Most industrial projects, including construction and transportation, require metal to be cut at some point. Depending on your application and project, metal fabricators and manufacturers utilize various tools and devices to cut metal.

We have listed the 13 best ways to cut metal for your applications, from the least expensive to the costliest. If you want to hire a fabricator and choose a cutting method, you should know its pros and cons. This metal fabrication guide will help you decide the most suitable way to cut metal for your next project.

  1. CNC Router
  2. Laser Cutting
  3. Hacksaw
  4. Tin Snips
  5. Air Cut-Off
  6. Shears
  7. Reciprocating Sawzall/Saw
  8. Angle Grinder
  9. Chop Saw
  10. Circular Saw
  11. Bandsaw
  12. Oxyfuel Cutting
  13. Plasma Cutter
  14. Waterjet

Cut Metal with CNC Router

CNC routers are modern machining devices that are used to cut metal on large scales. These industrial machines are controlled with computer programs and an operator.

Pros of CNC Router to Cut Metal

  • CNC routers provide continuous usage as they can run as long as you want them to run. The only time you need to shut them down is for maintenance.
  • CNC Machines are consistent and will produce piece after piece without flaws.
  • These machines allow manufacturers to employ less skilled staff since they are operated automatically.
  • CNC machines work with software which means they can be updated and allow designers to simulate the process.
  • The technology used in these industrial machines allows manufacturers to develop impossible designs with manual fabrication techniques.
  • A single operator can manage the metal cut process with these machines.
  • The last advantage of this way to cut metal is its flexibility. A CNC router can be reprogrammed for creating a different product within a few hours.

Cons of CNC Machines

  • Although you can cut metal precisely with CNC machines, they can be more costly than manually cutting methods.
  • Since this metal cutting method does not need old skills and training, it can cause losing manual metal cutting professionals.
  • The last con of a CNC router is that it can cause unemployment as it needs fewer workers.
Metal cutting with CNC
Metal Cutting with CNC Router

Metal Laser Cutting

Laser cutting machines are the most modern metal fabrication systems that utilize high-energy light beams to cut metal. Thus, today’s metal fabricators should provide laser cutting services for various industrial applications. This metal cutting method features many advantages over other systems. However, it does have its few drawbacks.

Pros of Laser Cutting System to Cut Metal

  • Flexibility: Laser cutting does not require exchanging cutting tools to cut metal. The same setup can be used for fabricating various shapes within the same material thickness. Additionally, intricate cuts will not cause any issues.
  • Precision: If you want to cut metal with high accuracy, the best method to choose is laser cutting. The accuracy of these machines will allow you to achieve high precisions without requiring any after-treatment. Additionally, there is no need for added tolerance.
  • Repeatability: Precise laser cutting machines can fabricate and cut metal in the exact dimensions as demanded. The device ensures metal parts that replica each other.
  • Speed: Laser cutting devices can cut metal a lot quicker than traditional fabrication methods, especially for more complex shapes. Compared to the metal cutting methods such as flame cutting, laser cutters beat them in speed up to a specific thickness of about 10mm.
  • Automation: Since modern laser cutting machines are automated, metal fabrication with this method does not require human resources.
  • Quality: If the operator uses the correct setup to cut metal with laser cutting systems, the machines will only leave a slight burr. Generally, it is not necessary to remove it. Additionally, you will not have to worry about the heat-affected zone with laser cutters since it is very small.
  • Contactless Cutting: Only the laser beam comes into contact with the metal in the laser cutting method. Thus, no mechanical friction occurs during the process.
  • Versatility: This is the essential advantage of the laser cutting method. Laser cutters are suitable for various materials, and they can be used for many purposes, such as laser marking. Additionally, laser cutters are ideal for multiple profiles such as tubes and products, including the decorative metal fence.

Cons of Laser Cutting

  • Need of Expertise: If you want to make the most of a laser cutting machine’s potential with the correct setup to cut metal, you will require experience.
  • Metal Thickness Limitations: Compared to other metal cutting methods, laser cutters are unsuitable for thick metal plates.
  • Upfront Costs: Cutting metal with laser cutters can be twice as expensive compared to plasma or waterjet.
cut metal with laser cutting system
Laser Cutter

Cut Metal with Hacksaw

Using a hacksaw to cut metal is one of the most conventional metal fabrication methods. However, current metal fabricators still utilize this specific method for some of their projects.

If you want to utilize a hacksaw for metal fabrication, you should hold the handle, press the cutting blade against the metal, and move the edge forth and back in classic sawing motions.

Pros of Hacksaw Cutting

  • It is a simple tool.
  • It is cheap compared to modern methods.
  • It is straightforward to learn and use a hacksaw for cutting metal.

Cons of Hacksaw

  • Using a hacksaw for cutting metal requires muscle power.
  • Cutting metal with this method can be very time-consuming.
  • It is considered the last option for large-scale projects.
Hacksaw Metal Cutter
Hacksaw Metal Cutter

Tin Snips Metal Cutting Tool

You may need to cut thin sheet metal and metal mesh. The best way to do the job is using tin snips which are small and easy-to-use metal fabrication tools.

Pros of Tin Snips

  • It is a simple metal fabrication tool.
  • You do not need experience in cutting metal with tin snips.
  • Cutting thin flat metal with tin snips is very quick.
  • It is cheaper than most metal fabrication methods.

