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Favorite metal cutter?

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cdyoung1985

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#1
What's your most used metal cutter? I'm building a custom bumper for myself, and thinking about making basically metal trim all the way around my truck, attached to the rock sliders I'm going to build. The metal I had given to me is only 16-18 gauge I think.
I have a torch with small tanks, but I'm afraid of warping the metal. Been using cut off wheels, but they're slow, and my buddy that helps is working on taking it easier on them, but they don't last forever, but they're cheap. Looking for a somewhat affordable method to cut metal much quicker. Somewhat affordable means roughly a grand.
Looks at HF brake shear roller, but sounds like it's junk more or less. Good for aluminum, but not so much steel.
I also have a 16" chop saw, which is great for tube, but not sheets.
I like the shear idea for nice straight lines. Want a plasma, and that might be the route to go, but then, like my grinder, it's only as straight as my hand, which over much distance always fluctuates. Plan on getting more equipment later, mostly once I have more room.

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Bob Korves

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#2

Silverbullet

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You could buy a used set of old style tin snips . The bigger the better, and you could weld up a block to mount one side to the bench and add a longer lever to the movable handle . Your own bench shear lots cheaper. Or use the grinder with HF cut off wheels I love them.
 

Aukai

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#4
I have 1 electric, and 1 air tool for sheet metal. The electric does not like to make turns so much. They both have a 1/8 kerf. I also have the 7", 4", electric, and Dremel size air tool abrasive wheels.

 
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killswitch505

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#5
As far a as brakes or sheers the cheap ones suck from my experience I've done a lot of bumpers for jeeps and the like always using 1/4 plate for most of the bumper and even 3/8-1/2 for top plates to mount wenches (I'll see if I've got some pics on this phone) as far as the grinder being slow what brand of blades are you using? Idk if you have a airgas in your area (I've seen em from Cali to Missouri) they sell "super slicers" they're super thin maybe a 1/16 and work great (great means super fast) on sheet metal. The dewalt and similar brands they sell at the big box stores blow I'll only use them in a pinch. If you have some 1x1 angle or some 1/2" strap you can clamp cut guides on you work and of you can't clamp you can tack weld them on the beginning and end of your work and cut through the tacks last. I've a plasma cutter and still have to lay down a guide to get straight cuts and by the time I fire up the compressor blah blah I find it easier to just use a grinder with a slicer on it. Now I like using it on stainless and aluminum. So try the super slicers and tell the ol ladie you need a plasma cutter just in case. I mean ever man needs a plasma cutter.
 

cdyoung1985

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#7
Quality ones cost real money:
https://www.grainger.com/product/product/ROPER-WHITNEY-Throatless-Bench-Shear-22JL16
Import ones cost less for a bigger machine:
http://www.eastwood.com/8-in-bench-shear.html
There are lots more out there, these are the first ones I saw, and these are not the low cost leaders on pricing. These cutters only make straight cuts.
Eastwood is at least fairly quality isn't it? That's 10% the cost of the one on Grainger! Though I'm sure the one on Grainger is certainly more quality, I doubt it's 10x the quality...

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cdyoung1985

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#8
As far a as brakes or sheers the cheap ones suck from my experience I've done a lot of bumpers for jeeps and the like always using 1/4 plate for most of the bumper and even 3/8-1/2 for top plates to mount wenches (I'll see if I've got some pics on this phone) as far as the grinder being slow what brand of blades are you using? Idk if you have a airgas in your area (I've seen em from Cali to Missouri) they sell "super slicers" they're super thin maybe a 1/16 and work great (great means super fast) on sheet metal. The dewalt and similar brands they sell at the big box stores blow I'll only use them in a pinch. If you have some 1x1 angle or some 1/2" strap you can clamp cut guides on you work and of you can't clamp you can tack weld them on the beginning and end of your work and cut through the tacks last. I've a plasma cutter and still have to lay down a guide to get straight cuts and by the time I fire up the compressor blah blah I find it easier to just use a grinder with a slicer on it. Now I like using it on stainless and aluminum. So try the super slicers and tell the ol ladie you need a plasma cutter just in case. I mean ever man needs a plasma cutter.
I wish I had metal that thick lol. We do have Airgas locally, going to have to check out their wheels. I usually use HF. Not super slow method of cutting, but surely not the most efficient. If the metal was a quarter thick, I'd probably use my torch for a fair bit of it. Then after having to fill the tanks again, I'd probably go back to my grinder lol. Need a quality grinder too, the HF special probably isn't the greatest, and they aren't hard to burn up... But a plasma, yeah. I think I'd enjoy that, but I'd probably cut it close to shape, then trim it with the shear. Course for most of what I do, nibblers would be pretty good.

