Cutting metals is an effort-intensive task and can go haywire if done incorrectly. It can lead to grievous injuries too. If you’re planning on cutting some metal, be forewarned of its risks and complications.
However, remember that choosing the right tool for the job can make it far easier than going at it unprepared. Apart from ease of use, the right tool can prevent accidental injuries and allow you to achieve a clean cut.
While a Dremel may appear small and insignificant at first glance, it can play a crucial role in cutting metal. So, can Dremel cut through metal? Let’s find out how.
Can a Dremel Cut Through Metal?
Yes, a Dremel can cut through metal. It is important to use the correct bit for the material you are trying to cut and to take into account the thickness of the metal. In general, a higher speed and more pressure will be needed to cut through metal than through other materials.
Can Dremels Cut Metal?
A Dremel is a handheld cutting tool that comes equipped with a rotating blade. It can cut through metal, provided certain conditions are met. That’s because it is not specifically designed for cutting metal.
The tool is used extensively for wood, pumpkin, and even stone carving. It also comes handy in etching glass and engraving on leather, candles, and other art supplies. A Dremel also finds use in jewelry making, cutting wood, tiles, plastic, and similar activities.
But what about cutting metal?
While the ideal choice for the task would be an angle grinder, it can sometimes be too big to maneuver in tight spaces. Angle grinders will not able to give you the thin and clean cut that may be desirable in many cases.
In such instances, a Dremel can come to your rescue.
The rotary tool attached to the head of a Dremel gun is basically a sharp wheel that can cut through a selection of items, including certain types of metal.
While the versatile tool is widely used in crafting, it can be used for a multitude of other works, making it a highly-efficient piece of equipment. That’s why it is a handy piece of equipment that finds a place in almost all tool bags.
Is Dremel Good for Cutting Through Metal?
How good Dremel is for cutting metal will depend on whether or not you are using the right attachment for it. And that choice is guided by what kind of cut you desire, the shape you want, the size and thickness of the metal you’re handling, and similar factors.
Just remember that cutting metal with a Dremel is tricky – you need to adjust to the power of the device and learn to handle it with a stable hand.
Although Dremel can cut through any metal, you may face some difficulties when using it on hardened steel and other thick pieces of metal. It is best for cutting small metal pieces like pipes and screws.
What is the Thickness of Metals Dremels Can Cut Through?
The diameter of the cutting disc/wheel decides the thickness of the metal that the Dremel can cut.
A Dremel with a 32mm (1 ¼ inches) cutting disc can cut a maximum depth of 14mm (1 ½ inches) and similarly, one with a 24mm (1 inch) cutting disc will give a maximum depth of 10mm (0.4 inches).
So, a Dremel gives a depth that is less than the radius. This is because the cutting wheel is secured in the middle, reducing the depth it can reach.
The thickest metal piece a Dremel can cut is 1.1 inch in thickness, but the safety limit is ¼ inch to ⅜ inch. However, to cut a pipe or screw that is 1.1 inches in thickness, you will have to cut it from both sides.
If a Dremel is used to cut thicker pieces of metal, the wheel will wear out sooner and you will require frequent changes. Also, it will put too much pressure on the motor, causing unnecessary wear and tear.
Hence if you want to cut thicker sections, you must consider an angle grinder or die grinder.
Types of Dremel Bits Used to Cut Metal
As a Dremel is a versatile tool with unlimited uses, it is important to use the correct Dremel bit for the type of work you want to do. Different bits are used for polishing, grinding, carving, sanding, engraving, drilling, cleaning, etc.
Choosing the right bit can be very confusing. There are wood carving bits for Dremel and bits used to cut metal. To save you from any confusion, here are the three most commonly used bits for metal cutting.
Abrasive cut-off wheel
If you have a small metal cutting job at hand, an abrasive cut-off wheel is perfect. It has a diameter of 1 ½ inches and can cut through hard metals, even hardened steel.
So, if you just want to shorten the lengths of small metal parts like screws and bolts, or want to chop off rusted or striped bolts, the abrasive cut-off wheel is the best choice.
Also, the wheel is available in super-thin thickness which is ideal for delicate grooving, trimming, and making clean cuts.
The diamond wheel is used for cutting hard materials like glass and ceramic tiles. So it can be used for cutting metals like hardened steel as well. However, it is not suitable for cutting soft metals like brass and aluminum.
Circular crosscut blade
Also known as the rip blade, the crosscut blade is a carbon steel blade with offset teeth. While it is mostly used for cutting grain on wood and wood-like materials, the crosscut blade can also be used for cutting soft metals like aluminum.
Safety Gear Needed for Cutting Metal with a Dremel
A Dremel is a powerful tool that has the potential to chop off your fingers. Also, cutting metal creates a lot of sparks and thus eye protection is a must too.
So, before getting your tool ready, get all of the safety gear mentioned below.
As already mentioned, metal cutting produces sparks. Also, the cutting wheel can break and metal can come flying toward your face. As the eyes are the most fragile part of your face, protecting them is very important.
Using a safety visor will protect your entire face, but if that is not possible, you must at least wear safety glasses.
