How to Cut a Bolt in a Tight Space

How to Cut a Bolt in a Tight Space

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Bolts are very useful and some of the most popular types of fasteners around. That said, if you have a bolt that is stripped and needs replacing, or you are doing some demolition work, you might need to remove a bolt. However, if that bolt is located in a tight space, cutting it and removing it can be difficult.

For this reason, today we are going to teach you how to cut a bolt in a tight space, and yes, there are a few different ways of doing so.

What Is the Best Tool for Cutting a Bolt in a Tight Space?

The best tool for this job will depend on the specific circumstances at hand. For instance, if you have enough space to operate a small pair of bolt cutters, then that would likely make for the best option.

However, if the space you have to work in is very limited, then a reciprocating saw, an oscillating tool, or even an angle grinder might work best, with a long-bladed reciprocating saw likely being best for very tight spaces, as that long blade will be able to reach deep into very tight areas.

That said, if those tools are still too bulky and you have a bit of room to move back and forth, then a hacksaw may also be another good option to consider. When it comes down to it, we would say that a reciprocating saw with a long metal cutting blade is best for cutting a bolt in a tight space.

5 Best Ways to Cut a Bolt in a Tight Space

There are five possible ways to cut a bolt in a tight space, and which of the following methods you use will depend on what tools you have at your disposal, how thick the bolt is, and how tight that space really is.

#1: Using Bolt Cutters

Bolt Cutters Bolt cutters are relatively good to use in tight spaces, although it depends on how thick the bolt is. This is because to cut heavy-duty bolts, you will need bolt cutters with long handles, and if the tool has long handles, it will require more space to operate.

However, if you don’t need too much force, then using a small pair of bolt cutters with short handles will work just fine. Therefore, although this tool may not be ideal for cutting thick bolts in extremely tight spaces, it will do for somewhat tight spaces when light or moderately thick bolts are concerned.

The good thing about bolt cutters is of course that they are very fast, as you just have to squeeze the handles together once, and the bolt is cut. There is also the fact that this doesn’t require any power source other than yourself.

#2: Using a Reciprocating Saw

Reciprocating Saw If you are working in a very tight space with no room to open bolt cutters, and you have no space to move something back and forth, such as a hacksaw, then using a reciprocating saw with a long metal cutting blade is best.

This tool moves back and forth in a very fast manner, with the blade being in-line with the motor and transmission, therefore requiring minimal space to work. Moreover, if you get a 12” blade designed for cutting metal, you should be able to cut through even the thickest of bolts in the tightest of spaces.

Now, reciprocating saws are fairly long, so reaching into deep spaces is easy, but do remember that you will need a bit of horizontal space to work with, as this tool can be somewhat thick. All of that said, if speed is the name of the game, then a reciprocating saw will definitely serve you best.

#3: Using an Angle Grinder

Angle Grinder The next best way to cut a bolt in a tight space is by using an angle grinder. What’s nice about these tools is that they can perform a variety of tasks, and if you have a good metal cutting disc, cutting bolts is certainly one of those tasks.

Moreover, angle grinders, although they can be a bit wide due to the guard located at the front, aren’t too bulky and are generally quite compact. Although these tools might not be able to reach very deep into a super tight space, they can work well for tight spaces that are fairly shallow. They are compact, but just don’t have a lot of reach.

#4: Using an Oscillating Tool

Oscillating Multi-Tool If you are looking for a tool that can cut bolts in very tight spaces, then an oscillating tool is one of the best options at your disposal. As far as power tools that can cut bolts go, this tool is going to be by far the most compact one.

Now, these tools don’t have a lot of reach, unlike a reciprocating saw, so how far into a tight space you can get will more or less depend on the length of your arms. That said, oscillating tools are so compact that they can easily fit into even the tightest of spaces. Just make sure that you are using the right attachment for cutting metal.

#5: Using a Hacksaw

If the space is very narrow, you need a bit of reach, and you don’t want to (or can’t) use a bulkier power tool, then the other option at your disposal is a hacksaw. Yes, you will need some depth to move the saw back and forth, but you don’t need much space in terms of width, really just enough to fit your hand and arm.

Mistakes to Avoid, Tips & Tricks

Let’s go over a few tips to make this process as fast and easy as possible:

  • Always wear eye protection when cutting bolts with power tools
  • If you need to cut a lot of bolts, the reciprocating saw will work the fastest
  • If using bolt cutters in a tight space, smaller ones will likely work best


Now that you know what all of the options for cutting a bolt in a tight space are, you can choose the one that works best for your specific situation.