The jigsaw is probably the first tool you resort to whenever you have to cut out defined shapes in wood or carbon fiber.
But can a jigsaw cut metal?
Jigsaws can be used to cut along curves, make large holes, and even make stencils. It can be used to cut anything from wood to plastic and even ceramic tiles.
A jigsaw can cut metal, provided you use a good quality jigsaw and the correct blade. Most jigsaws can cut through steel with a thickness of up to 25/64 inches and other non-ferrous metals such as aluminum with a thickness of up to 1 3/16 inches.
Using jigsaws on metals is a different experience than using them on other softer materials such as wood and plastic.
Our tool experts believe that jigsaws can be used to cut metal. But they are not the go-to tool for the job. You can use them occasionally and for limited types of jobs.
It would be best if you used the correct types and sizes of blades; otherwise, you can damage the piece you’re working on, along with the jigsaw.
Blades for Cutting Metal
Before you attempt to cut metal with a jigsaw, you must select the right blade.
There are two essential factors that you need to consider when selecting a jigsaw blade for cutting metal. They are the blade material and their teeth.
1. High-Speed Steel (HSS)
These blades are not faster at cutting metal. Instead, they are comprised of a hard steel alloy called high-speed steel.
Blades made from HSS can cut through harder materials with ease.
But they also generate a lot of heat while cutting and wear down quickly.
2. High Carbon Steel (HCS)
High carbon steel comprises iron with a blend of manganese and carbon. They are softer than other blades and not suited for hard materials.
You can use them to cut soft metals, but they are prone to damage if used on hard materials.
Bi-metal blades are made of high-speed steel teeth with a body made of high carbon steel. They provide you with the cutting power of HSS and the flexibility of HCS.
They can be used to cut harder metals and are also suited for heavy cutting jobs. They will last much longer than high-speed steel blades and are suitable for cutting metal.
4. Tungsten Carbide
Tungsten carbide blades are made of a special alloy that comprises tungsten and carbon.
The compound is bonded onto a steel shaft and has fine grit instead of cutting teeth. These blades are quite expensive and are designed to cut through the hardest materials.
They are excellent for cutting steel.
Another essential difference between the blades is the type and number of teeth. Blade teeth can be milled or ground.
Blades with ground teeth are sharper but wear out quickly. On the other hand, milled teeth last longer, but they are not as sharp.
Teeth Per Inch (TPI)
TPI denotes the number of teeth that a blade has in one inch of the cutting area. Blades with higher TPI often result in a more refined finish.
Most jigsaw blades come with TPI ratings between 6 and 24. A 10 TPI blade will have 10 teeth in one inch.
As the TPI decreases, the size of the teeth increases. This means that the teeth will cut more material as they move in a reciprocating fashion, which results in rougher cuts but gets the job done faster.
With a higher TPI and smaller teeth, the blade removes less material with each stroke, which results in a smoother finish. It is essential to use high TPI blades when cutting harder materials such as metal.
How To Cut Metal With a Jigsaw
To cut sheet metal, start by selecting a hard blade such as bimetal, HSS, or tungsten carbide. The blade should ideally be rated between 21 and 24 TPI.
To avoid burred edges and other slip-ups, make sure you have the sheet clamped down and secured before presenting the blade to it.
Operate the jigsaw at slow speed, and allow the blade to work its way through the metal rather than forcing or pushing it.
Some experts recommend tightly sandwiching the metal sheet between two sheets of plywood, as this allows you to make cuts with greater precision.
If you are cutting patterns, start by drilling a hole instead of attempting to make plunge cuts on the metal.
Keeping plenty of spare blades handy is essential, as metal can rapidly wear down the blades.
It is also important to draw lines on the workpiece before you begin to cut. These lines will significantly help you guide the blade with precision and ensure there are no surprises once you are done.
Using jigsaws with a higher power, variable speeds, and a longer blade stroke will make cutting metals easier. These features are found on higher-priced jigsaws.
Another feature to look for in a jigsaw is a vacuum hose. It will ensure that it keeps the edges clear of metal grains and dust, ensuring a better finish.
Can A Jigsaw Cut Stainless Steel?
Stainless steel is a hard and durable material and can be quite challenging to cut. Advanced cutting tools are required to cut through thick sheets of hardened stainless steel.
The good news is that you can cut stainless steel with a jigsaw, but the thickness cannot be more than 5/64 inches.
You can make line cuts and even curves using a strong blade with a carbide tip.
Whether it is cutting a stencil or shaping a pattern from a stainless steel sheet, your jigsaw will do the job for you as long as you are using the correct blade and not trying to cut a sheet thicker than recommended.
It is essential to mention here that the jigsaw can be used to cut stainless steel, but that does not mean it should.
It is not the best equipment for cutting hard metals, as it will damage the blades and the jigsaw itself if used for long cutting jobs.
You may use it occasionally when you are unable to find alternative tools.
Summing Up If Jigsaws Can Cut Metal
Jigsaws can cut metal, as long as the metal itself isn’t too thick and you have the correct tools available. Make sure you research what type of metal you’re cutting, along with the thickness and density of the blade you’d be using to cut the metal.
Cutting metal can be dangerous, so please be careful or consult a professional if you need to!