Can A Chainsaw Cut Metal? Exploring Its Capabilities

Chainsaws are powerful tools that are commonly used for cutting trees and wooden materials. With their robust engines and sharp teeth, they are known for their effectiveness in the forestry industry. However, have you ever wondered if a chainsaw can cut through metal? In this blog, we will explore the capabilities of chainsaws when it comes to metal cutting. We will discuss the types of metals that can be cut, the right chainsaw blades for the job, the risks involved, and safety measures to take. So, let’s dive in and explore the fascinating world of chainsaws and metal cutting!

Can A Chainsaw Cut Metal?

While chainsaws are primarily designed for cutting trees, they can indeed cut thin metal with the right blade and technique. However, it is important to note that not all chainsaws are capable of cutting metal effectively. The most common types of metals that people attempt to cut with their chainsaws are thin pieces of tin, steel, and rebar. Cutting metal with a chainsaw requires special chainsaws or chainsaw blades that are designed to handle the unique challenges of metal cutting.

Is it Safe to Use a Chainsaw to Cut Metal?

When used properly, and with the necessary precautions, chainsaws can be safely used to cut metal. However, it is important to understand the potential risks involved and take the appropriate safety measures. By wearing the right personal protective equipment, using the proper chainsaw blade, and following safe operating procedures, the risks associated with metal cutting can be minimized. It is crucial to prioritize safety, adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines, and have the necessary skills and knowledge to safely operate a chainsaw when cutting metal.

What Happens When a Chainsaw Hits Metal?

When a chainsaw hits metal, it can lead to damage to the chainsaw blade and engine. The most immediate consequence is that the teeth of the chainsaw chain can become blunt if it cuts through a nail stuck in a piece of wood. Additionally, the chainsaw chain’s teeth can wear out quickly when hitting metal, reducing their effectiveness. Another common occurrence when a chainsaw hits metal is chainsaw kickback, where the chainsaw forcefully pushes back towards the operator, posing a significant risk. Moreover, metal chips can be thrown back at the operator, increasing the risk of injuries. That’s why industrial chainsaw blades are specifically designed to withstand the impact of hitting metal, unlike regular chainsaw blades.

Chainsaw and Metal: A Feasible Combination?

The Nature of Chainsaws

Chainsaws are versatile power tools that are known for their ability to cut trees and wooden materials efficiently. They operate using powerful engines that drive a chain around a metal guide bar. The teeth on the chain engage with the material being cut, enabling the chainsaw to make rapid and precise cuts. Chainsaws are available in various types, ranging from electric chainsaws for home use to professional industrial chainsaws for heavy-duty applications. The type of chainsaw used determines the thickness and type of metal it can cut. So, when it comes to metal cutting, the type of chainsaw matters significantly.

Metals That Can Be Cut Using Chainsaws

Chainsaws can potentially cut through thin metal sheets, pipes, and metallic reinforcement, depending on the type of chainsaw and blade used. For metal cutting, chainsaws are best suited to thinner metals or softer materials. The type of metal being cut and its thickness will have an impact on the chainsaw’s effectiveness. Chainsaws are capable of cutting thin metal such as steel nails, thin steel pipes, and sheets of metal. However, chainsaws may struggle with the hardest metals, thick metal, or metal with reinforcement, such as steel bars used in construction projects. So, it is important to consider the type of metal and its thickness when determining whether a chainsaw is suitable for the task at hand.

Identifying the Right Chainsaw Blade for Cutting Metal

When it comes to cutting metal with a chainsaw, choosing the right blade is crucial. The type of blade you use will determine the success and efficiency of your cuts. For cutting thin metals, such as steel nails or thin steel pipes, a standard chainsaw blade may suffice. However, for thicker metals or those with reinforcement, it is recommended to use a specialized metal-cutting blade. These blades are designed with sharper teeth and alternate cutting angles to tackle the hardness and density of metal. Additionally, they usually have smaller gaps between the teeth, which prevents the material from getting stuck during the cutting process

Factors to Consider

When selecting a chainsaw blade for metal cutting, there are several factors to consider that will determine the blade’s effectiveness. Here are some key factors to keep in mind:

  • Chainsaw bar size: The length of the chainsaw bar should be suitable for the thickness of the metal being cut.
  • Type of chain: Different types of chainsaw chains are designed for specific applications, including metal cutting. Choosing the right chain type is crucial for optimal performance.
  • Type of metal: The type of metal being cut will determine the blade’s compatibility and effectiveness. Some blades are designed for specific types of metal, such as steel or aluminum.

