Top 15 Metal Cutting Tools

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With an overwhelming amount of metal-cutting saws available in most hardware stores across the country, you have plenty of options suitable for any level of expertise and budget. In other words, the easy part is to locate the tools section. The real challenge presents itself once you need the right tool for the job. Many tools can be modified with special blades or discs so they can cut through different types of metal, but not all tools work equally well for any metal cutting job.

The simplest of all tools include the good old hacksaw, available in many shapes and sizes, whereas quicker options include angle grinders and other motorized saws mounted with special discs or blades. In this guide we’ll take a look at some of the most common tools that you can use to cut different types of metal.

Top 15 tools that will cut through metal

TypePurposePrice ($ – $$$)
HacksawSmall, round/rectangular metal products$
Tin snipsThin metal sheets$
Angle grinderQuick and easy metal cutting$
Circular sawIdeal for straight cuts$
Band sawPrecision metal cutting$$$
Miter sawGreat for metal rods/tubes/angles$$
Rotary toolSmall, intricate cuts$
Utility knifeGreat for light-gauge metal stock$
JigsawIdeal for curves and edges$
NibblerGreat for corrugated roof panels or flat metal sheets$$
Reciprocating sawIdeal for demolition jobs$
Oscillating multi-toolSuitable for flush cuts and tight spaces$$
Bench shearBulk cutting of sheet metal$$$
Cold sawClean, accurate cuts$$$
Oxy-fuel torchCuts through thick metal products$$$

#1 Hacksaw – best choice for small tasks

A manual hacksaw is a great, inexpensive tool for cutting through metal as well as other materials. Metal hacksaws have interchangeable blades, so you’re basically buying a handle along with special blades formulated to cut through the material you’re working with.

Because of the shape, hacksaws are mostly used for cutting through metal pipes, rods, bolts, and alike. They won’t work for metal sheets, and because it’s a manual tool it’s not the most effective for larger projects.

Hacksaws are very safe though, and you don’t need a great deal of protective equipment. A pair of safety gloves are strongly recommended as always when cutting through metal of any kind.

Pros

  • Very inexpensive. Widely available for just a few dollars online as well as many retail stores.
  • Easy to use. No practice needed. You simply grab the handle, attach the blade of choice, and you’re ready to work.
  • You’re in full control. If you don’t want to cut all the way through, you can simply cut halfway and then stop. No risk of cutting too far.
  • Extremely safe. Hacksaws are hand powered, and as such they’re the safest choice for anyone.
  • Interchangeable blades make it one of the most versatile tools for cutting through different kinds of metal.

Cons

  • Not as fast as other tools. Hacksaws are only as fast as you can go, and it’s hard work to cut through metal with a manual saw.
  • Doesn’t cut straight. Hacksaws can’t cut lines as straight and nice as other tools.
  • Usually, hacksaws leave a rough edge that you’ll have to grind afterwards if you want a proper finish.

#2 Tin snips – ideal for thin aluminum/copper sheets

Tin snips are another affordable manual tool that works incredibly well for cutting straight lines through thin metal sheets. Whether you’re cutting aluminum or copper sheets, gutters, metal roofing, or studs, tin snips get the job done with the sharp blade. As an added bonus, tin snips will usually leave a nice, smooth edge. We still recommend using a pair of safety gloves as an added safety measure.

While tin snips are great for thin metal sheets, the cutting process could quickly become tiresome and leave you with a sore wrist. It’s a great tool for small tasks, but it quickly becomes tiresome if the materials are too thick or you’re cutting a large amount of sheets at a time.

Pros

  • Perfect for cutting and trimming metal sheets.
  • Very affordable. Doesn’t cost more than a few bucks at your local hardware store.
  • Easy to use. Requires no practice beforehand, as it is operated like any regular scissors.
  • Very safe. Due to the nature of tin snips, they can be used by everyone with little to no risk of accidents.

Cons

  • Tin snips are not as strong as other metal cutting tools.
  • Although tin snips produce a nice, smooth cut, there’s a risk of ruining the edge of the metal sheet.
  • Relatively difficult to cut long, straight lines.

#3 Angle grinder – versatile tool for quick and easy metal cutting

With a metal cut-off wheel or a diamond blade, your angle grinder becomes the perfect tool for cutting through a wide variety of metal. Angle grinders are generally quite affordable, and so is the vast range of blades and wheels that will transform your angle grinder into one of the most versatile cutting tools on the market.

