If you are into power tools, you must have come across jigsaw power tools at some point. These tools are suitable for cutting various types of material, but they are most commonly used to cut wood. Getting a jigsaw is a wise investment for everyone, as this is the best power tool to make curved cuts.
Many people who work with metal instead of wood often wonder if cutting into this material without damaging the jigsaw blades or the metal sheets is possible. The answer is a resounding YES! You must only equip your jigsaw with the proper blade and start cutting.
Still, there is much more to learn on the type of metal you can cut with the too, the thickness of the sheet you are cutting, the types of jigsaw blades you can choose between, and the essential safety considerations. If you want to learn all this and even more about cutting metal with a jigsaw, stick around for the entirety of this guide!
Types of Metal That Can Be Cut with a Jigsaw
If you ever try exploring the various types of metal, you will find at least a dozen varieties to consider. There are steel, aluminum, iron, copper, brass, lead, bronze, titanium, and many other options, but not all can be cut with a jigsaw. If you have a jigsaw and want to try cutting metal, I recommend sticking to steel, aluminum, and iron.
These three materials are not sturdy enough to damage the jigsaw's metal cutting blades. The materials are also highly flexible, allowing the blades to make their way through the curved cuts without damaging the material. Still, using any wood-cutting blade is nearly impossible for metal sheets.
How Thick Can a Jigsaw Cut Metal?
If you want something that will look like a presentable cut, you must ensure that the sheet metal you are cutting is the right thickness. For example, the metal sheet made entirely of steel must be no more than 15 mm thick. As for aluminum, the sheet can be 25 mm, but no thicker than that. Similarly, iron can also be about 25 mm, but I recommend going for thinner sheets just because the material is sturdier, so you should not risk damaging the blade.
If you try cutting metal sheets thicker than recommended, you will find that the jigsaw blades get damaged too fast. The final result is not a professionally cut sheet but a zig-zag cut that looks bad. So, sticking to the recommended thickness is essential, but so is using a suitable blade to cut the metal.
Choosing the Right Blade
One of the most interesting things for me has always been changing the blades on my jigsaw to see what kind of cutting line I can get from each. There is no blade material or blade TPI that I have not explored. But all this has helped me find the right blade for metal cutting.
First, you should know two-blade TPIs (short for tooth per inch) and four-blade materials. The ideal tooth-per-inch is between 18 and 24, but the sturdier the material is, the higher the TPI should be. You can go with lower TPI if you need fast cutting, but that will not give you the best finish. If you need a clean finish, you can go with a higher TPI, but remember that you must cut slowly.
Next, you should know all about metal cutting blade materials. There are HSS, HSC, Tungsten Carbide, and bi-metal jigsaw blades. The most appropriate blade for cutting metal is the bi-metal cutting blade as it is very precise when cutting curves, very flexible and durable, and expensive. It is a worthwhile investment in any case!
The second-best option is the HSS blades, which can have different TPI. You can use an HSS blade with 12 to 16 TPI if you need to cut fast. For medium cutting, the ideal TPI is between 18 and 22. Fine cutting should always be done with an HSS blade with 22 to 30 TPI, while very fine cutting can be made with 30+ TPI.
The type of material you need to cut will determine whether you get a finer blade or a sturdier one. But you should remember that you must always use a sharp blade to get the most accurate curvy and straight cuts. Changing the blade on even the more robust professional jigsaw is effortless and takes only a few seconds, so you should not dread it.
Safety Considerations When Cutting Metal with a Jigsaw
Before I get into the guide to cutting metal or different materials with a jigsaw, you should also know how to stay safe when cutting with this power tool. After all, cutting into ferrous and non-ferrous metals can cause small particles to fly all over, so you should take the needed precautions to stay safe. Here is what I recommend you do before using a jigsaw:
Always wear protective goggles to protect your eyes from particles that might start flying around.
Always wear ear muffs to protect your ears from the loud noise from the jigsaw, although the noise is not as bad as that made by a circular saw.
Always wear a dust mask to prevent dust particles from reaching your mouth or nose.
Always wear protective clothes and metal-toed shoes, so if any part of the metal comes off, you do not risk cutting yourself.
Finally, wear gloves on your arms to prevent the metal particles from hitting your hands and cutting you.
Staying safe when cutting metal is very important, and I cannot stress enough how careful you must be. If you have never done it, you might want to ask a professional for help to see how the process should go. Then, you can try cutting the metal yourself, but only by following the guide below!
Step-by-Step Guide to Cutting Metal with a Jigsaw
Now for the most important part of the cutting process - the actual cutting! If you get a jigsaw and select the perfect jigsaw blade for your sheet metal, you can start immediately. Here is what you must do to cut the material using one of the most versatile tools ever - the jigsaw!
You need a piece of thin plywood or some sturdier material to serve as a base for your cutting. You need to lay it flat in a spot where it will not move. Once you set it up, put the piece of metal on the surface, ensuring it is as flat as possible.
Next, put on all your protective gear to ensure you are prepared for cutting. You should not be starting with work if you do not have the safety gear and goggles on.
Third, you should use a metal clamp to keep the metal sheet in place. When cutting wood, it is not likely that the piece of wood will move due to its size and weight. But when cutting metal, you must ensure it stays in place.
Fourth, you need to use a marker to mark where you need to cut. You do not want to risk making a wobbly cut, even if you need something with many curves.
Now that you have the metal sheet, you should prepare the jigsaw for the cutting. That means replacing old blades with new ones, ideal for the material you need to cut. Then, you would either ensure that the battery is charged using a cordless jigsaw or have the jigsaw plugged in if you are using a corded one.
Now, you can start with the cutting process. Start with low speed and increase it as you get more into the cut. It should take only seconds to finish the cutting, but this could also depend on the piece of metal you have.
During the cutting, you should add some cutting oil to the material and the cutting blade to ensure it does not overheat or become blunt fast.
Finally, after you make the cut you need, you should use a bit of sandpaper to clean the edges and get smoother cuts, but that is an optional step.
Thank you for reading this detailed guide on jigsaws and the best way to use them to cut metal. Remember that you should only cut steel, iron, and aluminum from all metals using a jigsaw, but you should ensure it is equipped with a special jigsaw blade. I recommend skipping wood-cutting blades and sticking to bi-metal blades or HSS blades.
If you have any experience using this versatile tool, please share it with me in the comments below, along with any tips and tricks you might have for cutting. I encourage you to share all about the tools and blades you recommend to others. I cannot wait to read all about it!