5 Beginner Techniques For Cutting Steel by Greenville Steel, the Structural Steel Experts
Working with steel requires special tools, and professional fabricators have access to all sorts of exotic ones like CNC machines, plasma cutters, ironworkers, lasers and more. But, if you're just getting started working with steel, you don't need to break the bank to start cutting steel pieces down to size. With just a few basic tools you might already have in your garage, workshop or toolshed, you can get started shaping sheet metal, cutting rebar, trimming copper pipe -- whatever you need to complete your project! Here are five beginner-friendly techniques for cutting steel material. Not sure which tools or methods will work best for your project? Feel free to give us a call! The Greenville Steel team would love the chance to answer your questions and help make your vision a reality.
5. Tin Snips
When learning to cut steel, why not start the same way you learned to cut paper? A pair of tin snips are perfect for cutting all sorts of shapes and sizes of thin sheet metal. They work just like scissors. You can find them with straight blades for straight lines and with curved blades for making clockwise and counterclockwise cuts in sheet metal. If you plan on doing a lot of cutting this way, you might consider investing in air sheers. They're a lot like ordinary tin snips, but they use compressed air to take the gruntwork out of longer cuts.
Suitable For: Cutting thin sheets of metal, straight or gently curved freehand cuts.
When you're looking for a manual tool to cut thicker metal items, like rebar, angle iron and steel tubing, a hacksaw is a tried and true tool. A nice, sharp hacksaw made specifically for cutting metal can go through almost anything -- assuming you've got the time and the elbow grease. It's not a great choice for making intricate or curved cuts in hard-to-reach places, but for chopping a metal bar down to size, it's about as good as it gets. Or, invest in a metal blade for your reciprocating saw, and you've got a power hacksaw that's perfect when you need to cut thicker pieces of metal faster.
Suitable For: Cutting almost any kind of metal. An inexpensive solution when your cutting needs are varied.
3. Metal Circular Saw
When you need to make a lot of long, straight cuts in thinner panels of metal, like structural steel roofing and siding, your favorite circular saw might be the perfect tool. You'll just need to make sure you've got the right blade. You can buy circular saws built for cutting metal, or just install a metal-cutting blade in the circular saw you're already using on wood. Be sure to pick the right blade for the material you're cutting -- You'll need a ferrous-metal cutting blade for most building materials like steel and iron. For cutting aluminium, copper and other more exotic metals, you'll also need a nonferrous blade. And remember to use all the proper safety equipment, as a circular saw will create a ton of sparks and metal chips when used on metal.
Suitable For: Long cuts in a wide variety of metals. Straight cuts only.
2. Angle Grinder With Cutting Wheel
This is perhaps the most common way to cut steel pieces down to size. Simply by putting a cutting wheel on an angle grinder, you've got yourself a mini circular saw that's great for cutting metal pipe, rebar, tubing and more. Once you've made your cut, just swap to your flap disc or grinding wheel, making it easy to clean up cuts and continue working with the material. However, angle grinders don't come with the safety features you might find on a metal circular saw that's purpose-built to cut through steel, like bigger guards and a safe handgrip position well away from the cutting wheel. Make sure you're wearing all the proper safety equipment and using the guards that come with your tool when cutting steel with an angle grinder.
Suitable For: Cutting steel, stainless steel, aluminium plate and tubing. Fast and convenient.
At Greenville Steel, when we need to cut steel beam, tubing, rebar or plate in big quantities quickly, we turn to our industrial-strength bandsaw. It's a huge, verticle bandsaw that can make short work of virtually any material. If you've got a smaller bandsaw in your workshop, it's the perfect tool for cutting a variety of materials, including steel and other metals! A bandsaw is the steel cutting implement of choice for many contractors and fabricators because they're safe, fast and versatile. Of course, these tools are expensive and an everyday handyman may not have access to such a tool. If you need huge steel pieces cut to size, like thick angle iron and solid steel rods, just call Greenville! We can cut steel in virtually any shape or size your building project requires.
Suitable For: Cutting large, thick steel pieces in bulk quantities.