Angle grinders are capable of cutting through most metals from aluminum to steel, and it’s extremely useful for large projects. It cuts through rebars, fencing, bolts, sheet metal, pipes, and basically anything you can imagine. However, it does require a bit of practice to use, and protective equipment such as safety glasses, a mask, gloves, and boots are strongly recommended as well as keeping the surroundings clean and free from any flammable materials. Angle grinders will produce sparks when cutting through metal.

Pros

  • Very effective. Quickly cuts through many types of metal.
  • Extremely versatile. Blades and wheels can be bought for a vast range of materials, not only metal.
  • Easy to use. Although a bit of practice is required, angle grinders are still very easy to use.
  • Affordable. Angle grinders are among the cheapest, motorized metal cutting tools on the market.

Cons

  • Relatively dangerous. If you don’t wear proper safety equipment or handle the angle grinder properly, injuries could happen.
  • Wheels and blades are quickly worn out, and if you’re bulk cutting the costs will add up.
  • Doesn’t always leave a smooth edge on the metals you’re cutting through.
  • Generates a lot of dust and sparks during use. Keep away from flammable materials while cutting, and use it outside if possible.

#4 Circular saw – ideal for straight cuts

Whether you’re cutting through piles of sheet metal, roofing or gutters, a circular saw is ideal for the job. Mount it on a guide rail if you want to cut large, straight lines, or use it freehand for a quick cutting job. Circular saws are not only designed to cut through metal, but other kinds of materials too. With the right metal cutting blade attached you can cut through many types of metal.

A circular saw is still relatively portable, and you can easily bring it to any job site. Some even run on batteries, and they’re relatively affordable as well. They do require a bit of practice to handle properly though, and they may not be as accurate as expected unless you use a guiding rail and set it up correctly. They generate a lot of sparks and splinters too, so protective equipment is a must.

Pros

  • Quickly cuts metal sheets, roofing, gutters, and other types of metal in bulk.
  • Relatively accurate when using a guiding rail, but cutting through metal freehand is also possible.
  • Not as exhausting to use as other metal cutting tools.
  • Available in battery powered models as well as corded models.
  • Different cutting blades make it a versatile cutting tool.

Cons

  • May leave a relatively rough edge on the materials you’re cutting.
  • Not the best cutting tool for small pieces of metal such as rebars, rods, pipes, etc.
  • Potentially dangerous to use if not handled properly.
  • Protective equipment should be worn during use: Safety glasses, a mask, gloves, and boots are strongly recommended.
  • Generates dust and sparks during use. Keep away from flammable materials, and only use it outside or in a proper workshop.

#5 Band saw – stationary saw for metal and other materials

The main characteristics of a band saw are the design and how it’s meant to be used. Unlike other metal saws, a band saw doesn’t move. Instead, you have to push the material you’re cutting against the saw. This enables you to cut curves, angles, bevels, cross-cuts, and resaw thick metal sheets into thinner ones in a single pass.

Band saws are not made for straight cuts but they’re an important part of a workshop if you’re working on auto parts and other projects involving metal. They can also be used for wood and other materials, as the saw blade is interchangeable.

Unlike angle grinders and circular saws, band saws are relatively safe. However, safety shouldn’t be taken lightly as you operate the saw with your fingers very close to the exposed blade. You can use a stick if you want to maintain a bit of distance between your fingers and the blade, but the cut may not be as precise as you wanted it to be.

Pros

  • Very easy to use, and works with many types of metals.
  • Ideal for curved edges, angles, bevels, cross-cuts, and other types of precision metal cutting.
  • Quiet operation compared to table saws and angle grinders.
  • Doesn’t produce as much dust and sparks as other motorized metal saws.

Cons

  • Leaves metal with rough edges that may need additional finishing.
  • Not suitable for metal sheets or long, straight cuts due to the restricted work space.
  • Not portable. For use in a workshop only, which means you need some kind of dust collection as well.
  • Although relatively safe, accidents could still happen if not used properly.

#6 Miter saw – great for aluminum rods/tubes

A miter saw is the perfect tool when you need to make accurate cuts on metal rods, tubes, and angles. You can get cutting blades for steel, aluminium, and other materials, making it extremely versatile.

