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Hello all,

Zero experience with metal work. Every video I have watched so far suggest using jigsaw for cutting out the opening. Has anyone used electric metal shears before? Will that work? TiA

Gary
 

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Hello all,

Zero experience with metal work. Every video I have watched so far suggest using jigsaw for cutting out the opening. Has anyone used electric metal shears before? Will that work? TiA

Gary
I would be careful the shears didn't "crimp" the metal you want left and then make it harder to weatherseal.
I did 3 windows last weekend, using a $20 jigsaw, 32 teeth blade and it worked great. The actual cut took 5 min per window..prep time about 20min, that for measuring 30 x.
 

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I cut out the metal for my windows using a jigsaw, then tested pneumatic shears on the removed piece. Not good. The shears work great on aluminum, such as aircraft building, but leaves a ridge on the steel in the van. Additionally, the paint chips off beyond the cut line. Using a sharp metal blade in a jigsaw produced a much cleaner result.
 

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This video shows that it works well on flat metal, but not so good crossing the ribs on the roof.
 

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If you have access to an air compressor and want an easy and clean cut buy a cheap air powered nibbler. They don't distort the metal at all, don't produce heat, sparks or sharp metal shavings. They're basically just a powerful hole punch that takes little bites as it goes. If you do use a saw make sure and vacuum everything very well when you're done and then wipe it down with a towel, and blow it off. Those steel shavings are hard to get off and can come back to haunt you.

 

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I used shears for 1 window and it was a nightmare. I tested them on a piece of sheet metal first and thought it would be ok. They chipped off a ton of paint despite it being taped. They also slightly bent the edge. Jigsaw with a fine toothed blade is the way to go.
 

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Don't use a nibbler you will have sharp crescent shaped metal bits all over that will stick to every thing don't walk on them they will stick to your shoes and hard to remove.
 

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There's probably a good reason why lots of people use some sort of reciprocating electric saw, jig saw or body saw for example.
 

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Don't use a nibbler you will have sharp crescent shaped metal bits all over that will stick to every thing don't walk on them they will stick to your shoes and hard to remove.
You can end up with very small pieces, but you generally only get the tiny, tiny slivers if you're moving too slow (They operate far faster than most would expect through thin metal). I did my back two windows with a nibbler and one small cutout with a jigsaw. The nibbler did a far better job and the mess was easier to clean up as the pieces were all clearly visible. IMO that's the big advantage of the nibbler, the clean edge and all the pieces are right there and large enough that you can see and remove them.
 

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The OP says zero experience with metal work. So, my thoughts are, the OP doesn't have a metal shop full of tools, metal sheers, nibblers, experience using them, etc.
I would expect that after the holes were cut in the van, the OP wouldn't have much use for metal working tools.
A jig saw is the easiest way to get the job done without experience, with minimal risk of screwing up. And then you have a jigsaw to use for the woodworking part of the build and just general future projects.
 

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An electric jigsaw with a fine tooth metal cutting blade makes the job easy and controllable even if you have never used one before.
The electric shears are faster but harder to control and hard to do the rounded corners.

Gary
 

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Use Bosch T118G 36 tpi
It cuts smoothly and efficiently and the metal edge just has a fine tooth pattern
I just used one blade for my sunroof install. You have to a hardware to get these (Center Hardware in SF in my case) Home Depot only carries Avanti blades and you have to special order Bosch
66021
 
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