I have two air-powered nibblers that can cut large sheets - I sliced
an old metal swimming pool into manageable pieces with one.
This one makes the needle-sharp crescent chips. It's better for tight
This curls the cut strip into coils. It's easier to control on
straight cuts and doesn't require thorough cleanup with a magnet
The steel of the uprights and top rail from the pool is a good balance
between stiffness and workability and the coating stands up pretty
well to a planishing hammer. The wall is thinner and easier to bend
with hand tools.
Is 18ga a casually suggested or actual maximum for sheet thickness?
Salesmen usually oversell specs.
The body men where I used to work used air chisels and either electric
or air shears like the above. The chisel bits worked well on thin
sheet like fenders and 1/4 panels. Hover over the 3rd one down:
Have you seen or used the Beverly style throatless air shears from HF?
I just saw them online. http://tinyurl.com/hpejdn8
Was that the skirting and frame for a pool, or the actual pool?
There is s no such thing as a hyphenated American who is
The 22 gauge pool column steel was difficult to cut with a hand model,
more from slipping out than the cutting force. I don't remember how I
cut the approximately 18 gauge stainless for the bucket of my loader,
maybe the 8" Enco shear? I don't have any mild steel in that
thickness. A 24TPI blade in the 4" x 6" bandsaw cuts thicker sheet
metal well enough.
The companies I built equipment for chose 0.062" and 0.093" 6061
aluminum for electronic enclosures. I bought 0.050" 5052 for my hobby
work because 0.062" strains the 3-in-1, and most recently used
unlabelled 0.031 to fold a box. It cuts and bends like 6061 rather
than the flimsy aluminum in a Bud chassis, which had mistakenly
convinced me that 0.031 was too thin. The only minor problem is that
my stock of PEM nuts was salvaged from 0.062" scrap and they protrude
slightly through the 0.031". The flange can be bent back a little to
make the visible edges close flush.
I've used one to cut patch material from a scrap fender, so I wouldn't
have to shape the wheelwell flare from a flat sheet. I think it's
overly aggressive to cut out a small rust area near an edge.
I've used a bench mounted Beverly shear at work. IIRC it distorted the
metal a little too much for flat control panels someone else paid me
to make but would have been fine for auto body repair. A warped
control panel can break meter bezels and pull out molded-in mounting
I always tried to make my sheet metal work look as professional as my
soldering. The Enco 8" bench shear leaves one side straight.
It was an above ground pool that bulged from freezing after the winter
air bags deflated. I sheared the wall into manageable sections that
now protect my woodsheds from brush/leaf fires. The thicker columns
and top rail sections are slowly disappearing into projects like
splash guards around the bottoms of the sheds and a closable box I can
neatly scoop the woodstove fire into to carry it outside and separate
the ash buildup from the hot charcoal without having to let the fire
die down as far. Shoveling the hot coals into a pail releases too much
ash and smoke. The custom box fits the door opening closely enough
that the draft draws the ash back in.
I bent the 2" wide decorative strips of wall metal that faced the
columns into U channels to rim 2' x 4' fireproof ceiling tiles to make
a generator sound dampening enclosure. Their unprotected edges shred
easily, otherwise they make good high temperature insulation with some
structural strength. A propane torch flame merely darkens the surface.
The wall metal is thin enough to bend by clamping between wood planks
and hammering down on a block that spreads the force and tightens the
Yeah, if the piece is small enough that you can get it into the
Huh? How in the heck do you salvage PEM nuts? Do you reuse pop
rivets, too? <bseg> I'm thinking Type F, which was used in the
aluminum cases at Southcom, Intl's manpack radio accessories.
http://catalog.pemnet.com/category/nuts-for-sheet-metal Are we on the
same page here? I can't figure out how you'd unclinch one.
Yeah, the body guys primarily used them for removal of material. The
new quarterpanel was often cut to fit with the air/elec shears. I
liked watching them flange, spotweld, and lead-in the welded area.
Isn't rust/hole removal easily enough handled with a 4-1/2" grinder?
