Although most people immediately think of a jigsaw as being used to cut wood, you might ask whether it’s capable of cutting metal too?
With the right blade, a jigsaw can make clean, precise cuts in metal, whether straight or curved. You can’t use a single-metal blade, and it needs to have between 18 and 24 teeth per inch. Bi-metal blades have a cutting depth of 19/32 inch (15mm) in steel and 1 inch (25mm) in aluminium. An increased number of teeth per inch is required when working with harder metals.
In the following section, I explain how to use a jigsaw to cut metal, including some extra pointers you shouldn’t miss. First, let’s examine jigsaw blades that are designed to cut metal.
There are two main characteristics of jigsaw blades designed for cutting metal:
Jigsaws make excellent metal cutters, but only if equipped with a blade designed for the material. The quality of the blade and the number of teeth per inch are the two most crucial aspects, and they are detailed below.
Blade made of two different metals
When cutting metal, a jigsaw blade needs to be far more durable than when sawing wood. Metal should be cut with a bi-metal blade, which is comprised of high-carbon and high-speed steel.
The high-speed steel teeth and high-carbon steel body work together to make this a formidable metal-cutting tool.
Because of this combination, it may be used to cut through even the hardest metals and hardwoods. An additional perk is that the lifespan of these blades is increased by a factor of about 10 compared to those manufactured of standard single-carbon steel.
Number of Teeth per Inch
When shopping for a jigsaw blade to use on metal, the number of teeth is an important consideration. When cutting through harder materials like metal, you’ll want a blade with a higher number of teeth per inch (TPI) than you would with something like wood.
The number of teeth per inch indicates how quickly a blade can cut through material. Blades with a lower TPI cut quickly but leave a coarser finish, while those with a higher TPI take longer to cut but leave a smoother surface.
When cutting metal, it’s best to use a blade with a TPI of 18 to 24. Having curved teeth gives some blades a performance and strength advantage.
Why does the length of the blade matter?
A jigsaw blade can be any length you like, but it should always be the right length for the metal you’re working with.
Regardless of the length of the blade, you should leave at least 25 mm of space between the material you are cutting and your hands to avoid cutting yourself.
Which metals can be cut with a jigsaw?
Jigsaws with bi-metal blades can be used to cut sheet metal (both ferrous and non-ferrous), aluminium, and mild steel. However, a jigsaw blade with a higher TPI number will be required for use on other metals.
Jigsaws can’t do plunge cuts in metal, but you can drill a hole and insert the blade that way for normal cutting.
In what range of metal thicknesses may a jigsaw be used?
A jigsaw’s cutting capacity for metal is determined by the blade’s TPI and the strength of the blade. Jigsaws typically have a cutting capacity of 19/32″ (15mm) steel and 1″ (25mm) aluminium.
To cut non-ferrous metals up to 1 3/16′′ thick, you’ll need a more powerful professional jigsaw with a blade with 20 TPI or more (30mm).
Tips for using a jigsaw to cut metal
Make sure you have a piece of plywood to use as a backing before you start cutting sheet metal with a jigsaw. In addition to keeping the metal steady during the cutting operation, this will also lessen the amount of vibration caused by the tool.
If the metal sheet you are cutting is really thin, you may want to support it with a plywood top as well.
Be sure you have on all necessary protective equipment before you start. Gloves, earplugs, safety glasses, and work boots with steel toecaps are all examples of such gear.
1. Clamp the metal
Start by securing the wood and metal to the workbench using the appropriate clamps.
2. Mark your cutting area
The next step is to make a cut mark on your metal sheet (or plywood if it’s on top).
3. Position the jigsaw
You should align the blade of your jigsaw up with the line you have marked. If you’re cutting metal or plywood, place the jigsaw’s front shoe on the cutting edge.
4. Make the cut
Start the jigsaw up, but keep the pace moderate. When the blade is up to speed, you can make a cut by slowly guiding the jigsaw down the line you drew.
5. Apply cutting oil
Cutting oilOpens in a new tab should be applied to the blade at regular intervals as you move down your cutting line. The blade and the metal you’re cutting can both benefit from this.
6. Tidy up the edges
When you cut metal with a jigsaw, you will often find that it has left rough or sharp edges on the metal. Use aluminium oxide sandpaper to clean up the edges and achieve a smooth finish.
Expert advice for a superior cut
Insert the blade with the power supply off, and check that it’s secure and fastened appropriately. While you are doing this, you should also check that you have the jigsaw set with the correct settings for cutting metal, such as confirming that the blade is in the vertical position that is used for cutting metal, rather than tilted forward which is the setting for cutting wood. In addition, if the metal sheet you’re cutting is delicate, you can shield it from the jigsaw’s shoe by covering it with masking tape. Once you’re sure you’ve got everything set up right, you can flip the switch, but keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire.
Always mark your cutting line before you start. Use of a permanent marker will ensure that your cutting line remains distinct over time. Use a piece of wood or a ruler if you need to make precise cuts. Cutting something round or curved requires a design.
When starting a cut at a material’s edge, it’s best to push the jigsaw’s shoe firmly on the metal without letting the blade touch it just yet. You can gently press the trigger switch and push it forward onto the material once the blade is running at full speed. As you are cutting, always allow the blade to perform the work of producing instead of forcing it. Drill a hole into the metal to enter the blade if your cut begins away from the edge of the material, and then proceed as indicated above.
Adjust the clamps and turn the workpiece as needed to keep the jigsaw in a comfortable cutting position. By doing so, you will be able to make a cleaner cut.
Sheet metal is more likely to rust in the places where it has been cut (especially galvanised iron). After cutting the metal, you must ensure that the storage area is dry before putting away the pieces. You can also cover the edges in oil to prevent rusting.
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