Terris Little Haven

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Do You Always Need Saw Guides When Cutting Metal

An old-fashioned hacksaw comes in handy when there’s no other recourse for cutting a piece of pipe. Granted, there are far faster, easier, and much more precise methods, and pipefitters and welders will do whatever is necessary to avoid that possibility. If, however, you’re a DIYer in the middle of a project, you might resort to the technique.

Regardless of how the metal is cut, the end result needs to be precise. In some cases, in a prefab shop, a saw guide might be implemented in order to get the cut exact for the welding process, but most likely, in the field, the team might find them more time-intensive when they’re on deadline. Let’s look at a few pipe-cutting tool techniques.

Tips On Cutting Tool Techniques 

While there are many processes for cutting pipes, there are some things you might use in one situation that you wouldn’t in another. For instance, a DIY homeowner could get away with incorporating a hacksaw or using a circular saw for many circumstances; they would need to cut metal piping. 

In contrast, a commercial setting would be more inclined to use specific equipment for purposes of cutting pipe in order to get an exact result. 

Some places like a prefab shop might use saw guides to get the precision of the cut, while a team in the field might find these cumbersome and time-consuming when they’re in a crunch to get the workout. 

Let’s look at some different tips and how a fabricator or DIYer and maybe a pipefitter in some cases might handle challenging processes.

  • Aluminum

A miter saw can make relatively easy work of angles with its blade meant to cut “nonferrous” materials. The suggestion for a saw with an open motor housing that has the potential for gathering metal chipping is to cover the opening with some cloth to protect the bearings and windings during the cutting process.

Use a “wood backer” to decrease the shards of flying metal hazards and help keep the piece in place while it’s being cut. 

  • Stainless steel

There are a variety of stainless steel materials, some being exceptionally hard and difficult to cut. For homeowners looking at cutting a stainless tile backsplash, abrasive cutting discs used with a rotary tool will suffice. 

With a larger project, it would be necessary to use an angle grinder with abrasive discs mounted.

  • Use the proper blade

Regardless of your position, it’s possible to cut any sort of metal, but it’s vital to match the blade or grinding disk to the metal. Metal comes in two varieties. 

There are nonferrous and ferrous—ferrous coming from the Latin term “Ferrum,” referencing iron. Metals containing any iron will be deemed ferrous and need a metal blade that can cut ferrous material. 

Ferrous building metals will include “steel roofing materials,” “steel bolts,” “steel angle iron,” and “rebar.” Most discs and metal blades will be labeled whether they’ll work with ferrous or nonferrous materials.

DIYers will work most commonly with copper and aluminum nonferrous metals. These tend to be simpler to cut and softer than the ferrous option. 

  • Tighter or hard-to-reach spots

You might find yourself in a situation where the tools you have won’t work for the area you’re working in. Perhaps it’s a hard-to-reach spot or closed-in space. The suggestion, in that case, is to work with an “oscillating tool” minted with the proper blade.

Instances where it can be beneficial include toilet nuts that have become corroded or faucets. You can also use these pipes with plumbing, nails, auto bolts, or any metal in an area with which a larger piece of equipment won’t work. You’ll need to, again, match the blade to the job. See here two essential pieces of equipment for your cutting needs.

  • Reconsider the hacksaw

Make faster work than you would do with the hacksaw; consider the reciprocating saw. The recommendation is to fit the reciprocating saw with a metal blade, and you have a “powerful hacksaw” that will have the capacity to cut pipes, rods, bolts, and even “angle iron.”

For the DIYer, using a blade for metal cutting, the reciprocating saw is ideal for demolition when renovating if you have pipes that need to be cut or nails. Some suggestions for the remodeling buff:

  1. Take the saw from oscillating onto “straight,” if possible.
  2. Keep the speed minimal for the longevity of the blade.
  3. If you have a thick metal, choose a blade that has an “8 TPI – teeth per inch,” for medium thickness, go with roughly “18 TPI,” and for thin thickness, try approximately “24 TPI.”
  4. For longevity of blade life, the suggestion is to purchase either a “carbide or bimetal”

Learn how to get straighter cuts at 


Do You Always Need Saw Guides When Cutting Metal

How Can You Cut Metal Safely

It’s important when using your tools to make sure and do so safely. Your saw guides should be set correctly, so they don’t slip while you’re cutting and secure the metal in place. 

The proper PPE needs to be used to protect you from the tiny shards and chips that fly around. These are sharp and likely will be hot. 

That’s why most people will not only wear goggles but a face shield. Plus, many people will use ear protection due to the loudness of cutting metal. You should wear long sleeves, long pants, steel toes, and gloves. If anyone is helping or merely watching, they should be in the same gear.

Suppose you’ve never cut metal or used the equipment. In that case, it’s essential to read and pay attention to the precaution on the packaging for the materials, plus follow tutorials and educational videos to gain insight into their usage. 

If you can speak with someone who knows about the tools or watch someone seasoned in their use before trying it yourself, it’s wise to take advantage of that benefit. 

Safety should be the number one priority with every precautionary measure taken, including allowing the metals to cool after cutting before touching. You can never be too careful. 

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