Cons of Tin Snips

  • This sheet metal cutting method can only cut thin material.
  • It is likely to leave the sheet metal edges serrated.
Tin Snip Metal Cutting Tool
Tin Snip Metal Cutting Tool

Air Cut-Off Tool

One of the practical methods of cutting metal is using an air cut-off tool. This metal fabrication device is basically a miniature version of an angle grinder that runs off the air. Additionally, it has a cut-off wheel of a particular size.

Pros of Cutting Metal with Air Cut-Off

  • This method is perfect for small areas.
  • You can make sharper turns with this tool due to its smaller blade.
  • The air cut-off method is a decent choice to cut metal tack welds.

Cons of Cutting Metal with Air Cut-Off

  • The only drawback of this cutting method is that it cannot be used for large-scale projects.
Air Cut Off Metal Fabrication Tool
Air Cut Off Metal Fabrication Tool

Cut Metal with Shears

Metal shears are very similar to tin snips while working with electricity.

Pros of Shears

  • They are much faster than tin snips.
  • Shears are ideal if you have to cut metal sheets on a large scale.
  • They are perfect for creating straight lines.
  • Shears can cut metal on the turn.

Cons of Shears

  • Using shears requires experience.
  • When using this metal fabrication method, you need to be precise since the slightest mistake can cause severe issues on the surface of your sheet metal.
Shear metal cutter
Shear metal cutter

Cut Metal With Sawzall

Sawzall or reciprocating saw is basically a hacksaw with a motor that runs off either a battery or power outlet to cut metal.

Pros of Sawzall

  • It can cut metal in any shape and thickness easily.
  • It is easy to learn to work with these cutting tools.

Cons of Sawzall

  • Cutting metal with a Sawzall requires a steady hand.
  • Although it can fabricate metal pieces with any shape and thickness, this method is practical for specific applications.
cut metal with Sawzall
Metal Fabrication with Sawzall

Cut Metal with Angle Grinder

The angle grinder is the most used tool by metal welding service providers. Although these tools are excellent for griding, you can switch the grinding wheel to cut sheet metals, pipes, etc.

Pros of Angle Grinder

  • Cutting metal with an angle grinder is quick.
  • You can cut metal with this tool with a bit of experience.

Cons of Cutting Metal with Angle Grinder

  • It is not the best choice for clean and straight lines.
angle grinder for metal cutting
Metal Fabrication with Angle Grinder

Chop Saw Metal Cutting Tool

A chop saw is a spinning cutting tool established on a worktop, and you should operate it by pulling down a level in an up to down movement.

Pros of Chop Saw

  • You can cut metal quickly at 90 degrees.
  • It is a perfect tool for cutting metal pipes, flat stocks, or even steel tubing.

Cons of Chop Saw

  • Modern chop saws have considerably expensive blades.
  • You should be very careful when fabricating metal with this tool.
Chop Saw metal cutter
Chop Saw Metal Cutter

Standard Circular Saw

Another tool that you can cut metal with is the circular saw which is almost similar to a chop saw, except it is not fixed to the top of the workpiece.

Pros of Circular Saw

  • This metal cutting tool is portable.
  • It features a safety guard for the blade.
  • They can cut metal quickly.

Cons of Circular Saw

  • Circular saws are not the best option for uniform cuts.
  • Working with this metal cutting tool requires quite an experience.
Cut metal with Circular Saw
Cut metal with Circular Saw

Cut Metal with Bandsaw

Bandsaws are metal cutting tools that work vertically or horizontally depending on the project.

Pros of Bandsaw

  • The bandsaw allows you to have a steady cut.
  • It is effortless and quick to cut pipes with this tool.
  • This tool is quieter than the other mechanical cutting devices.

Cons of Bandsaw

  • Cutting metal tubes and pieces with a bandsaw can be time-consuming.
Cut metal with bandsaw
Cut metal with Bandsaw

Oxyfuel Cutting Method

Oxyfuel cutting is a metal fabrication method that involves cutting the material using a torch. The fire uses oxygen and a fuel gas such as propane to be ignited.

Pros of Oxyfuel Method

  • It is the perfect method for cutting steel products.
  • This multi-purpose tool can be utilized for welding, brazing, and heating.

Cons of Oxyfuel Method

  • Using this tool requires skills and experience.
  • The oxyfuel cutting method requires more equipment.
Oxyfuel metal fabrication system
Oxyfuel metal fabrication system

Metal Cutting with Plasma Cutter

Plasma cutter is among the favorite tools of the current metal fabricators. The system works by hooking the plasma cutter up to a power source and air compressor. Then you fire a hot jet of plasma from the torch, which allows you to make a diverse range of straight cuts at any demanding depths.

Pros of Plasma Cutter

  • It is a modern metal cutting method.
  • It can cut precise lines.
  • Using a plasma cutter is easy for welders.

Cons of Plasma Cutter

  • The only drawback of plasma cutters is that they are expensive.
Plasma Cutter for Metal
Plasma Cutter for Metal

Metal Fabrication with Waterjet

The last method of cutting metal materials is using abrasive waterjets. This method is suitable for all metal materials, including aluminum, copper, brass, etc. Some current aluminum composite panel manufacturers utilize this method to fabricate their products.

Pros of Waterjet

  • Waterjet cutting leaves no distortion or heat-affected zone.
  • It creates perfect and smooth edges.
  • Fast cutting and increased productivity are other advantages of this method.
  • There is no need for additional part clamping.

Cons of Waterjet

  • Waterjet cutting cannot be used for metal sheets with more considerable thicknesses.
  • This method can waste a lot of water.
Waterjet for Cutting Metal
Waterjet for Cutting Metal