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How to Cut Metal Roofing

Cutting metal roofing can be an intimidating task, especially for those new to DIY home improvement projects. However, with the right tools, techniques, and safety precautions, you can achieve professional results without the need for expert assistance.

In this article, I’ll walk you through the essential steps and provide practical tips on how to cut metal roofing efficiently and accurately, ensuring a seamless fit and a polished finish for your roofing project. Whether you’re replacing an old roof or installing a new one, our comprehensive tutorial will help you tackle the job with confidence.

How to Cut Metal Roofing

Cutting metal roofing requires specific tools and safety measures.

Here’s a breakdown of the process:


– Safety Gear: Ear protection, gloves, safety glasses

– Marking Tool: Straight edge (ruler, longboard) and marker

– Cutting Tool (Choose one):

– Metal Shears: Ideal for straight cuts, especially if you have a helper to hold one side steady.

– Circular Saw: Equipped with a metal cutting blade for faster straight cuts. Requires a steady hand and support underneath the roofing sheet to prevent damage.

– Angle Grinder: With a metal cutting disc for various cuts (straight or curved). Offers more control than a circular saw but throws sparks. Requires good ventilation and fire safety measures.


– Measure and Mark… Measure the roofing sheet for your desired cut and mark a clean, straight line using the straight edge and marker.

– Secure the Roofing Sheet… Place the sheet on sawhorses or a stable, flat surface ensuring the cut line hangs freely beyond the support.

Cut the Sheet:

Metal Shears… Hold the shears along the line and squeeze to make straight cuts.

Circular Saw…  Install a metal cutting blade, set the cutting depth slightly deeper than the sheet thickness. Align the saw blade with the line, power it on, and slowly cut along the line.

Angle Grinder… Attach a metal cutting disc, wear proper ventilation, and ensure there are no flammable materials nearby. Turn on the grinder and carefully follow the marked line.

Additional Tips:

– Use a sacrificial board underneath the cut to prevent damaging the surface below the roofing sheet (when using circular saw or grinder).

– Don’t force the cutting tool; let it glide through the metal.

– For a clean, burr-free cut, use tin snips to trim any rough edges after cutting with a power tool.

What Tool is Used to Cut Metal Roofing?

There are several tools you can use to cut metal roofing, depending on your needs and preferences.

Here are the most common options:

Tin Snips… A good choice for straight cuts, particularly for thinner gauge metals or for DIY projects. They come in various sizes and are relatively affordable.

Electric Shears or Nibblers… These are power tools that offer more precision and cutting power than manual tin snips. Nibblers are especially useful for making curved cuts or intricate shapes.

Circular Saw with Metal Cutting Blade… For faster straight cuts on metal roofing panels. Requires a steady hand and proper support to avoid damaging the sheet.

Angle Grinder with Metal Cutting Disc… Offers more control than a circular saw for both straight and curved cuts. However, it throws sparks and requires good ventilation and fire safety measures.

Can I Cut Metal Roofing with Tin Snips?

Yes, you can cut metal roofing with tin snips, but with some limitations:

Metal Gauge… Tin snips are ideal for thinner gauge metals, typically used in DIY projects or for cutting small roofing panels.  They might struggle with very thick roofing sheets.

Cut Type… Tin snips are best suited for straight cuts.  Cutting curves or intricate shapes with them is difficult and may not produce clean results.

Here’s a quick breakdown to help you decide:

Use tin snips if:

– You’re working with thinner gauge metal roofing.

– You only need to make straight cuts.

– You have a smaller DIY project.

Consider other tools if:

– The metal roofing is thick gauge.

– You need to make curved cuts or intricate shapes.

– You need to cut a large amount of roofing quickly.

Tin snips are a good option for their affordability and ease of use. If your metal roofing meets the criteria above, they can get the job done. However, for thicker materials, curved cuts, or larger projects, other tools like electric shears, circular saws, or angle grinders might be more efficient.

How to Remove Sharp Edges on Metal Roofing

There are a couple of approaches to deal with sharp edges on metal roofing, depending on the severity and your desired outcome.

Smoothing the Edges… This involves wearing down the sharpness of the metal. There are various tools you can use for this:

Hand tools… A file, sandpaper, or a deburring tool (which looks like a small knife specifically for smoothing metal edges) can be used to manually smooth out the sharpness.

Power tools… An angle grinder with a flap disc attachment can achieve this quicker but requires more caution to avoid gouging the metal.

Edge Coverings… Instead of smoothing the metal itself, you can add a layer on top of the sharp edges for increased safety and aesthetics.

Trim… Consider installing a metal trim that covers the sharp edge. This creates a clean finished look and protects completely from the sharp edge.

Edge Guards… Rubber or foam edge guards can be glued onto the sharp edges. These are a good option for areas were falling on the roof is a concern, especially around walkways.

Important Safety Note… When working on your roof, prioritize safety first. Always use proper fall protection equipment and ensure you have a stable working platform.

If you’re unsure about DIY solutions, it’s always best to consult a professional roofer for recommendations and to ensure the job is done safely and effectively.

Shed Plans

Tips for Cutting Metal Roofing

Here are some tips for cutting metal roofing:

Before you cut:

– Safety first: Wear gloves, safety glasses, and long sleeves to protect yourself from sharp edges and flying debris.

– Measure twice, cut once: Double-check your measurements before marking the metal sheet for cutting.

– Choose the right tool: The best tool depends on the thickness of the metal and the type of cut you need to make.

Cutting tools:

– Tin snips: Good for straight cuts in thin gauge metal sheets.

– Aviation snips: Similar to tin snips, but with greater cutting capacity for thicker metals. They come in left and right-handed versions for easier cutting in different directions.

– Circular saw: For long, straight cuts in thicker metal panels. Use a metal-cutting blade specifically designed for this purpose. Never use a wood-cutting blade.

– Angle grinder: With a metal cut-off wheel, this is a powerful option for thicker panels. However, it requires good control and can generate a lot of sparks. Ensure you elevate the metal sheet you are cutting to avoid sparks hitting the surface below.

Cutting techniques:

– Flat, stable surface: Place the metal sheet on a sturdy workbench or sawhorses to ensure it doesn’t move while cutting.

– Clamp it down: Use clamps to secure the sheet metal in place for safety and better control.

– Mark your cuts: Use a marker to clearly indicate where you want to cut.

– Straight cuts: For long, straight cuts, use a circular saw or aviation snips with a steady hand.

– Curved cuts: Make small, incremental cuts with tin snips or aviation snips to achieve the desired curved shape.

– Pilot holes: For intricate cuts or holes, use a drill with a metal drill bit to create a pilot hole first. Then, you can use snips or a nibbler to follow the outline.

Finishing touches:

– Inspect the edges: After cutting, check for any sharp or jagged metal that could cause injury. You can use a file to smooth out any rough spots.

– Dispose of metal shavings carefully: Metal shavings can be sharp and pose a tripping hazard. Properly dispose of them in a designated metal scrap bin.

By following these tips, you can safely and effectively cut your metal roofing panels to size for your project.

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