How to Cut Metal Roofing with Tin Snips

How to Cut Metal Roofing with Tin Snips: Complete Guide

It is a joy to work with power tools. Everyone enjoys the ability to finish any task quickly. Power tools can be a great way to get things done quickly. They are also expensive and in many cases useless. We think that cutting metal panels is difficult. You would need a range of power tools if you did this job full-time. Most do-it-yourselfers prefer to invest in basic tools rather than expensive ones that are only used once. How to cut metal roofing with tin snips?

Using a pair of tin snips can be very helpful when installing your metal roof. DIY customers often find them useful. Brass cylinders are most common but other metals can also be used. These cylinders can easily cut through panels of 26 and 29-gauge thickness, or even thicker material. However, there is a right way to do it. Before cutting your metal roofing panels, watch the videos and read this article to make the task easier.

How to Cut Metal Roofing with Tin Snips

Materials and Tools You’ll Need to Get the Job Done

Before you start your roof installation, it’s important to gather and rent the right tools. It’s not pleasant to run late at night to the hardware shop, particularly when your roofing project is in progress.

Here’s an overview of the materials and tools you will need. You may not be able to use them all, but depending on what type of roofing material you are working with, they could all prove useful.

Angle Grinder

Angle Grinder

A metal-cutting wheel on an angle grinder will speed up your cutting process, especially if you’re dealing with large amounts of metal roofing sheets or sheets. It is easy to use this tool and cut several pieces of metal roof without having to use a manual tool. This tool is also useful for cutting other metals and materials such as bolts, rebars, fences, or steel. Having one in your home could be very helpful.

Band Saw

A band saw will work if you do not have an angle grind or prefer a precision straight pattern blade for metal roofing. The blade must be made specifically for metal cutting, otherwise it will overheat your roofing material.

Circular Saw

A circular saw can be used to make accurate cuts cutting panels or cutting through larger metal roof pieces.

Metal Air Shears

Metal Air Shears

They are amazing. They turn your slow tin snip cutting into high-powered, hand-cramp-preventing straight cuts through most metal types. It’s worth it if you use this tool a lot. You can get power drill attachments to power metal or tin shears.

Metal Roofing Materials

Before you begin, make sure that all your roofing metal materials are on hand. You can order metal and roofing sheets from a professional contractor, or at the manufacturer of the sheets. To determine the number of pieces needed, you will need to measure your roof.

Note: Order more than what you require to allow for mistakes or incorrect cuts.

Utilize a nibbler

A nibbler is an excellent tool. It cuts through metal quickly and effortlessly, however, it can be hazardous. Be cautious when using this tool as there are many sharp blades that could lead to severe injury if not handled with caution.

Using a miter saw is an effective way to cut metal roofing.

It features three different speeds, so it can effectively cut both thin and thicker materials. You don’t have to worry about swapping out blades when you encounter different thicknesses of metal, as the miter saw comes with a range of blades that each have a small knob for adjusting the thickness.

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Power Drill

For cutting circles and squares out of the metal for new metal roof panels, a power drill will come in handy. You will have to cut out holes in your roof metal panels for pipe boots and other vents.

To begin, mark the object on your roof material. Be sure to leave enough room to make it fit without cutting too much. It’s easier to start straight tin-green snips by drilling a small hole at the center of the item. Then, use your tin snips and follow your line.

Saw Horse or Work Bench

It’s a mistake to cut your metal roof on anything other than a stable surface, table, or sawhorse. It’s important to have a heavy-duty sawhorse, or workbench to keep you in place while cutting through the metal. The first thing you need to do is organize your workspace so that it’s safe and organized.


Tarps are your best friends. It is impossible to clean up all the tiny metal pieces that fall when cutting. If you are working outside, it is best to lay down tarps before cutting metal. This will catch all the tiny pieces that fall, and ensure no one gets hurt by a sharp piece.

Tin Snips

Tin snips are a widely used option for cutting metal roofing. They typically feature an adjustable pivot that allows for easy and precise cutting of angles and green snips, making it ideal for creating custom cuts in the sheet.

Safety Tips for Cutting Metal

Safety Tips for Cutting Metal

When working with metal, safety should always be a priority. Whether you’re new to working with metal or a seasoned professional, it’s easy to overlook the safety aspects of the job. To help ensure that you stay safe during metal-cutting operations, we’ve compiled some of the best safety tips to keep in mind. From understanding the proper cutting techniques to investing in the right protective equipment, this blog post will help you stay safe when handling metal.

