A hacksaw was considered an expert option to cut metal in the past. With the advancement of technology, this can be done more efficiently using an angle grinder.
So, when you want a smooth cut on all kinds of metal, a more capable alternative than our ancestors’ hacksaw should be your first choice. And an angle grinder is that kind of power tool which is also a life savior for your metalworking job.
Now, the most common question for every newcomer is how to use an angle grinder to cut metal? To simplify the process, we’ve covered the whole procedure of using an angle grinder in this article.
We have consulted with many experts and created this detailed guide. We’ve also added a required security warning guideline because these tools have some risk factors.
Not surprisingly, this tool is widely used by professionals in various businesses. So why would you be left out?
Can an Angle Grinder Cut Metal?
Yes, an angle grinder can cut all kinds of soft and hard metals using a cut-off disc capable of rubbing. So, if we say that an angle grinder specializes in cutting metal, it would not be an exaggeration. You will need an angle grinder wheel for cutting metal.
It can cut various metals, including sheet metal, rugged stainless steel, etc. Instead of blades, it uses cutting wheels to cut metal. But for a smooth cut, you need to buy different blades for each different metal.
In addition, it can execute a variety of cuts on metals. You can use a diamond blade for quick cutting. Remember that it must be fastened securely when cutting hard metal. Angle grinders can typically cut to a maximum depth of 70 mm or 2 inches.
Its handheld design ad disc size doesn’t allow it to cut through more than this depth. However, this tool can be powerful and dangerous at the same time. So, you must take safety measures while using an angle grinder.
Note: 4.5-inch Angle grinders are highly recommended for metal cutting among all sized grinders. Here you will find the 7 Best 4 1/2 Angle Grinder.
How Thick of Metal Can an Angle Grinder Cut?
Basically, it depends on the size of the angle grinder wheel and the cutting capacity. Also, the thickness of the material is a determining factor for evaluating the potential cutting depth.
Different kinds of grinder wheels are available in the market or on online platforms. So, according to your need, select the exact disk to work correctly.
The most common size of the angle grinder wheel is 12cm. It is suitable for small cut work like cutting metal thickness of 2-3 cm. For cutting heavy stainless steel like angle iron or rebar, you need a wheel of 1.6mm or 2.5mm consistency.
Moreover, a 115mm angle grinder can cut up to 30mm deep. A 125mm angle grinder can cut up to 38mm deep. The best angle grinder can cut metal to a maximum depth of 2 ¾ inches or 70 mm.
However, for every metal cutting job, including stainless or mild steel, a 1mm or 1.6mm wheel size is appropriate.
How to Cut Metal with an Angle Grinder: Step by Step Guideline
An angle grinder is probably the riskiest handheld tool on the market. Without the proper knowledge, one can easily harm oneself. For this reason, you need the right tools and follow the correct procedures to use an angle grinder safely.
We’ve added a detailed guide below to make your metal cutting work easier with the angle grinder. Let’s check it out.
Step-1: First of All, Gather the Required Materials and Safety Tools
Before you start cutting, a few preparations need to be made. It is wise to have all the necessary tools to complete your project on time. Also, you should have some personal safety gear for risk-free work.
So, let’s find out what things might be needed to smooth your cut. Make sure you have them all!
- A quality angle grinder
- The right size grinder wheel
- Suitable energy source
- A durable C-clamp to hold the metal or workpiece
- A good quality workbench
- A long power cords
- Long-sleeved shirt
- Heavy work gloves
- Earmuffs and Safety boots
- The metal workpiece to cut
Now, let’s begin the main procedure.
Step-2: Consider What Type of Metal You Are Going to Cut
Why should you consider metal types? As we have already stated above, a grinder provides different cutting blades for different metals. It can be a ferrous metal or a non-ferrous one.
So, before you start your project, you must consider the metallic type. Otherwise, you will choose the wrong cutting wheel. As a result, the cut will not be as it should be.
The abrasive of a grinding wheel is also a determining factor. Cutting blades are made of Aluminum oxide and Silicon Carbide. Aluminum oxide is a safe bet for cutting ferrous metals like stainless steel, mild steel, and cast iron.
Then, Silicone Carbide is suitable for cutting non-ferrous metals like Copper, Aluminum, and Titanium. Check if the metal is appropriate for the grinding wheel. You can completely destroy your work by choosing the wrong one.
Moreover, consider the thickness of the metal because it’ll determine which wheels to use. A 5-6-inch angle grinder with a 1-1.6mm metal cutting wheel is safe for medium-deep cuts. A 9-inch grinder is suitable for long deep cuts.
Step-3: Choose the Right Grinder Wheel According to the Metals Thickness
Since an angle grinder comes with various cutting discs, finding the most suitable one for you can be a daunting task. But to make this confusing task more accessible, you need to have the proper knowledge about the variety of these discs.
Remember, the size depends on the disc and not on the length of the grinder. The grinder wheel comes in different types. Type-1 (flat cutting disc) and Type-27 (Depressed center) are the most common.
