Metalworking is the process of working with metals in order to create assemblies, individual parts or large-scale structures. It typically involves joining cutting and forming metals, and each of these processes involves different pieces of metalworking equipment. The most basic tools needed are those that separate, or cut metal into smaller pieces.
Some of the most essential cutting tools to start metalworking with are saws and sheet metal cutting tools. Although you might have come across these tools at some point in your life, you probably have no clue how to operate with them. Plus, they aren’t as simple as they seem. There are various types of saws and sheet metal cutters, all of which have a distinct purpose and are able to to cut specific metals.
Abrasive saws are probably the most essential power cutting tools used to cut metal. They’re usually table mounted and use a vise-like action where the blade with the motor is attached to a pivoting arm and the base of the saw is fixed on the table. These saws can cut pretty much any metal and other hard material.
The name of these saws comes from the fact that their blade is made of a continuous piece of metal which rotates on two wheels. They feature teeth along one edge which are used to cut metal and other materials, such as wood. A lot of metalworkers use this tool to perform irregularly-shaped and curved cuts.
Hacksaws are typically hand-operated, but there are a couple of mechanical variants, like the power or electronic hacksaw. There are two basic types of hacksaws: a panel hacksaw that doesn’t have a frame, and a junior hacksaw that has an arched frame.
The term shear is very broad, as it covers a wide array of tools that are used to die-cut or shear metal. You’ll come across alligator shears, bench shears, guillotine, power shears, throatless shears and power shears. All of these have their own distinct purpose, so the ideal one for you will depend on the type of metalworking that needs to be done.
Nibblers are exclusively used for sheet metal. They’re hand-held tools that operate similarly to a punch and die. They feature a linear blade that moves opposite to the fixed die of the tool. Nibblers typically produce clean sheet metal cuts without any distortion. Even though they’re traditionally a manually operated tool, there are power nibblers that are powered by compressed air.