How to Cut Airstream Aluminum Sheets

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Airstream trailer construction began in 1930 by the company's founder, Wally Bynam. These trailers have an aluminum interior and exterior in a curved design. The aluminum is durable and easy to clean. The arched design includes a door that curves to reduce the wind drag on a travel trailer when it is in tow. Airstream trailers are still in production today and are the first truly self-contained models of travel trailers.

Things You'll Need

  • Packaging paper
  • Double-sided tape
  • Marker
  • Painter's tape
  • Scissors
  • Electric shears
  • Cut pieces of double-sided tape into small squares and place them on the exterior of the area that needs the new aluminum.

  • Press packaging paper or heavy paper onto the double-sided tape, starting at one corner and working across and up the wall. Smooth out the paper as you press it in place.

  • Mark around the area you are covering on the paper, pushing a marker into the perimeter of the area where you need to install new aluminum. Pull the paper off the wall and remove the double-sided tape. Cut the paper with scissors on the marker lines to form a template.

  • Lay the aluminum sheet on a flat surface such as a worktable. If the area you are cutting includes two sheets of aluminum for coverage, overlap one sheet of aluminum on top of another by 1/4 inch and tape them together with painter's tape.

  • Place the paper template on the aluminum and trace the pattern onto the aluminum, using a marker. Remove the paper template and center painter's tape on each line you are cutting to fit the Airstream wall. Replace the template and retrace the pattern on the tape. Remove the template.

  • Plug electric shears into an electrical receptacle. Align the cutting jaws on the outside of the template line, squeeze the trigger and cut out the pattern.

Tips & Warnings

  • Paper templates are helpful because of the curved shape of Airstream walls. The paper smooths in place to make a template as the metal sheets will smooth in place as you're installing them.
  • Taping the aluminum creates smooth lines for cutting without a rough edge so there is no sanding required before installation.
  • Cut on the exterior of the lines on the aluminum because the electric shears will remove a piece of aluminum as they cut in the same width as the cutting jaws.

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