The Type-1 Grinder wheel is an abrasive cut-off wheel with a flat surface. It has a flat surface center at the edge, which allows for excellent efficiency. You can use it to get maximum cutting depth.
The Type-27 wheel, on the other hand, has a depressed center. This will enable the flange to lock the nut.
You can also buy an all-purpose grinding wheel that works smoothly on multiple metals. But unfortunately, they will not give you proper performance for every metal. So, choose each standard grinder wheel for each different metal.
Step-3: Inspect the Metal Disc and Prepare the Grinders
Please check the angle grinder and each part and joint of the machine ideally. The angle grinder needs to be in perfect condition to avoid any kind of unwanted accident.
Check the center nut and thread, although the angle grinders are strong enough to withstand damage. Make sure the angle grinder disc is neat.
If the cutting disc is broken or eroded, do not use it. Otherwise, you risk the cutting disc exploding while you use it.
Step-4: Mark Where You Want to Cut to Avoid Mistakes
You are probably ready to go with the right-angle grinder and to cut the disc by this time. Now place the metal workpiece on the workbench.
Secure the metal with a clamp. Attach the metal blade and test it. Then, use a scratch awl to draw a rough outline of the design on the workpiece.
If you want to cut in a straight line, mark both ends and draw a line in the middle. For zigzags or other patterns, sketch the curves of the pattern. Then draw a straight line with an awl and highlight the whole way.
Step-5. Now, Switch on the Machine and Start Cutting!
After outlining your metal workpiece, turn on the machine and start grinding. Hold comfortably with both hands and power up the device. Slightly tap the HD line as the blade begins to rotate.
Start gently and hold the tool tightly so that it does not slip out of your hand. When the blade is rotated, follow the line carefully. Do not push the cutting wheel over the material as it may overload the machine.
Hold the grinder at a viewpoint so that the sparks move in different directions from you. It is always best to keep it at 90o and not twist it; Otherwise, it may break or bend. You gently press it and allow the tool to reach its maximum speed.
Step-6. Change Direction Carefully and Let the Blade Do the Cutting
This is the most challenging and critical step, so you have to do it carefully. Once you have cut a particular line, carefully change direction. Otherwise, the angle grinder can go off the marked line, which is very risky.
Move it along certain cutting lines to avoid danger. Do not apply pressure to the grinder when cutting with metal. This will make the grinding less smooth than in the beginning.
Also, you will end up with a shredded disc. Let the blade do its cutting. Apply constant pressure until the blade penetrates the metal completely.
Start cutting at one end and finish at the other end. Be careful when turning the wheel towards you.
Step-7. Finish Your Cut!
Your cut is about to end. The grinder could probably kick back from pinching the metal at this point. Apply a little less pressure to finish the cut.
Another thing to remember is that metal edges can be sharp when cutting. So, it becomes unsafe to handle. You can use your Grinder to smooth it.
Remove the cutting blade from the Grinder and attach a 40-grit flapper. Move the grit flapper along the sharp edges to smooth it.
We recommend finishing the cut at once. Because if you leave it for another run, the finishing touch won’t be smooth enough.
As we have said, handling an angle grinder is very risky. Thus, there is no substitute but to follow security precautions. Follow the security precautions we discuss below.
- Be alert all the time. Look out for any unforeseen events. Check whether someone is entering your worksite.
- Hold the power tool with both hands instead of handling it single-handedly. If the grinding discs get stuck between the metals, you can handle the situation with both hands.
- Don’t use the angle grinder in a wet condition because it involves the risk of electric shock.
- Don’t force the cutting disc. It can cause the Grinder to overheat. Hold it in a way that sparks fly around your legs.
- Don’t move or roam around your workplace when the Grinder is on.
- Always put on safety gear while working. At a minimum, wear earplugs and safety glasses. However, you should wear a face shield, sturdy gloves, and a leather apron.
What Can Be Used to Cut Metal?
It’s not that only angle grinders can cut metals. Before the advent of the Angle grinders, people used a hacksaw to cut metal. Basically, that was the traditional method of cutting any metals.
Some people think that a hacksaw can be used for simple DIY tasks only. But with enough strength and huff and puff, you can cut through a bit thicker metal.
Still, we would prefer angle grinders above hacksaw. It can cut metals like iron, rebar, sheet metal, etc. Using the proper wheels or grinding disc, cutting metal will become a complete breeze. It is the future of metalworking jobs.
An angle grinder is indeed a most challenging tool to operate at the same time, risky too. But with expert guidelines and step-by-step instructions, anyone can have the courage to handle it easily.
If you want to cut a metal smoothly, you need to have a tool like an angle grinder. We’ve made this article a little longer as we’ve added all the necessary information to make it easier for you. Now you have to practice more and master it slowly.
In fact, cutting metal with an angle grinder is very effective and absolutely safe. Just follow our safety precautions to avoid stupid mistakes.
You may not perform well in the beginning. Once you become proficient in the metal cutting industry, it will become a fun job.
Best of Luck!