How to Cut Sheet Metal: 12 Best Ways

How to Cut Sheet Metal

Handyman's World is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Sheet metal is a very useful material that can be used for a wide variety of applications. With that being said, you will usually need to cut this building material to the right size and shape for your exact project. There are many different ways to cut sheet metal out there.

Today, we want to discuss the best ways to cut this material. We want to talk about 12 different ways to cut sheet metal, both with power tools and without power tools, so let’s figure out which method works best for you.

8 Ways to Cut Sheet Metal with Power Tools

First, we want to talk about the eight best ways to cut sheet metal using a variety of power tools.

1. Circular Saw

Circular Saw If you have a lot of sheet metal that needs to be cut in a short amount of time, then a circular saw is a good option to consider. Circular saws are generally designed for cutting wood, although if you affix a good metal cutting blade, such as a carbide-tipped blade or diamond-studded blade, then it will work just fine.

A circular saw is ideal for cutting all gauges of sheet metal, even the thickest of sheets, and it is ideal for cutting straight lines. If you have pieces that need to be separated into various sections, then this is one of the best methods that you have at your disposal. You simply affix a metal cutting blade, start the saw up, and cut in a straight line.

You can learn more about how to cut sheet metal with a circular saw here.

2. Angle Grinder

Angle Grinder Another good way to cut sheet metal with a power tool is by using an angle grinder. Angle grinders are generally designed to cut, grind, polish, and more.

All you need to do is to affix the right kind of cutting disc designed to cut metal, get your angle grinder started to a fairly slow speed, make contact with the metal, cut all the way through one section, and then move the angle grinder along the length of your material until the cut has been completed.

Keep in mind that angle grinders will leave a fairly rough surface, so you will then also want to use the polishing wheel to smooth out any burrs or rough edges. This is a good option to consider for most gauges of sheet metal, as well as for cutting straight lines.

In a separate article, I write in detail about how to cut sheet metal with an angle grinder.

3. Jigsaw

Jig Saw Another good way to cut sheet metal with a power tool is by using a jigsaw. Now, your average jigsaw blade designed for wood is not going to cut it here, so you will need a special metal cutting jigsaw blade. This is a good option to consider if you have fairly thin sheet metal that you need to cut into various shapes and patterns.

This tool is ideal for cutting fairly tight patterns and curves, so if you need to make a cut that is not straight, this is a good way to go. That said, keeping a jigsaw cutting straight can be fairly difficult, so it’s certainly not the best option to consider if you need to cut a lot of straight lines.

4. Metal Cutting Saw

Metal Cutting Saw When we talk about a metal cutting saw, we are generally speaking about special types of circular saws that are designed specifically for cutting metal.

These are designed to function at lower speeds than regular circular saws, which is important when cutting metal. They also come complete with special metal cutting blades designed for this exact purpose.

All you have to do is to get the saw up to full speed, touch it to the sheet metal until it goes through, and then pass it along the length of the sheet metal. This method is ideal for cutting straight lines, although it will not work well for cutting curves and intricate shapes.

5. Reciprocating Saw

Reciprocating Saw Here we have one of the very few options on the list that is designed to cut sheet metal, but for demolition purposes as opposed to building.

Reciprocating saws, otherwise known as Sawzalls, are designed to quickly cut apart things like pipes, other pieces of metal, wood, PVC, and more, for the purposes of quick demolition jobs.

Therefore, if you just need to rip down some sheet metal off of an existing surface, this is a good way to go. Be aware that in no way, shape, or form will you be able to make a clean cut with a reciprocating saw. It’s going to be very rough and uneven, which is why this tool is really only used for demolition purposes.

6. Miter Saw

Miter Saw If your objective is to cut sheet metal and you need to make a specific angled cut, then a miter saw is the best way to go. Miter saws are specifically designed to cut various angles into various objects, and they come complete with gauges and levels to make sure that you get the angle right.

Of course, you will need to affix a special metal cutting blade to the miter saw to make this work, as normal miter saw blades are generally just designed for wood. Moreover, keep in mind that miter saws only have so much space, so you won’t be able to cut large pieces of sheet metal with them.

