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daveh 08-07-2006 12:25 PM

Air Nibbler VS Air Shear
Hey guys,

I am looking for something to cut the sheet metal from my car as smooth as possible. I always see the air nibbler (46061) and air shear (36567) in Harbor Freights catalog and was wondering what was better. How thick will they cut, how fast, how clean, etc.

I already have a high speed air body saw and the air cut off wheel.

Is what I have good or do you recommend the nibbler and air shear over what I have? Thanks for your advise.


CDJr 08-07-2006 01:59 PM

I doubt that shear would be any good at all for body work. I used to use a nibbler at work alot and it was great for certain cuts...Im not sure how smooth itd be on body panels though. Personally, Id stick with what youve got.

Beenaway2long 08-07-2006 02:10 PM

For the $40, the H-F air shear will come in handy. Your 3" cutoff wheel will probably cut a straighter line though! Nothing beats aviation snips though. Make a rough cut about 1/4" away, then make your final cut. The smaller the waste piece, the less the main metal distorts.

You can forget about a nibler cutting a straight line. It cuts little 1/2 moons. They get stuck in your shoes, and leave all sorts of cool marks... :evil: BUT the nibblers do have their purpose!

The air saw........I never had one that I could say I liked.

pmeisel 08-08-2006 07:45 AM

I have had good luck with the nibbler, then cleaning up the edge. It is pretty handy, although sometimes I use the cutoff wheel instead.

Henry Highrise 08-08-2006 08:04 AM

I use both a nibbler and a cut off wheel. I prefer a nibbler to a shear.

nwoparamedics 08-12-2006 10:41 AM

Heh Dave...

I ended up getting a bit of experience with these tools while rebuilding my truck, and later putting metal siding on my house... just a rookie, but here's my take on them. :D

Each tool is great for some things, horrid for others, each has their purpose.

Air Nibbler - Amazing tool for cutting, steel must be fairly flat, leaves a ton of cresent shaped filings everywhere, works best for cutting tight curves (although with a straight edge, it can be kept in a fairly straight line). Great tool, yet limited usefullness. Used it for trimming off new panels to match curves of previous rusted parts, nibbling away the edges and basically making new pieces of metal match up after they were roughed out.

Not the greatest pic, but showing a curve that worked great using these.

Air Shears - Awesome for cutting straight lines with, so smooth it feels like you are cutting paper, yet they remove a 1/4" or so of material where the jaws intersect. They will do slight curves, but don't handle ridges very well. Like them better than aviation snips as the two outer jaws keep the material from bending, the middle jaw just pulls out the cut material... smooth edges afterwards. Used this on new sheet stock, for making new panels and such.

Air Body Saw - Another amazing tool, cuts through body metal like a hot knife in butter, but vibrations in the hands... wow. I liked this one for smooth freehand curves, yet only used it a bit due to other tools being smoother and doing the same job. Also works fairly well on surfaces that aren't smooth. Used this for floor pans, cutting out rust in tight areas, etc... pretty much like a mini-sawzall, but a heck of a lot smoother.

3" Air Angle Grinder - Awesome for cutting with freehand, but edges of metal had to be smoothed more than other tools (i.e. burrs filed down later). Great for ridges and metal than wasn't soo smooth. Used this for cutting out rust, working on the floor pan, etc...

Aviation Snips - I'm really hoping you have these in the tool box as well? :D Ha... they are great for fine tuning things, quick to trim things up that don't just fit right, and besides the cramping in the hands when used for too long... they are a tried and true tool that can be used for almost anything.

Metal Bandsaw - K... now I'm way off topic... but dang, it'd be soo sweet for cutting out parts and fabbin' new metal up. Not good for working on the vehicle, but prior to... Oh well... next on the list.. :thumbup:

Anyhow... just a rookies' take on some tools...

302 Z28 08-12-2006 08:50 PM

Your 3" cutoff wheel will do just about anything you need. The key is a high quality cutoff wheel, not the cheapos from HF. Go to a welding supply shop and purchase some 3" cutoff wheels that are about 1/32" wide. They will not be cheap, but they cut sheet metal like butter and last a lot longer than cheao ones.


weirdbeard 08-12-2006 09:21 PM

I like the air chisel with a metal cutting chisel. It makes a lot of noise and it makes those lil curly metal curls. :D :drunk:

rod kent 08-18-2006 01:50 PM

plasma cutter is the only way to go if you can find a deal on one, once you try it, you will swear its your most valuable tool.

Rob Keller 08-18-2006 02:52 PM

1 Attachment(s)
About the only thing not touched upon here is the new metal cutting skill saw type it has a slower turning motor & a carbide blade excellent for big straight cuts .

There is also a chop saw version BUT DON"T try to use the bade in the regular saws the RPM's are too fast & burn up the blade NOT CHEAP!

PS when using a nibbler if you have some old speaker magnets place them everywhere you can to keep the "moons " from flying everywhere & use a piece of tape for a guide line when cutting..

Also ware a old crappy pair of shoes cause those moons get in there & never seem to get them all out.

Hope this helps :thumbup:

R :thumbup:

nwoparamedics 08-18-2006 04:20 PM

Dang.. plasma cutters and new metal cutting saws... ha... I've really got tool envy now :D

Neat idea about the magnets... going to have to try that one, thanks for the tip (and yep... through that last pair of shoes out... ha... they stick in every little place).

Also... can't say enough about those good quality cutting discs mentioned by 302/Z28. I had some cheapies to start with... got extremely frustrated with them... and then tried some zipcut type ones for 4x the $$ and was blown away by the differernce.

tech69 12-24-2012 04:45 PM

I know this is an old thread but rather start here than needlessly starting another. My question is, are air shears smooth enough where I can lay a sheet of metal on a stand and cut it? I hear they're not great for curves but I get sick of cutting huge straight lines with a cutt off wheel, so for long straight and accurate lines is basically what I'd want them for. Are they ideal for this? If so, anyone vouch for the Astro Pneumatic $60 one? Advice appreciated.

OneMoreTime 12-24-2012 06:50 PM

Air shears are good for long straight lines..use a straightedge for best results and practice..I find it best to scribe the line with a carbide scoreall and trim with snips..the Astro brand is what I have and it works well..


tech69 12-24-2012 09:21 PM

cool. I'll probably get it then. Thanks.

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