Cutting Sheet Metal with an Electric Drill

Sheet metal
  • 1-100 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-200

Cutting sheet metal can be done using an electric drill. Although this process is normally done using a circular saw or a jigsaw, there is a cutting shear that can be mounted on electric drills and used to cut sheet metal. The cutting shear is a drill attachment that will fit any type of drill, including battery powered, air powered, or regular corded ones. They usually are able to cut up to 14-gauge steel, 18-gauge-stainless steel or up to 1/8 inch of softer materials.

Having a cutting shear for your electric drill isn’t necessarily a replacement for a saw. There are things that each of these tools can do differently and better. In general, you’ll want to use the drill-cutting shear for smaller operations, or in places where having a handheld device is more convenient for cutting sheet metal. An example of this would be cutting a car’s body panel, which is easier to do with an electric drill. This is because you won’t have to remove an entire body panel to do so.

1. Directional Cutting

Using an electric drill for cutting sheet metal can be very beneficial when you’re dealing with directional cutting. Directional cutting refers to having to change directions on the fly while cutting. An example is when you want to cut the metal in a round shape. Electric drills can go in any direction, unlike with a saw, where you have to move the working panel or re-clamp the entire jig. If you’re working in confined spaces, having the option to cut in any direction can prove invaluable.

2. Portable Solution

Cutting sheet metal doesn’t always involve having a plain sheet of metal sitting on a workbench. You are more likely to deal with spaces that are not readily accessible and easy to work in. Having a cutting shear on an electric drill, you’ll be able to get in those places and cut without having to remove the piece you’re working on. Some electric drills don’t even require the use of a jig and you can cut small pieces by simply holding them in your hand as they’re being cut. Using a battery-powered drill also means you’ll have the option to cut metal in places where you don’t have access to electricity.

3. Low or No Burring

Most shear cutters that are drill mounted will produce minimal or no burrs. In fact, there are shears that produce no burring whatsoever, and leave the area sanded off. This is great when you don’t want to deal with having to de-burr and use sandpaper while cutting sheet metal. A good example of this is when you’re dealing with the metal plate from your electric box.

4. Precision Cutting

Using a drill-mounted sheet metal cutter means you can also cut finer and more precisely. If you’re working with small cuts, when precision is more important than power, you don’t want to use a saw. Shear metal cutting provides more accurate cuts with better looking finished results.

You can buy this sort of attachment for your drill at hardware and DIY stores. There are also specialized models sold by independent manufacturers that can come with different features for cutting sheet metal.