How to Cut Sheet Metal With an Electric Drill

With the proper attachment, an electric drill can cut sheet metal.
With the proper attachment, an electric drill can cut sheet metal. (Image: Barry Austin Photography/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

With attachments, a standard electric drill can quickly become a sheet metal cutting tool. Sheet metal drill attachments range from circle cutters to shears. Shears are the most versatile drill attachments for cutting sheet metal. The popular double-cut, nibbler and uni-shear are available as drill attachments and can cut up to 18-gauge sheet metal. Using a drill attachment cutter is almost identical to using the dedicated tool after which it's modeled.

Things You'll Need

  • Drill
  • Drill-mounted sheet metal cutting shear
  • Safety glasses
  • Leather gloves
  • Sheet metal deburring tool

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Secure the shear into the drill motor's chuck. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for stabilizing the shear. Each manufacturer uses a different style of arm to hold the shear head straight to the drill's body.

Press the drill's trigger. Inspect the shear's blades to ensure they're operating properly.

Wear safety glasses and leather gloves while you cut the sheet metal.

Place the sheet metal between the shear's jaws.

Start the cut by depressing the drill’s trigger, while pulling the handle down toward the sheet metal. Tilt the drill slightly left and right to determine the optimal cutting angle for the shear blades. The blades will cut easily when you reach the proper blade angle. Keep the shear's top blade aligned with the cut line on the sheet metal.

Remove the burr left by the drill-mounted shear, with the sheet metal deburring tool.

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