Due to the wild price swings in the lumber industry, the practice of framing residential and commercial structures with wood has been interrupted by the use of metal studs. Professional builders are discovering that metal has numerous benefits, including less waste, and faster construction times. The price of metal studs is very competitive with wood, making it an easy choice for many. This article will discuss the best way to cut metal studs and the equipment needed to make the process efficient.
What are Metal Studs?
Steel frame construction is accomplished with metal studs and joists. These building materials have been formed into shapes and sizes comparable to dimensional wood through a process called roll forming. To create the bends in the metal stud, sheet steel is passed through a series of rollers. The web, flanges, and lips of a stud are produced in this manner. The process is called cold-form because no heat is used during the manufacture, which makes the studs and joists stronger than their original sheet steel counterparts.
Framing With Metal Studs
Metal stud framing is a method of constructing walls and planes out of cold-formed steel components. The stud and track are the two major components of metal stud framing. Metal studs with a thicker gauge are used in load-bearing structures, such as exterior walls, for structural purposes. One of the advantages of framing with steel studs is that they do not have to fit perfectly as with wood. Take a few measurements on the wall and cut them all to the same size. This saves time and energy. Another benefit is that mistakes are easy to fix after the wall has been constructed. Back out the screws, make the change, and screw the new stud into place.
The Best Way to Cut Metal Studs
Cutting metal studs can be done with hand tools or power tools. While power tools are the easiest to use and allow you to cut bulk quantities, when you only have a few metal studs to cut, there are some simple tools that can get the job done.
- Aviator Snips – The finest hand tool for cutting metal studs is aviation snips, also known as tin snips or compound snips (although they are distinct). Cutting with tin snips in a straight line is simple. Mark both sides of the stud and bend it backwards. This will cause a crease that can be cut, and you are done.
- Utility knife – You can use a utility knife for cutting all three sides, or it can be used just to cut the crease area once you have cut the two sides with snips.
- Hacksaw – A low-cost, easy-to-use alternative for cutting through metal studs (and various other products). The hacksaw, commonly one of the first tools a contractor owns, easily cuts through metal studs, and anyone can use it.
If you are on a large job, then using a powered saw will make more sense.
How to Choose the Right Saw for Cutting Metal Studs
Most professional contractors own a circular saw and a miter saw. Some may own a chop saw, which is similar to a miter saw. All three of these are excellent choices for cutting steel studs. The miter saw allows you to make angle cuts while a chop saw only makes straight cuts. You can cut studs individually or as a group. They are normally sold in 10 packs, and you can cut all of them simultaneously. Make sure the blade always contacts the wide side first.
Different Types of Blades for Cutting Metal Studs
Regardless of which saw you are using, you need the right blade to ensure a smooth, straight cut. The ideal choice is a diamond-tipped blade made for the specific type of metal you will be cutting. A less expensive option would be a toothless (Carborundum) metal-cutting blade.
Safety Tips to Avoid Injury When Cutting Metal Studs
Cutting metal can be hazardous, especially when sharp edges are left on the cut. However, by taking a few precautionary measures, you can eliminate most of the danger. If you are not using power tools, then heavy gloves and safety glasses should be sufficient.
That said, power saws of any type require a bit more care, even when cutting wood. The high RPMs associated with circular and miter saws can cause sharp metal fragments to fly into air that can burn sensitive skin and damage your eyes. To prevent injury, wear a long sleeved shirt and full length pants. Instead of safety glasses, you may want to consider a full face shield. It is better to err on the side of safety.