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A Quick Rundown of Sheet Metal Tools


Although not all sheet metal tools can be neatly categorized as either cutting or bending tools, the majority of them will fall somewhere into one of those broadly defined categories. As for the others, we’ll save them for the end.

Cutting tools – No surprises here; cutting tools designed for sheet metal either use blades or jaws to cut through the metal or use supplementary power to remove a portion of the sheet metal so that it can be shaped. Here are some popular styles of sheet metal cutters. 

  • Shears – Sheet metal shears, which are often called tin snips or aviation snips, can be used to make either curved or straight cuts in sheet metal. They are more practical for making shorter cuts but some can be used for making longer cuts. 
  • Nibblers – Whereas shears and snips cut directly through sheet metal via the action of cutting jaws, nibblers cut through a small section, often by the aid of power. This produces no distortion along the edge, which can be problematic when working with snips.
  • Slitters – Slitters are typically reserved for making large cuts through coils of sheet metal stock.

Shaping tools – Unlike cutting tools which cut through sheet metal or remove portions of it so it can be further worked, shaping tools, as their name suggests, alter the shape of the existing sheet metal panel without removing any stock. These are some of the most popular types of sheet metal tools.

  • Benders – Benders are similar to brakes except benders are usually smaller and can be put to work more easily and efficiently, often for making longer bends for seams or eaves.
  • Seamers – Seaming tools usually finish the same that may have been partially created beforehand with a bender.
  • Pliers – Pliers can be used for making small, precise bends and adjustments to sheet metal, such as in hard to reach confines. 
  • Hammers – Hammers can be used for shaping, bending, marking, piercing and even stretching sheet metal.

Other Tools – In addition to cutting and shaping tools, you can also find the following in most collections of tools designed for sheet metal. 

  • Decoilers – Decoilers hold a coil of sheet metal stock and pay it out under controlled speed so that it can be worked safely and efficiently.
  • Marking Tools – Marking tools are used to mark metal for bends, cuts or other purposes. Tools like scribers will actually engrave a mark in sheet metal that cannot be wiped away or effaced. 
  • Tongs – Tongs are useful for holding and manipulating sheet metal but they can also be useful for making fairly precise bends and shapes, similarly to how pliers can be used.

If you want to learn more about each of these categories of sheet metal tools, visit John Stortz & Son at There you can learn more about them and forward any remaining questions to their team. You can even call them at 888-847-3456 and they’d be happy to help.

Otherwise, you can pick up whatever essential sheet metal tools you needed right on their site. They’ve been providing high quality tools since 1853 and it’s no different today. 

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