Stainless steel is commonly used worldwide due to its corrosion resistance, durability, and strength. Since it is sturdy and strong, you may feel overwhelmed when it comes to cutting the stainless steel. The good news is, there are a lot of techniques that can help you in getting this job done. Here, we are going to cover each one of them.
What Are The Things You Need?
There are different types of stainless steel including tubes, bars, sheets, etc. The thickness of the metal is commonly known by its gauge. The tools that you will be needing will likely depend on the thickness of the steel.
For thin sheets, you can use tin snips, while for thicker sheets, you may use power shears. For cutting thicker tubes or sheets, an angle grinder that includes a metal cut-off wheel would be more appropriate. However, for extremely thick bars, sheets, or solid tubes, you can use a plasma cutter. A circular saw with a metal cutting blade or cut-off wheel is also useful for cutting stainless steel.
No matter what type of technique you use for cutting the steel, you will also need a workbench, work gloves, safety goggles, marker, tape measure, and a metal file.
Step by Step Guide in Cutting Stainless Steel
Step One: Prepare Your Workspace
It is important to prepare your workspace, regardless of what type of cutting method you want to use. Be sure that you have a sturdy workbench that you can use for this project. You can also use sawhorses.
If you will use a plasma cutter, grinder, or a saw, then it is ideal to work outside. Be sure to get rid of anything that is flammable around the area since sparks could fly around as you cut.
Step Two: Measure the Area
If you want to get a precise measurement of the area that you want to cut, then you should use a tape measure. This can be done with the use of a marker; simply mark the point where you need to cut. By using a square or a ruler, you can obtain a perfectly straight line when cutting the metal.
Step Three: Cut the Stainless Steel
After you are done setting up your workspace and measuring and marking the area that you need to cut, the next thing to do is to choose the best tool for the job.
If you are only cutting thin stainless sheets, then the best tool will be tin snips. On the other hand, if you want to cut thicker sheets, then you should use powerful tools such as an angle grinder, a circular saw, or power shears. You may also use a circular saw in cutting stainless tubing. However, for heavy-duty steel, your best option would be a plasma cutter.
If you are working with thin stainless sheets, then the job can be done quickly with the use of a pair of tin snips. Using tin snips is just like using a pair of scissors. Gently work through the material and avoid cutting yourself on the edge.
Power shears work just like tin snips, the only difference is that they include a motor. It will cut out a thin strip of metal from the center of the cut. To use power shears in cutting stainless steel, you have to put the steel into the jaws of the power shears. Then, press the trigger and gently work your way through the material until you have finished your cut.
A circular saw is very useful if you are cutting stainless steel that is too thick for either power shears or tin snips. When using a circular saw, keep in mind that you will be needing a proper metal cutting blade.
Before you start cutting, make sure that you are taking proper safety precautions. Always wear heavy-duty gloves and safety goggles, or a full-face shield. It is also advisable that you wear long sleeves and pants to protect yourself against any metal splinters.
When you are done preparing, turn on the saw and let it reach its maximum RPM before you start cutting. Lower the circular saw to the surface of the metal and let it gently work through the material until you have finished your cut.
The angle grinder works the same way as the circular saw. When working with this tool, be sure that you are always wearing safety gear. Let the tool reach its full RPM before you start cutting and slowly work your way through the metal.
A plasma cutter is a very valuable tool that can quickly get the job done on any metal, including stainless steel. This tool is the best option for cutting thick stainless steel, however, it might be a little overkill for thinner metal.
The first thing that you have to do is to set up your plasma cutter. Attach the plasma cutter to your air compressor, then turn it on. Set the appropriate current that you require for your plasma cutter. When cutting thicker metal, you have to set it to a higher current. The current should be around 25, for sheets with an 18-20-gauge. Put the ground clamp to the edge of your metal.
Now, you can start cutting. Begin by turning on the machine and placing the handle of the torch near your work surface. Just depress the trigger, and you can begin cutting. Work gently and deliberately and try your best to keep your hands steady as you are tracing your line.
Once you are done, turn off the plasma cutter. Also, don’t forget to remove the air and ground clamp and store your hoses.
A dremel is a rotary tool that is capable of cutting different types of materials with the use of cut-off wheels. A dremel that includes a resinoid cut-off wheel is sturdy enough to cut high-carbon steel. A dremel works the same way as an angle grinder as both of them have the same cutting process.
A chop saw is a small tool fit for cutting thinner pieces of stainless steel. A pneumatic cut-off saw is preferable because of its additional power through the air pressure. It is important to select the blade that is suitable for this process. It is essential to wear a full-face shield when working with this device since small pieces of steel could likely fly around.
First of all, you have to mark the area that you are going to cut, then gradually lower down the blade into the material. Start cutting the steel gradually without pausing. Use a small polishing wheel in cleaning the grinder and polishing the edges.
A Jigsaw is a small device capable of doing difficult cuts including curves. A jigsaw that includes a carbide blade can even cut steel sheets with a thickness of up to 5/64-inch. This allows you to create long and straight cuts. It is more effective when you require interior cutouts and tight curves.
When working with a jigsaw, you must have a starter hole. In drilling the hole, you can either use a hole saw for metal or a regular drill. Lay the sheet on your work surface and mark the area for cutting. Put a straight edge into your stainless sheet. Apply steady, yet moderate pressure on the saw, just sufficient enough to let the blade do its work. However, you should avoid forcing the saw to prevent metal overheating and dulling the edge. Be sure to clean up the cut edge to eliminate burrs. This can be done by using 80-grit sandpaper or a metal file along with a sanding block.
A band saw capable of cutting stainless steel is commonly used for cutoff works on the pipe. Generally, you will have to lower down the blade so it can cut the steel horizontally. The edge of your stainless steel will have the same result as a jigsaw blade. However, if you want a smooth cut, then you should set the speed to a lower level.
A hacksaw has a fine tooth and is essentially created for cutting stainless steel cable and metal. When working with a hacksaw, you must have a vise and a piece of wood that measures approximately 3x3x6 inches.
The first thing to do is to drill the hole at about 8/34 inches about one inch from the end. Then, tighten up a wooden block and make sure there is enough space for the cable to stretch out. Afterward, do a 90-degree cut on the hole using a carbide rod hacksaw. The hole in the wooden block will make sure that the cables are secure so they could not move. Also, the cuts will guide the hacksaw in completing the process.
Step Four: Clean Up the Edge of the Metal
After you are done cutting the metal, the edge will look a bit nasty. To complete the job, you have to get rid of the rough edge from the metal with a file or deburrer.
Knowing how to cut stainless steel is not quite hard as it seems to be at first glance. The tools that you will be using will greatly depend on the material that you will be cutting. You could either use an angle grinder, circular saw, power shears, tin snips, or plasma torch. Regardless of the method that you have chosen, it is very important to work gently and safely in completing your project.
Sparks and Arcs are selling different varieties of cutting tools for your needs. You can contact us at 877-95-SPARK (877-957-7275) or send us an email at CS@sparksandarcs.com.