How to Cut Metal in a Tight Spot

A grinder outfitted with a cutting disk can make a quick, rough cut in a pinch.

The Challenge: You need to cut pipe, re-bar, sheet metal or dimensional steel in an area where there isn’t much room.

The Solution: Install a cutting disk in a 4-inch or 4 ½-inch hand-held grinder. Make sure the disk is labeled for the material to be cut. Since grinders spin at around 10,000 rpm, take proper safety precautions: Wear safety glasses, hearing protection, gloves and a dust mask. Hold the tool with a firm grip using both hands, and brace your arms in case the grinder kickbacks during the cut. Don't force the disk into the material, which can overload the tool or cause the disk to catch. Keep the disk straight and not twisted during the cut to prevent binding and kickback. When the cut is almost complete, take care not to let the disk get pinched because if the disk binds, it can shatter and spray sharp pieces.

Be aware: Never use a disk that appears damaged. Cracks and other defects can cause the wheel to break apart and launch fragments.