Miter saws are a versatile addition to your working sets, with the ability to cut pieces precisely. There’s no doubt about its ability to handle dense materials but is it really possible to cut metal with a miter saw?
If you’re concerned about possibly harming your tool, let me draw on my years of experience to give you some insights. Let’s delve into it.
Common Cuts Achieved With a Miter Saw
Miter saws are known to be a handy tool when making accurate degree crosscuts, bevel cuts, and compound cuts. What woodworkers and DIYers love most about this power tool is its ability to produce the most accurate cuts, especially with detailed woodworking projects.
Should You Use a Miter Saw to Cut Metal?
Miter saws have proven their agility to cut wood, and while their structure can adapt to working with metals, you’ll have to cater to a few considerations and alterations:
What to Consider
Miter Saw’s Motor Power
A miter saw’s motor power is engineered to make trims and cuts on a wood piece which means that you may end up overworking your engine if you abuse it when cutting aluminum or harder metals.
Exercise caution and safety because while it has the ability to cut ferrous metal and non-ferrous metals, there’s always a risk of disintegrating the blades, and the sparks flying.
Miter Saw Blade Type and TPI
When cutting wood with a miter saw, the blade teeth count I opt for usually ranges between 60 to 80, depending on the precision I’m after. But when it comes to metal, switching to a blade with finer teeth does the trick, making it more suitable for that tougher material.
Overall Condition of the Miter Saw
Considering the overall condition of your miter saw is compulsory before expanding its usability to cutting steel, especially since it’s not designed to cut such material in the first place.
How to Cut Metal Safely With a Miter Saw
Before proceeding to cut steel or break PVC with a miter saw, you should manage your expectations, because it won’t be as efficient as it does with wood.
I recommend looking for a triple chip grind blade, to achieve cleaner cuts and minimize the debris falling out since metal cutting produces more metal chips.
1. Use the Best Types of Miter Saw Blades For Cutting Metal
Turns out there’s an array of saw blades that you can use as replacements for your saws when cutting metal. Keep in mind that since there are different metal pieces, each will require a certain blade type, hence here’s a breakdown for your reference.
Aluminum Oxide Blades
In my experience, aluminum oxide blades work best when tackling metal pieces like aluminum bars and pipes. I’d strongly recommend going for them as they’re purpose-built for the job and their unique material composition really shines when it comes to delivering precise cuts.
Miter saws cut various materials and can be used to cut cast irons, as long as you replace it with a diamond blade mounted in an angle grinder.
However, expect that the blade won’t have as durable a lifespan as it should because this specific blade works by grinding the materials instead of just ripping or trimming.
Installing specific blade types is essential in delivering quality metal cuts. A carbide  metal cutting blade is more wear-resistant and has varieties that make it a perfect material for working cuts with ferrous metal building materials such as steel roofing, and nonferrous metals.
Calibrate a slower blade speed with carbide blades to cold cut saws, and it won’t need an abrasive wheel to get going.
2. Check the Blade TPI
To cut aluminum pieces, without causing metal damage, more teeth blade, is required, thus a Teeth per Inch (TPI) between 14-16 is recommended.
Will Metal Cutting Blades Last on a Miter Saw?
Any power tool is purpose-built and while a metal cutting blade is an alternative modification for miter, the higher speed requirement will not make it last.
A standard miter saw can last for 30 to 60 years, provided it is well-maintained and used purposely, but a lot can happen with these kinds of modifications.
Will Cutting Metal Potentially Damage a Miter Saw?
Attaching the right blade or grinding disc, knowing the proper cutting speed, and understanding saw motors give you a step ahead when cutting metal with a miter saw. Following these considerations and safety precautions based on the user’s guide will avoid damage to your miter saw.
It’s a good practice to let the blade on your miter saw reach its full speed before you start cutting metal. This helps prevent any potential damage to the metal pieces.
As I mentioned earlier, these tools aren’t exactly designed with metal in mind, so it’s wise to avoid using them frequently for metal or for larger pieces if you want to prolong their lifespan.
Also, remember that when working with metal and any saw, use necessary and proper safety gears to prevent accidents.
Alternative Saws and Blades for Cutting Metal
With a ferrous metal cutting blade, you can cut mild steel and a steel angle iron. On the other hand, a rotary tool is best for stainless materials. Evolution Power Tools, DeWalt, and other brands also offer metal cutting blades, but you can check in with your local hardware store.
Are there metals that are easier to cut?
Non-ferrous materials such as aluminum, laminate flooring, copper, and light gauge materials like sheet metal are easier to cut with modified miters, or the infamous chop saw.
Also Read: Can You Cut MDF With a Table Saw?
Tools are designed purposely and trying to use them in other ways than their necessary features should be carefully researched.
If you’re a professional working in the construction industry, you might want to invest in a metal saw, as cutting metal with a miter saw isn’t ideal for machine longevity.
Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.
Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.