Tag Archives: sheet metal

  • Sheet Metal Cutting Tips and Tricks

    Working in sheet metal can be fun, and it can be frustrating, but if you like old cars eventually there will come a time when you will need to cut, and eventually even weld sheet metal. At first glance it seems as if it would be like working with paper or cardboard, just a little tougher, but paper products don’t stretch and deform like metal does when you try to bend, shape or cut it. Here are a few simple rules to make metal work easier.

    When working with sheet metal, always wear long, thick, leather gloves because it only takes a small slip to be cut to the bone with the sharp edge of a metal piece you are working on. Long welding sleeves are not a bad idea either, because sheet metal can cut deep, and accidentally slashing your wrists can be a very serious injury. Eye and face protection is a good idea as well.



    Tin snips or Aviation snips, are just like scissors for metal, and are great for smaller cuts or lighter gauge sheet metal.

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    Snips come in left, right and straight versions, color coded in a nautical fashion:

    Left = Red

    Right = Green

    Straight = Yellow

    Cutting with snips can be time consuming and physically taxing on your hands and arms, but great for cutting complicated, small shapes. Snips also leave an edge that is often a bit ragged and curved from the cutting.


    For longer cuts, or just getting the job done faster and neater, there is the Electric Metal Sheer. An electric motor moves a small block up and down, pinching the metal between it and a fixed block on the other side.  The uniformity of the cut is much better with the electric sheer, and the quality of the edge it leaves is better too. Plus it takes no effort and a lot less time to use.



    The small cutting blocks, compared to the size of the jaws on the snips, make it easier to use the sheer to cut out tighter curved lines in metal parts. Most electrical powered sheers have no problem cutting though up to 16 gauge steel, which can be nearly impossible with a pair of manual snips.



    Clamp your sheet metal securely to the table or bench so you have both hands free to maneuver the sheers around. This will make things much easier.  Straight lines and even fairly tight curves are much easier to make with the electric sheers.  To smooth out the slight curve the sheers sometimes leave, if you have an English wheel, you can just use the flattest bottom anvil, and roll the edge through with minimal pressure.


    Just like any cutting tool, electric sheers will eventually become dull over time.  We sell replacement jaw sets for our electric sheer but don't worry, you wont need a new set for a long time.

    So these are some basic tips that should help you to cut and shape metal pieces for your next project quicker and easier. With a little practice you’ll be able to cut metal as if you were a school kid making paper snowflakes.

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  • Quick Tip- Dull Sharpie Tips

    There's a few items that most every car guy or gal have in arms reach at all times when working in their shop. For me one of those is Sharpie marker. They work great to write notes on things as I work or to mark out measurements, trace lines for bead rolling, etc, etc. These work great when sharp, but they tend to wear out and get dull quickly. The more dull they get the wider the mark will be that it leaves.   Click Here To Read Full Post...
  • How to shave and metal finish your firewall with Empire Fabrication

    Shaving or smoothing the bodywork on a custom car has been one of the most popular modifications since the beginning. Shaving door handles and trim or side marker holes are the most common things to shave on a project car, but close behind that is smoothing or shaving the firewall. Sean of Empire Fabrication has gotten REALLY good at shaving and smoothing cars. So much so that his finished projects require basically no body filler at all and can be primered and block sanded straight away. Sean recently took the time to snap some photos and give us the rundown on how he tackles a firewall shave project. The donor vehicle is a VW Eurovan that he has already drastically customized. So grab a drink, sit back, and watch how to do the job right with Empire Fabrication.  Click Here To Read Full Post...
  • Custom Scratch Built Bed DIY for Project Pile House

    Project Pile House has been an ever-evolving project and like many projects, things start small and spiral out of control and next thing you know you're detailing the inside of your glove box hinges! Luckily I'm not quite that OCD about my vehicles (yet), but Pile House is now more than just a thrown-together junkyard parts runner like I originally planned. It's turned into a full blown custom and not much on the truck is original or untouched. After getting the cab, dash, hood, etc. all smoothed out and "roughed in", the original patched together bed and fenders was bothering the crap out of me every time I looked at it. The fenders looked like boat trailer fenders and were more roughed up than a boxer after a title fight, while the bed itself wasn't much better. I decided to start dreaming up a subtle custom bed.   Click Here To Read Full Post...
  • 5 Tips to Make your Bead Roller work Better

    Bead rolling is one of those sheet metal fabrication tools that looks easy to use, but there are countless tricks to get good looking, consistent beads. On Project Pile House I have over a hundred feet handmade panels rolled in bead roller (Easily!) and I've picked up a handful of tips along the way that make life a LOT easier!  Click Here To Read Full Post...