Cut lead with scissors, saw or drill

Lead is a very soft metal and therefore very difficult to work with with a saw. If the material thickness allows, cutting tools such as metal scissors or particularly hard cutters are recommended. If lead has to be sawed, it is worth freezing it beforehand in order to prevent the "muddy" effect.

Lead knives and metal scissors

The nature of lead leads to "smeary " behavior during processing. Similar to sinking into mud, the exposed or displaced material "closes" around the cutting tool. The mechanically most unaffected cutting technique is the passage of a cutting blade. When cutting, the lead is pushed apart and remains "locked" when further cutting movements are carried out.

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Lead sheets can be cut well with nail scissors and larger material thicknesses of up to about two centimeters can be cut through with "poultry shears". The cutting movements must be carried out evenly and slowly with a strong lever and a lot of force. In addition to metal scissors, stone scissors or bolt cutters can also be used effectively as hand tools.

Sawing and drilling

In the case of larger material thicknesses and sawing or drilling lead, the "smearing" of the cut or drill hole must be avoided. For this, saw blades or drills are required which, due to their nature, transport the maximum amount of chips out of the recycling opening. In terms of the construction principle, wood drills (€ 1.79 at Amazon *) are most suitable.

The sawing can be supported by drilling several holes in a line and then re-sawing with a wood saw such as a foxtail. Regular cleaning of the saw blade or drill with a wire brush helps to limit smearing. Cutting oil can increase the lubrication factor, but it can be helpful in cutting through.


If the lead component fits in the freezer, freezing is worth it. The temperature should be set to at least minus 18 degrees Celsius. Once the lead is frozen, it can be sawed, drilled and cut with much less smudging. External cooling of a large workpiece with ice packs is also helpful.

Tips & Tricks When cutting lead, remember that the material is toxic. Work with gloves and clean all cutting, sawing and drilling tools thoroughly after use.