Gentlemen, I have limited use for cutting sheet metal and abrasive blades are the pits for sheet metal IMHO. So I thought the HFreight el-cheapo might work.
QUESTION: Now I need to cut sheet metal from old washers and dryers - perhaps a fridge - is that metal 18 gauge or less? Any guess as to actual gauge? Cutting by hand is out the question. Is this tool the way to go? (I have a compressor but it is only goof for about 1 cfs - so an air tool is also out of the question.)
Gauge Sheet Metal Shear, HF # SKU 92148, 1.5 amp 120 v, $31.99 If available
I think the nice old appliances were 16ga. The cover on my 9 y/o washer and dryer are certainly 18ga or thinner. Man, what a difference in moving those things around compared to the 25+ y/o W&Ds!
$50 I haven't used one. This one might work better, last longer, though, since it's good to 14ga.
I have their $8 set of 3 sheet metal cutters which work well for my very few uses, mostly galv tin flashing pieces.
How much are you going to cut? What angles/lengths, etc?
-- Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear. -- Thomas Jefferson
====================================================================== "cuts through sheet metal, aluminum and plastic as thick as 18 gauge' ======================================================================
which suggests that the limit is how far open the jaws will move, not the strength, or aluminum and plastic could be handled in larger gauges than other metals.
It does not actually say anything about steel on the web page (which is what the washers and dryers are made of), and there is the fired glass enamel which is bonded to the metal in many of these adding to the thickness. The fired glass enamel will really eat up the jaws, even though they are tungsten carbide. (I do see steel mentioned in the downloaded PDF manual, but not in sufficient detail.
Also, looking at the way the stationary jaw is mounted, you will need to bend the left hand side of the cut up, and the right hand side down to clear the U-shaped jaw mount. Not too much of a problems with
18 ga with flat stock, but for curved surfaces like a water heater jacket, I see serious problems with manipulating the steel. (And this is not counting the flaking off of the fired glass enamel.
I think that one of the three bladed scissors style (if it will handle thick enough metal) might work better. That has two blades above the workpiece and a single one below (started through a drilled hole), which cuts a thin curl of steel up between the two upper blades.
As for what the gauge really is in what you want to cut, you will have to measure one to tell. According to this table (too lazy to go downstairs and look at the gauge which I have there)
18 ga is 0.0478" thick and 16 ga (the maximum my Guillotine style shear can handle) is 0.0598".
I suspect not.
It also looks like it will produce a somewhat scalloped edge the way it works, if that matters to you.
If you have to stick with harbor freight, go with something like this:
the scissors style which I mentioned above. This one is good up to 14 ga, which is likely to be more than enough for your needs.
Get a couple of sets of spare blades with it, until you find out how fast the enamel kills them.