Recommendations for Metal-Cutting Chainsaw Blades

Metal-cutting chainsaw blades are designed specifically for cutting metal and offer improved performance and safety. Here are some recommendations to consider when selecting a metal-cutting chainsaw blade:

  • Industrial chainsaw blades: These blades are specifically engineered for heavy-duty metal cutting and can handle thick metals with ease.
  • Specialized chainsaw blades: Some blades are designed for cutting specific types of metal, such as steel or aluminum, ensuring the best results.
  • Consult the manufacturer: Different chainsaw brands may offer specific recommendations for metal-cutting chainsaw blades. It’s important to consult the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure compatibility and safety.

Comparing Different Types of Chainsaws

Homeowner Chainsaws

Homeowner chainsaws are ideal for light maintenance, occasional tree cutting, and smaller projects around the home. These chainsaws are usually smaller, lighter, and designed for easy use by non-professionals. They are well-suited for smaller trees, firewood cutting, and occasional use. Homeowner chainsaws offer safety features, user-friendly design, and portability, making them the go-to choice for DIY enthusiasts and homeowners. However, when it comes to cutting metal, standard homeowner chainsaws may have limitations in terms of power and blade compatibility, especially when dealing with thicker or harder metals.

Commercial (Professional) Chainsaws

Professional chainsaws, also known as commercial chainsaws, are designed for heavy-duty use and professional applications. These chainsaws are equipped with powerful engines, robust construction, and larger bar sizes, allowing them to tackle the most challenging cutting tasks. With their high horsepower and sturdy construction, professional chainsaws can cut through thick trees, dense materials, and, in some cases, tougher metals. Construction professionals, arborists, and other industry experts rely on commercial chainsaws for their efficiency, reliability, and durability. When it comes to cutting metal, professional chainsaws are often the most effective option, able to handle even the most demanding metal cutting projects.

Guidelines for Using a Chainsaw to Cut Metal

When it comes to using a chainsaw to cut metal, there are a few guidelines that can help ensure safety and efficiency. Firstly, it’s important to note that not all chainsaws are designed to cut through metal. While some professional chainsaws may have the capability to handle metal cutting tasks, standard homeowner chainsaws may not have the power or blade compatibility needed for such projects.

Preparing Your Chainsaw

Before using your chainsaw to cut metal, it is important to ensure that it is properly prepared. Here are some essential steps to follow:

  • Check the fuel level: Ensure that your chainsaw has enough fuel to complete the metal cutting task, as running out of fuel in the middle of the job can be inconvenient and time-consuming.
  • Consider the age of your chainsaw: Older chainsaws may not have the necessary power or blade compatibility for metal cutting. If you have an older chainsaw, it may be worth considering an upgrade for more efficient metal cutting.

Cutting Techniques

When cutting metal with a chainsaw, proper technique is essential for safety and optimal results. Here are some cutting techniques to keep in mind:

  • Secure the metal piece: Use a bench vise or other clamping mechanism to securely hold the metal piece, ensuring stability and accuracy during the cutting process.
  • Circular sawing motions: Utilize circular sawing motions to effectively cut through the metal, applying steady and even pressure as you move the chainsaw along the cut line.
  • Prioritize safety: Always wear the appropriate personal protective equipment, such as gloves, eyewear, and ear protection, to protect yourself from metal chips and other potential hazards during the cutting process.
  • Apply the right cutting pressure: Avoid forcing the chainsaw through the metal, as this can lead to the chainsaw getting stuck or kickback. Instead, use a steady and controlled cutting pressure to maintain control and safety while cutting metal.
  • Reciprocating saw techniques: For thicker metals or reinforced steel pipes, consider using reciprocating saw techniques, as they may provide a more efficient cutting experience compared to standard chainsaws.

Understanding the Risks of Using a Chainsaw to Cut Metal

While a chainsaw can be a powerful tool for cutting through wood, using it to cut metal comes with certain risks and limitations. It’s important to understand these risks before attempting to cut metal with a chainsaw.

Potential Injuries and Damage

Using a chainsaw to cut metal carries certain risks, including the potential for serious injuries and damage. Here are some of the risks associated with metal cutting using a chainsaw:

  • Serious injuries: Improper handling or use of the chainsaw can result in serious injuries, such as cuts, lacerations, or even amputations. It is crucial to follow safety guidelines and use the appropriate protective equipment when cutting metal with a chainsaw.
  • Chainsaw damage: Metal cutting can damage the chainsaw blade and engine, leading to reduced performance and costly repairs. The impact of hitting metal can result in broken chainsaw chains, damaged teeth, or even engine failure.

The chain may break during use, causing injury

While using a chainsaw, the chain breaking is a significant danger that can lead to injuries. This risk is especially high when using an old chainsaw or one with a broken engine. It is crucial to consider different types of chainsaws and choose a powerful and reliable one. A new engine also reduces the risk of chain breakage, minimizing the potential for injury.

