Take the 2-minute tour ×
Home Improvement Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for contractors and serious DIYers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

What tools can I use to get a clean cut through thin steel? Specifically, I have several mini beer kegs I need to cut the bottoms out of. I don't mind it taking a while, but my cuts are jagged (easy to cut myself on them) and it takes me about an hour and a half to get a semi-clean cut to where I don't cut myself.

I also would prefer a tool that does not create sparks, as I don't exactly have a fire-safe environment to work with, but I can always do the cutting elsewhere if need be.

share|improve this question
When cutting steel sparks are always a possibility, there's no getting away from it, unless you use a manual tool like a pair of tin snips. –  GdD Sep 26 '12 at 19:14
Tin snips are what I'm using now, but they are a bit large for the space I have to work with. I've been searching on the internet and I'm finding that I should probably get a Dremel and find somewhere where sparks are safe. –  Alexander Miles Sep 26 '12 at 19:17
I need some mini 5 gal kegs for my home brew!!!! –  shirlock homes Sep 26 '12 at 20:07
Whatever you end up doing, you will likely have to use a file afterwards to get it smooth –  Steven Sep 26 '12 at 20:19
If you have a drill, will a holesaw work? –  mikes Sep 26 '12 at 21:58

5 Answers 5

Plasma torches are great. But maybe overkill for your needs.

I'd say a jig saw with a metal blade would be the best bet.

share|improve this answer
a plasma torch would destroy the mini-keg in seconds! –  GdD Sep 26 '12 at 19:12
haha, i feel like any kind of torch would be overkill for my needs –  Alexander Miles Sep 26 '12 at 19:15
+1 for the jigsaw. It's worth the purchase if you don't already have one. They're not expensive and you'll find lots of uses for it. –  RQDQ Sep 26 '12 at 20:32
I agree with the jig saw with a metal blade. A rotary tool will take out too much material and will want to wander all over the place. –  BrianK Sep 27 '12 at 1:35

A Nibbler, is a tool that is used for cutting thin metal. A heavy duty nibbler is usually capable of cutting up to 14 gauge steel. I'm not sure what gauge metal is used for mini kegs, so this tool may not be appropriate in your situation.

Some nibblers work similar to a punch and die, nibbling small sections of the metal at a time (think hole punch). Other versions make two parallel cuts, and roll the scrap material in front of the tool as they cut.

Nibblers come in both manual, and powered variations. Powered version can be powered by both air, or electricity.

enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

There are even some available that attach to a drill, converting the drills rotary action to a reciprocating motion.

Drill attached nibbler

Nibblers will give you a clean cut, and will not create sparks.

share|improve this answer

I would recommend either a oscillating multi-tool or a rotary tool. The rotary tool with a cut-off blade is more likely to make sparks, but the multitool should be fairly spark free. Multi-tool and rotary tool

share|improve this answer
This seems to be up my alley, and it's what I'm seeing plastered everywhere over the internet. –  Alexander Miles Sep 26 '12 at 19:19

If tin snips are sufficient for the work, you can get a set of pneumatic metal shears. No sparks, fast work, and an inexpensive tool if you have access to a compressor.

share|improve this answer

The Mini Keg is so small, I would simply use a hacksaw blade. Try to go for a nice fine blade edge, and if you can clamp the keg somewhere without bending the sides. then bonus!

Its better to go for the double thick blades which normally feature two cutting sides, then its easer on the hands, otherwise get a specialised pullsaw.

you can then clean off the cuts with a few passes of some 100grit or so sandpaper. enter image description here enter image description here

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.