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How to Avoid Problems with Sheet Metal Cutting, Bending, and Folding

by Kyle Marshall

As a general contractor, you may encounter jobs that require sheet metal cutting. These can be anything from small roofing and siding jobs to unique jobs requested for home and garden projects. There are times when you will have issues with the cutting that causes damage to the sheet metal or bends in the sheet metal that are not part of the design and can't be reversed. Instead of going through multiple pieces of sheet metal and having to start over each time, consider these methods to avoid these problems.

Use a Utility Knife

If you are working with thinner pieces of sheet metal, you may find that using regular snips causes the metal to bend. You may also find that the finished product does not lay as flat as you would like. You can avoid these issues by using a utility knife for the cutting instead. This will allow you to cut in straight lines without bending from the pressure of the snips. You can also make cleaner breaks in the cuts by scoring instead of cutting the metal directly. If you use these method, consider using a utility knife that has a knob or grip to keep your hand steady during high pressure cutting.

Use Scoring Techniques

One way to avoid improper bending, cutting, or folding of the metal is to use scoring techniques. This will mean you are technically cutting the metal twice, with two different implements. You will take a cutting tool, like a utility knife, and score the metal. This means you are cutting a deep line into the metal along the pattern you intend to make. You then go back and finish the cutting with metal snips. What this does is reduce the pressure you are putting on the metal with the snips, which causes the metal to cut or bend and fold improperly. When you do finally use the snips, you are snipping along an already made line, which means you are producing less pressure on the metal during the actual cutting process.

Use Proper Metal Thickness

This may seem like a common statement, but the truth is, some people do not use the right thickness of metal for the project. They are under the misconception that sheet metal is sheet metal and does not need to be measured for different projects. If the metal is too thick, it may not work for siding or other similar projects. If it is too thin, it will not be suitable for roofing and may bend during cutting.

By implementing these methods, you can reduce the chance of damage to the sheet metal. You can also help reduce your costs that are lost through damaged sheet metal and having to start over on the project, which can delay the project for the client.