Posts filed under Tools

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!

New YouTube Video: Cold Air Boot Cutting Process

Our newest YouTube video showing the cutting process of our custom cold air boots. Our new CNC plasma machine has sliced our cut times in half helping to quicken the assembly process here in the fabrication shop.

Introducing Our New MultiCam 1000 Plasma Table

Introducing our new MultiCam 1000 Series CNC plasma table!! The last few months of hard work have paid off with the full installation of our new plasma table, finishing up late last week with today being the end of our first full week of production. The table is fantastic and has already saved us time with the multiple jobs that we have already completed. With the installation of our new equipment we can provide customers with faster production times and reduced prices.

Scroll down to see some more photos of the new CNC plasma table and a video of our new toy in action.


Plasma_Table_1 Plasma_Table_2 Plasma_Table_3 Plasma_Table_4


If you have any questions about your sheet metal fabrication needs or items you may need cut, please visit our contact page to send us your requests.


The Start of a New Era at K & E Sheet Metal LLC

A new era has begun here at K & E Sheet Metal. If you have been following us on Twitter ( if you haven't, shame on you ) you know that our new CNC plasma table has been delivered and should be up and running in a few short weeks. The addition of the plasma cutter help us to increase our current production of HVAC duct and fittings, allowing us to search out new opportunities. Below are a few pics from delivery day. The process went much smoother than I had originally thought and aside from some forklift issues, our new equipment was moved and placed in no time.

First option was to slide it off the truck.

First option was to slide it off the truck.

I don't think this is going to work.

I don't think this is going to work.

Change of plan

Change of plan

Now comes the hard part

Now comes the hard part

Good idea. Let the oldest partner do the heavy lifting.

Good idea. Let the oldest partner do the heavy lifting.

Almost there!

Almost there!



Just a couple more feet and we're there..lookin' good

Just a couple more feet and we're there..lookin' good

Everything worked out well and the new machine should be up and running after the new year. We are waiting for delivery of the air compressor to set up dates when the machine and software techs can come to make the final setup complete, teaching us what we need to know about our new toy.

We can't wait to make the first cut!

Waitng Out The SBA Loan Approval Process to Revitalize Our Business

Big things are brewing at our tiny little company. The only issues standing in our way is the SBA loan approval process and those dreaded interest rate decisions. We have dotted all the I's and crossed all the T's, waiting for a determination on whether or not our business has a chance to grow via a small business equipment loan. Our dreams are filled with bright sparked plasma, searing through sheet metal in the form of HVAC fittings. The one thing that will literally cut our fabrication times in half and increase revenues in the process.

Our meeting with the bank went well and we hope to hear some answers by tomorrow or early next week. The SBA loan approval process will determine if we can get a couple more years added to the loan, helping us with a lower monthly cost. Once we hear the good word I can get to work on finding someone to pick up the new equipment and selling my ass off so we can get started revitalizing our micro business.

I am very excited and the decision of the bank, if negative, will not deter me. I will find a way to purchase our new plasma table and start going after business we couldn't handle in the past. My frequency of posts and tweets have suffered since beginning the research and loan process because I have been so focused on finding the best fit for our company to grow.

It's been a while since we experienced the waiting game of something like the SBA loan approval process. Granted, it's not a long wait, but more like a tiny child bursting at the seams at 5 a.m. on a snow soaked Christmas morning.

I just want to tear the paper of my shiny new toy.


The Right Time For a New Equipment Investment

I am happy to say that after years of financial stagnation, we are finally taking steps toward growth with our first major equipment investment in years. Business has increased to a point where this decision makes sense, but that is not the reason we are taking on the risk of a major investment. The company has been mulled in a soup of non-growth for many years and it was time to start taking advantage of sexy interest rates and tax breaks to help the business move forward. Currently we are in the process of purchasing a new table plasma cutting system for our little sheet metal fabrication job shop. This would be our biggest equipment investment in many years. However, it would increase our production greatly and make it possible to search out bigger projects in the residential HVAC sheet metal fabrication markets locally. Seeing as our shop doesn't weld and has never owned a handheld plasma cutting machine, we are a bit green when it comes to dealing with consumables and pneumatic tools. The learning process will be educational, very interesting and eventually profitable.

Having the ability to decrease cut time and waste will make fabricating fittings like cold air boots, trunk duct reducers and custom transitions far easier and profitable for our micro-business. After hemming and hawing for a few months we finally took the leap and started heavily researching our new equipment investment.

I, as a business owner, want to create jobs in my community, but in order to make this happen the machinery needed to come first. I need to know I can bring in new business in order to keep a new employee working. The company is not in a position to do this just yet. Increasing productivity first was the most economical way for the company to reach some short and long term goals.

The quoting process is near completion and financing is on the horizon. Best case scenario would be  a initial equipment investment in our new plasma cutting table within a month or so, hopefully having everything installed by the end of the year. Hoping my optimism continues through the process.

Fingers X'd


Our HVAC Sheet Metal Fabrication Custom Job Shop Machinery & Equipment

Yesterday I posted the newest video to our YouTube page, showing the various machines we use for fabrication in our HVAC sheet metal custom job shop.


Here is a list of what we currently use to fabricate HVAC sheet metal ductwork and fittings.

K & E Sheet Metal Custom Job Shop Equipment:

Sheet Metal Bending

  • (2) 8’ wide manual brakes with bending capability up to 16 gauge mild steel
  • (2) 30” wide hand bench top brakes
  • (1) Cheek bender with 24” bend length & 22 gauge mild steel capacity
  • (1) 30” wide cleat bender with 20 gauge mild steel capacity

Sheet Metal Forming

  • (1) Fourplex Roll Former with button lock and slip/drive capabilities. up to 22 gauge
  • (2) Pittsburgh machines with 22 gauge capacity
  • (1) 36” wide manual rolls with 22 gauge capacity
  • (1) Tabletop Easy Edger with 22 gauge capacity

Sheet Metal Cutting

  • (1) 52” wide foot operated shear with 16 gauge mild steel capacity
  • (1) Bench top hand operated shear up to 20 gauge
  • multiple hand operated long handle and aviation snips

Note: We DO NOT have any welding capabilities