Oh, and a blue sharpie to do the layout. ;)
Press flat or hammer and dolly. As long as the distortion isn't
excessive that the hammer/press-die marks would show. Masking tape
takes a lot of the danger out of that, though.
Often good enough, especially if the scrap side is small.
Cool! Well done. Ash dust is nastyass stuff, both to clean up and to
I have yet to take the old carpet and make a sound dampening enclosure
for my compressor. That's a woodworking, not a metalworking project,
though. Ply and carpet make a damned good sound deadener for most
frequencies. Wood stops the low/mids and carpet absorbs the
I need to deepen the shelf density in my shop so I can get enough
floor space to fit a small mill. I'm tired of deer paths and stepping
-over- stuff. <sigh>
There is s no such thing as a hyphenated American who is
On the left side there's about 2-1/2" clearance to the frame, plenty
of allowance for a rough cut with a grinder or torch. On the right I
support the sheet with a hydraulic lift table so my hands are only
guiding the cut and I can let go to shut off the power.
The metal I buy new is within the capacity of my equipment, 6" for the
saw and 30" for the shear.
Insert a screw part way from the back, place the PEM/Southco insert
over a hole in a bench block and tap the screw head with a hammer. The
taller round ones remove easily, the hex flush Type F ones are a
little more difficult but they don't interfere as much with
repurposing the metal for something else.
I usually fix rust before it gets big enough for a flanged patch,
although I do have the flanging tool and a set of Clecos. I trace
around the patch, trim the hole to the line, then hold the patch in
place with magnets while tack-welding.
My workmanship was good enough to show to a customer, which helped get
me promoted into engineering over techs who beat out their sheet metal
mistakes with a hammer.
We used carpet scraps to quiet the sound of walking on raised theatre
set platforms. If the "Bus Stop" lunch counter could hold a row of
burly carpenters making like Rockettes, it was safe for the actress
with the Marilyn Monroe part to dance on.
The nibbler is an ancient black & decker simular to this one:
You take off the handle on the bussines end and replace it with a steel
plate that has a linear bearing
mounted on the left and right sides. I used 1" DOM that i picked out of the
scrap bin at my steel
supplier. Made 2 clamps, one clamp is placed on each end of the tubes. The
clamps are high enough
to allow the nibbler to move thru the work without any binding. You want to
use DOM with a fairley
thick wall so it won't sag if your gonna make long cuts. Sorry i don't have
any pics. Every thing is in
storage at the moment until the new shop gets built.
Yeah - that'll do it. Mine is like the one in the link Jim posted.
I seldom have to make long cuts in 1/4". When I do, it's with a
steel-cutting blade in a worm-drive circular saw:
VERY noisy, with orange-hot chips flying everywhere. Started a small
So, the tubes are at least 8' long, or do you re-position for a cut that
The tubes are 9' long. I haven't noticed any any saging
at that length, if they do sag it does not seem to effect
anything when cutting ( no noticable binding ). As i
recall the tubes have 1/4" wall thickness. I also have
shorter tubes for smaller work.
Depends. My first nibbler was hand powered, made by Adel, and
sold for making cutouts in sheet metal to make instrument panels and the
like. That one cuts rectangular pieces -- 1/4" wide and something like
1/8" or perhaps 3/64" "long". Nominal thickness limit is 16 Ga in
steel, IIRC, but by filing a flat on the side of the screw which acts as
the stop, it can go a bit thicker in aluminum.
It can be started in a hole in the sheet metal, so you don't
have to start at an edge. Back when I used one regularly, I would drill
a hole (lagest bit I had at the time was a 5/16 S&D bit with a 1/4"
shank to fit the hand held electric drill, and then use a tapered reamer
to enlarge the hole to where the tool would fit through. Accroding to
the on-line instructions from the site above, it needed 7/6" as a
starting hole, and I usually went up to the 1/2" diameter of the tapered
My God -- the price has increased. $49.95. I seem to remember
paying something like $7.00 for one. :-)
Later nibblers which I have acquired are air-powered tolls which
make the crescent shaped punchings. (Nasty sharp ones, BTW). I would be
careful using them in areas where you are likely to drive, as I can see
the crescents working their way through a tire.
