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A friend gifted me today with a lot of 1/4" x 2" pieces of flat bar...4 trips from my car to bring it all in. Now my dilemma....how to cut it? I don't own a band saw or a chop saw. Will a jigsaw with a metal blade cut it? I have a reciprocating with a metal blade, but it can be messy. Of course I own a hacksaw. Any ideas that won't cost me an arm and the leg, 'cause I kinda need both. I'd like to use the jig saw because I have it and I can control it easily, but will that cut this? It's "mild steel", that's all I know about it.

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Unless you're doing a lot of forging, or production work (many of the same thing), a hacksaw should suffice. Only cut pieces as you need them.

If you are doing a lot of forging, then you'll eventually invest in a bandsaw or cutoff saw.

Edit: or use a hot cut. Stick a longer length of this stuff in your forge and lop off the chunk you need.

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Hot cut, angle grinder with cut off blade, repurpose an old table saw with a cut off blade---clean out all sawdust first!!!!!!!!!!!

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The jig saw will work fine but you want to buy 12 tpi blades, a LITTLE finer is okay but not so good, same for a hack saw. The rule of thumb for metal cutting saw blades is 3 teeth on the work at all times, making 1/4" want 12 tpi (Threads Per Inch).

 

You'll be amazed how fast a hack saw will go through 2" of 1/4" mild, well less than a minute, with a little practice, around likely 30 secs.

 

A hot cut is something you're going to need anyway, so take a look through your stock of medium carbon steel, read up on forging the things here and build a fire. If you wish, a piece of leaf spring will make a fine hack but you'll want something with a little thickness to start with, 3/8" would be a minimum unless it wasn't expected to last long.

 

Another hot cut option would be a stone chisel, just grind it sharp with a little convex to the bevel for strength and it'll work a treat. Heck, cold chisels will hot cut it but with a lot of elbow grease compared to a hack saw.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

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The more important issue is how do you want the ends to look AFTER they are cut?

Smooth as in laser or plasma, smooth as in Ox/Ac, saw cut as in hacksaw, saw cut as in hot saw, rough cut, real rough cut etc

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You are a blacksmith, yes?  Hot cut!  Practice and you can get as good a cut with a hot cut, chisel, hardie, etc. as with a jig saw and without burning up bunch of blades.  

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a cold chisel works well on small stuff too. one of my first tools was a cold chisel out of a coil spring. its still going strong and has many uses.

all the above. :)

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I would use an angle grinder from HF Tools and a cutting disk. This is something you will use a LOT if you continue to do metal work of any kind and they are priced as disposables. They will work for a long time- then throw it away and buy another.

And all the above :)

Dave

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Greetings Spanky,

 

4 trips with your car it sounds like you got a great haul...  Cutting depends on your project and the type of cut you need and the amount of stock you want cut..  Cross cut?  Split cut ?  angle cut? ...  If you want just a simple cut and the tools you have is a recip. saw and a hacksaw..  I would chose the hacksaw with a 14 tooth blade and a little beeswax on the blade ... It would go faster than you think...  Good luck..

 

Forge on and make beautiful things

Jim

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I bought a ryobi angle grinder from a near by Home Depot for $60 years ago.   Didn't expect it to last.  It's still alive,  and I've definitely used it out of scope of what the manual says it will do.      It will do the job, repeatedly.  I would say that if you find a local metal supplier or welding shop, you should be able to find thinner cutting blades than whats available at home depot.   The thinner blades really make a difference.  A thinner wheel makes for an easier cut with a substandard or underpowered grinder.    Either way, I've cut through railroad track and fork lift tines with my little 4 1/2" angle grinder.  It takes a little technique and patience for really large stock, but it is possible.

 

-Bruno

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My vote goes to the angle grinder, too. You can cut, grind, sand, wirebrush with it on metal, stone and also wood (using it properly).

Safety is an issue: goggles, long sleeves, some sort of mask when doing longer job, maybe tight gloves, clean environment and knowing what you're doing.

 

Nice catch on the flat stuff!

 

Greetings

 

Gergely

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A 4.5" angle grinder is the cheapest, most useful power tool in the metal shop. Expect to pay $10/amp for a quality unit. I own a dozen, scattered around my work, farm & home. Cheapo imports (under 5 amps) will seldom last very long with hard use, but are good for those of small stature to learn on, and are good for wire brush use. The industrial models can break your wrists if you lean into them in a bind.

 

You can buy cutting disks as thin as .045" from any real welding supply, and will make a smooth cut in a few seconds. They are fragile, so it takes a little finesse to use without breaking with disastrous results. Manufacturer's disk guard in place, and a clear face mask over safety glasses is the prudent approach. Gloves, long sleeves, shirt tails tucked in, dust mask, ear plugs as well.

 

And, since no one else has mentioned it, porta-band type saws are darned useful as well. I love my Milwaukee, HF sells one that is not too objectionable.

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Thanks all!  I have an angle grinder (also a HD buy I thought would die years ago but just keeps plugging along), will pick up a thinner cutting disk than what I currently have.  I'm also going to try the jig saw with the recommended TPI.  The pieces are each about 3 feet long and will need to be cut into smaller sections for me to play around with some bottle openers, so the 2 1/2" width will get halved, then cutting some pieces off. 

 

I've done some hot cutting already, comfortable with that process, but what can I say... I do love my POWER TOOLS!    :D   And I deeply loathe a hacksaw, my least favorite tool as I think I mentioned on a thread some time back.  May it gather dust for the rest of its life in my shop, forgotten as the miserable little tool that it is!

 

Best part of this flat bar find?  It's renewable!  My friend's son works around the stuff, hooked me up with some of their scrap.  Sweet!

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one thing I have learned over time is that even free steel can be expensive if it takes a lot of effort to get it into a usable form.  I gladly pay a premium to get 1/4" sq stock rather than making it from free 1" round...

 

The real trick is to start designing items that make use of it in it's current configuration.

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Sorry, I misunderstood your original post... Are you planning on cutting it all in half lengthways? (i.e. Your 2.5" x 0.25" bar into 1.25" x 0.25")

If so, that's a lot if cutting! Far more effort than it's worth IMHO. Steel (especially 'mild steel') is not an expensive material. Why not save this wider flat bar for projects that are better suited to this size of stock?

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Smoothbore: affordability is a relative term. While you may be in position wher a grand is affordable, I for one cannot justify that large of an expense for what is at this time, a hobby. Maybe some day (I hope. )

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I'm not talking about making a large amount of cuts initially - lop off enough to play with 1/2 dozen bottle openers and decide from there.   I agree with poster who said, ideally, hold onto much of the stock until I find a project that needs it in it's native state.  But in the meantime... free steel, got a fire, gotta pound on something!!    :)

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Hot cut, angle grinder with cut off blade, repurpose an old table saw with a cut off blade---clean out all sawdust first!!!!!!!!!!!

Thomas,

I did not know you could do that, I thought about doing that but it seemed like a "Wile E Coyote" idea. I use the heck out of my Porter Cable grinder and HF cut off wheels myself.

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some table saws are bettter than others,  check to see where the hot metal  swarf will go before doing it .  Wood saw dust does not normally burn wires, metal swarf has been known to do that.

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As I recall Weygers mentiond using a table saw in one of his books.  

 

When I built my 20'x30' shop extension I cut a lot of steel pro-panel using an old trick----mounted a sawblade backwards in a "skill saw" and wore EYE and EAR protection!!!!! (and had a sacrificial saw---rescued from a dumpster and fixed up just for this usage)  May I mention that it is both dangerous and and EYE and EAR damaging!

 

I have one of the large old angle grinders that  I use for cutting RR rail and lesser items, very heavy and the torque is rough on the wrists.

 

I also love my hacksaw---of course it uses a 30" blade made from bandsaw blade so they don't break and can be fairly aggressive.  I've even started making BSB blades for small hacksaws as the cheapies break more than cut.

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I'm not talking about making a large amount of cuts initially - lop off enough to play with 1/2 dozen bottle openers and decide from there. I agree with poster who said, ideally, hold onto much of the stock until I find a project that needs it in it's native state. But in the meantime... free steel, got a fire, gotta pound on something!! :)


To add to Thomas Powers' suggestions; Wall or bench mounted bottle opener, door knocker, use your woodworking skills and tools to build a toolbox for your smithing tools and use the free metal to make the straps and hinges and other hardware.

Hot cut, angle grinder with cut off blade, repurpose an old table saw with a cut off blade---clean out all sawdust first!!!!!!!!!!!


When you say table saw... do you mean a table saw as in one with the motor under the table surface and the blade up through the table surface, or a miter/chop saw? I can see where they both might have benefits, but the miter/chop saw seems to me to be better for this sort of stock... unless you do insist on ripping it lengthways.

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Table saw with the saw mounted under the table.  They often have better motors than miter saws.  A dedicated chopsaw designed for metal cutting would be preferable but then so would be a horizontal bandsaw with auto cut off.

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