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.