Top 4 Tools for Metalworking (Beginner’s Guide)
Every metalworking process needs some appropriate machine for the job. From welding, abrasives, precision measuring, and cutting tools, you can find the right device to maintain a safe and smooth running metalwork shop. Start with choosing quality products from trustworthy brands and then learn the proper techniques for using such machines.
1. Band Saw
Almost anybody can cut curves using a band saw. However, better results are achieved through skillful techniques which can be learned from the band saw experts. When transforming logs to lumber or cutting curves, make use of the following tricks.
>> Leave some material for smoothing line edges
Saw marks are normally left behind when a band saw is used and so it is a good idea to cut on the exterior line edges to reduce the volume of material that has to be eliminated. It takes a lot of practice to precisely follow the line edges, particularly where curved lines are involved. If you have not yet mastered this technique, start far off from the edges so that you can leave extra wood in between the saw kerf and the line.
>> Harden the teeth when cutting non-ferrous metals
If you are working on thin metals like copper and aluminum, make sure that the blades consist of fine teeth. The teeth require hardening if you want them to maintain sharpness for a long time. Any dull blade must be replaced as soon as possible to increase the feed rate and make work easier. Sometimes dirt and resin make the blades dull and the right way to solve the problem is by cleaning the band saw thoroughly. You may also replace the original blades with hardened teeth which are cut instead of being pressed. They may be pricier but are worth it in the long run.
2. Plasma Cutter
A plasma cutter needs less than 40 amps to cut a metal sheet. It is important to use the right travel speed as well as the optimal amperage. The idea is not difficult because all you need is to determine the distance between the torch center and the edge. The advantage of plasma cutting is that it is cleaner than typical forms of cutting which use oxyfuel and any type of metal can be worked on. Check out some more tips from plasmacutteradvisor on how to get the best out of a plasma cutter.
- Ascertain the following things before you start cutting: correct air pressure, clean supply of air free of oils and water, electrode and nozzle in place, ground connection, and safety gear. It is necessary to follow the user’s manual know how the machine works.
- When using 45 amps and more, don’t let the nozzle come into contact with the surface being worked on because it would cause deterioration of the nozzle quickly.
- If you are a beginner, apply drag cup to make consistent cuts.
- Make sure you travel at the correct speed. Slower speeds make the molten metal to accumulate at the bottom of a cut. On the other hand, moving too fast creates high-speed dross because the arc will not get enough time to get through the metal completely. Either way, poor quality cut is made.
- Since water is produces ate the consumables, the amount of time allowed during pilot arc mode should be reduced.
- Maintain a working distance of 3/16 to 1/8 inches from the piece of metal to the nozzle
3. Die Grinder
Die grinders are used in a number of operations all of which requires specific procedures. Since they work at extremely high speeds, it is important to take caution to prevent possible dangers like thrown objects. Here’s what you need to know about using die grinders:
- Put on safety clothes, goggles, dust mask, and ear protection when working for long hours. Avoid loose attires or dangling jewelry as they may be caught by the rotating parts of the grinder.
- Before plugging in, turn the switch off
- You must not face the wheel towards you or anyone else as you start
- Use moderate pressure during the operation to reduce the risk of breaking the collet. Do not over-tighten the collet as it can break.
- Use rotary files for soft surfaces like wood, copper, and aluminum; but grinding wheels on hard metals. The grinding wheels may disintegrate if used on soft materials due to the high pressure exerted on them.
- Your hands must stay away from the working space to prevent injury. Use clamping devices e.g. the vice to hold working pieces together.
- Check the tension of the wheels before you start working. Note that loose wheel may break away from the grinder and damage nearby objects or injure someone. Any damaged part must be replaced as soon as possible.
- Give time for the work surface to cool down before you touch it because it can burn you
- Engage the shaft into the collet at least 0.5”
- Maintain a minimum distance between the collet anterior and the wheel posterior to avoid curving of the shank or damage to the wheel
- Take away any material that could trigger sparks.
4. Metal Nibbler
This is a handheld machine for cutting metals and provides the ideal remedy for shearing corrugated metal sheets and steel roofs. It is a cost-effective tool that cuts metal sheets accurately and can work on any thickness of steel plate with little or no distortion. They create clean cuts on surfaces so that the edges don’t need too much grinding. They come in different designs such as:
- Pneumatic nibblers
- Handheld electric nibblers
- Duct cutters
If you have used a jigsaw before, using a nibbler becomes easier only that you will not use a table to ride the material along.
- The nibbler should stay parallel to the working material lest it binds.
- To begin cutting at the mid-point of a material, create a starter hole with a drill. Check the user’s manual to find out the minimum radius for the starter hole.
- Turn the material or the metal nibbler like you’re using a jigsaw. Templates, shop-made jigs, and guides can help you create accurate cuts.
- Be careful with the metal chips which fall during the cut as they can cause injuries or damage polished surfaces. You can hammer the sharp edges to make them flat and safe.
Do you have some complex metalworking projects and are not sure of what tool to apply? Apply the named metalworking ideas to inspire your imaginations and use the rules as they are. If you can contemplate it, you can weld or cut it. Good luck with your metal works!
Some of the tools article that we reviewed: