Metal Cutting Saw

   / Metal Cutting Saw #1  


Elite Member
Jul 29, 2013
Sacramento, California
Kubota B21
I've been using a Makita cordless metal saw (5 3/8") for a while, it works great. Clamp a speed square to run against and get a good cut every time. But I wanted a setup similar to a sliding miter saw, to make repetitive accurate square cuts on fairly wide stock without a lot of setup. Didn't see anything on the market. Wood cutting miter saws spin too fast. Dedicated 14" metal saws such as the Makita and Milwaukee are limited to about 4 1/2" width of cut. And costly. Same goes for horizontal bandsaws. I did see one metal cutting miter saw advertised, but it was a bit pricy and I couldn't find one to look at. Didn't want to buy it sight unseen, especially since it didn't seem to have a sturdy clamping mechanism. I have a Makita 14" abrasive saw, which is fine for many purposes, but it is noisy, dirty, hot, and none too accurate.

I used to have an old MBC DeWalt radial arm saw, but gave it away a long time ago, shortly after I bought my first sliding miter saw. The miter saw was a lot more useful for the work I was doing at the time. After considerable thought I decided the DeWalt would have made a decent metal cutting saw. The motor turns at about 3400 rpm vs 3600 for the Makita cordless. It is built very well and has adjustments for everything. It has a 5/8" arbor so could use the Makita or other modern metal cutting saw blades. It took a while but I found a 1952 DeWalt MBC in the back room of a theater production company, used for making sets. It is on a nice 9 ft welded stainless steel table, perfect for my intended use. Everything was out of adjustment and sloppy, and the ways hadn't been cleaned for years, so it didnt cut at all well and nobody wanted to use it. But it was essentially in new condition. I don't know if the old DeWalts could ever wear out in normal use. Anyway I got the saw and table for $120. About the price of a tank of gas. After cleaning and adjustment, and with a good Freud blade, it makes glass-like perfectly square cuts in pine and hardwood.

I made a few changes to set it up for metal cutting. These are shown in the pictures. First a continuous sheet of good quality 3/4" MDF, screwed to the metal frame to make the front table. Second, a strong clamping arrangement at the back of the saw to hold the back table and fence solidly. Third, an arrangement similar to a milling machine for clamping the work near the blade. The clamping screw goes through the welded metal frame so it does a good job of clamping. The pictures show a length of 1/2" x 4" mild steel. The saw cuts quite smooth and fast, with little vibration, although from the cut it looks like I need to fine-tune the "heel/toe" of the blade a bit. With the 5 3/8" Makita blade the saw has about 7/8" clearance under the motor, plenty for me as I can't imagine needing to cut steel thicker than 1/2". The Makita blade is very thin, minimizing chips. The chips seem to stay on the table for the most part although I will fabricate some kind of collector.

I'm posting this because I have read a fair number of threads on cutting metal. This is an option that I haven't seen written up, although I am sure I am not the only one to give it a try.

   / Metal Cutting Saw #2  
Just a heads up, watch the blade as it might throw teeth.

Metal cutting blades for steel are mostly made for slower saws than wood cutting saws, like the Rage series.
   / Metal Cutting Saw #4  
Perfect! Just a heads up for others then :)

That was a fantastic price for that saw. Not sure if I'd have the balls to use a radial arm saw on steel though, but I'm extra cautious.
   / Metal Cutting Saw #5  
Great find... I'm jealous and only a 100 miles away!
   / Metal Cutting Saw
  • Thread Starter
Actually the makita blade is rated at 4500 rpm. So the DeWalt application has a substantial margin of safety.
   / Metal Cutting Saw #7  
wonder what rpms the craftsman 10in radial saw turn. Got one setting in the basement I bought a few years ago and have never used. Uhm, need to do a little investigating.
   / Metal Cutting Saw #8  
Makita makes a 7 1/4" metal cutting blade that I have been using for about 15 years in a wormdrive skilsaw It has the higher RPM rating like you would need and it would give you a little more capacity for cutting tube or channel stock with your saw. Bosch also make a similar blade in the 7 1/4" size both have the 5/8" round arbor hole or the diamond knockout. In my skilsaw it is really portable and can be just as accurate as cutting plywood or solid lumber and almost as fast.
   / Metal Cutting Saw
  • Thread Starter
Thanks for suggestion on blades. For the radial arm saw I started out with the small makita blade because small diameter and thin width puts least stress on 60 year old DeWalt motor. As you say the 7 1/4 blade will be much more capable for tubing angle channel. will probably change to that now I know the setup works.
   / Metal Cutting Saw #10  
I am just wondering how are you keeping your saw from digging in the metal and launching the blade toward you. I am supposing that you are pushing the blade thru the metal and not pulling to make your cuts.

Makita 7 1/4 blade is rated for 3600rpms
Last edited: