
Torch Cutting: These machines slice through metal via a thermal cut process. They use extreme heat to burn and melt the metal along a line.
Flame cutting, also known as oxy-fuel cutting, is one of the oldest machine-cutting methods. It can cut through very thick steel plates, even up to 48 inches thick.
Plasma cutting uses a torch to pump oxygen or another inert gas which reacts with electricity to form a plasma. The plasma cutters are very precise because of the high temperature of the plasma.
Laser Cutting: Laser cutting is similar to torch cutting but instead of flame, it uses a beam of light.
This laser beam is concentrated to a single point. The heat generated will cut through the metal. Laser cutters are very accurate and are often controlled by a computer to further increase their accuracy.
For more information, check out this laser cutting guide.
Water Jet Cutting: This equipment uses a forceful stream of water mixed with abrasives to cut into the metal. The advantage of this method is the absence of heat distortion.
Which Method Makes the Cut?
You have a lot of different options to cut metal for whatever project you’ve got going on. Your choice will depend on the type and volume of metal and the level of precision required.
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