Because of the design, the miter saw is also relatively easy to set up and use. You can adjust it to any angle, making it perfect for precision work on all types of metal products. For thin materials, you may want to use a wood backer to secure the metal and prevent the saw blade from catching on the metal and ruin it. It will also prevent metal shards from flying across the room, which is very useful in a small workshop.

Due to the nature of miter saws, the work area is restricted to rods, tubes, angles, and similar products. They’re extremely effective though, and you’ll get a lot of work done in just a few minutes. Because it’s such a specialized metal cutting tool, it isn’t considered a basic tool for a home workshop.

Be aware that metal shards could fly everywhere during use, and it does generate a few sparks as well. Protective equipment is highly recommended while using your miter saw.

Pros

  • Miter saws are very easy to use. Simply set it up, and get familiar with the basics. It’s a stationary saw, so there’s really only one way to use it.
  • Makes very accurate cuts. The blade is attached on a metal arm, and the material you’re cutting is fixed against the sliding fences.
  • Miter saws can be adjusted to cut at different angles, making them extremely versatile.
  • Very fast. Rods, tubes, angles, and other metal products are quickly cut exactly the way you want them.

Cons

  • Miter saws are not portable. They are mostly used as stationary equipment in a workshop.
  • Although miter saws are relatively safe, you could still get injured if you handle them improperly.
  • Doesn’t cut metal sheets or larger metal pieces.
  • Quite noisy. You may want to wear ear muffs as well as gloves, glasses, and other protective equipment.

#7 Rotary tool – ideal for small, simple jobs

Sometimes you may need a tool for more intricate cuts, such as cutting a small square in the middle of a metal sheet. With a small rotary tool fitted with a metal-cutting disc, you can easily get small jobs done without causing too big of a mess.

Rotary tools are both cheap and simple, and you can get them at any local hardware store (or even some grocery stores).

Because of the compact design you can also use a rotary tool to cut off a metal bolt, or grind down a nail sticking out from a piece of wood. Most homeowners have one lying around for these particular reasons, and they require no practice beforehand.

Pros

  • Very easy to use. No practice required, you simply press the button and start cutting or grinding your metal.
  • Great for small jobs like shortening a nail, or cutting small holes in a metal sheet.
  • Lightweight and portable. Often comes with a small carrying case, and some models are battery powered as well.
  • Often sold with a vast range of accessories for all kinds of jobs.

Cons

  • Not as powerful as other metal cutting tools.
  • Relatively dangerous to use. It rotates at high speeds, and metal shards could fly towards your face. Safety glasses are a must.
  • Cutting discs wear out quickly, and have to be replaced relatively often.

#8 Utility knife – great for light-gauge metal stock

Light-gauge metal sheets can easily be cut with a simple utility knife. Simply hold a straightedge or square along the cutting marks, and score a line with the tip of a new blade. It shouldn’t go all the way through, but that’s the point of using the knife: You can now break the sheet apart by bending it back and forth, until it snaps. You can do the same with metal studs, and some even claim that they do it with gutters too. All it takes is a sharp utility knife and a bit of practice to master the technique.

Scoring thin metal sheets with a utility knife is quite safe as well, as it doesn’t involve any motorized saws. You could still cut yourself, but it would probably not even penetrate your skin and draw blood.

Utility knives are considered essential tools in most workshops, and you most likely have at least one lying around already.

Pros

  • Very safe method. No rotating saw blades, and only a small risk of failure.
  • Works extremely well on any thin metal products.
  • Affordable. You can buy a whole bag of utility knives for just a few bucks in most hardware stores and some grocery stores as well.
  • Reusable. Blades can be snapped and replaced when needed.

Cons

  • Doesn’t perform as well as other metal cutting tools. Works for scoring only.
  • There is a risk of ruining the metal product if you don’t score it properly before trying to snap it.
  • You do need to apply a bit of force when scoring the metal.

#9 Jigsaw – versatile tool for metal work

The jigsaw is one of the most versatile saws on the market. It cuts through many types of materials, including metal. It can be used to cut curves and edges, as well as more sophisticated shapes that other cutting tools would otherwise struggle to achieve.

Jigsaws have small, interchangeable blades that move back and forth at high speed. They have a base plate that you press against the material you’re cutting, while at the same time moving the jigsaw in the direction you want.

The main purpose of a jigsaw is to cut small pieces of metal or other materials at a time. It’s not meant for bulk cutting, and definitely not suitable for cutting long, straight lines either. The saw blade is likely to leave a relatively rough edge as well, so you may need to use a piece of sandpaper if you want a smooth edge.

