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PeteinMissionViejo

Sheet metal cutting

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i am using this angle grinder with a cutting wheel. you have to be carefull on certain angle it can bounce on you, just go in nice and easy. I would perfer a plasma cutter but they are expensive, if you can afford one i would get a plasma cutter and a angle grinder. its nice to have a angle grinder in some cases plus you can put a wire wheel on it for removing paint ect

http://professional-power-tool-guide.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Milwaukee-Grinder3.jpg

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plasma cutter is overkill for the car, at least that's what i've been told by people who are trained in expensive metal things. the sheet metal is super thin, using a cutoff wheel works well for most areas. makes a nice cut as well.

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Guest Anonymous

Compressor powered body saw. Much more precise and easier to control than grinder.

And the occasional use of sawzal.....

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Compressor powered body saw. Much more precise and easier to control than grinder.

And the occasional use of sawzal.....

+1 for the body saw, (and the occasional sawzall!)

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i've been using a cheap $30 craftsman 4in angle grinder for straight cuts when accuracy is needed and i have the clearance.

i also have an electric cutoff wheel similar to an air-powered die grinder but with a motor, made by Milwaukee and is absolutely indispensible. i use 2in cutoff wheels with it. there have been a few, rare times when i needed to get into tight cuts where i resorted to a carbide tip on the grinder and then cut to the line i needed.

i ended up buying a 2nd Craftsman angle grinder because for the price of the wire wheel that i wanted to replace, just $10 more and i got the wire wheel and a 2nd grinder. now i don't have to interchange blade, grinder disks and wire wheels as much.

a plasma cutter is absolutely overkill and i Never use a sawzall on work i care about. a sawzall is used only for retrieving body panels from dead cars.

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also depends on where you are doing the cutting. grinders generate lots of sparks and heat. not good if you are cutting near interior bits, fuel, rubber, etc.

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i've been using a cheap $30 craftsman 4in angle grinder for straight cuts when accuracy is needed and i have the clearance.

i also have an electric cutoff wheel similar to an air-powered die grinder but with a motor, made by Milwaukee and is absolutely indispensible. i use 2in cutoff wheels with it. there have been a few, rare times when i needed to get into tight cuts where i resorted to a carbide tip on the grinder and then cut to the line i needed.

i ended up buying a 2nd Craftsman angle grinder because for the price of the wire wheel that i wanted to replace, just $10 more and i got the wire wheel and a 2nd grinder. now i don't have to interchange blade, grinder disks and wire wheels as much.

a plasma cutter is absolutely overkill and i Never use a sawzall on work i care about. a sawzall is used only for retrieving body panels from dead cars.

I have an electric cutoff wheel as well. It's a must have tool.

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The 1/4" long nose die grinder from Harbor Freight with a 2" cut off wheel and the 3" metal cutoff tool from Harbor freight are really handy and both generally under $30. They allow you to get into some of those tight spots you cant get at with the angle grinder.

Some times a drill and hole saw help cut a nice radius if you know whats going on behind where you are cutting.

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The single most useful and accurate tool for cutting metal for restoration purposes, assuming you have an air compressor that will support it, is a 22,000 or so RPM die grinder/cut off tool. I have a Dotco that has served me well for fifteen years or so. I rebuilt it with skateboard wheel bearings (608ZZ I think) when it got to the point where it needed a kick start, and it still rules. Expensive new, but the kind of expensive where you will bring it in the house at night and covet it. Mine was used and $15 bucks, but would pay new retail if it got lost or stolen or run over.

Plasma cutters=great for quick rippage of metal, e.g. cutting new plate/bar stock just to get it somewhat down to size or in the door. I have an ESAB unit, rarely use it. It is just not accurate enough for restoration work and certainly not worth the cost. You can't plasma-cut a floorpan out and then butt weld in one of those nice Walloth and Nesch panels without further work on the edges. Plasma cutters are tools for parting cars out. A sawzall is the junkyard equivalent of the plasma cutter. Though they both will Cut Metal Fast, they do it inaccurately, and to do good work, you will need to dress the edges with a die grinder/cutoff tool anyway, so plan the cuts more accurately and make one fine cut rather than one rough and one fine cut.

Die Grinder/Cutoff tool tips:

Almost all spin clockwise as you are looking at it from the air input end, so work the tool from left to right, don't saw back and forth and don't bury the cutoff wheel more than a third of the wheel's diameter or so. You can find the sweet spot where either the sheer RPM of the tool or torque will cut the metal the fastest. Stay there. Learn to use the tool and it will be rewarding. With practice you can cut a four-foot length of 20-gauge sheet metal along a scribed line in about two minutes with little deviation from your line. This means good panel fit up, less distortion when welding and great honor to your family of course.

Things I have learned in twenty-plus years:

Mine are all 1/4" arbor. Don't bend the arbor by dropping the tool or you will burn up cutoff wheels like mad and may get hurt as they spin off chunks of cutoff wheel at 22,000 rpm and waste the tool's bearings in the process. If the tool is out of balance, either the cutoff wheel is wonky or the arbor is bent. Change the offender so the tool runs true. Keep spare arbors. Inexpensive arbors are okay, but they will bend easily when the tool is dropped of if you drunkenly step on the tool while on the floor or use it as a hammer. Inexpensive cutoff tools hog air. Dotco's/Cleco/ARO's dont. Don't buy a cutoff tool off a tool truck unless it is new and less than $20. Plenty of Snap-On and Mac stuff is worth the money, their air tools are not. At that price, you are better off buying three of them at Harbor Freight, this way, you have two in the on-deck circle. I have some HF cutoff tools that have lasted mere moments, some years. A vintage composite-bodied Dotco that works is worth the $300 some dude is asking if you use it for two hours daily, year in, year out. A HF cutoff tool will do the same thing for five minutes monthly while hogging air, but will be $15 with a coupon.

I worked for the first five years in my business with two Dotcos swapping various attachments.

Cut metal with a die grinder. Simple. Which one is up to you.

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