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Cutting Rebar With Sawzall: How to Do It Right?

Cutting rebar with Sawzall
Written by Brent Butterworth

Before we start off with the process, let’s discuss if you can cut rebar with Sawzall in the first place.

Though not so common, this is actually one of the easiest ways to get it done. Sawzalls are strong enough to cut through metals when you use them with the right type of blade. You’ll need a blade that has more teeth per inch than wood blades.

Rebar is the recycled form of carbon steel and is about 60 feet long when manufactured. You need to make hundreds of cuts while working with rebar on a construction site.

In case you didn’t know, a circular saw is actually a better option than the Sawzall as far as cutting rebar is concerned.

Cutting Rebar With Sawzall – Step-By-Step

  • Get a metal cutting blade

Get a metal cutting blade

Before you go about the process, you need to get the blade right. A blade that has 10 to 22 teeth per inch should be good enough to cut through rebar efficiently. Don’t even think about trying this out without a metal cutting blade on your Sawzall.

  • Prepare to cut

Clamp up the rebar to ensure safety for yourself and anyone around. This will keep the rebar in place and stop the blade from slipping up. Do not forget to have proper safety outfits and equipment such as goggles, ear protection, gloves, and jacket before you start making cuts.

  • Insert the blade

Insert the blade

Once you’re done with the prep work, install the blade. The teeth side should be pointing down. The blade will break immediately in case you insert it with the teeth facing upward by mistake. Make sure you learn how to change a reciprocating saw blade if this is your first time.

  • Make the cut

Set the speed of the saw lower than normal to have more control over your cut. It also helps keep the blade new for longer. Mark the rebar where you want the cut.

Hold the saw firmly using both hands, switch it on, put the blade onto the mark, then guide the blade in for the cut. Things could go wrong if you don’t keep a firm hold on your saw and secure the rebar as well.

  • Do the after-work

Let go of the trigger once done. The blade should be hot. Remove the blade when it’s cool again and clean it up if you need to.

Other Alternatives to Cut Rebar

  • Circular Saw

Circular Saw

Circular saws are the most common rebar cutting tools on construction sites. You’ll need a metal cutting circular saw blade or an abrasive disc for the best results.

Abrasive discs are a safety hazard since they will cause loads of sparks when in action. The standard HSS blades will start losing their sharpness after a while.

Use a carbide-tipped blade and keep the RPM reduced to minimize friction, sparks, and heat during the cut. This will significantly improve the blade’s life. Take proper precaution and keep yourself safe.

  • Angle grinder

Angle grinder

Angle grinders are one of the top choices for cutting rebar on construction sites. They’re an easy solution to make quick, neat, and clean cuts. they’re such time savers that you can cut up multiple sections of rebar in just one go.

You need to install a metal cutting abrasive disc, mark the spot on the rebar, set the grinder to the maximum RPM, hold the grinder tight, and carefully plunge the disc onto the rebar to get the perfect cut.

You don’t need to put too much pressure on the rebar, just let the disc do the cutting.

  • Portable electric hydraulic rebar cutter

This portable electric cutter is the first choice for safety. They do not cause sparks or flames while cutting rebar. You can cut up to #8 16mm 5/8” rebar in a matter of seconds. They also have lock trigger switches for maximum safety.

  • Chop saw

Chop saw

A chop saw is a classic device when it comes to cutting reinforcement bars. The large carbide blade makes it one of the most ideal choices for chopping up a great quantity of thick rebar.

Chop saw cuts are cleaner and smoother than some of the best rebar cutters like circular saw and angle grinder. On the downside, they can be awfully loud during the action and are not easily portable.

  • Heat torch

Heat torch

Cutting rebar with torch is only for the professionals. The torch uses heat to cut up the metal and can leave wastage or slag around the cut. The cut sections may also be uneven or rounded.

Although this may seem effortless in the hands of a professional, we do not recommend this method to the beginners as this can be dangerous.

  • Bolt cutter

Although bolt cutters are used for removing chains and padlocks mostly, they’re efficient rebar cutters as well. You’ll be able to cut up to 16mm rebar without much difficulty. Their sharp scissors-like blades have about 4000lb of metal cutting force.

They may not be the most ideal choice for rebar cutting, but they can surely get the job done when you need to cut an excess part of the rebar somewhere around the wall in your house.

  • Hacksaw

You can use a hacksaw to cut one or two rebars – this is the most basic, labor-intensive, and cheapest way. But it becomes extremely time-consuming, tiring, and inefficient when you have more than a handful of rebars to cut.

Pros & cons of cutting rebar with Sawzall

  • Pros

A Sawzall is a versatile tool, you can use it for a number of different jobs and try different types of cuts. From hard metals to soft wood, you’re able to cut many materials by only changing the blade.

They are affordable saws and the blades are not expensive.

  • Cons

You are likely to get tired quickly as it’s a handheld tool with a reciprocal motion. The frequent vibration of the saw can trigger “Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome” which may harm the hand and arm, causing numbness, loss of dexterity, and tingling.

FAQs:

1. What kind of blade will cut rebar?

Ans: Carbide tooth blades and steel tooth blades will cut rebar very well. We recommend carbide tooth blades so you need to replace them less. Steel tooth blades are cheaper, but carbide tooth blades are worth the try.

2. How thick of steel can a Sawzall cut?

Ans: A Sawzall can cut about 3”-4” deep into the steel. You’ll need a blade that has around 20 teeth per inch to cut through metal with a Sawzall.

3. What is the best Sawzall blade to cut metal?

Ans: Use a bi-metal blade that has 18-24 teeth per inch for finer cuts on thinner metals like steel sheets. A 14-18 teeth per inch bi-metal blade is great for thicker metals like angle irons, steel pipe, and reinforcement bar. Pick an 8-10 teeth per inch bi-metal blade for lighter metals like aluminum and carbon.

About the author

Brent Butterworth

A Professional Woodworker & Custom Furniture Builder

Brent lives in Wisconsin and is a woodworker, custom cabinetmaker, interior consultant, and a freelance writer who got the opportunity to write several magazine articles for different publications on home improvement and woodworking. He’s always amazed at the depth and breadth of woodworking all over the globe, and feels proud to be a part of this great effort. Brent has built everything one can imagine, from unique art furniture to different types of home furniture to canoes and even a sailboat.

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