How to Cut Metal with a Cold Chisel

A cold chisel is a handy tool if you need to make holes or cut through cold metal. It is also referred to as a coal chisel. The tool resembles a woodworking chisel but is heavier and generally darker or black in color. The chisel is made of tempered steel that gives it the required capacity to cut through metal. You use the chisel to hammer away excess metal or to split metal. Below is a guide on how to use the chisel.

Materials Needed

  • Cold chisel
  • Ball peen hammer
  • Sledge hammer, for larger metal pieces
  • Tongs
  • Work piece
  • Grinding wheel
  • Acetone
  • Rag
  • Vise
  • Marker
  • Safety goggles 
  • Heavy duty gloves

Step 1 – Inspection

Select a chisel that matches the job at hand. Inspect the tool to confirm that it is sharp. Blunt chisels will not give you good results. Use a grinding wheel to sharpen your chisel if it appears blunt. Strive to maintain the original angle along the edge as you sharpen. Once the chisel is sharp enough, clean it with acetone and a clean rag. It is important that there’s no dirt or grease on the tool before you work. If you note any chips or crack on the tool, it is best to replace it.

Step 2 – Safety Wear

Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from flying bits of metal. Heavy duty gloves are excellent protection for your hands in the event that the hammer misses the chisel and strikes your hand.

Step 3 – Small Metal Pieces

If your work piece is a small piece of metal, it is best to clamp this in a vise. Mark the location on the metal where you need to cut through. Position the chisel at a slight angle on the marked spot. This ensures that once you strike with the hammer, a continuous line is created as the tool cuts through the metal. When you hold the chisel vertically, you get a separate cut each time you strike with the hammer. This will create a series of short cuts.

Step 4 – Strike with Hammer

Firmly hold the chisel with one hand. The face diameter of your hammer should be larger than that of the chisel head. Use your other hand to grasp the hammer close to the end of the handle. Raise the hammer above your shoulder and bring it down to strike the chisel head with adequate force. Maintain this activity until you establish a steady rhythm. Heavier materials will require more force and more repeated action.

Step 5 - Cleaning

Should you notice that either the hammer or chisel head is dirty or greasy, stop your work for a while. Dirt and grease promote inaccurate results. They also increase the likelihood of a strike on your hand. Wipe away the dirt with acetone and a clan rag.

Step 6 – Larger Work Pieces

It is best to ask somebody to help you if you have to work with large pieces of metal. This requires a heavy-duty chisel and sledge hammer. Ask your helper to hold the chisel at an angle on the metal with tongs as you strike with the sledge hammer.