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I’ve used this Harbor Freight air nibbler a few times to cut sheet metal for home and automotive repair, and it performed flawlessly. Let me warn you, though, it shaves off small quarter-moon pieces as it cuts, thousands of them — so make sure you use it in an open area where you can find them all, or in a place where they won’t cause problems.

The Harbor Freight air nibbler makes 3,180 strokes per minute — that’s where the thousands of small cut-offs come from.  It’ll cut up to 16-gauge sheet steel, and combined with a straightedge it can give you a pretty straight line. The cutter runs at 90 PSI, but Harbor Freight didn’t quote a CFM usage;  my 3 HP, 25-gallon compressor could keep up with it, if that helps you.

I was cutting some metal roofing for a chicken coop recently, and at first I tried my aviation snips, but it was just too thick so I switched over to the nibbler. It performed well, but it was very difficult to cut over the grooves or raised sections of the panel — still, the nibbler got it done.

I picked up this tool at the local Harbor Freight when it was on sale for $10 — like most air tools that come in at half the price of the “name brand” competition, I consider them disposable, but since I might only use an air nibbler a couple of times a year it’s no big deal to me. It normally sells for $25.

Nibbler [Harbor Freight]
Street Pricing [Google]


5 Responses to Harbor Freight 16-Gauge Air Nibbler

  1. Rik says:

    I bought one of these several years ago for about $15. The day I bought it, I used it for about 3 hours cutting about 20 circles out of 18 gauge steel. I kept it oiled through out the process. The cutter broke on me before I finished. I admit that I had been using it hard. I tried to buy a replacement bit both online and in the store but it was not available anywhere even though the instructions listed it as a replacement part. In the end Harbor Freight exchanged it for a new one so I could finish the job. I also purchased a second one that day just in case I broke another before the job was done.
    On the Plus side, the nibbler did a fine job of cutting the steel. It felt similar to using a saber saw.
    Now I’ll agree that for the price you can consider these disposable. However, it’s a real Pain in the ass when your tools break in the middle of a job and you have to stop everything to go buy a new one. If your going to use your tools for a living I would highly recommend investing in good tools not Harbor Freight .
    One last point, be very very careful of those quarter-moon pieces. It realy does create thousands of them. And they will stick in the soles of your shoes. I didn’t realize this and walked back into my house, across the hardwood floors, and heard the sound and realized immediately it was scratching my floors. It took me 20 minutes to pull all the shards out of my shoes.

  2. T says:

    Power nibblers are the devil’s tools. Those little half moons will stick in shoes, toes, paws, tires, and a whole lot of other things. Maybe they’re nice if you have a dedicated space where you can contain the mess, but in a general purpose shop? Hell, no. I’ll find another way to do it.

  3. fred says:

    These comments are certainly correct about the debris generated by a nibbler. We use Kett tools – and follow-up with a magnetic sweeper in the shop. That still leaves errant pieces scattered about – and does nothing for aluminum and SS debris. We have a Billy Goat vacuum – but the sharp little chips can easily damage things – so sweeping up manually is still what’s needed. I’d appreciate any ideas that others have about controlling this problem. Maybe – we should move to plasma cutting for everything ??

  4. kevin says:

    I wish I would have bought the cheaper one from HF, I purchased a black and decker nibbler for 345 and used it for a couple 3 motorcycle builds. Blew dies and punch out, repalcement stuff is 110 plus shipping.

  5. JC says:

    I bought the HF tool and it worker great for an hour or so, right up until the tip broke. The nearest HF store is about 45 min. away. I called my Snap-On guy and ordered a Blue Point nibbler. It is much more expensive, but worth the money and the time. The HF version is probably fine for small stuff at home. Much more than that, and you’ll be making repeated trips to the store and buying the replacement warranty each time, add to that the time and gas. Is it worth it?

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