On a positive note, the jigsaw is relatively safe to use. The saw blade is designed with the teeth pulling the material against the base, and your hands are nowhere near the blade at any time either. There’s no risk of blades snapping or metal shards flying across the room either, but as always it’s a great idea to at least wear safety glasses.

Pros

  • Capable of cutting curves, edges, bevels, and complex shaves as well.
  • Affordable. Jigsaws are relatively cheap, and available at most hardware and home improvement stores.
  • Very easy to use. There’s really no learning curve with a jigsaw. Simply hold it against the material you’re cutting, and turn it on.
  • Safe. Although safety glasses are recommended as always, the jigsaw doesn’t send metal shards and sparks flying across the room like angle grinders tend to do.

Cons

  • Not as powerful as other metal cutting tools.
  • Not at all suitable for cutting long, straight lines.
  • Leaves your metal products with a relatively rough and sometimes uneven edge.
  • Not as easy to steer in a certain direction as you may think.

#10 Nibbler – effective tool for metal sheets

Whether you’re cutting roof panels or flat metal sheets, a nibbler is a great tool for the job. The tool is small yet powerful, making it a good choice for those who often find themselves on a job site.

For a workshop at home the nibbler is probably not one of the most essential metal cutting tools to own, but if you often work with corrugated metal sheets of any kind it’s a great option for cutting in all directions.

The biggest downside of nibblers is the fact that they “punch” their way through the metal, leaving a track of small metal shards that could cause a lot of discomfort if they work their way into your shoes or gloves.

At the very least we recommend that you use a pair of gloves while handling the nibbler, as it leaves your metal sheets with a rough edge.

Pros

  • Works especially well on corrugated metal sheets as it’s easy to steer in the wanted direction.
  • Available in handy battery powered versions, perfect for any compact tool box.
  • Very safe and easy to use. No risk of cutting yourself on any blades or discs.
  • No vibrations, and only a small amount of noise during use.

Cons

  • Punches out small metal shards that could cause a lot of discomfort if they work their way into your shoes or gloves.
  • Not the fastest metal cutting tool on the market.
  • Highly specialized tool made for cutting metal sheets, and nothing else.
  • Relatively expensive compared with other tools that cut through metal sheets.

#11 Reciprocating saw – versatile and fast

The reciprocating saw (also called a ‘recip saw’) is a practical and versatile tool that cuts through metal the same way as a manual hacksaw does: by moving a saw blade back and forth. However, the reciprocating saw is motorized and easily reaches speeds that are much faster than what you’re capable of reaching with a manual hacksaw. As such, the hacksaw gained a reputation as an effective tool for demolition jobs, as it is quickly equipped and ready to cut through materials of all types.

Because of how reciprocating saws are designed, they will leave your metal products with a relatively rough edge after cutting. You can use it for cutting pipes, rods, bolts, and angles, but it isn’t recommended for metal sheets as it could rip the sheets apart and ruin them.

Although the reciprocating saw is a relatively safe tool to use, we recommend wearing a pair of safety glasses as well as gloves to protect your hands from any rough metal edges.

Pros

  • Extremely fast and effective tool. Widely used for demolition jobs across the country.
  • Saw blades are interchangeable and very easy to switch and/or replace.
  • Versatile. Cuts a lot of different metal products as well as other materials.
  • Easy to use. Since it’s basically a motorized hacksaw, there’s little to no learning curve.

Cons

  • Because of how the saw blades are formulated, reciprocating saws will most likely leave rough edges on your metal products.
  • Not ideal for curves, bevels, and other intricate cuts. While reciprocating saws have variable speeds, they don’t work well for any precision cutting.
  • Blades can snap if overworked, and they’re a little expensive to replace.

#12 Oscillating multi-tool – great for tight spots and flush cuts

No metal cutting tools fit into tight spaces like the oscillating multi-tool. With its relatively peculiar design, you’re able to reach in behind closets and between small gaps to cut off metal pipes, rods, angles, and cords.

You can even cut metal flush against the wall, which is very useful when you want to cut off nails, bolts, and other objects sticking out from any surface.

Simply fit your oscillating multi-tool with a metal-cutting blade, which takes a few seconds to do, and you’re ready to go. Most of these tools are battery powered as well, so you don’t have to worry about power outlets and cords dangling from your tool.

