Cutting Metal - How to Cut a Variety of Metals Such as Metal Pipes and Sheet Metal Using a Hacksaw, a Jigsaw and also Tin Snips

Summary: How to cut metal safely and what to use for different DIY projects. In this project we show you how to correctly cut differing types of metal including metal pipes such as copper pipes and also sheet metal. We also show you what specific tools can be used to do this including hacksaws, jigsaws and also tin snips and how they should be used safely to avoid any injury. We also explain how you can then use a file to clean off any sharp edges.

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Firstly before you start cutting any form of metal you will need to take precautions. Freshly cut metal edges will be rough and have sharp burrs, painful to remove. So gloves and eye protection and overalls should be worn at all times when dealing with metal work.

When cutting metal you will have several choices on how to carry out this process and also a range of tools to also use. The metals you are most likely to find yourself using are steel, iron, aluminium, brass and copper.


Hacksaw frame and blade - Available in our superstore

Cutting Metal With a Blade

This operation can be carried out with either a hacksaw, jigsaw with metal blades or cutting / scribing blades if the metal is lead.

Different blades will be needed to cut different metals as some metals are harder than others eg: cutting aluminum and say stainless steel. The softer the metal, the smaller and finer the teeth will need to be to cut a controlled straight line in sheet metal. The piece of metal that you are cutting should also be clamped so no slip can occur while you are cutting.

Cutting Pipe

When cutting a metal pipe it is always advised to clamp the pipe so the cut is stable and controlled. This procedure is normally carried out with the use of a hacksaw or junior hacksaw depending on the size of pipe. If cutting copper pipe, there are various copper pipe cutting tools on the market such as pipe cutters and pipe slices, as well as the affore mentioned hacksaws.

Jigsaw fitted with metal cutting blade

Jigsaw fitted with metal cutting blade - Available in our superstore

To cut metal pipe with a hacksaw, firstly clamp your pipe, then measure and mark the required length with a scribe as pencil may smudge or rub off. Check that your blade is new or of a good working order and fixed securely in the cutting tool. Always start your cutting movements slowly to create a cutting groove which your blade will remain in for the duration of the cut. Once you have finished your cut you will find that the edges of each piece of pipe will have rough edges (burrs) which are sharp jagged fine pieces of metal created during the cutting process. Remove these with a file or emery paper. (metalworks version of sand paper).

Cutting Sheet Metal

Position the sheet of metal to be cut onto a stable work bench with the section to be cut over-hanging the work bench. This way any cutting tool will not get snagged on the work bench below your cutting line. If possible, always clamp your sheet metal to the work bench. This is another safety procedure but also enables you to produce a clean and straight cut.

Tin snips and sheet metal cutters available in our superstore

Tin snips and sheet metal cutters available in our superstore

This procedure will normally be performed with the use of a Jigsaw (with metal blade) or Tin snips. If using an electrical device always commence your cutting action slowly and gently. Forcing a cutting action will always lead to a mistake or damaged tool. If the section of metal being cut off is too big for one person to handle then it is advisable to have another person on hand to help you out. You do not want an accident to happen!

Files and file sets available in our superstore

Files and file sets available in our superstore

Remember newly cut edges of metal will always be rough and sharp. Make sure you remove these burrs with a fine file so that the next person who picks up the sheet metal does not injure themselves.

As always with machinery that create dust, debris and has sharp components DIY Doctor recommends the use of gloves, dust masks and eye protection.

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