cutting sheet metal

i was wondering if it was possible to make straight cuts in 26 -22 ga steel (zinc coated and otherwise) with my table saw. i was planning on
using a 3/4" plywood or mdf sled with toggle clamps as hold down. it seems kinda obvious that this kind of support would be necessary for nice clean cuts without bending the crap out of the relatively thin metal. my question is, is this even possible with ANY blade on a table saw? i have NO idea what type of blade would cut the metal safely. can anyone recommend anything besides shears? i've tried and they just didnt cut it.... no pun intended. ok maybe it was. =) thanks handsome greg
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It is possible to get "Cut Off" blades like angle grinder blades of the right diamtre for table saws to cut thin metal. I have used them to cut ColourBond metal fencing sheets (thin like roof iron) and they work just fine. (Do not know your country).

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i live in the US. is this sort of thing widely available? lowes or home depot?
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Thin material can be cut by scoring it with a Stanley knife, and bending it until it breaks. It's quite easy to get straight cuts.
Leon
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There is a blade known as a "friction" blade used for cutting corrugated steel roofing. The teeth have no points, just U shaped valleys about the same width as the teeth, approx 1/4" IIRC. This kind of blade is very noisy in use and requires ear muffs to be worn by the user.
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thanks. noise isnt a huge problem. i prefer earplugs when woodworking anyway. i only assumed i'd NEED them when dealing with metal. is this the kind of thing home depot would have?
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You almost have it right. Clamping thin metal between two MDF sheets (preferably with fasteners all-round the sheet, except at the cut line) works fine.
Keep your (many-toothed) carbide blade fast. Wear full-face protection AND glasses underneath, and consider a stout bib, like a welder's apron for hot chip protection (the stuff HURTS).
This isn't the best way. Try a sheet metal shear <G>.
BTW... It's not easy on the operator, neighbors, or equipment, but I've resorted to cutting up to 1-1/4" aluminum plate on an ordinary table saw. (don't have a plasma cutter). It's slow, painful, and noisy. But 'twerks fine. It even produces a nice cut, if the work is guided accurately, and the blade is strong enough not to flutter.
LLoyd

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Get a friction saw blade. They look like a tile blade and are made to cut sheet metal. I have used them on a Skill saw to cut metal building panels in the field. Bugs
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On 11 Jan 2005 00:30:59 -0800, " snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com"

While I don't know, or care, if your handsome, having done just this very thing last evening, I might be able to help.
First, go to www.mcmaster.com and go to page 2220 of their catalog. For my project, I was trying to cut 2.5mm wide slices from type 316ss sheet that was 0.024" thick. I used their part number 45615A117, which is listed as a high performance cutoff wheel (6"diax0.040"thick) with 5/8" arbor, which is what you will need for a typical table saw. I had some issues with blade flex, and generating too much heat in the work piece. If I did it all over again, I would pick their part number 45615A52 (6"diax1/16") with 5/8" arbor. Besides being about 50% thicker, it is also coarser grit. Heck, at $3.45ea, buy a couple of each type and find what works better for you. As others here will tell you, McMaster is a great company to order from. If you are anywhere near one of their depots, expect your order next day, even with standard shipping. At an absolute outside, 3 days. Expect reasonable shipping charges.
A couple of notes on procedure. Clean the saw well BEFORE use. All sawdust buildup MUST be removed. DON'T use your dust collector, if you have one attached. There will be a lot of sparks, and I'm sure you don't need a fire to make the experience more interesting. I had to screw a wood block to one edge of my piece of sheet metal to keep it from going under the saw fence; you will likely have to do the same. I found the best performance was with the blade sticking about 1" proud of the table. With the wood block against the fence, I carefully pushed the work into the blade with a set of rubber coated push blocks and never had an issue with binding or catching. You could also rig up some kind of sled arrangement. I also zero clearance throat insert to keep the cutoffs above the table.
Stay alert and good luck.
David Glos
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A friend cuts steel and aluminum on his table saw. The blades required for each are different. A non-ferrous metal cutting blade is needed for aluminum, and a ferrous-cutting blade for steel. He used 7-1/4" blades in his 10" table saw. Lowes has (or had) them. He says that the cutting is smooth and not noisy at all. He tried the cut-off abrasive disk type and did not like it at all. He achieves almost mirror smooth cuts with the traditional style blade.
I would be a bit concerned about the type of sled. There are two types: one that supports both sides of the cut, and the other that supports only one side of the cut (sometimes called a panel-cutting jig). The later holds the waste part of the metal up off the table top by 3/4". My friend uses the former - it supports both the waste side and the keep side. His sled is aluminum, so the smaller blade does not pose as much a problem.
No experience yet myself, but I'll probably try his technique when the need arises.
-- Tom

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On 11 Jan 2005 00:30:59 -0800, " snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com"

Why not? Use a $5 HF 60- or 80-tooth carbide tipped blade which can be thrown away afterwards if necessary. You'll have to find the best angle of attack by adjusting the blade height, but I'd go fairly high to start. Add muffs, safety glasses, and a face shield.
Clean the sawdust out first, too, eh? (You don't want a fire.)
Last, but not least: don't forget to add good ventilation.
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what he said , but I might try an abrasive blade instead....ie chopsaw MLM
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Before you go to all the trouble why not just bring your tin to the sheetmetal shop and have them cut it with their shear?
--

Roger Shoaf

About the time I had mastered getting the toothpaste back in the tube, then
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