When the project you are tackling involves metal, there are a number of hand saws you can choose from. There are manual and power hand saws available that make cutting through metal materials easy. While both manual and power hand saws both cut metal efficiently, you should choose a saw and blade type based on the composition of the metal, the characteristics of the cut needed, and the size of the metal.
For instance, the hand saw used to cut through a thin piece of soft metal like aluminum or steel frame would be different from the blade and tool that you’d use to saw through a thick chunk of steel alloy. By learning about the capabilities of the different metal cutting hand saws on the market, you’ll be able to choose the perfect tool for every task.
The hack saw is the most common manual hand saw you will use to cut metal. A hack saw has a rigid, C-shaped frame that is attached to a grip handle. The blade is thin and flexible, running across the open part of the saw’s frame, and is supported by a supportive front and back pin. The blade of the hack saw has teeth that vary in size and spacing based on its intended application.
Blades with small, closely-spaced teeth produce fine cuts, perfect for thin, soft metals like copper or aluminum. Blades that have larger, widely-spaced teeth make courser cuts ideal for thicker metals like steel or iron. The blade is held in tension by the pins and users simply make push-pull strokes with the saw to cut through the material.
While easy to use, the hack saw requires patience and effort if you are going to use it in a large-scale application. For inexperienced users, there is a chance that you might produce some jagged edges on your workpiece that require filing and finishing after the initial cut, thus increasing your work time. For this reason, while it is a reliable tool, the hack saw is best used for projects where you are only planning to cut through a limited amount of stock.
Handheld Circular Saw
A handheld metal cutting circular saw is a standard, motorized saw powered by either electricity or a rechargeable battery. It is capable of creating straight cuts through almost any type of metal and some offer additional features such as the ability to make angled cuts quickly.
The important factor you need to remember when using a handheld circular saw is to choose the right blade for the metal you are planning to cut. There are two types of metal cutting blades that most circular saws accept.
The first is an abrasive, metal cut-off discs that have a mineral grit, like carbide, which line the edges of the disc allowing it to slice through metalworking projects and are designed to withstand the pressures of the task, making it more durable than a regular blade.
The second type of blade is a metal-bodied blade built from high-strength metals such as aluminum oxide, vanadium, or steel. These feature small, closely-spaced teeth which are covered in a composite such as carbide to reduce heat build-up and improve efficiency.
Metal Chop Saw
The metal chop saw is similar to a woodworker’s miter saw in that the blade lowers through material and is mounted on a sturdy, stationary base. Manufacturers design metal chop saws to withstand the heat, sparks and flying chips that slicing through large stock can produce making them perfect for metal applications.
This is why the manufacturers of woodworking miter saws don’t recommend simply attaching a metal cutting blade to woodworking equipment while it is perfectly suitable to add a wood cutting blade to a saw designed to cut through metal.
A metal cutting chop saw allows you to place a metal material on the base, under the blade. You then activate the spinning motion of the blade by pulling a trigger and lowering the blade through the material.
The grinder’s blade has a unique position that differentiates it from other portable power saws. Instead of sitting perpendicular to the tool’s motor like a circular saw or chop saw, the grinder has a blade that is parallel to the motor assembly. This allows you to cut through metal by pressing the metal into the blade and making back and forth, sweeping motions. Similar to circular saws and chop saws, the grinder uses an abrasive, spinning disc to quickly saw through metal.
The reciprocating saw uses a long, metal cutting blade and creates a back and forth sawing motion, similar to that of a hacksaw. They are light enough to use in any tight to reach space and can quickly cut through any metal material. While flexible, the back and forth cutting motion can produce uneven results, which is why the reciprocating saw is mostly used in demolition projects.
The band saw is another excellent metal cutting hand saw. A blade is supported by two rollers and creates a fast moving, horizontal motion capable of quickly slicing through the workpiece. The blade is similar to that of a hacksaw, offering small, fine teeth with small gaps allowing it to make thin cuts through even heavy stock. Easier to control than a reciprocating saw, the band saw is perfect for long stock such as pipes, rebar, steel framing, and angle iron while also producing cleaner, burr-free cuts.