7. Oscillating Tool

Oscillating Tool If you are just cutting very small pieces of sheet metal, and you need to make some patterns or shapes, then your regular oscillating tool combined with a metal cutting attachment will work just fine. This, however, is not going to be the fastest or easiest method.

That said, if you need to fit into very tight spaces, then a small and compact oscillating tool is a good option to consider.

8. Rotary Tool

Rotary Tool If you need to cut pieces of fairly thin sheet metal into various shapes, curves, or patterns, then another tool you may use is a rotary tool. Of course, you are going to need a metal cutting attachment.

Moreover, this is certainly not the best tool to use if you have a lot of sheet metal to cut, especially if you need to cut many straight lines. However, the good thing about rotary tools is that there are also special polishing heads that you can use to clean up any burrs or rough edges.

To learn more about this method, read my article about how to cut sheet metal with a Dremel.

4 Ways to Cut Sheet Metal without Power Tools

Next, there are also four good ways to cut sheet metal without having to use power tools.

1. Tin Snips

Tin Snips If you don’t have any power tools, one of the very best ways to cut sheet metal is by using tin snips, otherwise known as tin scissors or metal shears. These are very special scissors, akin to very heavy-duty shears, that are used to cut sheet metal.

Now, what you need to know about tin steps is that there are a few different kinds of them. Some are designed to cut straight lines, some for curves, and some are even specially designed to cut left-handed or right-handed curves.

Moreover, some tin snips are designed to cut through very thin layers of sheet metal, whereas others can handle fairly thick gauges.

Whatever the case may be, choosing the right kind of tin snips for this job is essential. However, do keep in mind that a good pair of tin snips will be able to handle virtually any job, and it’s actually the tool that most professionals would recommend over any power tool.

To learn more about this method, read my article focused on how to cut sheet metal with tin snips.

2. Hacksaw

Hacksaw Another hand-operated tool that you can use to cut sheet metal is a hacksaw. A hacksaw is not the number one tool for this job, mainly because it’s likely going to result in a fairly uneven cut. Moreover, if you apply too much pressure, you might actually bend the sheet metal.

However, there are some special types of hacksaws designed especially for cutting fairly thick gauges of sheet metal. Just keep in mind that cutting extremely thin and delicate layers of material will not work very well here, as you do need to use a lot of movement with a hacksaw, and this may damage the sheet metal.

3. Utility Knife

Utility Knife If you are working with very thin sheet metal, and you need to cut straight lines, then using a utility knife is another good option to consider. A utility knife will not work for very thick sheet metal, and it’s not going to work well for cutting shapes and patterns.

Using a utility knife, you are going to score a straight line into the sheet metal, not actually cut all the way through it. You’re then going to snap the sheet metal apart using physical force. This definitely isn’t the fastest method, but it does work well for small amounts of sheet metal.

4. Bench Shear

Bench Shear The other tool that you can use to cut sheet metal is bench shear. Bench shears are tabletop-mounted tools that are specially designed for this exact job.

They come complete with a handle that you can use to move a blade up and down into the unit. You can cut through extremely thick sheet metal with this tool, and also unlimited lengths of it. In fact, besides tin snips, this might just be the best tool at your disposal.

Keep in mind there are also power shears which might be more useful if you need to cut a lot of metal.

What Is the Best Way to Cut Sheet Metal?

If you are cutting either straight lines or curves, you don’t have power tools, and you don’t have much sheet metal to cut, your best option is to use a pair of tin snips.

If you do have power tools, then the best option at your disposal, especially for cutting straight lines, is to use a circular saw or a metal cutting saw.

If you want to cut small patterns or shapes, then the best method at your disposal is to use something like a rotary tool that has the ability to cut tight curves and shapes.


As you can see, there are many different ways to cut sheet metal, both with and without power tools.

If you are using power tools, either a circular saw outfitted with a metal cutting blade, or a metal cutting saw will work best. If you don’t have power tools, the best method at your disposal is to use tin snips.