How to cut metal with a circular saw

(Last modified: March 21st, 2019)

Circular saws work on the same principle as a mitre or chop saw, however, a circular saw is not fixed to a cutting plinth; this gives complete freedom over the cutting movement to enable freehand straight and gently curved cuts to achieved. As with most power tools, models vary in price depending on extra features incorporated to improve the user experience. For occasional use a standard basic model will adequately perform metal cutting applications, however, for more frequent or robust projects it will be worth investing in a heavy-duty model. When using a circular saw for cutting metal it is important to ensure it has an enclosed motor housing to protect the motor from damage caused by metal chips.

metals4U circular saw

Circular saws are held with both hands to support and guide the blade through the workpiece, the saw is always used in a ‘pushing away’ motion with the rear of the blade covered by a guard that moves to surround the blade in response to the position of the workpiece; the top of the blade is covered by a fixed guard. Most models have an additional handle to enable the best hand positioning while working and a guide rail system to line up with cutting lines.

Choosing the correct blade is important to maintain safety and to ensure an accurate cut. Only blades and discs specified for cutting metal should be used. These professional blades are perfect for cutting through aluminium, copper, lead and other non-ferrous metals; while these diamond cutting discs will make light work of cutting through stainless steel.

Tips for cutting metal with a circular saw.

  • In addition to standard safety equipment such as eye, hand, and ear protection, it is also recommended to wear long sleeves to protect skin from hot and sharp metal chips that will fly from the blade at high speed.
  • Before connecting the saw to a power supply, select the correct blade for the project and adjust the circular saw settings to ensure all fittings and attachments are correctly aligned and tightened. The cutting depth of the blade should not be set to exceed ¼ inch (6mm) beyond the thickness of the metal.
  • Mark the cutting line with a marker or scoring scribe and firmly fix the workpiece with clamps. Ensure the blade has clearance on the underside, if it does not then the metal can be mounted on rails or across two work horses.
  • Connect the power, then align the blade with the proposed cutting line without the blade being in contact with the metal edge, use the cutting guides to help. Slowly depress the trigger to power up the blade, once it has come up to speed, carefully slide the blade into the metal- do not rush or force the cut, just let the blade do the work.
  • Regularly apply cutting fluid as the saw travels the length of the cut to reduce heat and allow a clean cut.
  • Once the cut is complete, disconnect the power supply to the saw. Do not touch the cut edge or the blade after cutting as they will be hot enough to cause a burn.