I have vertical rails for shelving that I want to trim down for my low ceilings. Would the cheapest rotary tool suffice for this purpose?

I have a few other questions as well:

  • What kind of blade should would I need to cut though this material?
  • Should I buy more than one blade for about a dozen rails?
  • What kind of accessory for my rotary tool would allow me to polish the sharp edges of this material after cutting? Would a file suffice instead and be able to reach all the sharp edges of this cross section?

This may seem like a simple question, but I have no experience working with a rotary tool and I have been caught out in the past while trying to drill through steel, which I discovered to require a Cobalt drill bit. I don't want to accidentally buy a blade that is unsuitable for steel or a rotary tool that is too weak for the job.

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  • 1
    Those are fairly cheap steel, so a half-decent manual hacksaw will make quick work of them, then file to clean up.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 19:16
  • I have a lot of rails to cut through, and I feel like a cheap rotary tool would be a lot easier, given the number of rails I have to cut. I live in an apartment and can store the tool in a box, which is something I would not want to do with a hack saw.
    – Zhro
    Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 19:22
  • 1
    Well, if you want to buy a power tool, a sawzall would be better than most rotary tools (except maybe an angle grinder). If ‘a lot’ is less than a dozen, a sharp hacksaw will be much cheaper.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 19:28
  • 1
    Doesn't meet the criteria of your question (not rotary), but my guess is that a 5x pack of decent metal-cutting jigsaw blades would easily get you through 10-20 cuts, and you might already have a the jigsaw. Hacksaw will give you arm ache after 10, but will perform perfectly well — use a jig to get a neat, straight cut. Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 19:47
  • 3
    A cheap multi-purpose rotary tool fast you can put in a small toolbox will take far longer than a hacksaw with a decent blade.
    – Chris H
    Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 20:16

1 Answer 1


Harbor Freight has a 15 USD angle grinder. That plus some safety glasses plus a cut-off wheel will cut those nicely (cut-off wheels are made from abrasives, where you want one labeled "metal" or "steel"). You can deburr cuts with the grinder itself, but on a shape like that with difficult inside edges, you probably want a file. You can leave the burrs, but they can cut fingers.

I like to step on the work piece and cut by my boot, where I'll stabilize the grinder with a forearm against my leg or a hand against my boot. Be mindful of where you're spraying the metal cuttings and consumed abrasives. And that spray is hot. Avoid flammable stuff with it and avoid glass--it will bond to glass and leave little craters after you scrape it off.

  • I'd deburr the outside with the grinder, and leave the inside burrs, just being careful when fitting the rails. No further tools needed then (well, I've got a selection of files and deburring tools, so I mean in the OP's position)
    – Chris H
    Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 20:20
  • 2
    With an angle grinder, particularly a bargain basement one, make sure the guard is between you and the action, and keep all important bits of yourself to one side of the cut line. Be sure not to push sideways in a cut. Just a note for power tool novices.
    – Chris H
    Commented Nov 18, 2023 at 20:22
  • 1
    While at Harbor Freight to buy the angle grinder, also buy a clamp(s) of suitable size to hold the rails in place (and some eye and ear protection).
    – Huesmann
    Commented Nov 19, 2023 at 14:29

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