Corrugated metal panels are commonly used for roofing, siding, decking, and flooring. But they have a repeating wavy or rippled pattern across their entire surface that can make them tricky to cut with accuracy, that’s why we’ll show you how to cut corrugated metal step by step.
Fortunately, it’s not hard to do if you have the right tools. You can use tin snips to make short cuts, a circular saw for long, straight cuts, or an angle grinder for more versatile and curved cuts.
Whichever your tool, the process to cut corrugated metal is very simple. You just have to prepare the metal sheet by measuring the cut and finding an appropriate workspace, put your safety gear on, and cut!
Read on if you want to know all the tips to work safely and achieve professional results!
Here are all the supplies you’re going to need to cut corrugated metal. The only thing that varies depending on the method you choose is, of course, the cutting tool.
- Corrugated metal sheets
- Cutting tools (tin snips, circular saw, or angle grinder)
- PPE (Personal Protective Equipment): safety glasses, dust mask, work gloves, earplugs
- A wide, stable workspace
- Combination square
- Measuring tape
- Permanent marker
Cutting metal can always be a dangerous affair because the metal dust and fragments produced in this project can severely injure you. For this reason, always wear safety goggles, leather gloves, and cover up with a good pair of steel-toe boots, long sleeves, and long pants for additional protection.
As with any other kind of project, preparing your materials is key to achieve clean, accurate cuts and professional results. If you get the cut right from the very beginning, you won’t waste any material and won’t need to spend extra time fixing or making them again.
So, to prepare your corrugated metal sheet for cutting, you have to do the following:
- Lay down the sheet on a steady workspace, making sure that the underside is facing up. By doing this, you ensure that the ridges won’t stick up so that they’re easier to cut.
If you’re using power tools for this project, you can use a sawing table or a set of sawhorses as your workplace, so that there isn’t anything underneath your cutting line that can block your blade.
- Secure the sheet with adjustable clamps so that it stays in place while you cut it.
- Use a tape measure and a permanent marker to mark measurements along the edges of the corrugated metal sheet. Connect cutting lines from the marks using a combination square.
- Measure twice to make sure everything is correct and as precise as possible.
That’s it! The preparation of your corrugated metal sheets is so simple that it’s definitely worth taking the extra time to do it.
Now you have to put your PPE on and choose the tool you’re going to use.
Using Tin Snips
Tin snips, also called aviation snips or compound snips, are an excellent option if you are working with thin and flexible metal, and want to avoid power tools. They’re also good for making curved cuts.
You’ll need to find a pair of heavy-duty snips that are suited for the type of cut you want to do. Since they’re color-coded most of the time, it should be easy to do. Pick snips that have a yellow handle if you want to cut a straight line. Red handles are designed to cut to the right, and green ones cut to the left.
To start cutting corrugated metal sheets using tin snips, you have to use them as you would a pair of scissors:
- Hold the side of the metal sheet with your non-dominant hand to keep it in place.
- Place the blades of the snips around the edge that you want to cut.
- Press on the handles of the snips to make a cut and release them to free them.
- Push them forward a little bit, and repeat the process to make short, quick cuts along the marked line.
Pretty straightforward, don’t you think? The process can be a bit slow, and it does require some effort, which is why we don’t recommend using tin snips on large panels or making long cuts. Also, bear in mind that tin snips can’t cut along corrugations, only across them.
If you want to make long, straight cuts in thicker sheets of corrugated metal, then you need to use a circular saw equipped with a sharp blade designed for cutting metal.
Circular saws can be very efficient and make quick work of your metal sheets, but they’re also very loud and can produce dangerous dust and metal fragments, so make sure you’re wearing your PPE.
This is what you have to do to cut corrugated metal with a circular saw:
- Make sure that the blade is secure and that the blade guard is in place.
- Brace the sheet by pressing down lightly with your non-dominant hand. Hold it at least 2 feet (0.61 m) away from your saw. If having your hand close to the blade makes you uncomfortable, you can use a heavy object to weigh down the metal sheet instead.
- Pull the saw’s trigger, allow the blade to reach full speed, and then slowly lower it onto the cutting edge you’ve marked.
- Move the saw slowly along the marked line, applying light pressure. Let the tool do the job and don’t force it through the metal to prevent kickback.
- Wipe the sheets immediately after cutting to remove any metal residue.
Using a circular saw to cut metal doesn’t present much difficulty, you just have to be careful and make sure you keep cutting in a straight line. Trying to change the direction in which the blade is going can make you lose control of it, so it’s best to avoid it.
Angle grinders can be used with any kind of corrugated sheet metal and allow you more freedom to turn while making longer cuts.
You’re going to need a continuous diamond wheel for your grinder. While you can use a standard continuous wheel if you want to, it’ll wear down quickly when working with corrugated metal. A diamond blade, on the other hand, will keep its shape and sharpness throughout your entire project.
These are the instructions to cut corrugated metal using an angle grinder:
- Make sure that the disc is tight and locked in place, and that the guard is positioned between your body and the tool.
- Move the section you’re cutting over the edge of your work surface, and weigh it down with a heavy object if you’re working with a thin sheet. Angle grinders should be operated with both hands.
- Turn the grinder on and allow the disc to reach full speed.
- Hold the grinder firmly with both hands, and carefully set the disc down on one of the lines you’ve previously marked at a 45° angle.
- Push the angle grinder slowly along the set line. Don’t apply too much pressure and let the tool do the job for you to prevent kickback.
And that’s it! Since you have more control when cutting with an angle grinder, you can use it to make curved cuts by simply rotating the tool slowly as it turns.
Cutting corrugated metal, or any other kind of metal for that matter can leave very sharp edges that can be quite dangerous. So, after removing any metal dust that the cutting process might have left on your sheet, you’ll have to smooth the edges.
You can start with 220-grit sandpaper, and then switch to a finer grit for the finishing touches. We recommend using a polishing pad to remove any remaining dust and buff out the shine for the best results.
Cutting corrugated metal doesn’t have to be an overly complicated job. If you make sure that your measurements are accurate, the rest is only a matter of being careful and having patience.
By following our step-by-step instructions and safety precautions, you can easily tackle this project yourself!