The humble miter saw is an invaluable tool in anybody’s workshop, whether it be the seasoned tradesperson or the fledgling DIYer.
They allow the user to precisely cut through a range of materials at a variety of different angles – and while designed with wood in mind, you can technically use a miter saw to cut through metal as well!
In this article, we take a look at:
- How to cut metal safely with a miter saw, including the best types of saw blades to use
- Whether metal cutting blades will last on a miter saw
- Whether cutting metal can damage a miter saw
- The chop saw vs. the miter saw.
Let’s get started!
1. Use the Best Types of Miter Saw Blades For Cutting Metal
Aluminum Oxide Blades
Aluminum Oxide saw blades are good for use on softer metals such as aluminum, copper, and bronze, as well as most types of PVC piping.
It is important to note here that the metals this type of blade is designed to cut are non-ferrous metals; this basically means that the metals do not contain iron.
Diamond blades are manufactured by using a strong adhesive to form an edge coated in diamond grit.
Seeing as diamond is one of the strongest naturally occurring materials known to man, these blades make for a great cutting experience when applied to the right metals.
However, it isn’t recommended that this type of blade be used to cut nickel-based metals or alloys with a high melting temperature.
Carbide-tipped blades are designed to cut thicker, harder metals such as cast iron and steel.
They will also provide a better cut on ferrous metals (metals containing iron). It is worth mentioning that on top of this, carbide-tipped blades are known to be able to cut practically everything (including all wood) and have an exceptional life span.
However, you should remember that while this saw blade may have been designed for cutting through these harder, ferrous metals, miter saws were not.
As such, always operate with caution if you are using a miter saw with a carbide blade to cut through metal!
2. Check the Blade TPI
With the right saw blade, cutting through metal with a miter saw is as easy as cutting through wood.
When selecting the correct saw blade, the TPI (teeth per inch) of the blade is of utmost importance.
While a TPI of 6-20 is recommended when working with wood, it is suggested that your miter saw blade have a TPI of around 14-30 when working with metal.
More teeth means a smaller gullet (the space in between the teeth), which results in a less abrasive cut.
What to Consider
Miter Saw Blade Type and TPI
When working with metal: the higher the TPI, the better!
When looking for the right saw blade for your job, keep this and the type of metal you will be cutting in mind. As we have discussed, each type of saw blade cuts (and doesn’t cut) specific types of metals.
Overall Condition of the Miter Saw
Use your judgment (and common sense) before using your miter saw to cut through metal!
Consider the condition it is in and the safety features it comes with. While chop saws often come with clamps to secure the material you are cutting, this feature is less common with miter saws.
If your miter saw is in good condition, an experienced user will be able to use it to cut metal from time to time.
If it isn’t, you may be better off considering a metal-specific cutting option, such as a chop saw or a handheld metal-cutting saw.
Will Metal Cutting Blades Last on a Miter Saw?
Considering miter saws were primarily designed to cut wood, they have a motor that promotes a higher blade speed.
Metal chop saws, specifically designed to cut through metal, have a much slower blade speed. The average miter saw’s blade speed can be up to 66% faster than the fastest chop saw blade speed!
With this being said, it is important to understand that higher blade speed when cutting through any material creates more friction – generating more heat.
Using a miter saw to cut through metal can result in extremely high temperatures; so high that they could compromise the structural integrity of your project or even your miter saw’s cutting blade over time!
If you’re working on a project that involves a lot of metal cutting, you’d be better off using a chop saw and getting a blade that is compatible with it.
Will Cutting Metal Potentially Damage a Miter Saw?.
A good miter saw could potentially last you a lifetime if it is well looked after.
However, leading on from the above consideration, the additional heat generated by cutting metal with miter saw for long periods of time could eventually start to wear down the motor.
Exercise careful use when using a miter saw to cut metal; while it can be done, always remember that miter saws were not designed with cutting metal in mind.
Alternative Saws and Blades for Cutting Metal
There are better alternatives out there for cutting metal than a miter saw!
For instance, the chop saw (which is very similar in design to the miter saw, but differs in a few key ways) is optimized for cutting through metal with a slower rotation speed, straight cuts for precision, and the inclusion of clamps for safety.
There are also handheld metal-cutting power tools on the market, made by multiple different manufacturers. These tools make up for what they may be lacking in size and power by offering unparalleled portability.
Chop Saw vs. the Miter Saw
While miter saws have a faster blade speed to cut through large, knotted pieces of wood, chop saws have a slower blade speed to cut through tougher metal with more precision.
However, the chop saw’s blades are not adjustable – meaning the miter saw may be your best bet if you are looking to achieve a mitered or beveled cut in a piece of metal.
While you could potentially look into a handheld option, a miter saw will offer a more accurate cut due to its adjustable blade settings.
Understanding the Motor of a Miter Saw
Miter saws are designed for fast blade rotation, in addition to considerable torque and power.
The miter saw’s motor power makes it an invaluable tool for anyone who works with their hands, from DIYers to professional tradespeople.
On the contrary, metal-specific saws such as the aforementioned chop saws have slower blade rotation and less power. This needs to be taken into consideration if you are thinking about cutting metal using a miter saw.
Equipping your miter saw with the correct blade is the least you can do before you attempt a cut on a piece of metal!
In this article, we’ve given precautionary advice on using a miter saw to cut through metal.
While it can be done, it may not always be the safest option for you or your tool!
Alternatives such as a chop saw should be considered before going ahead with a cut, and the correct type of blade and safety gear should always be used. Good luck!
What is the best blade for cutting metal with a miter saw?
It is important to take the type of metal you will be cutting into account. if it is non-ferrous, an aluminum oxide blade will perform well. For ferrous metals, which are typically stronger, a more durable blade such as a diamond-tipped or carbide blade should be used.
What saw is best for cutting metal at angles?
Miter saws were designed specifically to cut miters and bevels into materials. If you need to cut metal at an angle, you can use a miter saw. However, you must first ensure you are using the correct blade and have taken the necessary safety precautions.
Can you use a wood saw blade to cut metal?
You should not use a wood saw blade to cut through metal. Cutting through metal requires a blade with a much higher TPI (teeth per inch) in order to ensure a safe and accurate cut.
Should You Use a Miter Saw to Cut Metal?
If you are looking to achieve a precise angled cut on a piece of metal, you may need to use a miter saw.
However, you will first need to ensure you are using the correct blade and have taken the necessary safety precautions. In any other context, it is best to use a metal-specific saw such as a chop saw to cut through metal.