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Sheet metal equipment questions??

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  • Sheet metal equipment questions??

    I want to equip my shop with some sheet metal tools. I plan to buy a decent shear rated for at least 16 gauge. I see a lot of 37" shears but not being an expert about sheet metal work it makes me wonder why 37"? It seems to me that most sheets come in 48" widths so it seems an under sized shear would defeat the purpose of quickly deminsioning up the material am I missing something?

    I also plan to purchase a pan box brake that machine I can see being a 36" size because I will not be making larger parts than that.

    I plan to shear aluminum sheet material for drawer bottoms and dividers for part boxes I make from plastic.

    Having a 3-1 machine is somewhat apealing to conserve space but I tend to shy away from combo machines because usually they don't do anything great. The shear will be used most and I am thinking of buying a good one like a Pexto or Tensmith. The 3-1 machine I would consider is the Baileigh 5216 is Baileigh imported?

    I have been looking for used stuff for a while now on my local CL but I have had no luck yet. What do you guys think??

    Thanks Mike
    Last edited by gundog; 11-23-2010, 10:46 PM.

  • #2
    I cant tell you why 37" is popular. I personally figured that if one was buying sheet from the local sheet steel supplier they must offer a smaller size or there must be a standard slit roll that would feed into the machine. And since a factory would be the only place buying rolls like that, it explains why they are on the used market.

    I looked for 2 years before I found a 52 (or it might be a 50, cant remember) jump shear on craigslist. I gave the fellow $200 more that I was initially willing. In the end I was worried that he knew he had a good shear and would not move any more on the price.

    As for the 3 in 1 machines, I have never used one but I was afraid that I would be disappointed and end up selling it if I had initially bought one. I do see the 3 in 1 machines on craigslist much more often than the larger shears.

    As for shears, for some reason there has been a run on placing large used shears on our cl lately. Eight foot and up is what I have been seeing. There was a 12 footer on there last month.

    Hope this helps a bit.

    Civil engineers build targets, Mechanical engineers build weapons.


    • #3
      I have limited experience, mostly with the 3-in-1 type machines. I used a Grizzly and yes, it was a 36 or 37 inch machine. I suspect all the imported 3-in-1s are much the same. First thing is they are limited in the gauge they will cut or bend. I did mostly 0.042" and 0.050" aluminum. The latter was a bit of a challenge. I did very little steel.

      The sheer worked fairly well, but with the heavier gauge it would sometimes slip. I had to use the clamping bar they provided.

      For bending, the brake was not what you initially think of as a brake. Instead, it had a pair of vertical plates with a 90 degree Vee groove in the top of the bottom plate and a matching projection in the bottom of the top one. The top plate was stationary while the bottom plate moved up. The bottom plate was actually the top of the sheer blade. If you had a lighter gauge metal, the bend would be a good 90 or very close. If you had heavier gauge, you had to use a “persuader” (wood block and hammer) to get it that far. Any bends past 90 degrees were not possible in the machine. The stationary, top plates were in sections ranging from slightly less than one inch wide to about 8 or 10 inches and they were held in place by a clamping bar. This allowed you to bend inside of a box of any dimension from one inch up to the width of the machine. But even this was limited by the depth of the box as more than three or four inches of depth would start to interfere when the bend went past 45 degrees. You could do it, but some straightening work was needed after bending.

      The rolls worked fairly well. Very little straight left over at the end of a roll. I made a bunch of 2o inch air duct fittings with it and they came out well. In addition to rolling sheet metal, you could also do rods of several diameters. Very handy to make hoops or rings.

      Since I was mainly interested in making boxes and chassis for electronics use, I found it adequate. For more general work, it is limited and you really want individual machines.
      Paul A.
      SE Texas

      Make it fit.
      You can't win and there IS a penalty for trying!


      • #4
        If you're thinking 3' and 16 do not want a 3 in one. I've got a 3'brown bogs 16 gauge shear, weighs probably close to 1000 lbs and you'd have to have the thing lagged to the floor and a buddy jumping on it with you to do 16g over its 3''re just not going to do that type of work on one of the light 3 in 1's no matter what gauge they list

        The size and weight the machine you need skyrockets and width and gauge go up. Take a very critical view of just how much you really need and only buy something that big. when you need heavier, and i I often do, I just send my supplier a cut list. costs a couple of bucks more; cheap compared moving up even one size in shear

        you need to network with the used machinery guys. 3' 16 gauge stuff is probably heavier than most home shops would have so likely doesn't make to CL/kijiji, at least that would be the case here
        in Toronto Ontario - where are you?


        • #5
          What do you think about this pneumatic / Hydraulic shears? Enco has them on sale right now for $2500 & $3000 which actually right now is less than the Tensmith 52" listed at the top of the page for the pneumatic model. I wonder if the cutting thickness is acurate or overstated? I don't see where it gives foot print size.



          • #6
            For 16gauge, Id take an oxy/fuel torch to it

            Or, You can put an abrasive blade into a 7" or 8" circular saw and have at it. Sure the dust might burn it out someday, but theres plenty of them for $20~50 at garage sales and pawn shops.

            With a guide (see: chunk of flat stock clamped to the work, rubing against the baseplate of the saw), you can get VERY good cuts with this method, as long as you want, with decently thick material and little burning. Takes a little while and do it outside, TONS of dust. but otherwise effective.
            Play Brutal Nature, Black Moons free to play highly realistic voxel sandbox game.


            • #7
              I have a 3 in 1 from Grizzley. It has been modified so the shear stays in adjustment and I have built a decent back stop for shearing multiples. On thinner materials it works fine. All three functions have limits, it is not a 1000 pound single function machine.
              So to "shear" 16 gauge material I use a metal cutting blade in my jig/sabre saw. This works well with edge guides (straight edge and C-clamps) but requires hearing protection. If the sheet goods are small enough I use a fine tooth blade in the band saw.


              • #8
                the 37" common size comes from the heating & cooling people....most duct stock at one time was 36" widths, hence a 37 " opening for oversize stock....Ohh and one more thing ...the 3-1 machines shear will not take repeated use on 16 ga , even in shorter than full width sections...I have built several replacements out of 1"CRS for the shear tables on the 36" models, and now , on mine , the main side casting broke on some 18 ga, while shearing 24" width...I am now replacing it slowly with older Di-acro & Chicago equipment , and am building a 48" strait brake, baised on the Gingery design. And for shearing I am gonna keep my eyes open for a treadle shear, but until then a Beaverly , or one of the small rotary shears are working pretty good , along with a set of Kett shears(portable)..Good luck. Shawn


                • #9
                  Thanks Shawn that now makes sense about the 37" width. Anyone know anything about the pneumatic shear from Enco would that be better than the manual operate Tensmith?
                  Last edited by gundog; 11-24-2010, 03:07 PM.