There is also another tool -- once available as a hand powered
tool, now electric or air powered, which is a three-fingered shear --
the middle finger gones into a drilled hole, and shears on both sides of
that against the other two fingers. That produces a coil of metal, and
is best for cutting straight or gently curved lines. I've used one
air-powered one cutting against a bit of angle iron C-clamped to sheet
aluminum to get it down to the dimensions which my 24" DiAcro shear will
With the crescent or the double-shear styles I can do that
against a angle-iron guide. The old Adel would tire my hand and make
reach rather difficult for an 8' cut. (Or, even a 4' cut for stock
4'x8' sheet metal.
I'm certain I paid less than $7.00 for mine when I bought it from
Allied Radio around 65 years ago,I still have it and use it
occasionaly. I think the toughest job I ever used it for was to cut an
8+ inch hole in the stainless steel lid from a commercial washing
machine to make a single burner, "in counter" stove for my home
brewery. I had blisters when I completed that little project!
That's good to know if one appears second-hand.
I try to restrict my discussions to price-sensitive home hobbyist
equipment instead of the larger industrial stuff that would do the job
easily, if you have the need, money to invest and space to store it. I
like my 10" South Bend lathe very much, spent the morning on it, but
wouldn't send a newbie out searching for one.
I do have a plasma cutter and a bandsaw that can cut thicker steel to
eyeball tolerance, and if the better accuracy is worth the cost could
use the Maker Space's plasma cutter or have a shop do it.
Bending steel plate is a bigger problem unless I pay for fab shop
time. The 30" 3-in-1 shear/brake/roller can barely manage its rated
On Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at 11:22:04 AM UTC-5, Jim Wilkins wrote:
Have you checked job-shop prices for that work? Unless it's very narrow pieces, it sounds like a job for a press brake. I can get you a rough idea of how that is priced if you want. Just post a description of a typical job.
I designed parts to be made on a Strippit and a Niagara press brake
though they wouldn't let me run either one. The model shop I inherited
at Mitre had a 24" manual press brake and a nice finger brake.
I'm attempting to stir up some discussion about what a hobbyist needs
in general instead of asking for help with my own personal projects,
other than to describe what I've learned about the equipment I own. I
can weld flat pieces together if the stock is too thick to bend, as I
did for 1/2" plate on a logsplitter.
I agree price is always a consideration. I bought a lot of industrial
equiptment on ebay back in days when sellers were individuals
and the prices were right. Now it seems that ebay has been taken
over by dealers and resellers. I see the same equiptment relisted
over and over at retail prices. Sometimes i get lucky and come
accross a undervalued buy it now. Most of the time i buy things
from pawn shops or thrift stores, usually when they don't what
they have and underprice an item. At the moment i am out of
room and plan on building a bigger shop. I rent some space
to store things i rarley use.
When i need to bend heavy plate i do it in a 50 ton hydraulic
press. I made my own dies and punches out of 4140. For
round and square holes i use the stripit or unipunch holders.
No, I haven't, being in the same boat as you. Luckily, my Griz 18"
bandsaur came with a nice metal guard.
I bought an HF tabletop bender but haven't yet used it. It's more for
band/strip/tubing, and small square/round stock though.
Do you have the fence/foot for it? If not, consider making one. I've
used them with and without, and WITH is the way to go. No more bent
stock (or shears!)
Hammers and dollies are your friends, too, where applicable.
There is s no such thing as a hyphenated American who is
Yes, it has the foot. If I keep the blade sharp and the pivot tight it
isn't really necessary for thinner metal.
Oh yes, I've made costume armor and fitted a large watertight rust
patch at the complex junction of a rear fender well and strut tower.
However I'm just an amateur. I'll let those who knock tin for a living
give the advice on it.
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