How to Cut Sheet Metal with an Angle Grinder

How to Cut Sheet Metal with an Angle Grinder

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If you need to cut some sheet metal, you might be wondering what the best tool for the job is. The angle grinder is a very commonly used tool when working with metal, and can be great for cutting sheet metal. Today, we are going to discuss which situations might require an angle grinder for cutting sheet metal, and how to perform this task.

Is an Angle Grinder the Best Tool for Cutting Sheet Metal?

Angle Grinder In terms of the best tools for cutting sheet metal, the angle grinder is up there near the top of the list. The cutting discs on angle grinders are specifically designed for cutting thin to medium-thick pieces of metal, whether it be sheet metal, pipes, or anything else. If you have very thick pieces of metal, then it is not the best tool to use, but we are talking about sheet metal here, which by definition is quite thin.

What you do need to remember, however, is that to use an angle grinder to cut sheet metal, the tool does need to be outfitted with a metal cutting disc. However, angle grinders, at least the cutting discs, will really only make a rough cut and will leave plenty of burrs behind.

For this reason, once the cut has been made, you will then need to affix a polishing wheel to the angle grinder to smoothen things out. On that note, keep in mind that angle grinders usually don’t have any kind of guard, so you might have some sparks flying up in your face.

Generally speaking, the best tool to use for cutting sheet metal is a pair of tin snips or metal shears. These are just specialized and heavy-duty scissors designed for this exact task. Using a circular saw with a metal cutting blade is another option at your disposal. That said, an angle grinder will work perfectly fine.

How to Cut Sheet Metal With an Angle Grinder

Now that we know that an angle grinder can be used to cut sheet metal, let’s figure out exactly how to complete this task.

Step 1: Prepare the Angle Grinder

Before you can get started with this task, you will need to purchase and attach a special metal cutting disc to the unit. If you don’t know how to remove and attach components on your angle grinder, now would be the time to research this.

Step 2: Remember Safety Is Always First

Using an angle grinder to cut sheet metal will produce quite a few sparks. Therefore, you want to wear a full face mask complete with eye protection. You don’t want those sparks flying up into your face. On that note, you also want to wear relatively thick gloves, and you always want to cover up all exposed skin. Don’t wear short sleeves for this task. You’ll also want to remove highly flammable liquids and materials from the near vicinity.

Step 3: Prepare to Make the Cut

You now want to use a metal ruler and metal-marking pencil, piece of chalk, or any other marking utensil to measure and mark the line that you plan to cut with the angle grinder. Once you have made the mark, you will then need to support the piece of sheet metal. Use a table, sawhorse, or anything else of the sort for this purpose. If the piece of sheet metal is large and heavy, you may even want to clamp it down to the surface.

Step 4: Make the Cut

You will now start up the angle grinder and get it up to full speed. Hold the angle grinder so that the cutting disc is vertical and perpendicular to the sheet metal being cut. Move the blade down into the sheet metal slowly until one section is fully cut through, and then slowly move it along until the cut has been completed.

Step 5: Polish the Rough Edges

Seeing as an angle grinder will result in rough edges, you will want to replace the cutting disc with a polishing wheel. Start up your angle grinder and use it to remove any burrs and rough spots from where the cut has been made.

Mistakes to Avoid, Tips & Tricks

Let’s quickly go over some tips and tricks to help make this process as easy and safe as possible.

  • Don’t stop the disc before the cut has been fully made, as the disc can get stuck if it stops moving.
  • Hold the angle grinder in such a way so that the sparks don’t fly directly at you.
  • Make sure that you are using a new cutting disc that is in good condition. These discs can get old and break mid-use, so you do need to be mindful of this.
  • Remove any jewelry or any other items that may get caught in the angle grinder.

Summary

With the tips and steps outlined above, you should now have all of the info you need to cut sheet metal with an angle grinder.