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Thread: What's the best wat to cut steel?

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    What's the best wat to cut steel?

    I hear a band saw will travel which results in crooked cuts. Is this true for hand held band saws too? What's the best way to cut steel? Abrasive cut off saw? Dry cut saw? Grinder? Bandsaw? Reciprocating Sawzall? How about a plasma cutter? How difficult is it to cut steel tubing and angle steel with a plasma cutter? I have an abrasive chop saw but it doesn't work that well. Maybe i need a better abrasive disk for it? I have a cheap HF handheld bandsaw that i tried to mount on a stand so i could use it for a horizontal saw but it cut crooked, and i couldn't get it to work right. Im looking for accuracy and straight cuts. I would like to get my cuts accurate within 1/16 of an inch or less.
    Last edited by Need Advice; 09-17-2021 at 11:09 AM.

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    Re: What's the best wat to cut steel?

    As with many tools, the more you spend typically the better the product but not always. Example there are bandsaws that are pretty darn accurate as well as cold saws or dry cut saws. Any hand held tool you use will boil down to your ability to hold the tool steady and see the line being cut. Not always easy to do and if you have aging eyes or other visual problems that will only exacerbate the problem.
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    Re: What's the best wat to cut steel?

    If I could only choose one it would be a 6" grinder with quality cutting discs. I have all those methods available and plasma is definitely the least used.

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    Re: What's the best wat to cut steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by N2 Welding View Post
    As with many tools, the more you spend typically the better the product but not always. Example there are bandsaws that are pretty darn accurate as well as cold saws or dry cut saws. Any hand held tool you use will boil down to your ability to hold the tool steady and see the line being cut. Not always easy to do and if you have aging eyes or other visual problems that will only exacerbate the problem.
    Thanks. I don't have a steady hand and my eyesight isnt that good.

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    Re: What's the best wat to cut steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by M J D View Post
    If I could only choose one it would be a 6" grinder with quality cutting discs. I have all those methods available and plasma is definitely the least used.
    Thank you. I was thinking the same thing about a grinder. Ive cut with grinders and they seem to get accurate cuts by hand. My abrasive chop saw seems to cut poorly unless i apply pressure and that causes the blade to wonder which results in a crooked cut. I wonder if a better abrasive blade would work.

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    Re: What's the best wat to cut steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by N2 Welding View Post
    As with many tools, the more you spend typically the better the product but not always. Example there are bandsaws that are pretty darn accurate as well as cold saws or dry cut saws. Any hand held tool you use will boil down to your ability to hold the tool steady and see the line being cut. Not always easy to do and if you have aging eyes or other visual problems that will only exacerbate the problem.
    I need something affordable. I cant afford very expensive tools. I do want name brand if i can afford it but i cant afford $1000 or more saws.

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    Re: What's the best wat to cut steel?

    What about abrasive chop saw blades? Can i get a thinner blade and would that cut without needing to apply pressure to the cut? Applying pressure just makes the blade wander.

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    Re: What's the best wat to cut steel?

    Every type of tool has its place. A lot of people like the 15” evolution saws with cast base and cast quick adjustable clamp. I have a Makita 12” metal cut off saw. It’s pretty accurate for the type of stuff I do.
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    Re: What's the best wat to cut steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by N2 Welding View Post
    Every type of tool has its place. A lot of people like the 15” evolution saws with cast base and cast quick adjustable clamp. I have a Makita 12” metal cut off saw. It’s pretty accurate for the type of stuff I do.
    I was considering the Evolution saw because its cheap. I notice they have a regular chop saw and a miter saw, but both cut steel. I was thinking maybe the miter saw would be better for miter cuts? I dont know.

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    Re: What's the best wat to cut steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Need Advice View Post
    What about abrasive chop saw blades? Can i get a thinner blade and would that cut without needing to apply pressure to the cut? Applying pressure just makes the blade wander.
    I experiance the same issue with my Milwaukee abrasive saw which is why I got the Makita metal blade saw. I did not try multiple blades and those saws are pretty messy as well. Besides, I’d rather not have to use a respirator to cut material if I don’t have to.
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    Re: What's the best wat to cut steel?