It may spark and pose fire and burn risks

Spitting sparks poses a fire hazard and increases the risk of burns. This danger is amplified when using an old chainsaw or one with a broken engine. The sparks can ignite nearby flammable materials, leading to accidents. It’s important to exercise caution when operating any type of chainsaw to mitigate this risk. Always prioritize safety, especially when handling powerful chainsaws.

It could damage your chainsaw’s engine

Using a powerful chainsaw to cut through metal may seem efficient, but it can lead to a broken chainsaw engine. The high resistance of metal requires a lot of effort from the chainsaw, potentially damaging its engine. This risk is higher with older chainsaws as new engines are better equipped to handle such tasks. Always consider the capabilities of different types of chainsaws before attempting to cut any piece of metal.

It can eject metal chips, posing an injury risk to you and others

Spewing metal chips from a chainsaw can cause serious injuries to you and others in the vicinity. These metal chips can fly at high speeds and cause cuts or other wounds. It’s essential to use protective gear, such as goggles and gloves, when operating a chainsaw to prevent any potential injuries caused by metal chips. Always prioritize safety when using any type of chainsaw to avoid accidents and injuries.

It dulls your chainsaw chain, which is inconvenient and time-consuming

Using a chainsaw to cut metal can lead to your chainsaw chain getting dull, which is both inconvenient and time-consuming. The process of cutting metal with a chainsaw can cause the chain to wear out more quickly, requiring frequent sharpening or replacement. This not only adds extra effort and time to your tasks but can also result in additional maintenance costs.

An unanticipated kickback could cause injury

An unanticipated kickback from using a chainsaw to cut metal can cause severe injuries. The high resistance of metal can cause the chainsaw to bounce back towards you, which can lead to accidents and potentially life-threatening injuries. It is crucial to be aware of the risks associated with using a chainsaw on metal and take appropriate precautions to prevent kickbacks, such as using the proper cutting techniques and maintaining a firm grip on the chainsaw.

Instead of using a chainsaw, it is recommended to use appropriate tools specifically designed for cutting metal. These tools, such as angle grinders or metal-cutting saws, are more suited for the task and provide better control and precision. They are designed to handle the toughness of metal and have safety features in place to prevent accidents. Investing in the right tools for cutting metal will not only ensure your safety but also result in better efficiency and quality of work.

Measures to Minimise Risk

To minimize the risks associated with cutting metal using a chainsaw, it’s important to take precautionary measures. Here are some steps to help minimize the risks:

  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE): The use of PPE, such as chainsaw chaps, steel-toed boots, eye protection, gloves, and ear protection, can significantly reduce the risk of injuries during metal cutting.
  • Follow safe operating procedures: Adhere to safe operating procedures provided by the chainsaw manufacturer, including guidelines for fueling, starting, and operating the chainsaw.
  • Regularly inspect the chainsaw: Check the chainsaw for any damage or wear that may affect its safe operation, and ensure the chainsaw chain is properly tensioned before use.
  • Keep the work area clear: Remove any debris or obstacles from the work area to prevent accidents, and keep bystanders at a safe distance to avoid potential injuries.
  • Maintain the chainsaw chain: Regularly inspect the chainsaw chain for signs of wear, damage, or dullness, and address any issues promptly.

Chainsaw Safety Tips When Cutting Metal

When cutting metal with a chainsaw, follow these safety tips:

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

When cutting metal with a chainsaw, it is crucial to wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure safety. Here are some essential PPE items for metal cutting:

  • Chainsaw chaps: These protective pants provide a layer of cut-resistant material to protect the legs from potential injuries caused by the chainsaw chain.
  • Steel-toed boots: Sturdy, steel-toed boots offer protection to the feet in case of accidental contact with the chainsaw or falling metal chips.
  • Eye protection: Safety goggles or glasses shield the eyes from metal chips, sparks, and other potential hazards during the metal cutting process.
  • Gloves: Cut-resistant gloves provide additional protection for the hands, reducing the risk of cuts or abrasions.
  • Ear protection: Metal cutting with chainsaws can be noisy, so wearing ear protection, such as earplugs or earmuffs, is important to prevent hearing damage.

Keep the chain tight

When using a chainsaw to cut metal, it’s crucial to maintain proper chain tension to prevent kickback. Check and adjust the chain tension regularly to ensure safety and control. Avoid over-tightening, as it can cause premature wear. Tightly tensioned chains reduce the risk of derailment during metal cutting, enhancing safety. This step is essential for safely operating a powerful chainsaw when cutting metal.

