Most construction sites use a large amount of rebar as reinforcement for concrete. Rebar is delivered to the site in standard lengths, where it must be cut and bent to size. A wide variety of tools are commonly used for this task – some riskier and less advisable than others. Here are some of the most widely used ones.
Angle Grinder for Rebar
Angle grinders are the popular choice for rebar cutting on construction sites. The angle grinder generally offers a quick solution, making a neat, clean cut. You could also line up multiple sections of rebar to cut in one go, minimizing the time spent cutting.
How to Cut Rebar with Angle Grinder?
- Use a metal cutting abrasive disc.
- Mark the cut position.
- Set your angle grinder to the maximum RPM (speed) available.
- Switch on the grinder and slowly plunge into the rebar above the cut line.
- Do not apply too much pressure. Let the abrasive disc do the cutting.
Unfortunately, this is not a very safe way of going about the task. Angle grinders cause a large amount of sparks, which fly from the cut in all directions. These sparks will cause severe damage and burn wounds to any exposed skin and could also ignite flammable substances. The cutting process also produces dust and smoke, which leads to respiratory problems when inhaled.
Mitigate these risks on-site by wearing the correct PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and working in a well-ventilated area away from flammable substances. Alternatively, you could use a carbide-tipped metal cutting blade, which reduces the amount of sparks generated.
Angle grinder discs could disintegrate during cutting, which would generate debris shooting in all directions. This situation is hazardous.
Lastly, angle grinders could experience kickbacks, where the blade jams into the material that you’re cutting. In this case, you could lose control of the cutting tool, dropping it on your leg or foot or other nearby equipment. In either case, the damage could be severe.
Despite all the downsides, angle grinders are highly useful tools to have and should be there in every handyman’s tool box.
Rebar Cutting Saw
Cutting Rebar with Circular Saw
Circular saws are probably the most commonly used for cutting rebar on construction sites, even more than angle grinders. Rebars are made of carbon steel. So, for the best results, use a circular saw blade suitable for cutting metal. This means you either need an abrasive disc or a metal cutting blade.
As with angle grinders, circular saws with abrasive discs will create sparks when cutting rebar, which is a safety hazard. The regular HSS circular saw blades will get dull very quickly when used on rebars.
Many circular saw manufacturers have mitigated this risk by using carbide-tipped blades and reducing the RPMs (revolutions per minute) at which the tool operates. This reduces the sparks produces and also minimizes the friction and heat produced during cutting.
While these measures improve blade life and significantly reduce the safety hazards involved in cutting rebar with a circular saw, it doesn’t eliminate the risk. Therefore, the proper precautions should still be taken.
Many contractors choose a circular saw simply based on economics. While these tools are often an expensive initial investment, they tend to last long. In addition, the blades are inexpensive, rendering the cost-per-use relatively low. This is in comparison to other rebar cutting tools. This low cost, and the relative speed with which the circular saw gets the job done, makes it a winner.
Can You Cut Rebar with A Sawzall?
The term “Sawzall” is generally used to refer to any type of reciprocal saw. However, a Sawzall is actually a specific type of reciprocal saw, a registered trademark of Milwaukee Tool. These tools are often used to cut rebar, although they’re not initially meant for this job.
You require a suitable blade to cut the rebar using a reciprocal saw. The Sawzall blade for rebar should have more teeth than the wood blade. A 12 to 18 TPI fine, sharp teeth and should be suitable for metal cutting. Unfortunately, a regular HSS blade will dull quickly and be replaced frequently, even when it’s a high-quality one. You need a bi-metal, carbide, or diamond-grit reciprocating saw blade to get decent results.
Reciprocating saws are very versatile tools that you can use for a number of different tasks. By changing the blade, you can use it to cut various materials, from softwood to hard metals.
The saw itself is affordable and the blades are inexpensive.
Using a reciprocal saw for rebar cutting comes with some warnings. First, this saw is handheld, and the user will likely tire quickly from using it.
Second, it also vibrates, so prolonged and frequent use increases the risk of developing HAVS – Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome. This syndrome causes long-term damage to the hand and possibly arm, resulting in loss of dexterity, numbness, and tingling.
Portable Bandsaw to Cut Rebar
The portable band saw is perhaps one of the most under-utilized power saws; perhaps due to its bulky design when compared to a reciprocating saw or jigsaw.
Portable band saws are very good at cutting rebars since they result in less vibration, offer clean-cut edges. They are also safe to use since they do not produce sparks.
While the tool may not look versatile like other power saws, if you take a look at the list of portable bandsaw uses, you will find that it is quite a useful power tool.
Metal Cutting Band Saw
A horizontal band saw is the go-to tool for the metalworking industry to cut metal bars and rods into size. The continuous loop of the blade can dissipate heat with the help of coolant and lasts longer. This saw cuts through rebar easily and is very efficient at bulk cutting. However, a horizontal bandsaw is slow if you use it to cut one piece at a time.
Besides, horizontal band saws are large-sized shop floor tools. They offer very little portability and hence not suitable for construction sites.
