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How To Cut Metal Roofing

Cutting metal roofing seems simple enough, however, there are some serious dangers when using some of the tools, especially if you are not properly equipped with the proper safety equipment

This article discusses how to cut metal roofing both by hand and with automatic machinery as well as the safety equipment you will need when doing so.

  1. Get a completely free quote of this roof, without any obligations.
  2. What are the most common tools used to cut metal roofing?
  3. What is the required safety equipment when cutting metal roofing?
  4. A basic overview on how to cut metal roofing with tin snips.
  5. A basic overview on how to cut metal roofing with power sheers.

What tools are used to cut metal roofing?

There are a great deal many tools you can use to cut metal roofing, both by hand and automated tooling. Below I have listed a few of both options and how they work. Personally, when I am doing a project like this I like to use the nibblers, the easy of getting through the metal and the ability to cut around corners is a massive bonus to a lot of other cutting options.

Tin snips

These are handheld scissor-like tools that are sharp and strong enough to cut right through metal roofing. These require a steady hand and a sharp eye. They can cut aluminum, tin and could even be used to cut vinyl siding.

I would recommend if you are going to use these for cutting your metal roofing, do not cheap out on them, you get what you pay for and it would be far more beneficial for you to spend a bit more for hardened steel tin snips that are built to last.


Nibblers are a perfect mix between automated and hand cutting metal roofing. Nibblers can be an attachment used with an electric drill, freehand tool or be bench mounted. They cut through metal like butter and because they allow for quick direction change, they are perfect for cutting patterns out of the sheet metal.

These are a relief and an absolute pleasure to use, especially after you have been using handheld tin snips for a while. Unfortunately, there is a downfall to using nibblers, because of the way they take small bites out of the metal, they can produce quite a large amount of waste.

Circular saw

Using the circular saw is not for beginners, however, this is one of the fastest options out there when it comes to cutting many sheets of tin roofing one after another. If you have a circular saw at home that you used for cutting something other than metal roofing, it should be said that you cannot use the same blade, but you will need to get specialty blades in order to cut through metal roofing.

Angle grinder

Similar to the circular saw, I can only recommend that you use an angle grinder to cut metal roofing if you are experienced with the process. They are not easy to get a straight cut, but if you are able to get it right, it is one of the fastest options on this list.

A downfall if you are using an angle grinder is that the freshly cut edges are susceptible to getting a more jagged look and feel, especially if you are a beginner when it comes to cutting with angle grinders.

What safety gear you should use while cutting metal roofing?

If you have done any construction work or worked on your own home in the past, I am sure none of the items listed below will come as a shock to you. However, it is good to go over and ensure that you have all the necessary safety equipment before you start with your work.

Hard Hats
I feel as though I should not need to mention this bit of safety gear as it should be obvious that you would need a hard hat, however, you will be surprised how many time I have seen people working on a site without wearing a hard hat, especially when it comes to doing work on your own home. It may seem silly, but rather be safe than sorry.

When working with large metal panels and trying to fit them to your roof raises the possibility of head injury if these slip or fall. These head injuries can be largely avoided just by putting on that hard hat.

Eye protection

This should come as no surprise as well. You will be cutting metal, there is a chance for a tiny piece of cut metal to become airborne and make its way to your face, it is imperative that you protect your eyes when doing this type of work, especially if you are using an angle grinder or circular saw as these will kick up a lot of debris when cutting.

It is advised that you get eyewear that has side shielding that will give maximum protection when cutting your metal roofing.

Steel-toed boots

I’m sure you know how important steel-toed boots are, especially if you are working with larger sheets of metal roofing. Not only do these protect your toes from injury, but they also have non-slip soles and can save you from accidentally slipping while you are working on your site.

FIRST AID KIT: This is arguably one of the most important parts of your safety gear. You never know when an accident may happen, however having a basic first aid kit will help, even with a serious injury, until a medical professional is to get to you and attend to injuries.

How to cut metal roofing by hand?

Cutting metal roofing can be tricky, but with enough care, you can do it. However, I recommend that you consider getting a pro to help you if you are not confident. You can get a free quote by clicking on the link below. Let me show you how to do it.

Lets go over a list of things that you will need before you start with your project.

For one you will want a work surface that is big enough and strong enough to hold your panel steady. This is imperative as any sudden movement in the metal panel could cause an unwanted cut. Also ensure that you have the necessary measuring tools, everything from a combination square to a tape measure is extremely important to have accurate cuts. Grab yourself a marker that you will need to outline where you are going to make your cut, and then follow that very carefully with your cutting tool. All of these are essential to be able to take on this project.

To begin cutting your corrugated metal roofing ensure you have a good pair of aviation tin snips, they need to be sharp and strong ready for the task at hand. There is nothing worse than trying to cut through hard metal roofing with a dull tool, you will soon run into fatigue and want to give up on your project altogether.

Set your metal sheeting down on your work surface and measure out where you want to make your cut. Use a rule and a marker to mark out the line you would like to cut along. This can be hard, especially on corrugated metal. What you can do is to just mark short lines on the topmost sections of the corrugation and be very careful when cutting to follow these guidelines.

You will notice when you begin to cut with the tin snips, depending on whether you have right or left-handed tin snips, one side of the metal sheeting will start to be pushed up towards you. Use your free hand to leverage this up and balance it as you make your cut all the way through, keeping a close eye on your guideline and ensure you are following it correctly.

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Cutting a metal roof using power sheers.

Before you start cutting just any metal sheeting, ensure that your power sheers are able to cut through the type of metal mater you have. Consult the user manual for this as it should show any restrictions or best practices for your type of power sheers.

Set your metal sheeting down on your work surface and ensure that it is stable and sitting level. Measure and mark the line you wish to cut, ensure that this is perfectly correct as once the cut is made, there is no going back.

Begin your cut, and with a steady hand, follow your measurement with great care, there is no race here, be careful and finish the cut.

In conclusion, cutting metal roofing isn’t too difficult, but I would recommend consulting a trusted roofing professional in your area if you need to do this work for your home. Remember, even being just a fraction of an inch off on your measurements can cause serious damage that is not reversible to your metal roofing.

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