While safety gloves protect your hands from sharp and hot metal edges and flying sparks, they can themselves become a hazard if they get caught in the moving part.
Hence, while it is necessary to protect your hands, the utmost care and precaution must be taken when you wear gloves.
Using earbuds, or earmuffs will protect your ears from the loud noise of the Dremel and save you from a headache.
Clothing that covers your body completely
As sparks will be flying left, right, and center, they have the potential to land on your skin and burn it. To avoid such a situation, it is better to wear clothes that will fully cover your body. Use long-sleeved t-shirts and long pants when working.
Steel toe shoes
Steel toe shoes are worn as a safety measure whenever metal or power tools are involved. This is because the sharp metal or the running tool can fall and land on your feet causing serious harm.
While the chances of this happening are minimal, it is always better to be cautious.
How to Cut Metal With a Dremel
Cutting metal with Dremel is not very different from cutting wood with a power saw. It’s just that a Dremel is much smaller in size and produces ample force. So you need to learn to maneuver and control it.
However, once you start using one, through trial and error you will master using the tool in no time.
The supplies needed for cutting metal with Dremel include:
- All the safety gear – glasses, gloves, earmuffs, protective covering, and steel-toe shoes.
- Clamp or vice (whichever is needed)
- Cutting disc
- Filer or grinder
Step By Step Guide
Step 1: Put on your safety gear and select a well-ventilated area as your workspace.
Step 2: If you are working with sheet metal, clamp it to your work surface (this is done because the sheet folds once you start cutting, making it difficult to cut further on the desired path).
But if you have a piece of metal, secure it in a vice (if the metal moves while cutting the probability of an accident is high).
Step 3: Mark the cutline with a marker such that it is easily visible.
Step 4: Choose the cutting disc you want and insert it in the Dremel.
Step 5: Once the Dremel is in place, lock it and adjust the speed setting. (For cutting metal you will need a high rpm of around 25,000 to 30,000)
Step 6: Once all the setting is in place, position the Dremel a few inches above the cutline and turn on the power button.
Step 7: Apply the Dremel to the cutline and do not put too much pressure. Just keep a firm hand and let the tool do the work. Also, if it is your first time working with a power tool, be mentally prepared for sparks flying. Cutting will be slow and thick metal will take a very long time to be spliced.
Step 8: Reduce the pressure as the Dremel is about to finish cutting. If not, it will jump at the end due to no resistance.
Step 9: Once the metal is completely cut and your job is done, release the power button and remove the plug from the socket.
Step 10: Never immediately touch either the metal or the Dremel. This is because both of them are extremely hot and can cause burns.
Step 11: Sand or file the edges if they are sharp.
Different Cutting Wheels For The Dremel
When cutting metal with a Dremel, two types of cutting wheels can be used with the Dremel rotary tool:
- Fragile cutting discs like Number 402, 409, and 420
- Reinforced metal cutting EZ Lock like EZ406, EZ456, EZ409, etc.
The small cutting discs like 402, 409, etc are ideal for cutting, trimming, and grooving. These can be used to cut bolts, and screws and are constructed from a hard abrasive. They cut fairly well and do not send too many sparks flying around, but they are very fragile. The bits themselves can break and send shards of metal flying around.
However, when used with care, they last fairly long.
As opposed to small cutting discs, reinforced cutting discs are more stable and less prone to breakage even when you add pressure sideways. They can cut through bigger metal pieces and last longer than small discs. They stay sharp for longer and don’t shrink.
However, reinforced metal discs are thicker and hence cut slowly through the metal. Also, they are more expensive and send many sparks flying.
Grinding After Cutting
Once you have cut through the metal, the edges may be left uneven and sharp. This can be hazardous and can cause injuries. To avoid this, it is always better to soften the sharp edges by filing, sanding, or grinding.
If you have purchased a bit set, you must already have a grinding stone. They come in various sizes and shapes and are suitable for both very large to very small metal pieces.
Use a grinding stone to grind away uneven parts and metal debris off the cut. Grinding will make the edges more smooth and beautiful.
What is the best Dremel cutting wheel for metal?
Dremel 4300 is the best for cutting metals. It has a 1.8 amp motor that makes cutting metal a piece of cake.
Can Dremel cut steel?
The EZ Lock metal cut off wheel (EZ 456) can cut and slice through hardened steel.
What Dremel Bit cuts metal?
The best Dremel bits for cutting metal are the abrasive cut-off wheel, diamond wheel, and circular cross-cut blade.
What is the best Rotary tool for cutting metal?
The DEWALT DW660 Rotary Tool is the best rotary tool for cutting metal, as well as stone, tile, wood, and drywall. It has a powerful 5.0 amp motor and a speed of 30,000 rpm.
Dremel is a handy and versatile tool that can cut through metal. It is perfect to cut small metal pieces which is otherwise a limitation with other metal-cutting tools. However, it is only for small DIY projects and not for cutting thick metals.
If you want a tool for regularly cutting metal, use tools designed specifically for that purpose.
Interesting read: Best Dremel for Wood Carving.