Sheet metal fabrication is the most common activity in any welding shop. To be a successful welder, you must learn to work with sheet metal. It is easy enough to learn. It involves cutting and molding or bending metal sheets. Before you can learn to mold, you must first learn to cut and which tools are necessary. Below is a guide for amateur welders on the tools that are used for cutting metal sheets.
The hacksaw is one of the basic tools for cutting sheet metal. It is best suited for cutting softer metals. It is very easy to use and is therefore the first tool that an amateur welder must get familiar with. You must carefully choose the blade to use on the hacksaw; make sure it is harder than the material you are cutting. Using an aluminum blade to cut steel will not work. It is a bit hard to cut precisely with the hacksaw at first, but your accuracy will improve with practice.
Chisel and Hammer
Another easy way to cut sheet metal is by using a chisel and hammer. Place your chisel along the line you want to cut and strike it with the hammer. You need to be patient when lining up the chisel to get a precise cut. Place a wood backer under the metal to provide support. This will reduce the force you need to use. Using a chisel and hammer is a very slow process and can be a lot of work if you have a lot of sheets to cut. This tool is only viable if you are cutting thin metal sheets. Be sure to clean up after working because using a chisel and hammer leaves a lot of metal chips lying about.
Tin and Aviation Snips
Aviation snips and tin snips are the best tools for cutting soft metal sheets such as brass, tin and aluminum. These tools are very useful when cutting curved pieces. The snips work just like a pair of scissors; all you need to do is open them, place the metal sheet in between and then use both hands to apply sufficient pressure to cut.
The Straight Bench Shear
This is a tool that can cut harder materials. Due to the amount of force required, it has to be mounted on a bench. The straight bench shear is limited to cutting straight lines.
This is an electronic version of the straight bench shear. It is more efficient. The only force you need to apply is to keep it steady as it cuts. The only downside to the power shears is that they can be noisy.