Abrasive Saw – Throw your hacksaw away!

Abrasive Saw

What is it?

Abrasive saws are usually called a cutoff saw or metal chop saw. It is almost always electrically powered and is used to cut steel and stainless steel.  A thin abrasive disc spins at a high speed and the grinding action of the spinning wheel cuts the metal.  Today’s bench top abrasive saws have  a built-in vise to clamp the metal your are cutting.  They usually can be used on the ground but I suggest bolting them to a workbench to make it easy to use.

by: Paul Sikkema

Milwaukee 14 in. Abrasive Saw

The composite disk blade uses friction to abrasively cut through the steel. The disks are consumable items and they wear and have to be replaced regularly. The abrasive disks usually are 14 inch diameter and 7/64 inch thick.  There are commercial versions that use a 16 inch diameter blade. Disks are available for mild steel and stainless.

These portable metal cutoff saws have made many jobs easier. Abrasive saws are much more inexpensive, portable and lightweight than power band saws. Abrasive saws have all but replaced acetylene torches in many construction applications, like cutting rebar.

Do you need and abrasive saw?

If you only cut a few metal objects every year a hacksaw works well, but if you have a lot of metal to cut it is always a good choice to rent or buy this saw.

If I had a welder and wanted to build a trailer, race car, or a structure out of metal tube this is the best tool to cut the metal to length.  You can make 90 degree and angle cuts easily.

It also works well for cutting metal studs.

If you are pouring a slab for a shed or garage this saw will make short work of cutting the rebar that you put into the cement.

Using One

If you have used a miter saw to cut wood you can easily learn to use this saw to cut metal.  If you are using this saw for the first time it will be very noisy and scary because it cuts by grinding the metal and throws sparks all over the place.  Make sure the item you are cutting is clamped in tight and cut slowly and you will do fine.  Always follow the safety instructions in the manual that comes with the saw.  Because the saw throws and lot of sparks when cutting I highly recommend safety glasses, long sleeves and long pants.  Make sure there are no combustible items in the path of the sparks.  Always clamp the work into the saw.  If you are doing a lot of cutting, wear hearing protection.

I’ve selected three tools for you that I recommend.

My selections are based on my many years of using tools both around the home and professionally.

Basic Homeowner Grade – You use it every month or so – Good tool at a good price.


Craftsman 14″ Abrasive Chop Saw with Laser Trac (21289)

Remodel/Construction Grade – You use it every weekend – Better tool, will last you years.

Milwaukee 6176-20 15 Amp 14-Inch Abrasive Cutoff Machine

Professional Grade – You use it everyday – When you only want the best.

DEWALT DW872 14-Inch Multi-Cutter Saw

If you are going to use it a lot buy and keep an extra blade handy.

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