Tricks for Making
- Use the electric shears whenever possible. They give the best undistorted
edge. See last months "Cool Tools of the Month" for more on the Kett
shears I like. Its not possible to cut everything with the electric shears though,
such as tight curves. Thats when the hand shears (tin snips) come into play.
- Lay your pattern face down on the backside of your aluminum sheet (the side
of the sheet with the grade and thickness ink markings is what I call backside) and trace
it off like that. That way, when you make the cuts with your electric shears, because of
the way the fingers cut, youll end up with a frontside edge on your panel that looks
more finished. Its difficult to explain, but the shears will put a very slight
rollover on the edge of the panel, and youll only need to run the debur tool along
the backside edges in most cases.
- When using hand shears, make sure the teeth marks from the serrated edge are
on the backsided of the panel. Since you cant always cut from one direction,
youll need at least two pairs of hand shears (right hand cut and left hand cut.) If
this isnt clear, just trust me and get a red handled pair and a green handled pair
and make some practice cuts with em and youll see what Im talking about.
These tools are inexpensive to begin with, so dont cut cost corners even more here
spend the extra $5/pair and get genuine WISS snips.
- If you have to make a tight inside curve cut with the snips, it often bends
up the edge of your panel. Before deburring, use a plastic-headed hammer to flatten the
edge back out. The plastic wont mar the aluminum. It is sometimes better to leave
1/16th inch or so extra material around the tight curves and then finish it out
with the Dremmel, as mentioned below
- Another good option for making tight inside cuts is to use a hole saw in the
drill press to cut the apex of curve and then cut away from it with the snips or shears.
- Use a Dremmel tool with a ½-inch drum sander attachment to smooth out
corners, curves, or areas where there is a burr (intersection of cuts from different
directions, transition from electric shear cut to tin snip cut, wherever a bump or
something might be caused along the edge.
- If you have one, a belt sander is nice for long gradual curves or flat edges
that need to be smoothed out. Its difficult to smooth long edged panels with the
Dremmel and get a straight edge. If you cut the panel with your electric shears though,
itll be smooth already and relatively straight if you follow your cut marks well.
Id buy the shears over the belt sander if you have to choose a $120 item.
- On thicker edges that will be visible, such as wing edges, use a sandpaper
flapper wheel in a die grinder to wipe out the cut marks and smooth out the edges. The cut
marks Im referring to here are those left on the actual cut edge itself, across the
wings .050" or .063" thickness for example.
Coming in future newsletters tools
and techniques to help with rolling beads and a pictorial on making a panel from start to
me a message if there's something specific you're interested in.