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Posted By: Mike Burns tools for cutting sheet metal - Mon Jul 12 2021 03:38 PM
So far on my project truck I have done all of the sheet metal cutting with cutoff wheels in a grinder. This seems OK for most things, but not always. I'm curious to know what alternatives you guys use. I realize that a plasma cutter is probably the ultimate tool for this, but I kinda doubt that I'll be laying out the money for one because I dont really plan to do any more of this type of work after this truck. I do have a bench top shear, but I find that it is only good for 22 gauge or lighter, and of course only for straight cuts.
Posted By: MNSmith Re: tools for cutting sheet metal - Mon Jul 12 2021 05:53 PM
I haven't used a plasma in some time now. My go to seems to be the bandsaw whenever possible!
Posted By: clarsen3100 Re: tools for cutting sheet metal - Mon Jul 12 2021 11:38 PM
I have found an air operated reciprocating body saw, or saber saw, to be very helpful with cutting irregular shapes and smaller circles that cutoff wheels cannot make. Just buy a lot of extra blades as they wear out much quicker than cutoff wheels.
Posted By: klhansen Re: tools for cutting sheet metal - Wed Jul 14 2021 04:32 AM
Mike

I have a sheet metal nibbler that attaches to a drill motor. I recall it cost me $25 on Amazon. I also have a sheet metal saw from HF like Charlie suggested above.

The nibbler is great for cutting irregular curves. Here's a picture of it. [flickr.com] I also used it to do the cutout for this patch [flickr.com] in my fender.

But when using it you have to watch out for the sharp little crescents of metal it leaves behind. The Missus won't want you tearing up her floors when they stick in your shoes. nono

I bought a plasma cutter also (one of the cheapo ones supposedly rated for 1/2 inch steel thickness), but rarely use it because you need to setup the plasma cutter, connect the compressor up, etc. etc.
Posted By: NorthCoast3800 Re: tools for cutting sheet metal - Wed Jul 14 2021 03:34 PM
I have some air shears (like air powered tinsnips - pistol grip) good to 18 gauge that are an absolute blessing for cutting (clean) sheetmetal. Last forever with care (unless you try and cut rusty sheetmetal). You can do wide radiuses fine. They also produce a nice consistent curl of sheetmetal about 1/4" wide that comes in handy frequently for little gaps and such.

Also have some air nibblers that as klhansen says above, work fantastic for tight/odd/sharp angles - but I second that "watch for the little crescents". They get everywhere and somehow find their way into the house. I worry about the shop cats too, I use those over a bag/container where possible and keep a magnet handy. Even at that, some escape.
Posted By: KDrown Re: tools for cutting sheet metal - Sun Jul 18 2021 03:49 PM
The cutoff cutting wheel is my go to. The plasma cutter is nice but you have to be careful with what may be underneath the piece you are cutting. It is not forgiving.
Posted By: Jon G Re: tools for cutting sheet metal - Sun Jul 18 2021 10:25 PM
I usually use a saber saw and a metal cutting blade for sheet metal. Cheaper, quick enough and plenty accurate enough if you have a steady hand.
Posted By: Gord&Fran Re: tools for cutting sheet metal - Sun Jul 18 2021 11:12 PM
+1 on the saber saw. Wear ear defenders!
Posted By: MPandC Re: tools for cutting sheet metal - Tue Jul 20 2021 11:18 AM
Bill's Tin Snip video:



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAOQfUaRZyw
Posted By: Phak1 Re: tools for cutting sheet metal - Tue Jul 20 2021 11:47 AM
WOW! 50 years of using tin snips and I thought I knew how to use them. I learn something new everyday! Great video and thanks Robert for sharing!
dang
Posted By: MPandC Re: tools for cutting sheet metal - Tue Jul 20 2021 01:38 PM
Here's a video of a hole I cut for a fan shroud.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hakmD7Wn4f8



Before I watched Bill's tin snip video my fingers would have been shredded from all the burrs. So yes, I fit in that same category, saw what I have been doing wrong for so long.
Posted By: Achipmunk Re: tools for cutting sheet metal - Tue Jul 20 2021 10:34 PM
I used them for several years putting up acoustical ceiling and picked up many a pair for free.........it took the rookies a while to figure out you need have to keep the cutting jaws clean to keep them running smoothy.
......well, I'd usually be a good guy and show them and give them their snips back!!!

.....I have one of each in my tool box. All swiss!
Posted By: rusty50 Re: tools for cutting sheet metal - Tue Aug 17 2021 02:45 AM
I go thru a lot of Dremel metal cut off wheels, and have also burned thru three Dremels but I like the small wheel, and control I get. I may have to look into the nibbler.
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