Sheet metal discussion

This is not a vote. Let's discuss and see if this is a goal we all share.

Let's discuss adding a sheet metal "area" to hive. We have zero sheet metal & forming capability at the moment, and there is a BIG difference between hand and small bench equipment we could afford for ourselves, and real shop-style equipment (isn't this one of Hive13's purposes? Sharing the facilities we cannot have at home so we can accomplish greater things together? Aka not shopping at harbor freight on community money).

There are many refurbs and craigslist deals on this equipment, but I'll start by linking grizzly tools. I've used grizzly sheet metal tools, and they're actually very good and well regarded. We could still do better / cheaper with refurbs and used, so feel free to craigslist away.


-- 3 in 1 machines suck. Really suck. Most people who get them end up buying separate tools, and maybe use the 3 in 1 for the one thing it does okay (depends on model)
-- Length of your shear, brake, and slip limit the size of what you can do. I'd recommend 48", as this is a standard sheet size and the maximum cost vs capability size. Regardless, all 3 need to be the same length or greater. It makes no sense to be able to bend 48" metal, but only be able to cut 24" metal.
-- Other tools, like punch presses, hydraulic presses, are much more easily Diy'd. However, shear, brake, and slip do 95% of sheet metal work and are the fundamentals. Think of it as the table saw, band saw, and miter saw if you will. And yes, we could have a wood shop with only a contactor's circular saw, jig saw, and a chop saw, but would that meet our current needs?
-- The tig welder no allows us to weld thin metal, including sheet & tube. We should have the forming tools as well.
-- Many hackerspaces tend to over-focus on CNC machines and forget old fashioned equipment like this. Heck, I agree that it's much cooler to blow money on a robotic machine than a manual cut and bend machine. However, high quality forming tools are among the tools that make the cnc machines themselves. You're CNC is going to suck big-time if you bent the metal with pliers and c-clamps.
-- As an outsider from the west, I find Midwestern resourcefulness and frugality charming, and often ingenious. I am impressed by folks at hive doing more with less $$ spent. However, there are cases where less is just less.

This is not a vote. Let's discuss and see if this is a goal we all share.


I’m in agreement with the need for HIVE13 sheet metal fab capability.
Generally concur with the observations on 48" width being fairly standard.
Do note, that the type of metal; aluminum, cold rolled steel, stainless are all different strength raw materials.
Machine capability depends on the material, gauge, width and general wear on the machine.

The 48" shear width and gauge capability are most important as that’s where you start with raw material.
Wider than 48" and greater than 16 Ga steel and you probably need a power shear.

A box bender of 48" will rarely ever see a 48" bend. Breaks are most often set up to do narrower width bends as part of making a box.

In my experience, roll forming is rarely very wide. It’s fairly tough to roll a wide piece of sheet metal. You need to make progressive passes, tightening the rolls on each pass. Rolling a 48" wide piece would probably take a team effort to simultaneously feed the sheet and crank the rollers.

What I’m saying is that while a shear and break should be 48" the roller could be narrower.


I am 100% on board with this plan for added capability. I could imagine these tools being far more used than a CNC mill or lathe would be.

I’ll second that the roll probably doesn’t need to be as wide as the shear and brake, though there is merit to having the capacity for that one time you need it if the cost delta isn’t huge.

This isn’t on the same scale as those big three items, but it would be nice to have a good throatless shear as well, something like this:

I did just look and noticed Grizzly’s smaller slip rolls have lower material thickness capability. the one Lorin picked out can handle up to 16 gauge, which I think is a very good idea, as 16G is still thick enough that it can be easily MIG welded too.

I’ve used bigger slip rollers for doing more complex curves and cones. For instance, think about rolling a long thin rectangular piece at an angle to make a helical shape, or making hyperbolic cones for intonarumori (Google it). The full length makes it easy to do more complex curves. Also, you can roll, back up, change angle roll, rinse repeat for some nice contours. I would imagine that a more practical example would be autobody & aircraft panels. Not everything is a square, nor every car a Volvo, sorry Dave V…

But, no, I’ve never rolled a 48" square sheet. ‎It might need to be done for a trailer panel, but team effort is possible.

As far as grizzly goes: I mentioned these because those were the tools we hat in LA at the calarts “supershop”. They worked great, took abuse well, and may be grizzly’s best products. We did get a power shear, which is a big big upgrade, but $$$. Can a manual machine be nodded to hydraulic or air? Dave V, Kevin S???

Practical applications I have:

Old house — New chimney cap, roof flashing, flashing for old vents.

Fun – Repair for vintage trailers. I restored a 1969 Scotty when I lived in new Mexico and would travel the desert west with my wife for weeks or months going to makerfaire, prospecting for garnets by area 51, selling vacuum tubes. I’d like to start on another rig…

More phonograph horns. Love making those, and maybe some hipsters would buy them now if I just put an ipod mount on the end…‎

And, what Kevin said. I’ve been looking at sheet shop items for hive for a wile, and it seems that, at 48" the machines get more pro specs for thickness and durability. Likewise, for a slip roll, moving from 36" to 50":

25% price increase.
16 gauge (.0598 inches thick and 2.5lbs per square inch) vs 22 gauge (.0299 inches thick and 1.25 lbs per square inch).



From: Kevin McLeod
Sent: Monday, June 4, 2018 9:38 AM
To: Hive13 Hackerspace
Reply To:
Subject: [CHP] Re: Sheet metal discussion

I did just look and noticed Grizzly’s smaller slip rolls have lower material thickness capability. the one Lorin picked out can handle up to 16 gauge, which I think is a very good idea, as 16G is still thick enough that it can be easily MIG welded too.

Yeah, the extra $250 seems fully justified for the ability to roll the thicker steel in my mind.

It would be really nice to have bigger dedicated sheet metal tooling. I have been using the airports shop still for the majority of my needs. I still have extra kliko and sheetmetal tools from the aviation to accompany any added equipment. I have been tied up bad from the infection in my knee from surgery however am good to go now. If anyone wants to meet up after the meeting tuesday to discuss this, I am game. Plus we could use equipment bought to fab any style of blasting cabinet we need.

The capacity of sheet metal tooling has more to do with the strength/stiffness of the frame than the actual physical power being applied to shear, bend, or roll.

Adding power to manual equipment is both dangerous and risks bending the machine. Teamwork and assistance is the solution to a workpiece which is too heavy or the operator is not strong enough or is unsure of the method. Teamwork is always the best option.

Forming metal heavier than the rated gauge with lighter machines will flex or permanently bend the frame. For that reason and the recognition that most folks will push the envelope, I’d favor heavier gauge ratings if we can afford them.

Notice the weight jumps up on the Grizzly benders in this link from 335# on a 16 ga bender to 1271# for 12 ga.

Some of the added weight is in the base, but most of that beef is in the bending frame. We would need to make a base for the 16 ga lighter model and bolt it down to the floor. That said, the heavier model is a much better piece of equipment.