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What do you use to cut out sheet metal?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Psychoholic, Apr 19, 2009.

  1. Psychoholic
    Joined: Nov 10, 2005
    Posts: 70


    I've been reading all the threads on replacing floor pans, cut out a section of floor that is pretty far gone (used my air cutter) and I have replacement pans ready to go in, but I'm not going to do the entire pan, just where there is rot.

    And I went to cut out the sheet metal from the new pans I got from and it was just eating up the disks on my cutter. I have heard air nibblers (don't own), I've heard shears (don't own), I've heard air shears (don't own), I've heard plasma (which I do own). So I guess my question is what do you use and what works best? If I need to buy a nibbler or shears, then I guess I will. Is a plasma cutter accurate enough if I use the old square as a template? I don't want to destroy my new pans and not end up doing it the right way.

    Thanks in advance!


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  2. Psychoholic
    Joined: Nov 10, 2005
    Posts: 70


  3. ntxcustoms
    Joined: Nov 10, 2005
    Posts: 905

    from dfw

    If your going through a bunch of cut off wheels then it sounds like you have lower grade wheels. What brand are you using? I've found that cutting forward with the rotation of the wheel helps prolong them to. When we do panel replacements at the shop we use wheels, plasma, bandsaw, and snips. For the plasma-find out the distance from the center of the tip to the outside where the tip would rest against a guide. Mark your line to be cut and place your guide (whatever you can find that's straight) that distance off the mark. Pull your plasma don't push, and it's the fastest way to go...
  4. vert1940
    Joined: Aug 10, 2006
    Posts: 393


    i don't own a plasma,wish i did,but i use an air is really fast for me,as long as there is nothing else in the is also accurate
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    Joined: Mar 6, 2008
    Posts: 1,527


    i have all of the above and i always go to the cut off wheels. they just do the best job.i also some times use a jig saw with a fine tooth blade.
  6. carkiller
    Joined: Jun 12, 2002
    Posts: 850


    Plasma or my sawzall
  7. Ruiner
    Joined: May 17, 2004
    Posts: 4,145


    What's wrong with drilling the spot welds and replacing the entire floor pan? It would look much cleaner and usually saves time over trimming and fitting and welding a smaller patch...
  8. I am putting a Q.C. rear in my 34 coupe, so I had to cut the area where the Model A rear cross sticks up. I first started with a cut-off wheel . . . but decided that for the long and straight cuts that I could go faster. I switched over to a reciprocating (saber) saw with a fine steel blade -- works great. The saber saw is also nice because you can easily cut a curve. I still used the cut-off for places the saw wouldn't fit . . . but both work well together.

  9. southpark
    Joined: Aug 2, 2007
    Posts: 713


    shears and nibblers are faster and straighter than cut off wheels. but your plasma will do the best , just use a straight guide.
  10. Ian Berky
    Joined: Nov 28, 2007
    Posts: 3,643

    Ian Berky

  11. lostn51
    Joined: Jan 24, 2008
    Posts: 1,668


    If you have a plasma then its a no brainer, but for me (I dont have one) I use cut off wheels(3M) these things last forever on thin metal like floor pans and panels and I will also use my tin snips. Sawzalls are great but I mainly use them for multilayer cuts like chopping tops.
  12. JMPRO
    Joined: Jun 23, 2007
    Posts: 40

    from So Cal

    I'm thinking this new Dual Saw I saw on T.V. is pretty trick. It has dual, counter-rotating , carbide tipped blades that cut sheet metal like butter. Very clean cuts with no kick back or sparks. I have no interest in this business but was impressed with utility of this tool in automotive fabrication. No more cutoff wheel, no more sawsall. The only question is the quality of the tool for continueous use. The Duel Saw was about $250.00. I am thinking I will get one just to see how good it really is.

  13. Psychoholic
    Joined: Nov 10, 2005
    Posts: 70


    that dual saw does look cool!

    The reason for not doing the entire floor is this is my first foray into doing anything like this (as in, other than piece of scrap to practice with, I've never welded a thing in my life). So doing relatively small sections of rot make more sense to build up the skill than trying to tackle the entire thing at once. I'm sure the first panel is going to look 50 times worse than the 4th, so I'll probably end up cutting it back out, snagging some sheet from my local metal house and putting it back in, so I'm not dreadfully concerned with this first panel (the sage advice "dude, it's just metal - if you f it up, cut it out and do it again" reigns supreme here).

    So far I'm already learning that using a straight edge for cutting out your work piece and it's replacement piece makes the most sense - I put down the initial piece as a template and went around it with a sharpie - then I took the plasma and cut it like a pattern, but the edges look just awful - so after some time of grinding nothing really lines up like it's suppose to. Me and my hammer are getting a good workout trying to get stuff right!
  14. junk yard kid
    Joined: Nov 11, 2007
    Posts: 2,714

    junk yard kid

    i use all of the apove it just depends on what i feel like, and whats working, sometimes ill use them all on one project so no tool feels untouched
  15. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 17,446

    from California

    I like a 4" grinder with Harbor freight thin cut off wheels

    or my vintage Stanley sheet metal shear.
  16. lippy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2006
    Posts: 4,135

    from Ks

    You know I've been using the thin HF cutoff wheels also and they are tuff! They say made in Russia on em!! catch em on sale they are pretty cheap. Lippy
  17. Brad54
    Joined: Apr 15, 2004
    Posts: 6,008

    from Atl Ga

    I agree with what everyone else said about the low-grade cut-off wheels.
    I have a Lawson dealer that comes to my swap meet every month, and since I was running low on 3M cut-off wheels, I bought some of his.
    I couldn't believe the difference! I didn't think 3M cut-off wheels were cheap, but the Lawsons had a MUCH thinner cut, and they lasted a whole lot longer. I went through 1 and a half wheels doing some small patches on my '62 Suburban floor, and only about 1/4 of a Lawson on the other floor, where I made more cuts.

    I've also used a saber saw with fine tool blades on floor pans and other pieces. A good saber saw should be in every man's shop--it'll cut straight and accurately on everything from plywood to formica counter tops to sheetmetal, and you can get a nice tight radius with them. I wouldn't be without one.

  18. fordcragar
    Joined: Dec 28, 2005
    Posts: 3,180

    from Yakima WA.

    I use either a cutting torch or a cut-off wheel. I've never tried my plasma, I usually only use it on clean new metal.
  19. Psychoholic
    Joined: Nov 10, 2005
    Posts: 70


    The cut off discs are Ingersol Rand - bought them at Northern Tool. Just 3", nothing fancy.

    Ok - I'm learning very quickly how much more important having a good fit for butt welding is than being able to weld worth a shit. I've gotten a decent hang of the tack welds, it's the gaps where I didn't cut it right that are killing me.

    Time to search for technique for filling gaps or cutting out a new panel..
  20. BRENT
    Joined: Jun 22, 2005
    Posts: 252


    Id have to agree Ranchero, I picked up those air shears about 5 years ago and they have never failed me! never! now the 3/8 air drill I bought from HF now thats another story:)

  21. nero
    Joined: Jan 2, 2002
    Posts: 205


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