Steel refers to a family of metals that are an alloy of primarily iron and carbon. The mixture of additional materials to the iron adds strength, durability and hardness. Because of its strength, steel requires specific tools and techniques to cut and shape it. The two primary methods of cutting steel are either through extreme heat with a welding torch or through mechanical means such as a saw.
Steel tubing and steel plates can be cut using a jigsaw or a circular saw fitted with a metal cutting blade. This method requires patience and measurement of the gauge, or thickness, of the metal being cut. Saw blade manufacturers provide guidelines on the maximum thickness the blade is capable of cutting.
An oxy-acetylene torch is a welding tool that creates a high temperature flame by burning two gases: oxygen and acetylene. The intense focused heat from the torch is hot enough to melt through steel to cut it into shape. The torch is capable of cutting steel in gauges ranging from thin sheet metal to thick girders.
Electric Arc Welder
An electric arc welder, such as a MIG or TIG welder, can be used to cut sheet metal on small projects. An arc welder passes an electric current from a metal wire to the metal plating, creating a high temperature spark that melts the metal. An arc welding machine is capable of cutting steel plating for a short duration if the voltage on the machine is set to its highest setting. However, this method should only be attempted in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.
A handheld power tool that spins a rough wheel-shaped blade at several thousand rotations per minute is an angle grinder. When fitted with a diamond blade, an angle grinder is capable of cutting through steel reinforcement bars and sheet metal.
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