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cdyoung1985

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#10
So I think I'm going to end up with one of the Beverly throatless shear, unsure of which one. Should go b3 so I don't have to buy another, and can do it all.
I need an air compressor for a plasma, but I need one anyway. At least a functional one. Got a 5hp 18 gallon at a junk yard, it turns on, but is missing the plumbing and regulators... Why can't I grow a few money trees?

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BGHansen

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#11
I have one of the Eastwood 8" bench shears (mine is from Woodward Fab - same machine) and it works very well. What sold me was shaving 1/16" off 16 gauge steel without leaving a burr. It can cut a radii if you're very careful, but best to take multiple swipes. They demo'd a throatless shear (Beverly style) went I visited Woodward Fab that worked great also. That one is better for free-forming shapes.

I also use a Woodward Fab (other generics out there) 4-ton 6" notcher which does a 90 deg. cut. I use it for shearing stock in addition to notching, is rated at a 6" cut in 16-gauge CRS.

Also use aviator snips, Adel sheet metal nibbler and some Tiawanese equivalents. Use some Malco 30 deg. notchers too. Have a Campbell Hausfeld air nibbler that makes a huge mess spitting out ~1/8" crescents of whatever you're cutting, but a very nice job.

For sheet stock I use a Tennsmith 37" wide stomp shear. It groans a bit if I'm cutting a 2' long piece of 16-gauge, but it'll do it. Biggest problem is my weight; I'm between 165 - 170 and don't get as much on the pedal with a hop as a 200 pounder!

I have one of the HF 3-in-one 30" machines and would recommend not trying to shear 16-gauge on it. 18 gauge would be a real challenge also. On the plus side, in the shear model the eccentric cranks/links on the sides are in compression so you might be successful, but you'll probably flex something and bend the metal instead of shearing it. I tried the press brake on a 16-gauge piece of stock 12" wide and broke the casting on one of the side cranks/links (shaped like a comma). In the brake model, the side links are in tension and put a lot of strain on the attaching area to the moving shear bar/brake. Maybe they've beefed them up, but if they rate the machine at 20-gauge CRS at 30", I'd probably only go 22-gauge.

Of course for crude cutting there's always a plasma cutter or stick welder. I've rough cut sheet metal with an 1/8" rod in a buzz box at 120 A, just obliterates the sheet metal at the stick; purposeful burn through. Then grind/sand the edge to a line.

Bruce
 

ch2co

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#13
I use my trusty old die grinder with an abrasive disk and have cut quite a bit of 16 ga. stainless steel with it. Very noisy and a lot of stink, but
it works well. Another thought would be a plasma torch.
 

Ulma Doctor

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#14
+1 on the plasma rig, the plasma cutter is really nice for cutting ANYTHING that conducts electricity.
there is only light dross removal necessary after the cut.

a shear is very nice tool to have too, but i don't have the space for a substantial shear, so i go without.

my next choice would be an angle grinder and a cutoff wheel

my 4th choice, a die grinder with a cutoff wheel

lastly, the O2-C2H2 torch will cut it, but a lot of cleanup work is necessary.


don't be afraid to use a sacrificial straightedge to guide you when using an abrasive wheel in a hand held grinder. ;)
i use this method often,
simply clamp a piece of angle iron, or other substantial thickness metal, to the material to be cut at the desired distance from the end.
the cut will be made on the waste side of the angle iron, using a long leg of the angle iron vertically to guide the abrasive wheel and cut squarely.
at first you run your abrasive wheel against the vertical leg back and forth across the cut to create a small channel to make the wheel follow easier.
then, if the cut is correct, start at one end and cut across the angle iron guide until the piece is rendered.
you'll need some minimal clean up of the opposing face of the cut.

i hope the information is helpful to someone :)
 

Aukai

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#15
The plasma cutter will consume a lot of air, so longer cuts may be a challenge for a smaller compressor.
I would like to add, it is just my opinion, but buy quality name brand cut off wheels. All wheels will blow up if you go out of alignment enough, it is just my feeling the cheaper ones have less tolerance for it. The shards of a wheel will bury deep into a person, an ER visit is not good. I guess proper PPE is also a good idea. Sorry for preaching.
 

Aukai

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#16
The plasma cutter will consume a lot of air, so longer cuts may be a challenge for a smaller compressor.
I would like to add, it is just my opinion, but buy quality name brand cut off wheels. All wheels will blow up if you go out of alignment enough, it is just my feeling the cheaper ones have less tolerance for it. The shards of a wheel will bury deep into a person, an ER visit is not good. I guess proper PPE is also a good idea. Sorry for preaching.
 

