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Old 08-08-2013, 05:20 PM   #1
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sheet metal cutting

can 21 gauge plain aluminum sheet be cut with a standard sized aviation snips? I need to fabricate a small sized panel consisting of all straight cuts. can the material be cut with a hole saw chucked in a power drill or drill press?

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Old 08-08-2013, 05:33 PM   #2
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I have used both and they work well, although a power nipper from Harbour Freight works better for large jobs. I used a power nipper to cut a 24" X 48" opening for a gray tank for our 73 Overlander that would have been tough with hand nippers, but a 12" x 12" panel would have been easy. A hole saw works great for cutting openings for plumbing or electrical.

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Old 08-08-2013, 05:35 PM   #3
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If cutting thin aluminum with a hole saw, I suggest sandwiching between two pieces of other material (e.g. thicker scrap aluminum or plywood) for support.
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Old 08-08-2013, 05:38 PM   #4
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Nibbler or short stroke saw
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Old 08-08-2013, 06:37 PM   #5
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Aviation snips will cut the aluminum just fine, but can easily distort the cut edge. Most of that distortion can be avoided by cutting about 1/4" outside of your line and then recutting on the line. That way the cutoff will curl up (you may have to help it) away from the cut.

Sawing aluminum as thin as 21 gauge is problematic because the saw blade can catch and bend the workpiece, hence Nuvite-F's suggestion of sandwiching.

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Old 08-08-2013, 06:50 PM   #6
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a razor knife can cut aluminum that thin. Seriously.
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Old 08-08-2013, 06:57 PM   #7
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I went thru a new nibbler, which likes to eat material, then I tried various saws. We finally arrived at the (KISS) approach, a utility knife and a good straight edge held in place with vice grips will give a deep score, then a slight bend will snap a nice straight cut. We used this method for cutting 4" strips that were bent into floor channels.

We found that large snips do a great job for details.

David & Diana
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