While oscillating multi-tools are generally quite versatile, they do have some limits. For example, they’re not very useful for cutting through large metal sheets, and neither do they work for precision metal work.

Pros

  • Very easy to use. Simply press the button and press the blade against the material you want to cut, and the job is done in a few seconds.
  • Safe. As the name suggests, this tool relies on oscillation instead of rotation. That means no blades rotate at high speeds, and no shards or sparks will fly across the room when cutting through metal.
  • Very popular tool, and essential to many DIYers because of the versatility.
  • Often comes with an accessory pack, making it suitable for many different types of jobs from the beginning.

Cons

  • Not suitable for large tasks such as long metal sheets or corrugated roof panels.
  • Not as powerful as angle grinders and circular saws.
  • Relatively slow. It gets the job done, but perhaps not as fast as other metal cutting tools.

#13 Bench shear – great for bulk cutting of sheet metal

A bench shear is your best choice for bulk cutting of sheet metal. Let’s say you’re in the process of constructing a shed, and need to put a roof on it. Corrugated metal roof panels could be a great choice, but they’re hard to cut with a manual tool. A bench shear, on the other hand, quickly cuts through entire roof panels in just one go.

Bench shears are generally considered a stationary tool, not capable of too much moving around due to the weight and size. It’s not an essential tool either, and you’re likely not going to need it regularly unless you’re a roofer by profession and need this tool on a daily basis.

A bench shear is a very safe metal cutting tool, but its functionality is limited to sheet metal. It cuts through the material like scissors, which means no metal shards or sparks shooting across the room. We still recommend that you wear safety glasses, just in case, but otherwise you don’t really need protective gear.

Pros

  • Powerful. Bench shears function like scissors, cutting through thin metal sheets like paper.
  • Very easy to set up and use. There may be a bit of assembly, but afterwards the tool is as easy to use as handheld scissors.
  • Very effective for metal roof panels.

Cons

  • Heavy. Not made for transportation, and doesn’t fit in most storage shelves either.
  • Expensive. Bench shears are generally considered a niche tool for roofers, and as such they’re relatively expensive.
  • Can’t cut through any metal products besides sheets.

#14 Cold saw – professional tool for clean, precise cuts

A cold saw is a relatively expensive metal cutting tool, but if you’re regularly fabricating and cutting metal products it’s worth considering for your workshop.

As the name suggests, a cold saw resembles a regular circular saw but applies a coolant that transfers the heat away from the metal being cut. This results in a clean, precise cut with smooth edges.

Cold saws can be used on many metal products, and the blades don’t wear out as fast as on other metal cutting tools.

Because of the way the saw blades are formulated, they’re harder than “normal” blades and therefore also brittle. This means that you could easily damage the teeth of your blade from an impact or vibration.

Pros

  • Produces a clean, precise cut. Because of the cold cutting technology, the blade produces a nice, clean edge on all types of metal products.
  • Recommended for hard metals. Cold saws are capable of cutting through even very hard metals that you would otherwise be unable to work with.

Cons

  • Very expensive. A cold saw is a niche tool, and not something you buy because you want to cut a pair of metal rods.
  • Saw blades are harder and therefore brittle, making them susceptible to damage caused by shock.

#15 Oxy-fuel torch – ideal for thick pieces of metal

An oxy-fuel torch is a radically different metal cutting tool, but a great one nonetheless. It requires a bit of practice to use properly, and most people will probably not need such a tool in their workshop.

With an oxy-fuel torch you can cut through thick pieces of metal that would otherwise be difficult to work on with cutting blades or discs. The torch is also quiet and surprisingly fast, but proper safety measures and protective equipment are a must.

Thick gloves as well as glasses are required to keep you safe. A welding jacket is an ideal choice for protection of your torso, as well as proper canvas pants and long sleeves.

Pros

  • Powerful metal cutting tool. Easily cuts through all types of metal products, even thick pieces of metal.
  • Portable. No electricity needed, and you can easily transport your oxy-fuel system in your trunk.
  • Very effective. Cuts through metals relatively fast.
  • Doesn’t just cut. It welds, heats, and gouges as well.

Cons

  • Requires heavy-duty safety equipment. Glasses, gloves, a welding jacket, and long sleeves are a must.
  • Not as precise as other metal cutting tools.
  • Doesn’t work well on thin metal.
  • A bit of practice is required to master the oxy-fuel torch.