What Tools to Use to Cut Vinyl Siding

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Bench saws, such as miter saws, speed up the vinyl siding installation process.
Bench saws, such as miter saws, speed up the vinyl siding installation process. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Vinyl siding is made of thick, durable plastic that resists deterioration and repels moisture. However, like other plastic materials, vinyl siding can develop burred edges or cracks if cut with the wrong tools. Vinyl siding installers use hand tools and power tools to cut vinyl siding planks and sheets. Whether you're installing new siding or repairing old work, an understanding of the types of tools used to cut vinyl siding allows you to choose the right ones.

Bench Saws

Builders use the term "bench saws" to describe stationary, table-mounted circular saws. Vinyl siding installers commonly use miter saws, chop saws and radial arms to create precise crosscuts through vinyl siding planks. While chop saws only perform cuts at right angles, many miter saws and radial arm saws create angled cuts for unusual application. Regardless of type, bench saws must be equipped with a fine-toothed plywood blade to cut vinyl siding. Fine-toothed blades are designed to cut through finish-grade materials without causing damage, such as burrs and cracks.

Hand-Held Circular Saw

The hand-held circular saw performs both crosscuts and rip-cuts through vinyl siding materials. Hand-held circular saws are lightweight and portable, allowing vinyl siding installers to quickly transport the tool to distant areas of a work site. A general-purpose circular saw is adequate for cutting vinyl siding materials. Like bench saws, hand-held circular saws must be equipped with fine-toothed plywood blades to properly cut vinyl siding.

Snips

Often called "tin snips," snips are the scissors of the construction industry. Originally developed for cutting through soft metals, snips easily shear through vinyl siding materials and allow siding installers to create intricate cuts or unusual shapes. Unlike household scissors, snips have a set of stubby, wedge-shaped cutting blades and an internal mechanism, referred to as "compound cutting action," that assists cutting by multiplying cutting force.

Utility Knife

Vinyl siding installers carry a utility knife, sometimes called a box cutter, to create quick onsite cuts through vinyl siding materials. The average utility knife consists of a roughly rectangular, palm-sized handle and trapezoidal razor blade. A sliding button atop the utility knife's handle controls the blade's position. Utility knives are lightweight, relatively inexpensive and particularly useful for cutting small portions away from pre-installed vinyl siding.

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