Can a jigsaw cut metal, or do you need a different tool for this? It’s important to understand so you know what tools to purchase if you’ve got metal that needs to be cut through.
All jigsaws are capable of cutting through thin sheet metal, but if you want to cut through thick metal, you will need to purchase a heavy-duty jigsaw and use the right jigsaw blade for metal.
The thickness that different jigsaws can cut through will vary depending on the quality of the jigsaw and the blade used. Make sure you choose a jigsaw that fits your needs and always use the right blade for the job.
In this article, I will walk you through and explain whether jigsaws can cut through metal effectively, and what thickness of metal they can handle. I will also look more at what kinds of metal you can cut, considering you have a high-end jigsaw.
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*Safety is your responsibility. Make sure you know what you’re doing and take all necessary safety precautions while working with power tools. Safety comes first! Always be cautious and careful when using any power tool.
Can a Jigsaw Cut Metal?
Jigsaws can cut through metal, yes. They are designed to cut wood, sheets of metal, and pipes, so they are an ideal tool if you need to slice through thin metal quickly and effectively.
However, when cutting, you need both a suitable blade and a powerful jigsaw. If you use the wrong blade or the jigsaw is too weak, you will likely end up with a jagged cut, or you may find that the blade won’t go through the metal. You are also at risk of breaking the blade, which could be dangerous.
A jigsaw can cut through different types of metals, including ferrous and non-ferrous metals, mild steel, or aluminum.
The picture below shows different materials a jigsaw can cut through – aluminum bars, steel rods, steel pipes, and shin sheets of steel.
What Metal Thickness Can a Jigsaw Cut Through?
The thickness of the metal that you can tackle will depend on the jigsaw. Some are heavy-duty and will be capable of going through thicker sheets, while others will only manage thin pieces of metal.
It also depends on the kind of metal; steel is far harder to cut through than non-ferrous metals. You should therefore carefully follow the instructions that come with your jigsaw to make sure you’re not attempting to cut metal that is too thick for it.
Depending on the jigsaw blade, most jigsaws can cut through sheet metal 17-26 gauge thick (0,4- 1,4mm) and very thin metals 1/64 (0,4mm) in. to 3/64 (1,19 mm) in. thick (ferrous and non-ferrous). With the right blade and a jigsaw powerful enough, possibly up to 10 gauge thick (3,2mm). Bi-metal blades can cut depths of 19/32 inches (15mm) in steel and 1 inch (25mm) in aluminum.
What Jigsaw is Suitable for Cutting Metal?
You want a jigsaw with a powerful motor if you plan to cut any thick sheets of metal with it. A 670-watt motor or possibly something higher will be necessary.
It’s best to have a jigsaw that is more powerful than you need, rather than one that is only just powerful enough. If you’re constantly testing the power of your motor, there’s a risk that it will burn out more quickly.
Can a Jigsaw Cut Metal Tubing?
Certainly, a jigsaw can tackle metal tubing, but there are nuances to consider. Before you start, check the thickness of the metal tube, so you know that your jigsaw is powerful enough to go through it and you are using the right blade.
The nature of the tube matters.
- Hollow tubes are generally easier for a jigsaw to cut compared to solid ones, due to the reduced amount of material. However, the challenge with hollow tubes is ensuring that they don’t collapse or deform under pressure. To prevent this, consider filling them with sand or using a clamp to hold them steady.
- When cutting solid tubes, though more labor-intensive, the process remains largely consistent; ensure that you have a suitable metal-cutting blade and maintain steady, controlled pressure. Always opt for blades with higher TPI for a smoother cut.
TIP: Remember that your tool may need to be given time to cool down if you are going to cut through multiple pipes.
What Jigsaw Blade Do You Need to Cut Through Metal?
To cut through metal with a jigsaw you need a special blade, specially designed for cutting metal. The blade’s material and the number of teeth make a big difference. The number of teeth is measured in TPI (teeth per inch).
For optimal metal cutting with a jigsaw, select a blade specifically designed for metal, considering its material and teeth count. Typically, blades between 18 and 24 TPI are ideal; with harder metals like steel requiring at least 21 TPI. Among the blade types, HSS and Bi-Metal blades are most preferred due to their durability and heat resistance. For quick cuts, you should opt for a blade with fewer teeth. Nevertheless, a clean cut with smooth edges requires a higher TPI.
