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Stuff We Love: Sheet Metal Tools

Make your sheet metal work easier and more productive with these new school tools from Milwaukee.

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.

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Handyman Pro

Many of the tools we use for fabricating sheet metal are manually operated. Cordless tools are now replacing some of those old school hand tools. Today on Stuff We Love we present two new school cordless tools from Milwaukee, along with a specialty drill bit that will make your sheet metal fabrication far easier and more productive. Watch Marty Dyck discuss and demonstrate these tools in the video, then read on for greater detail.

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Family Handyman

Milwaukee M18 Cordless 18-Gauge Double Cut Shear 

Milwaukee came out with the first rendition of these shears a few years back but has now re-designed them to be more ergonomic. The new tool body has an inline wrist design that offers better control and comfort for single-handed operation. Other features include:

  • A 360-degree tool-free rotating head;
  • Variable speed trigger;
  • Up to 2,500 SPM;
  • Cuts 18-gauge steel and 20-gauge stainless steel;
  • A belt clip.

The rotating head is a great feature; it lets you make cuts in awkward positions or tight spaces without wrestling the tool into place. If you’re snipping sheet metal all day, these shears will get through far more work in less time and are much easier on the hands than manual shears. This tool is definitely a worthy investment for any HVAC or other custom metal fabricating contractor.

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family handyman

Milwaukee M12 Rivet Tool 

A good rivet tool will improve speed and efficiency for nearly all assembly processes with sheet metal. This compact cordless rivet gun is especially ideal for job site applications because it comfortably hangs from a tool belt and has an impressive run time, pulling up to 450-1/8-in. rivets in a single charge. Other features include:

  • It accommodates 3/32, 1/8, 5/32, and 3/16-in. rivets;
  • Aluminum, steel, and stainless steel capacity;
  • Tool holds the rivet in any orientation;
  • Part of 90+ tools on the M12 battery platform.

Most previous rivet guns were manual or pneumatic. This sturdy compact tool will save you some hand strength if you’ve had a manual gun, or a bunch of set-up time if you’re used to the pneumatic version.

I keep waiting for the phrase “cordless convenience” to wear thin. But with great new tools like this one, it will likely be some time before that happens.

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Milwaukee Shockwave  7/8 to 1-1/8- in. Step Bit

Often we don’t want to set up our drill to get a few holes drilled when we already have our impact driver in hand. Recognizing this, many manufacturers created bits to work with your impact driver. Shockwave is Milwaukee’s newest bits that are impact driver compatible. This particular step bit quickly makes crisp holes from ranging 7/8 to 1-1/8 in. Its other features include:

  • Titanium aluminum nitride coating delivering longer life;
  • Rapid strike tip for fast and accurate starts;
  • A dual spiral flute combined with the rapid strike tip delivers faster holes;
  • Optimized shock zone reduces early shank breaks;
  • Two steps with laser engraving for a clear stop on size identification.

The smoothness and efficiency of this step bit are hard to beat. It easily puts the right size hole right where you want it every time. Milwaukee also makes this Shockwave bit in two smaller sizes; 1/8 to 1/2-in. and 3/16 to 7/8-in. There are more affordable bits out there but few will last as long, especially if you’re using your impact driver to spin them. Most HVAC installers and electricians will love having these bits in their tool belt.

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About Marty Dyck

Marty is a professional woodworker and the owner of Good From Wood, a custom woodworking shop in Stillwater, Minn. Specializing in unique vintage barn doors, custom skateboards, and other innovative wood products, Marty hopes to always build the piece that everyone talks about. Click the links below to learn more about Marty.

Bill Bergmann
“Bungalow” Bill Bergmann is an associate editor at Family Handyman. He’s been a licensed contractor/builder for more than 20 years. For him, there’s nothing better than taking out a few walls to make people happier in their homes.