Sheet Metal Cutting Tools: Straight and Bulldog Tin Snips

Why are my cuts coming out so jagged!? Why don't these snips cut a radius well? Why do all of my long cuts A.) Take so long and B.) Have all these little notches every inch or so?

You may or may not have asked yourself these questions or many others while hacking through a piece of tin. 

I've had all these frustrations over the course of my career and some of those issues come down to experience cutting with any kind of tin snip by hand. However, another answer could be that you may be using the wrong snips for the job. One size does not fit all when it comes to sheet metal cutting tools. 

The one tool that I would have gold plated and mounted on the wall of my office is a pair of Straight Tin Snips. They are on the front of our company T-Shirts and will forever be a building block of any micro tin shop.

  Straight Tin Snips I use daily

Straight Tin Snips I use daily

Known as Lather Snips to some, I have always labeled them as straight cut tin snips or shears. I have spent over 15 years of my working life cutting straight duct, plenums and fittings by hand with these and other kinds of tin snips. However, these were by far the Labron James of snips in my Tin Knockers tool bag and on the sheet metal fabrication table.

The manufacturer will tell you wide curves can also be cut, and to a point, you can with the Straight Cut. However, I would argue that the longer handle Bulldog Pattern Snips provide an easier cut when dealing with radius shearing. The Bulldogs are for "nibbling" heavier gauge and they do a great job in that forum. But they do a much better job than the straight cut snips when you have to cut a 40" flat elbow cheek and especially when cutting smaller radius lines by hand. Bulldogs saved me a lot of frustration on those days when fittings prioirized the schedule. 

  Bulldog Tin Snips We Use Each Day

Bulldog Tin Snips We Use Each Day

The straight cut snips hang up too much as you make your way through the radius. They can't make the corner nice, especially on those tighter curves. Think of a good handling car versus a bad one. Both vehicles can make the turn. However, you can feel the difference if you've driven the car that really handles well in the corner. It can make all the difference when time is of the essence. 

Having both pairs of snips at your disposal can only help your fabrication prowess. 

Every sheet metal worker, roofer or HVAC technician will have a pair of Straight Tin Shears at the ready. They are tried and true; the backbone of a Tin Knockers tool bag. I would bet many of them carry a pair of Bulldogs as well.

Today at K & E Sheet Metal they have taken a back seat to the CNC plasma table and pneumatic jump shear, but they still hold tremendous value in our shop on a daily basis.  They were the tools that built this company to where we could afford the plasma table and jump shear.

If you're working in the field and you don't have a pair in your tool bag, do yourself a favor. And if your're starting a small fabrication shop, they are a must. Those aviator snips you may have picked up at the local Home Depot are immensely important when it comes to sheet metal cutting tools, but they will soak up your time and forearm strength in seconds.

The Straight Cut Tin Snips and Bulldog Pattern Snips will help take care of that problem and keep your cuts straight and true.  

Happy Cutting!

Sometimes Important Business Tasks Can Get Overlooked

Many times a small business will overlook something important. With us, one of those extremely important things has been customer retention. Don't get me wrong, our work speaks for itself and many of our customers have been coming back for years. The retention I'm talking about are those fringe individuals or companies we neglected because we were either, too busy or too lazy to take the time and keep up relations. The customer came in for a minor piece of fabrication and we let them get pushed to the bottom of the pile, assuming they would never come back anyway. However, those are the customers who may give your name to a friend or family member, making them a powerful resource to keep communicating with.

Earlier this week I received a call from a company called Intuit Demandforce. We have used Quickbooks for invoicing, so getting a call from a company in the Intuit family is not out of the ordinary. Most of these calls I will greet and pass on because they are just an introduction to get you in the door, nothing more. Yet, this one seemed a little different. I got the sense they really wanted to show me what the service could offer, I wasn't feeling sold to. Could be a testament to the sales person on the end of the line but, I felt the risk was worth it and agreed to a web share about the Demand Force service.

From the Demandforce website:

Keeping up with all of the changes in technology and online services is hard, but you need to communicate and market like the big boys or your business won't survive. Demandforce is here to help.
 
We take an award winning communication portfolio, with easy to use <a>online reputation tools and our broad consumer network, to become the marketing team your business needs.

