Cutting Steel

It is always a pleasure to be able to assist potential clients by answering their construction related questions.

Client Randy asks:

“I have gotten a bid for my building, but became aware that this will not be a “pre-fab” kit. My question is related to the cutting of the 29 gauge steel panels. What is the best tool to use and what are the options? Thanks in advance.”

Randy ~

The beauty of not having a “pre-fab” kit is the ability to compensate for unexpected mistakes. Keep in mind, any steel panel edge which is to be cut in the field, is covered with steel trim – so “close” is actually good for things besides horseshoes and hand grenades (oh, and small thermonuclear weapons).

Our Construction Guide addresses this, as well as many other issues. Here is an excerpt:

Cutting Steel Siding

In spite of recommendations prepared by the Building Products Technical Committee of the National Coil Coaters Association, many installers have found the best way to make accurate, straight cuts in steel roofing and siding is to use a power saw.

IF THIS METHOD IS CHOSEN, AVOID DAMAGE TO EITHER PANEL BEING CUT OR ANY OTHER NEARBY PRE-PAINTED STEEL PRODUCTS.

Take time to follow an old carpenter’s adage:

                             “Measure twice and cut once”.

Also, take caution to note steel lap direction of steel sheeting being cut. Lay panels to be cut pre-painted side down on a surface which will not scratch paint on panel.

Helpful Hint: For best results, use a fine-tooth plywood blade. Many experienced installers recommend installing the blade in the reverse direction to produce smooth, clean cuts.

Prior to cutting, wear adequate eye and ear protection. Protect any exposed skin from possible damage from flying steel shavings. Make certain no bystanders are in or near cutting area.

Never attempt to cut more than one steel panel at same time!

Pull blade through steel panel slowly. If power circular saw blade direction is reversed to cut steel panels, do not use same saw to cut wood. Other – although slower – methods (and recommended by steel manufacturers) for cutting steel siding or roofing panels is with specially designed electric steel cutting tools (such as “nibblers”) or with tin snips.

After three decades of experience with nearly 15,000 clients constructing their own buildings – cutting steel panels is rarely, if ever, an issue as long as you follow the above “safety” rules. Happy building, Randy!

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