Can a Jigsaw Cut Metal?

using Dewalt jigsaw to cut metal sheet.

The jigsaw is the go-to tool when it comes to cutting varied shapes in different materials. You can utilize it for cutting curves, holes, stencils, and even bevels on wood and plastic. But can it also cut metal? Of course, it can! Yet, you need to choose a powerful and heavy-duty professional jigsaw to perform the heavy cutting of metal. This powerful jigsaw can cut through steel from 10mm steel, and up to 30mm thick for cutting non-ferrous metals. 

Cutting metal, of course, necessitates using jigsaw blades suited for metal cutting. These jigsaw blades come with 21 to 24TPI. With these blades, jigsaws can cut with ease through wood embedded with nails, no-iron pipes, 1/8″-thick mild steel, and ten gauges thick or less sheet metal. You can choose a finer blade if you would cut sheet metal.

Cutting Sheet Metal Using a Jigsaw

When cutting sheet metal, you should go for jigsaw blades with 21TPI to 24TPI. Sheet metal is wrought in stainless steel, aluminum, or galvanized iron. Of course, you can cut sheet metal using various power tools like circular metal saws, metal sheers, cutting torch, and many other. Yet, you’ll get surprised by the fact that experts would quickly recommend the jigsaw for cutting sheet metal. 

You can make a straight cut on a metal sheet using the jigsaw. You can also make circular and curve cuts with ease using a jigsaw. As such, a jigsaw is a handy tool when cutting sheet metal as long as you equip it with the right jigsaw blade.

Things You Should Know When Cutting Metal Using the Jigsaw

If you want to engage in plunge cutting of metal, you may find the jigsaw not best suited for such a task. Yet, you can drill a hole on the material onto which you can feed the blade and begin cutting the usual way. With the excellent maneuverability of the jigsaw, you can make intricately shaped cuts. 

When working on a tight curve, it will be best to make a relief cut to lessen blade binding. However, you can only do this if you would no longer use the cut-off side. If that is not the case, you won’t get too far into the curve to withdraw the blade and make an approach on the curve from the clean and uncut end. 

As you look at the teeth of a jigsaw blade, you will notice that its teeth come in a single row along the blade edge. These teeth are aligned in a small wavelike pattern beginning (from left to right). Moreover, it is recommended that you go for a 21TPI to 24TPI blade when cutting metal. Also, choose something that features a bi-metal construction for excellent durability.

Useful Tips When Cutting Metal Using a Jigsaw

If you’re a beginner in woodworking, it will be of great help if you are cognizant of the following useful tips when cutting metal using a jigsaw:

  1. At the onset, it will be best to be mindful of the safety protocols when using a power tool like the jigsaw. So, you should wear your PPE. PPE includes eye protection and ear protection. It also includes quality gloves. Moreover, you should wear reinforced work shoes or boots because there is a big chance that the scrap or cut-off metal will fall onto your toes or foot. 
  2. Make sure you mark or score your cut lines. 
  3. When cutting, it will be best to secure your workpiece onto the workbench using clamps. You can place the metal on rails if the table has enough depth clearance. Then, clamp the workpiece to allow blade clearance. You can also sandwich the metal sheet between two thin wood sheets to provide the workpiece with additional support. You may spend more time doing this, but such a sandwiching method will enable you to minimize distortion on thin and soft metal. 
  4. Ensure that you use the right blade. Before inserting the saw blade, you should turn off the jigsaw and unplug it from the electrical outlet. Check if you have set the jigsaw correctly. Set the blade in a straight-down setup. It should not be angled forward. You should cover the shoe of the table saw with masking tape if you think the metal will mark or distort easily. In this way, you can protect the metal surface. Lastly, keep your fingers away from the blade and the trigger. Then, power on the power tool.
  5. If you begin cutting at the edge, you can press the jigsaw shoe firmly on the workpiece surface, sans the blade hitting the metal. Then, depress the jigsaw trigger. Once the jigsaw blade moves, begin to glide the blade onto the workpiece. Don’t force the jigsaw or apply too much pressure to speed up the cut. Allow the jigsaw blade to do its work. If you start away from the edge of the metal sheet, you can drill a hole to insert the jigsaw blade.
  6. Once you cut, it will be best to pause the saw and add several drops of cutting and tapping fluid to the cut line to lessen the blade’s heat. Afterward, continue to cut. You should apply cutting fluid when needed. 
  7. You can move the clamps and rotate the workpiece when needed to acquire the best vantage point for cutting.

Would It Be Advisable to Cut Stainless Steel Using a Jigsaw?

Of course, you can cut stainless steel using a jigsaw. Yet, it will be best if you choose a carbide-tipped blade. This blade can cut up to 5/64″-thick stainless steel materials. You can make long and straight cuts using this jigsaw blade. Moreover, you can wiggle your way along tight curves and make good interior cutouts using this jigsaw blade. 

Jigsaw makes use of reciprocating blades when cutting metal. The jigsaw, however, is not the preferred equipment for cutting stainless steel. Even if you use the correct blade for cutting metal, you will notice that the jigsaw seems to lock up when cutting. 

Stainless steel can heat up quickly. As such, when cutting stainless steel, you will notice an intense buildup of heat in your jigsaw blade. As a caveat, you should often check the jigsaw blade’s teeth for any indication that they are dulling.


Conclusion

Metal is a rigid and hard material. It is far tougher to cut than ordinary plywood or plastic. As such, you will need specialized cutting tools to cut through metals. The jigsaw, of course, is not the best tool for cutting hard metal, but you can get by with cutting non-ferrous metal ranging from 10 mm to 30 mm thick using the right jigsaw blade. 

You can likewise use the jigsaw to cut sheet metal, and as long as you are using 21TPI to 24TPI jigsaw blades, you are good to go in cutting metal sheets. The abovementioned tips on cutting metal and metal sheets will indeed help when dealing with metal using the jigsaw. As long as you’re mindful of the tips mentioned above, you will surely achieve the precise and correct cuts using the jigsaw.

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