Pavement projects usually require asphalt cutting as part of the road preparation. Fixing potholes or cracks requires accurate cuts and driveways always perform best when properly prepared and cut.
Asphalt is a relatively soft building material that requires a specialized cutting disk. The industry standard is to use a hard-bonded diamond blade fitted to a purpose-made cutting rig. Avoid using a soft-bonded blade as the bitumen will clog the blade, resulting in an uneven cut.
The small stones and pebbles found in asphalt clear more easily when cut with a hard-bonded, vented blade.
Avoid using soft-bonded blades designed for masonry or concrete as the bitumen adheres to these blades very easily. This reduces the blade’s efficiency and leads to heat build-up and greater stresses on the saw.
Asphalt blades come in both wet and dry cutting variations. The dry blades wear away as they cut through the asphalt. The constant wear exposes more hard cutting material which results in smoothly cut edges which are necessary for high-quality asphalt repairs.
Wet blades are lubricated with a constant flow of water, acting as a coolant. The wet blades operate with a harder cutting edge that produces much greater amounts of heat than the softer blades. They are more efficient than dry blades and place less stress on the saw.
Can You Cut Asphalt With Circular Saw?
When repairing asphalt, it is vital that you use the correct equipment.
You can use a circular saw fitted with a diamond blade to cut asphalt. The blade must be vented to facilitate the flow of material away from the blade’s teeth. This ensures that the blade doesn’t get clogged. Using the incorrect blade can damage both the road surface and the circular saw.
Using a correctly vented blade also prevents the blade and the saw from overheating as it cuts through the asphalt.
The drag created by the blade cutting through the softer bitumen increases the wear and tear on the saw. It is therefore advisable to use a circular saw with a worm drive rather than a conventional drive as it is more robust and resists the higher forces.
Can You Cut Asphalt With Grinder?
Using a grinder to cut asphalt can be dangerous if you don’t use the right blade.
You can cut asphalt with a grinder fitted with a hard-bonded diamond blade. It’s not advisable to cut material thicker than 4 inches (100mm) though. The pebbles and grit suspended in the bitumen can fly off in all directions. This makes it dangerous to cut without the necessary safety equipment.
Grinders are not designed for cutting asphalt. They should only be used for very small jobs and then only if fitted with the necessary safety guards. It’s important that you do not use a soft-bonded blade when cutting the asphalt with a grinder.
The chances of a soft-bonded blade fracturing are higher with a grinder as there is less control over the machine.
A full-face shield and protective gear are the minimum safety gear to avoid injury.
Can You Cut Asphalt With Skill Saw?
As a contractor, you should avoid trying to cut materials with the incorrect tools.
While you can theoretically cut asphalt with a Skill saw, it is not recommended. Skill saws are designed to cut wood and, as such, are not built strongly enough to withstand the extreme stresses of cutting asphalt. To cut asphalt, make shallow cuts and allow the saw time to cool down.
If you have no choice, then fitting a hard-bonded diamond blade to a Skill saw is possible. If the area of asphalt that you need to remove is small, then it may be possible to complete the job with a Skill saw.
However, you run the risk of overheating your Skill saw when cutting through soft asphalt.
Can You Cut Asphalt With Concrete Blade?
There are big differences between hard-bonded diamond blades designed to cut asphalt and soft-bonded blades designed for concrete and masonry.
You can cut asphalt with a blade designed for concrete. However, the blade will not last very long and you run the risk of damaging your saw. The concrete blade lacks the venting necessary to allow bitumen and grit to exit the blade. It is also much softer, which results in it wearing out faster.
Blades designed for cutting concrete are not efficient tools when trying to cut softer materials like asphalt.
They wear out quickly if you try to cut asphalt and add much higher loads to your saw’s drive.
Can You Cut Asphalt With Diamond Blade?
Diamond blades are designed for cutting materials that are too soft for normal masonry blades.
You can cut asphalt with a diamond blade as it is designed for the purpose. Hard-bonded diamond blades are designed to wear out more slowly and when they do wear, more cutting material is exposed. They facilitate very clean cutting lines and place less load on the cutting tool.
Asphalt diamond blades come in two types; dry blades and wet blades. Wet blades are lubricated with water. This helps to cut cleanly as well as keep the blade cool.
Dry blades use airflow to keep the blade cool. For this reason, cuts should be shallower and time needs to be taken to avoid overheating the blade and the saw.
Can You Cut Asphalt With Sawzall?
Sometimes, using the wrong tool for a job can lead to serious injury and damage to your tools.
A Sawzall is a reciprocating blade cutting tool that is not suitable for cutting asphalt. If you attempt to cut asphalt, the blade will strike the ground and bend or break. This is potentially very dangerous as the blade can break and cut the operator. It will also break or damage the Sawzall.
Sawzalls are designed to cut materials that have a void behind them. This space is sufficient to keep the blade from striking something hard as it cuts through the material.
Not only is there no room for the Sawzall to operate properly when cutting into asphalt, but the blades for the Sawzall are not designed to cut asphalt.
Can You Cut Asphalt With Masonry Blade?
Masonry blades are designed to cut material that is hard and has no hard pieces of aggregate in it.
You can cut asphalt with a masonry blade, but it will not take long before the blade wears out. Masonry blades are soft-bonded and designed to wear away quickly, revealing the next layer of cutting material. Hard-bonded diamond blades are vented to remove asphalt from the blade and not get clogged.
Masonry blades cannot cope with the softer, aggregate-filled asphalt. It clogs the cutting surface and wears out the blade very quickly. It also places much greater strain on the saw.
Can You Cut Asphalt With Reciprocating Saw?
There are many different cutting tools that you can use to cut asphalt. However, some of them are not suitable for this purpose at all.
Reciprocating saws, like Sawzalls, aren’t suitable for cutting asphalt. The design and orientation of the blade do not allow effective use of the saw. It is most likely that trying to cut asphalt will damage both the blade and the saw. The blades are also not suitable for asphalt and will clog up.
It is better to use a circular saw or asphalt cutting machine rather than try to cut asphalt with a reciprocating saw.
How to Cut Asphalt Properly
To effectively cut asphalt, you require the correct tools. Both the saw and the blade that you use will determine how clean and efficient your cuts will be.
Brush away any debris before marking out the area with a chalk line. Fit a hard-bonded diamond blade to the saw. Set the saw blade depth to the thickness of the paving. Make only straight cuts to avoid damaging the blade. Avoid using a jackhammer or any tool that can damage the surrounding paving.
If the area being cut is wet, dry it out before proceeding with filling or fixing the asphalt.