    Not knowing what I know now back then before purchasing the Makita I’d have looked to see if the arbor was loose or wobbly.

    Does your abrasive saw have any wiggle room in the blade if you hold the blade and move it side to side? Could be a worn out tool. Did you get it new? What brand is it?
    Last edited by N2 Welding; 09-17-2021 at 11:48 AM.
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    Re: What's the best wat to cut steel?

    I had this crazy idea one time about modifying a reciprocating saw by mounting it on a stand so it would cut like a horizontal bandsaw. I thought the thicker blade wouldn't travel. I might try that one day just for kicks.

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    Re: What's the best wat to cut steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Need Advice View Post
    I have a cheap HF handheld bandsaw that i tried to ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
    As soon as you combine the word "CHEAP" with the word "ACCURATE",, you are doomed to failure,,
    I am sorry, there just is not a "short term" answer.

    Now, I bought my bandsaw, used in good condition, back in the year 2000 for $1,000.
    Per year, my cost has been $47,, and I get WAY better accuracy than 1/16",, I would bet I get better than 1/64" accuracy.

    The saw will cut as accurately as I am willing to spend the time to position the part. So, I can literally get milling machine accurate parts, if I work at it.

    So, are you willing to spend $47 per year?? or,, are you gonna just wish you could make accurate parts??

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    Re: What's the best wat to cut steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by SweetMK View Post
    As soon as you combine the word "CHEAP" with the word "ACCURATE",, you are doomed to failure,,
    I am sorry, there just is not a "short term" answer.

    Now, I bought my bandsaw, used in good condition, back in the year 2000 for $1,000.
    Per year, my cost has been $47,, and I get WAY better accuracy than 1/16",, I would bet I get better than 1/64" accuracy.

    The saw will cut as accurately as I am willing to spend the time to position the part. So, I can literally get milling machine accurate parts, if I work at it.

    So, are you willing to spend $47 per year?? or,, are you gonna just wish you could make accurate parts??
    You're right, maybe i should have said accuracy within 1/32 of an inch at least. If i had the money i would buy nothing but the best, but i have to choose wisely what i buy because i need so many tools. I need to build or buy a good welding table, a plasma cutter, possibly another air compressor, a few more Milwaukee M18 fuel cordless tools, and i need to do some more building on my little shop (12x22).

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    Re: What's the best wat to cut steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by SweetMK View Post
    As soon as you combine the word "CHEAP" with the word "ACCURATE",, you are doomed to failure,,
    I am sorry, there just is not a "short term" answer.

    Now, I bought my bandsaw, used in good condition, back in the year 2000 for $1,000.
    Per year, my cost has been $47,, and I get WAY better accuracy than 1/16",, I would bet I get better than 1/64" accuracy.

    The saw will cut as accurately as I am willing to spend the time to position the part. So, I can literally get milling machine accurate parts, if I work at it.

    So, are you willing to spend $47 per year?? or,, are you gonna just wish you could make accurate parts??
    What size blade does your bandsaw use? Is it 1/2 inch or bigger?

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    Re: What's the best wat to cut steel?

    The cheapest way to get a good cut is going to be cutting it by hand with a wafer wheel, but you will need to take your time and pay a lot of attention to detail. You will also need a big enough wheel you can make the cut in one pass, so a bigger piece of metal would require a 7/9" cut off wheel.

    I would personally go for a nice horizontal band saw if I had the room.
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    What's the best wat to cut steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Need Advice View Post
    What about abrasive chop saw blades? Can i get a thinner blade and would that cut without needing to apply pressure to the cut? Applying pressure just makes the blade wander.
    Therein lies your problem

    Definitely get a quality thin blade. Makita makes a good one.

    Then literally "CHOP" with your chop saw.