Metal detector

To minimize the risk of hitting unexpected metal while cutting, use a metal detector to locate embedded metal objects. This helps identify hidden nails, screws, or other metal in the workpiece. Before cutting metal, thoroughly scan the surface with a metal detector and confirm the absence of metal objects in the cutting path. This proactive step ensures safer and smoother cutting operations.

Be gentle

To avoid accidents, refrain from applying excessive force or aggressive movements when using a chainsaw to cut metal. Controlled and gentle actions help minimize the risk of kickback, ensuring safety. Exercise patience and precision for a smooth, steady cut to prevent the chainsaw chain from getting stuck. Maintain awareness of the chainsaw’s positioning and angle to remain in control.

Safe Operating Procedures

To ensure safe metal cutting with a chainsaw, it is essential to follow proper operating procedures. Here are some important safe operating procedures to keep in mind:

  • Consult the chainsaw manufacturer’s guidelines: Always refer to the chainsaw manufacturer’s guidelines for the specific model you are using. These guidelines will provide important information regarding fueling, starting, operating, and maintaining the chainsaw.
  • Maintain a firm grip on the chainsaw handle: Ensure that you have a secure and comfortable grip on the chainsaw handle, with both hands, to maintain control during metal cutting.
  • Regularly inspect the chainsaw for damage or wear: Before each use, inspect the chainsaw for any signs of damage, such as broken parts, loose screws, or worn-out components. Address any issues before proceeding with metal cutting.
  • Follow fueling and maintenance procedures: Adhere to the correct fueling and maintenance procedures for your chainsaw to ensure optimal performance, longevity, and safe operation.

Does Cutting Metal Dull the Chainsaw Chain?

Cutting metal with a regular chainsaw chain can accelerate wear and dull the teeth. To withstand metal cutting, consider using metal cutting chainsaw chains like carbide chains. Regular sharpening and maintenance are necessary to preserve chain sharpness. Metal cutting may cause the chain to accumulate metal chips, requiring regular cleaning. Using a standard chainsaw chain for metal cutting can lead to rapid dulling and damage.

Can Carbide Chainsaw Chains Cut through Metal?

Carbide chainsaw chains are specially designed for cutting through the toughest metals. Whether it’s thick metal pipes or steel reinforcement, these chains offer exceptional cutting capabilities. They can even handle thin metal sheets, steel nails, and other metallic reinforcements. Professionals and homeowners rely on carbide chainsaw chains for efficient metal cutting projects.

Can Diamond-Tipped Chainsaw Chains Cut through Metal?

Diamond-tipped chainsaw chains are designed to cut through the toughest metals, making them ideal for engineering projects. The effectiveness of these chains depends on the type of metal being cut, but they excel at cutting thick materials.

What can chainsaws not cut through?

Chainsaws are not suitable for cutting thick metal or industrial-grade chainsaw blades. While they can handle various materials, they may struggle with the thickest metals without powerful engines. Regular chainsaws are not designed to cut through the hardest metals, and thicker metals like steel reinforcement pose a challenge. Additionally, chainsaws are not the most efficient tool for cutting smaller trees or thin metal.

What is the fastest way to cut through metal?

The fastest way to cut through metal is by using a reciprocating saw or a circular saw. These tools can quickly and accurately cut through thin metal. A bench vise with the appropriate blade can also expedite the metal-cutting process. Electric chainsaws with the right blade are faster than standard homeowner chainsaws for cutting thin metal, while industrial chainsaws with powerful engines are most efficient for thick metal.


In conclusion, it is important to remember that chainsaws are primarily designed for cutting through wood and are not intended for cutting metal. While it is possible to use a chainsaw for cutting metal in certain situations, it comes with significant risks and limitations. The nature of chainsaws and the potential dangers involved make it essential to exercise caution and take appropriate safety measures when attempting to cut metal with a chainsaw. It is advisable to use specialized tools, such as angle grinders or metal-cutting saws, for more efficient and safer metal-cutting operations. Always prioritize safety and consult professionals if you are unsure about the appropriate tools and techniques for your specific metal-cutting needs.

Daren Rifen
Daren Rifen
Hi! My name is Daren Rifen and I am a woodworker enthusiast. I love DIY projects, such as furniture that can be used in the home. Throughout my life I have been involved in many forms of woodworking: carpentry, cabinet making, boat building, sign painting to name just a few. I also enjoy doing hand-on tests and reviews about different types of saws for cutting different materials. I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin and I have always been into making things with my hands. As soon as I was old enough to hold a hammer (about 4 years old), I would go around the house looking for things that needed fixing or building new from scratch. My parents often tell me stories of how they’d find me on the couch with all these tools spread out all over me while watching cartoons. My dad taught me how to use power tools when I was 7 years old and he got tired of putting up with all my annoying questions about what each tool does

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