Puncture-Resistant Gloves

Gloves will prevent you from getting injured immediately. But you can’t buy just any gloves. They need to be cut and puncture-resistant, but also resistant to melting when cutting metal. These are your options.

Safety Glasses

When cutting metal, you can get a lot of tiny pieces that could easily end up in your eye. Safety glasses can help prevent long-term eye damage from those tiny shards.

Ear Protection

If you don’t wear ear protection, the sound can cause permanent hearing damage.

Long-Sleeve Shirt and Pants

Covering your skin will help prevent cuts and scrapes.

Hard Hat

It may not appear to be the most important piece of equipment, but a hard hat can prevent serious head injuries in the event that a heavy piece of metal is dropped from the roof while installing. The hard hat can protect your eyes when cutting.

How to Cut Metal Roofing with Tin Snips Step-by-Step

Step 1 – Marking the Metal for Cutting

Marking the Metal for Cutting

Place the roofing sheets with their underside facing up on a level surface. Use a surface that is stable, such as a table, to allow you to cut them without having to move the sheets. Before you use adjustable clamps, flip them over so that the correct side is facing up. It is easier to cut through the underside of the edge than it is across.

It is difficult to cleanly cut through the ridges on top of sheets. Turn sheets upside-down so that the ridges become valleys, not mountains.

Determine the amount of roof panels you will need. You’ll also need the measurements for your roof. Estimate the size of your roof by measuring its length and width. To fit the sheets together, you will need to also know their size. To determine how many sheets you will need, divide the estimated roof area by the typical size of roofing sheets.

Online calculators can help you determine how many metal sheets you will need. Fit the sheets according to your measurements. If you want to cover a roof that measures 21 feet by 10 feet (6.4 meters x 3.0 meters), you will need 210 square feet (20 m2). To estimate the number of sheets, divide it by 18 sq ft / 1.7 m2.

Mark the location where the cutting will begin and end using a measuring tape. To determine the size of your panel, refer to your roof calculations. Mark the areas with permanent markers.

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combination square

Concentrate on marking the exact spot where the sheet needs to be cut. Measure twice to avoid leaks caused by any gaps on the roof.

To cut over a line, use a combination square. A combination square is a ruler attached to the edge of the paper. The adjustable square part should be held flush with the sheet edge. Next, stretch out the ruler portion across the sheet. Start by connecting the two points using a permanent marking pen.

When working with metal roofs, precision is key. If you are not careful, the metal could rust. Be as accurate as you can!

Wear goggles and a mask

Wear goggles and a mask to protect yourself from metal fragments and dust. No matter which tool you choose, take the necessary safety measures to keep yourself safe. If you are using a circular saw, use earplugs. Wear a long-sleeved tee, pants, and boots to protect yourself.

  • The circular saw produces the most dust and noise of all the tools you can use for cutting metal. Double-check the size of your roofing and make sure you are wearing safety equipment like dust masks and earplugs.

Step 2- Working with Tin Snips and Shears

Working with Tin Snips and Shears

Tin snips can be used to easily cut metal roofing sheets if you are willing to work by hand. The snips are essentially metal scissors, and you can use them just like you would if you were using scissors to cut a piece of paper. Tin snips come in a variety of different types depending on what you need. The cutting process can be slow, and it is difficult to finish accurately when you are busy.

Choose yellow or plain tin snips for cutting straight lines. These snips are ideal for the majority of cuts that you will need to perform when dealing with metal roofs.

Select left-handed snips that have red handles to cut counterclockwise and remove metal on your left. Choose right-handed scissors with green handles to cut clockwise, removing metal from your left.

tin-snips for cutting

Drill a small hole to create a guide for cutting a larger hole. This is required when cutting out the center of a roof sheet. This can be done with a metal-cutting 1/2 inch (1.3 cm), electric drill. You can drill a hole at the center of your part and then cut it along the line you marked.

If you are cutting from end to end, then you won’t require a pilot. Hammering a nail through metal is another way. Make the hole in the metal sheeting on the side you intend to remove.

