How Cut Metal Studs: Navigating the New Name in Framing

Metal studs are quickly becoming the go-to choice when it comes to framing.

Not only are they cheaper than wood studs, but they’re lightweight, easy to store, and always straight. They’re also far more durable, especially since they are resistant to fire, rot, and insect damages.

The only problem is that metal studs are a little trickier to use than wood studs, especially if you’ve never used them before.

Though it might seem intimidating at first, especially if you aren’t familiar with cutting metal, learning how to cut metal studs is actually pretty straightforward.

What You’ll Need

The best way how to cut metal studs is with tin snips.

Here’s what you’ll need:

An alternative method (outlined below) requires:

Though regular tin snips might do the job just fine, we recommend investing in a pair of metal snips capable of cutting at least 20-gauge steel.

Step I: Select the Right Tin Snips    

Not all tin snips are created equal.

If you have a pair of tin snips lying around, try them out on a piece of scrap stud metal to test out their sharpness.

They should make the cut almost as easily as a pencil cutting through paper.

If the cut is difficult to make, invest in a new pair of tin snips that are constructed to cut through at least 20-gauage steel.

According to The Family Handyman, a pair of straight-cut aviation metal snips is your best bet.

Step II: Measure and Mark Each Stud

Measure the length of the stud you want to cut.

Use your pencil to make a mark on the stud where you want to cut. Then use your carpenter’s square to draw a straight line at the location of the cut.

Repeat this step for each metal stud you need to cut, measuring and marking each stud separately.

Step III: Snip Both Sides and Score

There are two different ways to accomplish this type of cut with your tin snips.

The first is to snip through both sides of the stud then score along the back (wider section) of the stud.

Next, bend the stud back and forth along the scored section. It will quickly break in two pieces after a few moments.

The other method is to snip through both sides of the stud as well as the back (wider section) of the stud.

Both methods accomplish pretty much the same end result, although the first method is slightly easier and typically results in a cleaner, burr-free cut.

Alternative Method: Miter Saw or Circular Saw

By far the easiest way how to cut metal studs is with tin snips or metal snips. However, this method is slow, especially if you need to cut multiple metal studs all to the same length.

A slightly quicker alternative is to use a miter saw or circular saw to complete the job.

The process is much the same as using tin snips. You simply need to measure each stud with your tape measure and mark the cut with a pencil and carpenter’s square.

Make sure to place the metal stud with the back side (closed side) down. The back of the stud is also known as the “web.” In other words, the flat side should always be down.

Depending upon the length of the studs, you should use sawhorses (or a helper) to support each stud while making the cuts.

It’s important to select the right blade when cutting metal with a saw. Lowes suggests using a toothless carborundum metal-cutting blade.

Stay Safe While Cutting Metal Studs

You must use basic safety precautions when cutting metal studs.

The tin snip method only really requires a pair of sturdy gloves. The edges of cut metal are razor sharp, so it’s essential to protect your hands.  

If you go with the alternative miter or circular saw method, you must wear gloves as well as eye protection, ear protection, and long sleeves.

You might also consider wearing a dust mask as cutting through metal. Steel is particularly prone to creating a lot of sparks and smoke.

As you can see from the safety gear required to cut metal studs with a saw, it’s almost always easier to use tin snips to accomplish the same goal.

Final Thoughts

Cutting metal studs might seem intimidating at first – but it’s actually very simple with a little know-how.

Now that you know the basics, you’ll find it easy to make these cuts with either tin snips or a miter/circular saw.

Once you’re done with your metal studs project, here are some of the best DIY projects for anyone to try!

About Gus Donaldson

I built houses for over 30 years and recently retired. I've made lots of mistakes and hopefully teach you not to make the same ones. I still love to build and have a garage workshop that I use for hobby projects like the walnut bookshelf I made for my wife. I like to write and let people know that working with your hands and tools does not need to be intimidating.

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