Can You Cut Rebar with A Hacksaw?
When you have small amounts of rebar to cut, a hacksaw could do the job. However, note that this is a manual tool, and prolonged use will be highly tiring and inefficient. For this reason, hacksaws aren’t recommended for cutting rebar at construction sites.
Cutting Rebar with Dremel
Can a Dremel Cut Rebar? You can cut rebar with Dremel using a cut-off wheel. However, it will take a long time to get the job done. Dremel is a hobbyist or DIYer tool that can perform a lot of light-duty tasks by using the appropriate Dremel bits.
Other heavy-duty rotary tools such as die grinders are more efficient in cutting metal. If you have only a couple of bars to cut, sure go ahead and use your corded Dremel tool. Anything more would be too much for a rotary tool to handle.
How to Cut Rebar with Bolt Cutters?
Bolt cutters are meant to cut bolts and chains, and they don’t necessarily make a neat cut. These can be used for cutting rebar, but they shouldn’t be used for cuts that require a smooth, flush end. Bolt cutters snip through the metal, often making a somewhat jagged cutting edge.
The procedure here is simple. To cut rebar using bolt cutters,
- Mark the position of the cut
- Place the bolt cutter on this mark, and
- Close the handles.
In most cases, it will slice through the metal with minimal effort.
Specialized Hydraulic Bar Cutters
There are specialized rebar cutters on the market, such as the Enerpac Bar Cutters. This electrical tool was designed specifically to cut rebar quickly and safely. Once plugged into a suitable power source, simply place the rebar in the tool and press the cutting button. Bar cutters make flush, clean cuts using a durable blade meant for cutting metal.
Hydraulic Bar Cutter vs. Angle Grinder
These tools tend to be more expensive than angle grinders and circular saws and can only be used for one job – cutting rebar. That said, this tool pays dividends in the long run. When you have a large amount of rebar to cut regularly, you minimize cutting time.
In a direct comparison, an angle grinder cut 8 to 10 rebar units in the space of one minute. While a specialized bar cutter went through 15 to 20 units in the same amount of time.
Bar cutters are far safer than the alternatives since it produces no sparks or heat, and the cutting blade is entirely enclosed. So unless you place your hand in the way of the blade, which is unlikely to happen by accident, you will probably not get hurt using this tool. It is also safe to use in enclosed spaces since it doesn’t produce smoke or dust and doesn’t require much space to work correctly.
Best Way to Cut Rebar
The best way to cut rebar is to use specialized bar cutters. If you can’t invest in a specialized tool, the next best option for most people is the metal cutting chop saw.
With a good quality abrasive cut-off wheel, the chop saw can cut rebar with clean edges. The chop saw with stopper has good repeatability and is very efficient.
The only disadvantage of a chop saw is that you cannot use it to cut off those rebars protruding from the concrete. You need an angle grinder, or a portable band saw to do that. The abrasive discs also produce sparks; hence should be kept away from flammable objects.
However, as a fabricators’ saw, they work extremely well for sizing the rebar before you assemble them into the reinforced mesh.
What is the Fastest Way to Cut Rebar?
1. Gas Cut-off Saw
The fastest way to cut the rebar is by using a gasoline cut-off saw or the masonry saw. You could also use it to gang cut by clamping several rods together.
How to cut rebar in concrete?
Masonry cut-off saws are the best tool is the best tool for the job. Use a diamond cut-off wheel that is suitable for cutting concrete with a rebar. It will last for a long time.
2. Oxyacetylene Torch
Another method is to use an acetylene cutting torch to cut the rebar quickly if the edge quality is not important.
However, both the gas cut-off saw, and the torch requires expert hands. These tools can be dangerous in the hands of novice workers.
Summary: 12 Ways to Cut Rebar
If you have gone through all the above methods and tips, you have come across the following 12 different methods of cutting rebars.
- Angle Grinder: A very versatile too that is widely used tool. Generates spark.
- Circular Saw: Common power saw. Doesn’t create spark with the right blade.
- Chop Saw: Perhaps the best way to cut rebars for most people.
- Sawzall: Reciprocating saws are not very efficient at cutting rebars.
- Hacksaw: Use it only if you have very few rods to cut. It is hard manual labor.
- Bolt-Cutters: Another hand tool for cutting small quantity of rebars.
- Rotary Tools: Small grinders such as Dremel are not very efficient.
- Portable Band Saw: Work surprisingly well at cutting rebar. No spark cutting.
- Metal Cutting Band Saw: Decent option; however, it is slow and not portable.
- Bar Cutter: Specialized bar cutters are professional’s choice for cutting large quantity.
- Gas Cut-Off Tool: A heavy-duty tool that can cut very fast.
- Acetylene Torch: Quick and easy way to cut. But they are not safe and result in poor cut edges.
- Angle Grinder for Rebar
- Rebar Cutting Saw
- Rebar Cutters
- Best Way to Cut Rebar
- Summary: 12 Ways to Cut Rebar