Do you have a project you’d like to construct and finish yourself that involves sheet metal? There are multiple options for its size and variety. This is how to choose, cut, and bend sheet metal.
The most significant decision you’ll make when dealing with sheet metal is what thickness you’ll be working with. You measure in gauges; the higher number is, the thinner sheet. You’ll use a sheet metal gauge to receive the sheet’s precise measurement. It will display the gauge number and the thousandths of an inch. You’ll also need two separate gauges for ferrous and non-ferrous metal.
There are different types of tools used to cut sheet metal. Listed below are a handful of common tools (although there are more.)
Snips—also known as aviation snips or tinsnips—are a scissor-like tool excellent for snipping through softer sheet metals such as tin, aluminum, brass, and steel that’s 24 gauges or thinner. You’ll need three separate snips because each cut shape is different. The handle color indicates which cut it will perform—green is for right, red is for left, and yellow is for straight.
The hacksaw can cut through steel, but it’s not ideal because the shape hinders the turning radius and depth of the cut. Rubbing wax along the blade will extend the blade life.
The nibbler presents a lot of control when cutting—but at the cost of the width. The cuts punch out small pieces of sheet metal, and you repeat the process. You’ll find these in a few different varieties—hand-powered, drill-powered, electric, and pneumatic.
If you purchase a jigsaw, make sure it’s good quality, and the blade is for cutting metal. This will make your job easier.
Just like with the jigsaw, make sure you purchase the correct blade. Metal cutting requires blade speeds that are lower than when you’re cutting wood. Most band saws have pulleys to change the blade speed.
Bending sheet metal with the correct tool makes an otherwise tricky job easier. You probably already have a bending brake in your shop.
Use the edge of a workbench, a mallet, two clamps, and a long piece of wood to get the job done. Mark the bend line and place the sheet on the edge of the workbench, and then place the wood parallel behind the bending line slightly. Next, clamp the wood on top of the metal to your bench and bend the sheet up with your hand to the desired angle.
If you’re looking for sheet metal fabrication machines or products for cutting and bending metal, Kaka Industrial is the company for you. When you need guidance on the next sheet metal task, refer back to this guide on choosing, cutting, and bending metal.