There are many tools that you will see in every workshop you visit. Items like hammers, screwdrivers, and wrenches are universally useful, no matter what setting you place them in. But once you get to specific industry shops, the tools become more specialized to meet the stricter requirements.
Knowing the necessary tools for the industry is an essential component of adequately outfitting your workshop, regardless of the specialization. This rule is especially true in metal fabrication shops, where the wrong tool can shut down your entire operation. Here is a closer look at the essential equipment every sheet metal shop needs.
One of the most versatile tools in the shop has to be the angle grinder. Useful for many tasks, including cutting, grinding, and polishing metals, this handheld tool is a must for any metal fabrication work. When looking for the right one, consider the size you will need. The two most common sizes for angle grinders are 4½ inches and 6 inches.
Along with the angle grinder comes the need for the discs that allow the machine to operate at peak efficiency. There are multiple types of discs available for each of the different tasks, such as grinding wheels and flap discs. The various options are what allow you to control what function the angle grinder serves. The surfaces of the wheels and discs are what dictates this function, so consider how sharp or abrasive you need the wheel to be before proceeding with the task.
Metal Cutting Saws
One of the most commonly performed activities in any sheet metal shop is sawing. There are a number of different types of saw you will need for your fabrication work. The variations required will depend on the work you will be doing, but popular options include circular, chop, cold, and band saws. Try to avoid using a hand saw when other options are available to improve efficiency and worker safety.
Every handyperson worth their salt knows the importance of a pair of wire cutters. This tool helps to protect the hands of everybody who handles sheet metal. Typically used to snip the frayed ends of wires, they are just as useful for trimming bits from the frayed edges of sheet metal.
Nearly every machine shop makes use of drills or drill presses to complete their work. This means the necessity of drill bits to combine the pieces of sheet metal. For proper fabrication, you will most likely need standard-length and machine screw drill bits to ensure you can complete the job. Ensure the bits you are using are the proper ones for the drill or drill press you are using to provide adequate worker safety.
Similar to wire cutters, a good metal worker is never without a trusty pair of throatless shears. This tool cuts the sheet metal in a straight line, curve, or any other pattern. The thing that makes this tool so valuable is the ability to move the sheet metal around the blade freely. They typically come with large handles that allow for the extra leverage necessary to trim away the excess stainless steel or aluminum. This tool is ideal for when you need to make intricate or complex cuts in the metal.
Personal Protective Equipment
Along with all of the tools, there is an enormous amount of PPE, or “personal protective equipment,” every sheet metal shop needs. Due to the conductive nature of metal, there are several extra safety precautions necessary before the work can begin, including wearing the proper PPE. Here is a closer look at some of the most crucial protective gear for working in a fabrication shop. Any time any safety equipment is involved in a workplace incident, immediately remove the items from service and replace them.
One of the essential safety tools for anybody doing any serious welding work is an auto-darkening helmet. These work through sensors that pick up the bright welding arc and automatically darken the lenses. These helmets allow the welder to easily see what they are working on without the risk of blinding and burns. This extra vision also helps prevent mistakes in the welding.
Workers need to remember that a blow to a hard hat may hurt, but one to the head is much worse. Though often ignored in many fabrication shops, hard hats still play an integral role in keeping workers safe. These helmets are made from different materials, allowing the wearer to find one that works for them and their body type. Some even come with additional padding or lining to make them more comfortable to wear throughout the day.
Vision and Hearing Protection
Safety glasses and headphones are both crucial to keeping your vision and hearing safe, respectively. Eye protection comes in many different forms based on your needs, and you should always wear safety glasses when doing any metal fabrication. Similarly, ear protection in the form of earplugs or headphones ensures your hearing stays protected when the volume is at its loudest. Neither may look cool, but they can save a person from a lifetime of struggles.
Protective clothing is also vital to keeping sheet metal workshop employees safe. Equipment such as long sleeve welding jackets and high-top boots helps prevent burns when working with sheet metal. It’s also important to remember to wear gloves when working with metal in any situation. Metal is highly conductive, meaning it can take on the heat or cold from the environment, making protective gloves crucial. Metal is also sharp along the edges, making the extra safety precautions even more worthwhile. When wearing the safety equipment, avoid any loose or dangling jewelry or hair that can get caught in your work or the tools.
If you need help supplying your fabrication workshop with the best tools and equipment available, look no further than the Penn Tool Co team. We have all of the sheet metals tools for sale you will ever need, with an experienced staff ready to answer any of your questions. Check us out today for more information on how we can help outfit your sheet metal shop.