Aukai

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#17
How in the Sam Hill do I get multiple posts from 1 click?
 

DHarris

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#18
I vote for plasma cutter - Straight lines are easy on flat plate - just use a cheap straight edge and run the torch down that edge. curves can be done with a thich cardboard template alos. Compressor air must be clean (no oil) and dry (limited water) so filter properly. Love my torch - is extremely accurate and clean cutting once you get the hang of it.
 

cdyoung1985

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#19
+1 on the plasma rig, the plasma cutter is really nice for cutting ANYTHING that conducts electricity.
there is only light dross removal necessary after the cut.

a shear is very nice tool to have too, but i don't have the space for a substantial shear, so i go without.

my next choice would be an angle grinder and a cutoff wheel

my 4th choice, a die grinder with a cutoff wheel

lastly, the O2-C2H2 torch will cut it, but a lot of cleanup work is necessary.


don't be afraid to use a sacrificial straightedge to guide you when using an abrasive wheel in a hand held grinder. ;)
i use this method often,
simply clamp a piece of angle iron, or other substantial thickness metal, to the material to be cut at the desired distance from the end.
the cut will be made on the waste side of the angle iron, using a long leg of the angle iron vertically to guide the abrasive wheel and cut squarely.
at first you run your abrasive wheel against the vertical leg back and forth across the cut to create a small channel to make the wheel follow easier.
then, if the cut is correct, start at one end and cut across the angle iron guide until the piece is rendered.
you'll need some minimal clean up of the opposing face of the cut.

i hope the information is helpful to someone :)
That's pretty much how I use my grinder, start with a drawn line, then I follow it the best I can going down the line, then even slower pull it back to the start, creating the channel you referred to, then sink it deep. Always just use hf, but a guy a ways up recommend the ones from airgas, forgot the name, but it's posted above this. My buddy who helps me the most isn't so gentle on them, but I've been working on that with him. But the noise and the mess suck, and it's rather slow.
 

cdyoung1985

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#20
So right now woodward has my vote, but I'm torn between the rotary and the manual 8". Anybody have experience with both?
 

ACHiPo

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#21
An ad for this nibbler that chucks in a drill just popped up on my Facebook feed. I normally refuse to encourage that stuff, but I clicked on it. It looks very impressive, although for the price it's hard to imagine that it will work or last as well as the ad suggests. Has anyone else seen this or have experience with it?
https://dabdeal.com/products/nibbler
 

ch2co

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#22
Their claim for it to be able to cut 1.8 mm stainless steel or about 16ga sounds kind of high to me. ( unless it takes super mini bites at a time )
How long does the cutting head last? Sounds a little too much to be true. IF it works well, it would be a really great deal.
There is a similar air powered nibbler on eBay for about the same price:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/AIR-POWERED...525581&hash=item46120ca17b:g:OhoAAMXQ2dBSEGla

Quick, somebody buy one and let us know how it goes.
 

Scruffy

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#24
I have probably used a least 1000 cut off wheels in the past 40 years. All sizes, all brands. I have never had one blow up. I've broke plenty of the hem by being pinched, dropped on floor, used to much pressure but never blown up as would a grinding wheel.
Thanks scruffy ron
 

ACHiPo

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#26
Well, I took the plunge. Will post my observations when I get it.
 

Desolus

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#28
There is very little that I can not fabricate with a cordless sidegrinder and a stack of cutting wheels. I second the sidegrinder suggestions.

Another note about the sidegrinder: I just bought a metal wheel with a diamond impregnated edge, it is vastly superior to composite blades and doesn't have the same risk of exploding and cutting your neck open. If it breaks it will bend and stall your grinder, much more prefered to a near decapitation.
 

ch2co

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#29
Desolus
What is the diameter and are there any teeth, or is it smooth edged? Where'd you get it? Price?
Let us know what it's cutting speed is, compared to the abrasive disks and how long it lasts. I don't like pieces of those things flying around (or at) me either.
 

Desolus

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#30
I got it at the home despot today, it's a ridged brand.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/RIDGID-4-5-in-Metal-Cutting-Diamond-Blade-HD-MTL45/204202513

I also snagged a more expensive Diablo, was labeled as better but I have no idea if it is.

For 10 dollars I really love this thing, I used it for what by my estimation was 2-3 lifespans of the blue wheels and its still like new.. you can also throw it in your toolbox and not care because, metal...
 
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