Cutting Steel

Sometime ago, J managed to acquire for me two cabinets that I am in the process of turning into workbenches. These are heavy duty sheet metal cabinets, 48” x 22”, with 4 drawers and a door concealing shelves. The only thing lacking on them was tops. I built the first one a top using doubled 3/4” plywood and some laminated masonite. I trimmed the edges out with 1” x 2” pine and beveled ½ of the edge before I stupidly hit a nail and broke the router bit. The workbench works well for what I’ve done with it so far, although I think the masonite won’t hold up long term.

The second one I decided I wanted something a little more sturdy for the top. I’m still planning on doubled 3/4" plywood for the underside of the top. I went and talked to my purchasing guy at work, and he found me a 4’ x 8’ sheet of 11 gauge steel for $96. This struck me as a fabulous deal, so I got it and stuck it in my garage. Then I ran into a slight snag: I don’t have anything capable of cutting 11 gauge steel. Most tools I have give up the ghost at 18 gauge, and 11 is way past anything I have. What on earth to do?

My first impulse was to get a metal cutting blade for my circular saw. Metal cutting abrasive blades are about $5, so that’s good. Then I looked at my saw. My saw has a composite base plate, and I became concerned about damaging my base plate with sparks or rough edges of the steel. Considering that a replacement base plate is $52, I’m not in a hurry to damage it. Any other tool capable of cutting 11 gauge is not cheap.

Now that I’ve checked around, I find I can get a cheap Skil for less than the price of the replacement base plate. Sears seems to have the best price online, so I may swing by there at some point and check. Of course, I could just bite the bullet and buy one of these bad boys, but I think that’s probably overkill.

For right now, anyway.


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