How To Cut Metal With A Reciprocating Saw - Tips & Advice

How To Cut Metal With A Reciprocating Saw – Tips & Advice

Reciprocating saws with a metal cutting blade will make short work of pipes, sheet metals and nails in stud work. These robust and versatile tools are perfect for cutting through metal, but there are a few things you should know first.

We look at how to cut metal with a reciprocating saw and give you some valuable tips and advice along the way.

Choose The Right Blade

Reciprocating saws are perhaps the most versatile tool that you will ever own. A reciprocating saw blade easily cuts through a number of different kinds of materials at varying speeds and in some of the most difficult to reach places, far more efficiently than an average saw blade or any other power tool.

The reason a reciprocating saw is so versatile is that all you have to do is change the blade to the correct blade, and you have a tool that will easily be cutting wood, metal, plastic, drywall, fiberglass and masonry at high speeds with incredibly precise cuts.

So when you need to cut metal with your reciprocating saw you just need to find the right blade for the job.

Not only does this tool have various blades for different materials, but it also has different blades for various types of metal, putting it miles above any other tools, and the right tool for better control and shorter cutting time.

For thin metal such as sheet metal, a bi-metal blade with 20-24 teeth per inch is recommended. For medium thickness metals such as angle irons or steel pipe a bi-metal blade with 14-18 teeth per inch is suitable.

A bi-metal blade has 8% cobalt which is electron-beam welded onto high strength steel backer. This makes it more durable with a longer cutting life. To cut aluminum, a blade with 8 teeth per inch works best.

For cutting cast iron and stainless steel, a reciprocating blade with carbide tips is needed with at least 8 teeth per inch.

How To Cut Metal With A Reciprocating Saw?

When you have chosen the appropriate blade for cutting metal with your reciprocating saw you will be ready to get to work and cut wood as you see fit. Before you proceed with any cutting of metal make sure to wear eye protection, gloves, and ear protection.

They will keep you safe from the saw, and eye protection will help to keep debris from hitting your eyes when working at full speed, or with a grinding disc.

You may also want to wear a dust mask to keep small particles from entering your lungs as you cut into solid metal or thicker metal. Depending on the object and type of metal you are cutting you may need to secure it with a clamp.

If you are cutting metal that is in situ choose the appropriate length of blade. For flush cutting a longer blade will allow a greater portion of the blade to lie flat.

Lying flat is important for safety and efficiency, and allows the blade to cut in straight lines without applying too much pressure.

To carry out a flush cut it can help to insert the blade into the saw with the teeth facing upwards and then flip the saw over so the handle doesn’t get in the way as you cut in a straight line.

When cutting thin sheet material choose a short blade to eliminate as much ‘waggle’ during use as possible. Typically, the blade should only be a couple of inches longer than the depth of cut needed.

Place the blade of the reciprocating saw at the point where you want to begin cutting and use the shoe as a pivot point. This will help to guide the blade until it begins to bite into the metal.

Move the saw slowly, keeping a firm hold on the body of the tool. This will ensure that the blades can continue with their reciprocating action.

When you have finished the cut, withdraw the blade back through the cut rather than attempting to pull it through as you may with other saw blades. This helps to prevent a bent blade, which can significantly slow you down when you use a reciprocating saw.

Extend Your Metal Cutting Blade Life

How To Cut Metal With A Reciprocating Saw - Tips & Advice

Cutting metal repeatedly can cause even good blades to dull, but that doesn’t mean you have to throw them out. A blunt metal blade can still be used for cutting plastic or for things like roof shingles.

Using a sharp blade on plastic pipes can cause the teeth to grab hold of the plastic and pull it backwards and forwards as opposed to cutting it, so a blunt metal blade is best for this.

During cutting the part of the blade that is closest to the shoe will get the most wear. This can mean that longer blades may be disposed of when only the lower half has worn down. The top part of the blade may still be sharp.

For this reason it is a good idea to buy a reciprocating saw with an adjustable shoe so that you can use the part of the blade that is most appropriate. This should mean more even wear on the blade and save you some money.

By running the saw at lower speeds during cutting you will generate less heat in the blade. This will help to extend the life of the blade. A longer and thicker blade will last longer as the metal will absorb and dissipate more heat.

How To Cut Faster And Smarter?

So now that you know how to cut metal with a reciprocating saw we’re going to help you to cut faster and smarter. Not only will this save you time and effort, but it will also save you money.

If you need to cut something metal flush with the floor or other flat surface use a longer blade than you typically would. Then you can bend the blade slightly as you keep as much of the blade on the surface as possible.

The end of the blade then does the cutting. A reciprocating saw is not a tool of finesse, and occasionally you will need to protect a surface such as a finished floor when cutting.

A good tip is to cut some cheap pipe insulation and attach it with tape to the shoe of the reciprocating blade to protect the floor from damage as you cut. Using a lubricant on the blade will help reduce heat build up and extend the life of your metal reciprocating blade.

This can also allow you to cut quicker and more efficiently. Having an adjustable shoe on your saw means you can use the different areas of the blade equally.

More often the teeth closest to the shoe wear out while the rest of the blade is still sharp and usable. Always choose a blade that is only an inch or two longer than the depth of cut that you need. This reduces the chances of the blade being bent and having to replace it.

However, it is possible to straighten out reciprocating blades by placing it between two pieces of wood and hitting it with a hammer. Just be careful not to damage the blade’s teeth.

Reciprocating Saws With Orbital Action

All reciprocating saws have a back and forth motion, hence their name but some also have an orbital action. This means the blade moves in a slightly oval shape. While this can make cutting much faster in wood or some other materials this is not the case when cutting metal.

If there is an orbital function on your reciprocating saw you should make sure it’s turned off when you are cutting metal. A straight cut is much better for this material.

The orbital function will also introduce more vibration into the cutting which may affect the accuracy. It will also produce a rougher cut.

In Conclusion

Cutting metal with a reciprocating saw is not difficult if you use the right blade for the job and choose the right mode on your saw. Take your time and make sure you wear appropriate personal protective equipment. We hope this guide to cutting metal with a reciprocating saw has been helpful.


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