Can You Cut Metal With a Miter Saw?

cutting metal with miter saw

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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 uneasy about potentially damaging your power tool, our pro woodworkers will share what they know from years of experience in this guide.

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 love most about this power tool is its ability to produce the most accurate cuts, especially with articulate 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. 

power testing a miter saw

Miter Saw Blade Type and TPI

The standard blade teeth count for miter saws cutting wood varies on the type of cut you’re aiming, and can range from 60 to 80. However, with metal, most miter saws require a blade change with smaller teeth, to make it more apt for the harder 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.  Our experts 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

For cutting metal pieces like aluminum bars and pipes, we recommend working with aluminum oxide blades as the material of the blade allows more precise cuts.

red miter saw blade

Diamond Blades

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 life span as it should because this specific blade works by grinding the materials instead of just ripping or trimming.

Carbide Blades

Installing specific blade types is essential in delivering quality metal cuts. A carbide [1] 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.

cutting metal with miter saw

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. 

Our team also recommends allowing the blade to reach full speed before cutting to avoid potential damage to the metal pieces. As explained above, this power tool isn’t particularly made for metal, so it’s best to avoid frequently using it for metal or for larger pieces.

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

Apart from a miter saw, there are other saws that can be used to cut metals such as a chop saw, circular saw, and others with an abrasive disc. Another infamous saw is the compound sliding miter often interchanged with chop saws. 

Bosch CS10 Circular Saw

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.

FAQ

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. 

Conclusion

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 woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen and women. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson