Best Way to Cut Metal Roofing – Which Tool to Use? – Reviews & Top Picks

man cutting metal sheet

If you have a metal roof in an upcoming project, these reviews will give you some insight into the best way to cut the panels to complete your project. A nice feature of metal roofing is the fact a single panel covers a lot of square footage. That speeds things right along. There you are, covering massive chunks of roof area, enjoying the beauty of the day and the wisdom of your roofing selection. Then, boom! You are confronted with an obstruction link a plumbing stack or roof vent. The wisdom of the metal roofing choice loses a bit of its luster, doesn’t it? Why? Your standard tool load-out may not be up to the task at hand.

Fear not. We’ve investigated the best ways of cutting metal roofing so you can knock out the obstructions with confidence and ease. Before you know it, you’ll climb off your roof with the satisfaction of a job well know and the knowledge your roof won’t need to see your smiling face again for a couple of decades.

We’ll review both manual and power tools as you’ll likely need a combination to knock the project out of the park in short order.

Comparison of our Favorite Picks for 2019

RankModelOur Favorite Product
#1An Orbital Jigsaw
BLACK+DECKER JS670V LineFinder Orbital Jigsaw(Our Pick for Cutting Metal Roofing)
BLACK+DECKER JS670V LineFinder Orbital Jigsaw

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#2A Handheld Circular Saw
SKIL 5280-01 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw
SKIL 5280-01 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw

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#3A Reciprocating Saw
Milwaukee 6519-31
Milwaukee 6519-31

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#4A Cut-off Saws/Angle Grinders
DEWALT DWE402 4-1/2-Inch 11-Amp Paddle Switch Angle Grinder
DEWALT DWE402 4-1/2-Inch 11-Amp Paddle Switch Angle Grinder

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#5A Sheet Metal Snips
Wiss M3R MetalMaster Straight, Left, and Right Cut Compound Action Snip Set(Our Preferred Method for Complicated Cuts)
Wiss M3R MetalMaster Straight, Left, and Right Cut Compound Action Snip Set

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#6A Hack Saw
LENOX Tools Adjustable Hacksaw
LENOX Tools Adjustable Hacksaw

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The 7 Best Tools for Cutting Metal Roofing

We’re going to focus on corrugated metal roofing as it is the most common style used by DIYers. Our first reviews are going to look at the tools needed for making straight cuts at a roof edge.

Making Straight Cuts

1. Jigsaws – Our Pick for Cutting Metal Roofing

If you are interested in the reciprocating cutting method but don’t want the significant vibrations of a full-size saw, the jigsaw might be a good choice. These are handy, multi-purpose tools you can use on other projects. They are lightweight and very easy to control. They can cut any material you can find the blade for. Their base can be angled, so it is easier to cut your roofing on the roof. Yes, reciprocating saws have an adjustable guard, but it is at 90o to the direction of cut. That makes it hard to cut your roofing in place.

In this category, we recommend the BLACK+DECKER JS670V LineFinder Orbital Jigsaw with SmartSelect Technology.

Sale
BLACK+DECKER Jig Saw, 6.0-Amp (JS670V)
116 Customer Reviews
BLACK+DECKER Jig Saw, 6.0-Amp (JS670V)
  • Line Finder illuminates your cut line for greater visibility and accuracy
  • Set the dial to your task and Smart Select automatically sets optimal orbital setting
  • Onboard blade storage for quick access to blades
Pros
  • Adjustable base
  • SmartSelect – pick the material you are cutting, and the tool adapts
  • Laser line guide
  • On-tool blade storage
  • Tool-less blade changes
Cons
  • Not the most powerful
  • No case or accessories

2. Handheld Circular Saws – Our Plan B

In this category, you have the full size, 7¼” saws and the 4.5 – 5” alternatives. There are a couple of reasons why you might like one of these tools over a reciprocating saw. One, you may already have one which means you may only need to buy the proper blade. Two, for precision work, circular saws are easier to control and allow you to maintain the line of cut better. Three, because they vibrate less, you avoid possible damage to the roofing material.

We like reciprocating saws. Cutting corrugated roofing with precision may not be their best application.

For a full-size tool, we recommend the SKIL 5280-01 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw.

Sale
SKIL 5280-01 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw with...
748 Customer Reviews
SKIL 5280-01 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw with...
  • Powerful 15-amp motor delivers 5,300-RPM for greater speed and faster cuts
  • 7-1/4-in carbide-tipped blade included. Spindle lock for easy blade changes.
  • 51? bevel capacity for a wide variety of cuts. Arbor size: 5/8 inches, cord length: 6 feet
Pros
  • Powerful
  • Lighter weight for easier control
  • Skil quality
Cons
  • It may struggle in cutting tougher materials

The blade we recommend is the FREUD D0748FM 48-Tooth Steel Demon Ferrous Metal Cutting Saw Blade.

Sale
FREUD D0748FM 48-Tooth20mm Arbor Steel Demon...
1 Customer Reviews
FREUD D0748FM 48-Tooth20mm Arbor Steel Demon...
  • Efficiently cut through ferrous metals quickly and accurately, leaving clean, burr free cuts
  • Ideal for cutting steel studs, steel pipe, and steel sheet
  • Ideal for most mild steels under 1/8 in. Thickness
Pros
  • Great quality
  • Long life
  • Precise cuts
Cons
  • More expensive than other blades

For the smaller sized saws, we recommend the Rockwell RK3441K 4-1/2” Compact Circular Saw.

Sale
Rockwell RK3441K 4-1/2” Compact Circular Saw, 5...
1,059 Customer Reviews
Rockwell RK3441K 4-1/2” Compact Circular Saw, 5...
  • Compact but powerful 5-amp electric motor, matching performance of full-size saws at 3,500 rpm
  • At only 5 lbs., is 50% lighter than conventional 7-1/4” circular saws, cuts through 2x4s in a...
  • Left-handed blade design provides remarkable cut-line visibility
Pros
  • Easy to control
  • Cutting line easy to see for the entire length
  • Great quality
  • Kit includes a metal cutting blade
Cons
  • More expensive than other similar options

A nice replacement blade for the Rockwell is the DiamondX 4 1/2-Inch All Purpose Blade for Cutting Metal.

DiamondX 4 1/2-Inch (4.5') Blade for All Purpose...
42 Customer Reviews
DiamondX 4 1/2-Inch (4.5") Blade for All Purpose...
  • Made with top-quality GE Superabrasive diamond, this blade is excellent for cutting all ferrous and...
  • It will last over 100X longer than abrasive wheels and save tremendous amounts of down time due to...
  • Dimensions are 4 1/2" diameter X .100 thick with a 7/8" arbor hole. Also included is a 5/8" bushing...
Pros
  • Diamonds last longer, cut better
  • Designed specifically for high-speed dry cutting of metal
Cons
  • Expensive

3. Reciprocating Saw – For Experienced Users

There’s not much better at tough cutting jobs than the reciprocating saw. Cutting corrugated falls into the “tough” cutting category. You’ll be wanting a metal blade, naturally. It will have teeth on it like a traditional handheld hack saw.

When you reach your edge, mark your cut. We’ve used chalk lines to good effect and markers are also suitable. You now have a decision; do you cut the roofing in place or take it to another spot and cut it there to avoid damage to facia and other roofing components? Whatever you decide, the roofing must be securely clamped or nailed into place. Otherwise, the working vibrations of the tool will make your cutting job a misery as the roofing bounces and moves while the saw works.

We recommend the Milwaukee 6519-31.

Milwaukee 6519-31 12 Amp Corded 3000 Strokes Per...
179 Customer Reviews
Milwaukee 6519-31 12 Amp Corded 3000 Strokes Per...
  • QUICK LOCK TECHNOLOGY: You can add and remove blades without tools thanks to the latch on the side...
  • VIBRATION REDUCTION: An internal counter weight mechanism makes using the tool more comfortable and...
  • GEAR PROTECTING CLUTCH: The internal components will last longer with the help of a clutch. With it,...
Pros
  • Milwaukee quality
  • Quick, tool-less blade change
  • Variable speed, trigger controlled
  • Excellent power
Cons
  • More expensive than other alternatives
  • Difficult to use with the roofing in place

Note: Why did we go with a corded saw rather than a battery-powered model? For this type of project, we think corded is the way to go. Reciprocating saws will drain batteries fast. Since you want your roofing done in as short a time as possible, you don’t want to risk delays while batteries recharge. All the powered tools in the rest of the reviews are corded for this reason.


4. Cut-off Saws/Angle Grinders – Tool of Last Resort

The cut-off saw or angle grinder as it is also called offers an option like the circular saws just covered. They are specifically designed to cut and grind metal and are rugged, no-nonsense tools. They also arrive with a metal cutting/grinding blade.

Another feature we think you’ll like is a second handle, usually detachable, for extra control. Last, but not least, the blade housing acts as a guide. You cut through the material until; the guard rests on the surface then continue with your cut while it helps stabilize the tool.

We recommend the DEWALT DWE402 4-1/2-Inch 11-Amp Paddle Switch Angle Grinder.

DEWALT Angle Grinder Tool, Paddle Switch,...
572 Customer Reviews
DEWALT Angle Grinder Tool, Paddle Switch,...
  • 11 Amp AC/DC 11,000 rpm motor which provides the best power to weight/size ratio available
  • Spindle Size-5/8"-11 in, 1400 W, Corded Power Tool,
  • Tool Length-12 in, Wheel Diameter-4-1/2-Inch
Pros
  • DeWalt quality
  • Good power
  • Good ergonomics
Cons
  • The typical blade is for not fine work

Making Complicated Cuts

As mentioned earlier, you will need to cut around obstructions at some point in your roofing project. When that happens, the tools that are perfect for straight cuts won’t cut it, pun intended. These cuts require a bit more finesse and precision.

1. Sheet Metal Snips – Our Preferred Method for Complicated Cuts

A good pair of sheet metal snips are an ideal tool for cutting notches, circles, and other small tasks. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this tool variety, you need to know that they come in left, right, and straight cut configurations. Left and right cutters are designed to cut in circles. For example, a right cut snip is designed for cutting circles in a clockwise direction. Left cut snips are designed for the exact opposite.

For the roofing project and most other DIY work, we recommend the straight cut for most work. However, you might need, or want, to cut a circle. We recommend the Wiss M3R MetalMaster Straight, Left, and Right Cut Compound Action Snip Set.

Sale
Crescent Wiss 9-3/4' MetalMaster Compound Action...
410 Customer Reviews
Crescent Wiss 9-3/4" MetalMaster Compound Action...
  • Cuts straight and slight curves with yellow handles for quick identification
  • Precision cast molybdenum blades with conk ground edges and serrations for cutting low carbon, cold...
  • Blade serrations spread cutting force across jaws improving cut quality and tool life
Pros
  • Great value
  • You get all three types
  • Good quality
Cons
  • Handles not offset – easier to cut yourself on the metal

2. Hack Saw – We Recommend Having One “Just in Case”

The trusty companion of every toolbox around the globe is the hack saw. These are simple, unassuming tools that receive no respect until the DIYer hits a job where nothing else will do. You might say they are the Rodney Dangerfield of the tool world. For your roofing project, they are handy for some of those small cuts, like cutting a notch at a corner of a panel.

The hack saw ranks up there with the mousetrap; the design doesn’t change because it works so well as it is. That is not to say there are some flashy models out there. Save your money and go with our recommendation, the LENOX Tools Adjustable Hacksaw.

Sale
LENOX Tools Hacksaw, Adjustable (1805723)
10 Customer Reviews
LENOX Tools Hacksaw, Adjustable (1805723)
  • Hacksaw is ideal for cutting metals, PVC and plastic
  • Ergonomic, adjustable handle with a rubber cushion grip
  • Bi-metal blade and aluminum frame construction
Pros
  • Adjustable tension
  • Rigidity when properly tensioned
  • Great value
Cons
  • Only comes with one blade

3. Jigsaw – Not Our Preference for These Cuts

The jigsaw can be overkill for small cuts and adjustments. It can also be harder to control as these more complicated cuts are usually made on the roof, and you are holding the roofing. Not having good control can lead to ruined material and injury. It works, but extra care is necessary.


Related: what’s the best method & tool for cutting sheet metal?

Conclusion

Our research included other tools than those we wrote about in our reviews. However, each had some critical limiting factor for cutting metal roofing. Those factors included cost, use of compressed air, distortion of the roofing, and others.

If you are starting your roofing project without any of the tools we’ve reviewed, we recommend the following kit:

For those of you with some of the tools reviewed, fill in the gaps where needed and your roofing project will be a lot easier. Before you know it, you’ll be listening to the soothing patter of raindrops on your shiny new metal roof.


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