Line up the blade of the scissors

Line up the blade of the scissors with the line that you have marked. Cut the metal like a craft project in school, but with larger, sharper material. Fit the metal between the blades of the scissors by opening them as wide as possible. As you are cutting, keep the metal as close to the snips’ jaws as possible.

Use the handles of the scissors to cut along the line
Use the handles of the scissors to cut along the line. Close the jaws as wide as possible, and then press them down. Continue this process until the metal is gone. To make the cuts as steady and smooth as possible, you should try to remove as much metal with each stroke.

  • Handle metal with care as tin snips can leave sharp edges. Protect yourself by wearing a pair of strong gloves.
  • Snips work best for cutting short lengths such as the width of one sheet.

If you want to cut straighter

If you want to cut straighter, faster, and with better quality then power shears will be the best choice. Power shears come both in electric as well as pneumatic versions. Shears will be faster and produce better cuts if you are cutting 2 feet (0.61 meters) or longer. Power shears are also useful when cutting up multiple sheets quickly.

  • Electric shears are similar to scissors, but they are cut in different ways. You simply hold the shears in the area you want to cut and press the trigger. The blade will then move along the metal.
  • You still need to use caution with quality shears, even though they cut more easily than a knife on a steak. Sometimes the shears get stuck and you have to cut the meat from the other side. You won’t encounter any problems as long as you do not rush the shears or try to force them.
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What is the easiest way to cut metal roofing panels?

The easiest way to cut metal roofing panels is by using a specialized tool called a power shear. Power shears are designed specifically for cutting through metal roof panels with ease and precision. They are equipped with sharp serrated blades that can easily slice through the metal, making the cutting process quick and efficient.

Power shears are also typically lightweight and easy to handle, making them a convenient choice for cutting metal roofing panels. Additionally, power shears can be adjusted to cut at different angles and curves, allowing for flexibility in cutting different shapes and sizes of metal roofing panels. Overall, using a power shear is the easiest and most effective way to install metal roofing panels.

What is the best tool to cut sheet metal roofing?

The best tool to cut sheet metal roofing is a power shear. Power shears are specifically designed to cut through metal with ease and precision. They have sharp smooth blades that can easily cut through the thickness of sheet metal without causing any damage.

Power shears also have a built-in guide that helps ensure straight and accurate cuts. This tool is efficient and saves time compared to using manual tools such as aviation snips or straight tin snips off cut off. Overall, a power shear is the best tool for cutting sheet metal roofing due to its effectiveness and convenience.

What snips do roofers use?

Roofers use a variety of snips, also known as shears or tin aviation snips, depending on the specific task at hand. One common type of snips used by roofers is straight-cut snips, which are used to make straight cuts, clean cuts on roofing materials such as metal sheets or shingles. These snips typically have a serrated blade and a compound leverage design for easier cutting.

Another type of snip that roofers commonly use is the left-cut and right-cut aviation snips, which are designed to make curved or angled cuts. These snips usually have a curved blade for more precise cutting in tight spaces or around corners. Overall, using snips is essential for roofers as they help achieve accurate and efficient cutting of roofing materials.

How do you cut a metal roof by hand?

Cutting a metal roof by hand can be a challenging task that requires careful planning and the right tools. First, it is important to ensure you have the appropriate safety equipment, including gloves and goggles, to protect yourself while working with corrugated metal. Next, measure and mark the area where you need to make the cut. Use a straightedge or a chalk line to create a clear-cutting guide.

Then, using a metal cutting tool such as tin aviation snips or aviation shears, start cutting along the marked line, applying steady and even pressure. It is important to work slowly and carefully, as metal sheets can be tough and difficult to cut. After completing the cut, check the edges for any sharp or rough spots and file them down if necessary. Finally, make sure to clean up any metal shavings or debris to ensure a safe and tidy work area.


To metal roofing with tin snips, start by measuring and marking the area you want to cut. Then, use a straight-cut edge to create a guideline for maybe your aviation snips will cut. Holding the tin aviation snips at a slight angle, start cutting along the marked line, applying firm and consistent pressure. It is important to use the appropriate type of tin snips for cutting metal sheets, as there are different types for different thicknesses of metal. It is also helpful to wear gloves and protective eyewear to ensure safety while cutting. Finally, make sure to take breaks as needed to prevent fatigue and maintain accuracy in your cuts.

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