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There are a lot of ways to cut curved shapes out of flat sheet metal, and we’ve tried almost all of them.  Our favorite: a nibbler — a device that cuts by chomping out little bits very quickly.  The model pictured comes from Milwaukee, and it can handle steel up to 10 gauge at a whopping 8-3/4 feet per minute.

It can even handle stainless up to 12 gauge thanks to a 4A motor that chews out over 4,000 small bits of metal per minute.  It can turn a minimum cutting radius of 2-1/2″ and it requires a 1-2/3″ hole to start — easily accomplished with a hole saw.

It’s a bit heavy at just under eight pounds, but it leaves a lot cleaner cut than a plasma cutter — especially in 10 gauge steel.  The bad news: it’s expensive.  Plan on shelling out around $900 for this particular model.  That’s why all your friends don’t have one.  Still, if you’re doing a lot of sheet metal work, this should be on your list.

10 Gauge Nibbler [Milwaukee]
Street Pricing [Google Products]
Via Amazon [What’s this?]

 

3 Responses to Cut Sheet Metal Curves With Milwaukee’s Electric Nibbler

  1. SuperJdynamite says:

    I’ve had good luck picking up Milwaukee metalworking tools off eBay. Sometimes they need a little TLC when I get them, but you can get a ferocious power tool at a steep discount.

    Also, Milwaukee’s customer support is excellent. You can get exploded diagrams of every tool online and I’ve found that obscure questions posed to customer support get thorough answers.

  2. T says:

    Power nibblers are the devil’s work. Yeah, they work great, but you’re left with 4 million little razor sharp half moons of steel that are small enough to get anywhere and everywhere. If you use of these, keep a pair of disposable work boots to use with it. The soles of your boots will literally be encrusted with the shards of steel when you’re done. Plus, anything in the shop with pneumatic tires will pick up the drops like a magnet. And have I mentioned what they do to air hoses? A magnet sweeper is essential with one of these, but you’ll still miss some of the bits.

    I would only use one of these if I was somewhere other than my shop. I don’t want the headache of cleaning up after them.

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