    Cut two seconds, lift slightly chop another 2 seconds all with even pressure.

    Do NOT push down and make a single continuous cut. This is what makes your blade flex and result in inaccurate cuts.

    I agree with MJD. My plasma is for cutting shapes mostly. Cutting material to length I will use the other aforementioned tools.




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    Re: What's the best wat to cut steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Need Advice View Post
    Thanks. I don't have a steady hand and my eyesight isnt that good.

    Given this, I would think a horizontal band saw would be your best bet. Dry cut saws and cold saws are OK, but a band saw works more slowly and is more "hands off". My concern would be with bad eyesight or unsteady hands, you can more easily mess up a cut with a dry cut saw than you could with a band saw.
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    Re: What's the best wat to cut steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Need Advice View Post
    You're right, maybe i should have said accuracy within 1/32 of an inch at least. If i had the money i would buy nothing but the best, but i have to choose wisely what i buy because i need so many tools. I need to build or buy a good welding table, a plasma cutter, possibly another air compressor, a few more Milwaukee M18 fuel cordless tools, and i need to do some more building on my little shop (12x22).
    I doubt that anyone really "needs" a plasma cutter if they are on a budget. Same for a welding table. There are plenty of ways to cut metal that are more cost efficient than a plasma cutter. As for a welding table, you should consider buying some good squares first, like the Fireball tools monster squares. https://fireballtool.com/squares/



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    Re: What's the best wat to cut steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Roert42 View Post
    The cheapest way to get a good cut is going to be cutting it by hand with a wafer wheel, but you will need to take your time and pay a lot of attention to detail. You will also need a big enough wheel you can make the cut in one pass, so a bigger piece of metal would require a 7/9" cut off wheel.

    I would personally go for a nice horizontal band saw if I had the room.
    Room in my shop is another concern. My shop is small.

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    Re: What's the best wat to cut steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lis2323 View Post
    Therein lies your problem

    Definitely get a quality thin blade. Makita makes a good one.

    Then literally "CHOP" with your chop saw.

    Cut two seconds, lift slightly chop another 2 seconds all with even pressure.

    Do NOT push down and make a single continuous cut. This is what makes your blade flex and result in inaccurate cuts.

    I agree with MJD. My plasma is for cutting shapes mostly. Cutting material to length I will use the other aforementioned tools.




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    Thank you. I appreciate the response.

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    Re: What's the best wat to cut steel?

    Thanks for the reply.

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    Re: What's the best wat to cut steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Louie1961 View Post
    I doubt that anyone really "needs" a plasma cutter if they are on a budget. Same for a welding table. There are plenty of ways to cut metal that are more cost efficient than a plasma cutter. As for a welding table, you should consider buying some good squares first, like the Fireball tools monster squares. https://fireballtool.com/squares/



    Yes i have considered those squares, they would be nice to have. The welding table i was wanting was a cast iron top and cost around $600 without the leg kit. I made a welding table out of some salvaged trailer frame i beam but its rusty although still useful. It needs more cross members because the ones i had weren't enough and i have 8" in between the cross members. I didn't want to use a piece of plate on top because i could use the spaces in between the cross members to hold clamps. Maybe you're right, i dont need a new table. Maybe i will just finish the rusty one i already started but i sure would love to have that cast iron top. As for the plasma cutter, i plan on doing a lot of sheet metal and some plate cutting. I want fast cutting so i can sell my projects cheaper. I could get away with hand tools but it would be a lot more work. Someone mentioned using a jigsaw on sheet metal but using a plasma cutter with templates or a pantograph would be much less work and would be much faster.

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    Re: What's the best wat to cut steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Need Advice View Post
    I want fast cutting so i can sell my projects cheaper. .

    While this is partially true your main concerns should be :

    Working more efficiently and enjoyably while making more money.


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    Re: What's the best wat to cut steel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lis2323 View Post
    While this is partially true your main concerns should be :

    Working more efficiently and enjoyably while making more money.


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    Yes agreed, thank you.

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