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Saw, Shears, or Nibbler?

Discussion in '40- & 55-Series Tech' started by woody, Jan 27, 2003.

  1. woody

    woody Internet Fireman Staff Member

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    Shopping for new tools for sheet metal work....the air body saw, air nibbler, and air shears are the three options for sheet metal cutting work. Any opinions on these?

    Harbor Freight has a air body saw for $20 (may buy just because) but for "free" cutting, the shears or nibbler seems more useful. anyone with experience?

    (gradumatating from the Sawzall/Grinder method...lol)
     
  2. Pin_Head

    Pin_Head

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    The pneumatic saw is the hot ticket. The nibbler is nice, but the problem with cruisers is that up to 5/76 they have 16 ga sheet and the nibbler doesn't cut it easily. The pneumatic shear isn't as useful for the same reason. It sure doesn't cut as well as the Pexto we have at work. :D
     
  3. Plowboy

    Plowboy

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    I have all three in my garage and the sawzall, anglehead grinder, roto zip. Each does a specific job well, but no one tool can do everything. Shears are great for cutting long straight and large curved lines, but don't work well in confinded areas. Body saws work well in small tight spaces, and tight curves but are harder to cut a long straight line or long curve. Nibblers are great for trimming in large holes for guages, radios, clocks, speakers,etc after a rough cut from a body saw. If I were restricted to two tools I would pick the body saw and nibbler and add the shear later on.
     
  4. Halo3

    Halo3

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    Bringing back memories of my days in the sheet metal shop...heh

    A good nibbler is about the best.  The only downside to it is that, depending on the nibbler, you typically lose up to 1/4" of metal along the line you are cutting.  So, if you are tracing templates onto metal, you will want to make sure that you leave space between the patterns. The other drawback is that they tend to be a little difficult to control if you are trying to cut a little sliver off of the side of a piece of metal.

    As for the shears, this is a little hard to explain, but here goes...  They shears tend to leave an "uneven" cut line.  It's not that they won't/can't cut along a line, it's that they tend to bend/tweak the metal along the cut line.  Take this with a grain of salt, as the last shears I was around was about 8 years ago...they may have improved drastically since then.  But, the shears do work pretty well when you want to cut a sliver off of the side of a piece of metal.

    Depending on what all you are planning on doing, you may also want to look into getting a manual shear & brake.  A manual shear is awesome for cutting wide sections of metal in straight lines with no deformation to the metal--think of it as a big ol' papercutter.  And a brake is great for creating long, solid bends in metal.  I've seen a few combination shear/brake in smaller flavors--2' to 3' for a couple hundred dollars...depending on how deep the pockets are...as with most tools.  There are also a few brake/shear/roll machines out there that will also give you the ability to create nice rounded corners in your work.

    Hope that helps a little...
     
  5. toddslater

    toddslater SILVER Star

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    I'll vote for the nibbler, very versatile easy to control. Another good sheet metal cutter/bit (if you already have an air impact) is one that ...well for the lack of a better description...looks like a Triceratops (sp?). It's a tri-pronged bit, the center prong pointing downward with the left and right portions slightly upward. Zips through sheet metal like a hot knife through butter.
     
  6. PHAT MAX

    PHAT MAX

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    Nibbler!!! it rocks! my dad has an electric Milwaukee from work and it is sweet. thats how we made our quarter panels. A must have!
     
  7. Niner

    Niner

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    My vote is for the nibbler. The nibbler seems to cause less deforming of the metal compared to the shear or saw.
     
  8. Chef

    Chef

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    Dude, two words...plasma cutter. You'll never go back. Threw all that other crud away when I bought mine:) Chefout
     
  9. dylan

    dylan

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    reds and greens do it all?
     
  10. woody

    woody Internet Fireman Staff Member

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    nibbler is ordered, hopefully here today.

    Plasma cutter is on the list...have LOTS of friends in "high places" who work for Miller...my schmoozing got me a screamin price on a 185 Mig for Christmas 2001 and I'm working on a plasma now...perhaps for christmas 2003! :D
     
  11. toddslater

    toddslater SILVER Star

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    I can justify many things past the boss...but I just don't do enough metal work to justify the plasma cutter...that said...let me know how much you can bag one for ;)
     
  12. Chef

    Chef

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    My hyperthem 380 (good for up to 1/2" plate) was right at $1000...