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There are things you need to know and steps you should take before you try cutting metal with a miter saw.
Will cutting metal damage a miter saw? Without the right precaution, yes, it can. With no upgrades, a miter saw will probably be able to make it through small pieces of metal without too much trouble. Something like thin aluminum sheets may not be a big deal, but you’re going to be in trouble if you try to cut through larger pieces.
People invest a good deal of money in their tools, and the last thing you want to do is damage your miter saw because you thought it would cut metal with no problem.
If you don’t want to invest in something like a metal cutting saw, there are things you can do to make cutting metal easier on your miter and keep it in better condition for longer. Here’s what you need to know.
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What Is the Best Saw for Cutting Metal?
First of all, a miter saw isn’t ideal for cutting metal. You may be tempted to use it one time or on a limited basis, but that’s a fast road toward a ruined tool.
The best thing you can do, if you have the budget, is to get a metal cutting saw such as a chop saw. Your chop saw will spin at a lower RPM that’s ideal for cutting metals. A miter saw spins faster to get through wood, and all that speed could spell trouble if it is used to cut into metals.
There are metal cutting saws made by DeWalt, Evolution Power Tools, Makita, and other prominent toolmakers that will do the trick. A circular metal cutting saw is a powerful tool that can get through multiple sheets at once without worry.
A good metal cutting saw will also cut down on the number of sparks generated when cutting, so safety is less of a concern.
Install a Metal Cutting Blade on Your Miter Saw
If you’re on a tight budget, thankfully there are metal cutting blades available for most miter saws. They don’t cost a lot of money and are a good upgrade for your tool that will save you a lot of wear and tear when you cut through metal. This should be a bare minimum step for folks who want to cut metal.
If you are going to be doing it regularly, you should consider things like the RPM of your saw as well as the power of the tool and whether it’s the best option for the job you need to be done.
Metal cutting blades are available at a variety of prices online, or you could go into your local tool and hardware store and talk to someone about the best metal cutting blade for your specific brand and model of saw.
Can You Put a Metal Cutting Blade on a Wood Chop Saw?
There are metal cutting blades for wood chop saws just like there are metal cutting blades for miter saws. Again, the issue with using your chop saw will be what type of metal you’re cutting, how often, and how thick the pieces are.
For most jobs, a wood chop saw equipped with a metal cutting blade will do the trick. As you move beyond standard steel and aluminum cutting projects, however, you may need a metal cutting saw specifically to handle the load.
3 Steps to Convert a Miter Saw to Cut Metal
If you’re tight on budget or you only need to cut metal on a limited basis, then using your miter saw is an option.
Here are three things you can do to get your saw ready for the job and preserve the long-term health of your tool.
- Find the Right Blade – Find a triple-chip grind blade or a blade that’s coated with something appropriate for cutting metals. Typically, a metal cutting blade will have smaller teeth than a woodcutting blade. There will also be more teeth on a metal cutting blade.
- Consider Gear Reduction Options – Most miter saws don’t come with motors equipped with speed control. They have universal RPM speeds that aren’t always suitable for cutting metal. One thing you can do is buy an adjustable motor with which you can lower the RPMs to a level that’s better for metal cutting.
- Lower Voltage – If possible, you can also lower the voltage going into your miter saw to manually lower the RPMs. If the miter saw has less power feeding into the tool, it will lower the speed. You can do this by using a transformer that converts the voltage coming from your wall into something lower.
Lowering the voltage can drastically reduce the speed of your saw. Sometimes, however, lowering the voltage too low can make it impossible to run the saw. This step takes some time to dial in until you find the right voltage to preserve your tool and cut metal effectively.