Different types of jigsaw blades for cutting metal:
- High-Speed Steel (HSS) – a high-speed steel blade is made of a type of steel that is designed to withstand high high-speed cutting. They are more durable than standard blades and can cut through harder material with ease.
- High Carbon Steel (HCS) – a high carbon steel blade is made of a type of steel that contains a higher percentage of carbon. They are suitable for cutting softer materials, however, they are not durable as HSS blades.
- Bi-Metal – a bi-metal blade is made from a combination of high-speed steel and high carbon. The combination of these two metals allows the blade to maintain its sharpness and durability while also being able to bend and flex without breaking.
- Tungsten Carbide – a tungsten carbide blade is made from tungsten carbide, which is a hard and durable material. They are designed to cut through the toughest materials such as stone or ceramic. The high quality of the blades goes hand in hand with the price
HSS blades and Bi-Metal blades are commonly used when cutting metal with a jigsaw. HSS blades are more durable and heat-resistant compared to carbon steel blades. Bi-metal blades are usually made from a combination of high-speed steel and high carbon, and they are strong and flexible enough to cut metal with. They offer the best durability and will last significantly longer than other blades.
Other factors to consider when selecting the best jigsaw blades for cutting metal:
- Tooth Count – blades designed for metal have a higher tooth count (TPI – teeth per inch) which helps in achieving smoother cuts. Generally, for metal, you’d want a blade that has at least 18-24 TPI.
- Metal Type – Use a blade with 14-18 TPI for softer metals like aluminum or other non-ferrous metals. For harder metals like steel, pick a blade with at least 21 TPI.
- Special Blades – Some blades are tailor-made for specific metals. For example, there are blades just for stainless steel.
TIP: In order to get a clean cut while using a jigsaw, place the metal sheet between two layers of thin plywood. The plywood layers will sandwich the metal piece, which will help to make a cleaner cut without burrs. Also, set your jigsaw on low speed.
What Are the Advantages of Using a Jigsaw to Cut Metal?
There are several benefits associated with using a jigsaw to cut through metal.
- Jigsaws are portable and tend to be easy to handle and operate. You don’t need to spend a lot of time learning how to use one, although you should focus on understanding safety precautions.
- Jigsaws don’t require you to put pressure on the metal you’re cutting, which means you can cut a lot without getting tired. All in all, they’re a quick and easy option that many people will already have access to, so they are a suitable tool for the job.
Generally, using a jigsaw is a pretty efficient method that can speed up your projects. In addition to corded jigsaws, you can also use battery-powered jigsaws that will make it easy to work in areas with no easy access to power outlets.
What Are the Disadvantages of Using a Jigsaw to Cut Metal?
One of the major drawbacks of using a jigsaw to cut metal is that if you want a fast cut, you will most likely end up with a ragged edge that will need smoothing off. If you use a fine-toothed blade, it will take a lot longer to get through the metal, especially if you’re working with thick sheets of metal.
If you’re cutting a lot of metal, a jigsaw isn’t the most efficient option. You might instead want to consider a power tool like an angle grinder or a circular saw.
Tips for Cutting Metal with a Jigsaw
- Mark the cut line on the metal to guide your jigsaw accurately.
- Securely clamp the metal to the workbench.
- Use an appropriate blade and check the settings of your jigsaw. Ensure the blade is in a straight down position, and consider using masking tape on the shoe to protect the metal’s surface.
- To start the cut, gently press the saw shoe on the workpiece without touching the metal. Let the jigsaw work at its own pace.
- During cutting, occasionally pause and apply tapping and cutting fluid to reduce heat.
- As you cut, adjust the clamps and rotate the workpiece as needed for the best cutting line and precision.
- To secure the metal you can sandwich it between wooden sheets for better support. This technique is especially useful when cutting thin sheets of steel.
- Cut metal at a slower pace. It prevents the blade from getting too hot and makes it last longer.
Conclusion - Can you use a jigsaw to cut metal
A jigsaw can cut through metal, so if you already have a jigsaw in the workshop, you should certainly consider it as an option.
A jigsaw will easily cut through thin sheet metal and pipework, including thicker pieces of metal, provided you use a powerful enough jigsaw with the right blades. The more powerful your jigsaw is, the more capable it will be of cutting through thicker metal.
However, you should keep in mind that a jigsaw is not designed to cut through thick pieces of metal, in that case, a different tool should be used instead. Make sure you are using the appropriate blades for the task. Different materials require different blades and their correct use will determine the quality of the result. Ultimately the cut depends on 2 things – the quality of the jigsaw and the blade used.
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