The web share went well and after seeing what Demandforce had to offer I decided to give them a shot. Our account went live today and I am very excited to see how the service will help business over the next month. I really like the people I have dealt with so far, giving me a personal experience you don't get with many online businesses. Everyone genuinely seemed to care about us succeeding with the program.

Updates to follow :)

originally posted on our Facebook Page 

Posted on July 25, 2014 and filed under Business, Marketing, Micro-Business, Customers, Company News.

SaraSpa Rod & Gun Club Duct Fabrication

After installing the filter boxes and elbows shown in my previous post, it is now time to fabricate the next set of duct and transitions that will run up the wall. There are three total units and each will need a 90" drop. Below are the in-progress fittings lined up in a pretty little row.

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Our next task is to cut and install the Ductmate Flange System on each section of duct for easy installation when we get to the jobsite.

Wolla!

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We finished up a few 90 elbows with turning vanes for the job as well. Probably could have managed a better photo but I had to assist my helper uncle with that tub of screws :)...JK

 

SaraSpa Rod & Gun Club Duct Installation Photos

Here are a couple pics from our most recent duct installation at the SaraSpa Rod and Gun Club in Greenfield Center, NY.

    Installation of the Exit Air Unit ductwork and filter cabinet.

Installation of the Exit Air Unit ductwork and filter cabinet.

  Installation of Make-up Air Unit duct.

Installation of Make-up Air Unit duct.

The job has been progressing nicely with a lot of custom duct and fittings. Each section is fabricated with 24 gauge metal and secured together with the Ductmate Flanging System.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel regarding finishing up the installtion and fabrication. I hope to get all the photos gathered together and share them after the project is completed. With our move to a new fabrication shop space and other jobs, time has been at a premium. We are finally getting back to a somewhat normal schedule.


 

Exciting New Developments at K & E Sheet Metal LLC

Some exciting things have been happening over the last few months here at K & E Sheet Metal. First off, as always, none of this would be possible without all the great customers and partners we have done business with over the years and for the new business to come.

Early in the year I decided to build on our ability to fabricate straight duct quicker, which would help us keep a small inventory of trunk duct on hand, making it easier to get materials out for customer orders. To do this I needed to add a few new pieces of equipment to help speed the process. Therefore, we have added a hydraulic 5-head notcher, 52" pneumatic shear, 60" pneumatic duct former, pneumatic cleat bender and take-off notcher. These machines along with our plasma table, which we added last year, will help to speed the process of custom and stock orders for clients.

Because of the purchase we needed to add space, so a few weeks ago we made the decision on moving the shop to the building behind the one we currently occupy. Therefore, our physical address will change from 22 Hudson Falls Road, Door# 3 to 22 Hudson Falls Road, Unit# 22 with shop entry at door# 26. Because the numbering of the building can get confusing I have added the door# 26 portion to help with direction. Over time this will be tweaked after we get settled.

My father and I are very excited about the new developments and hope everyone else will be too. Please bear with us for the next month or so as we get settled in to the new space. There may be some lag in time frame of order completeion but as always we will complete all orders ASAP. I'm sure there will be questions and you can direct them to Kevin via email at main@kesheetmetal.com

Thanks for your patience, we appreciate all the business and hope to see you all soon at the new fabrication shop!! 

Posted on March 13, 2014 and filed under Company News, News, Small Business, The Shop.

How Will Digital Fabrication Affect The Machines of The Future?

Will there ever be a time when machines can heal themselves? Heal may be the wrong word, but there may be a point where digital fabrication could help machines of the future fabricate their own parts.

Yesterday I was watching an extended PandoMonthly interview with Mark Suster of Upfront Ventures and the Both Sides of The Table blog. Mark is a well known venture capitalist who mainly invests in technology companies.  

 

4 Resources You Can Use to Find Specialty Metals Online

Finding specialty metals locally can be a difficult task, no matter where you live. You can go to your local hardware store, but chances are they only stock small sections of limited gauges and alloys of metal sheets. So you try the local metal distributor, only to find they are far from receptive when it comes to small quantities of steel sheets or structural metal. So where do you go when you only need a small lot of steel or sheet metal for a minor project?

Here are four online metals sites you can use to find specialty metals for your small project.