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I have a piece of thick-sheet metal that has letters stamped in it that looks like this enter image description here

to which I am looking to cut the lettering out of the metal. I am curious what tools would work for this? The metal itself isn't too think, but is thicker than a normal piece of sheet metal.

I have seen a few metal cutting tools, such as snips and nibblers, but they cut through the metal to get to their point of interest, which I only want the lettering to be cut. I have also read that laser/water-cutting nozzles can get caught in stamped grooves, which could damage the nozzles, so that option is out.

I originally was looking to get one of these tools

https://www.amazon.com/SCRAPER-SC-1000-DEBURRING-TOOL/dp/B006KLGZJI/ref=sr_1_15?ie=UTF8&qid=1475102130&sr=8-15&keywords=deburring+tool+noga

and try to shave off little bits of metal alone the way. This would be the most tedious, but would probably produce great results (I hope).

I am curious if anyone have any recommendations on what tool would be useful for my needs? I think the grooves would provide good support for this tool so it wont cause mistakes, and I think that since it's stamped, it should be easier to cut through?

I also am looking to provide additional lettering (non-stamped) and curious if this tool would work if I had some sort of stencil/guide as well?

Thanks.

  • 1
    I'd approach it with a good pair of safety glasses and a dremel-type tool with a metal-cutting bit, but I've never actually done anything like that, so comment rather than answer. – Martha Sep 29 '16 at 0:17
  • the spacing is too thin for a dremel, blade which are larger. I need something that would be very precise. Thanks for the mention though, I probably should have mentioned that above that I did think about the dremel, but don't think it will do the job. – XaolingBao Sep 29 '16 at 12:35
  • I was thinking one of those mini circular-saw blades, not the "glorified drill bit" type. But even the "glorified drill bit" type of cutting blade comes in some pretty small sizes. – Martha Sep 29 '16 at 14:03
  • Is that a mold for something? Where did that come from? It being sheet metal seems odd. – Matt Sep 29 '16 at 14:47
  • That's not an exact pic, just an example. It's stamped into a thinish piece of sheet metal that was bent into shape. It's prob 1-2mm thick, if that. – XaolingBao Sep 29 '16 at 20:56
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A jewelers saw (also known as a piecing saw) should do the job these have very thin, fine toothed blades, almost a like a flattened wire which can handle very intricate cutting jobs.

jewelers saw

Image from micromark.com

You may also want some needle files to tidy up the cut edges afterwards.

You will need to drill a small hole where you want to start the cut. Then you can disconnect one end of the saw blade from the frame, thread it through the hole and reattach it.

These saws to take a bit of skill to use effectively but if you get the basic technique right you can achieve good results with care and patience even if you don't have much experience. The big advantage over power tools for something like this is that you have a lot more control over the rate at which you cut so there is less chance of making mistakes. It is also important to use the correct blades for the job, which is largely determined by the thickness of the material. If you use too coarse a blade for the thickness of the material it will tend to snag and jam. For metal around 1.5mm thick you are looking at around 50 teeth per inch.

Similarly you need to set the correct blade tension (do this by flexing the frame of the saw against the bench as you attach the blade), it should give a clear 'ping' when you pluck it like a guitar string.

Also bear in mind that the teeth are directional and conventionally you should be cutting on the pull stroke (downwards if you are using a bench peg) this means that the work is pulled into the peg, keeping it stable and the blade is only loaded in tension.

  • Thanks for this. I actually remember one of these in shop class, but those were very flimsy, so I'm not sure if it would work; Although, I did see some nice pieces being cut on GoogleImages, so there are probably very strong ones as well. I feel that this might produce some not so clean work, especially since I am not experienced with this tool. If my PlanA doesn't work, I'll look into this. Thanks a lot. – XaolingBao Oct 5 '16 at 21:07
  • @XaolingBao They are flimsy in that they bend, because so thin and flexible. But the teeth are quite strong and I've cut through copper sheets without issue. – Web Head Oct 5 '16 at 23:10
  • @CreationEdge thanks! For sure they are probably very strong, but they seem to be difficult to use properly, or cut things easily. AS mentioned some edges might need cleaning up as well. I'll see how well plan A works, because I think that the stamped lettering should work well if I slowly eat at the metal with the tool I'm going to use, but I am also thinking of introducing some new letters, so this saw might be a good fit. Are there recommended brands I should look for, and types for stainless steel? Seems there are differences in blade depth and "blades per inch?" Thanks. – XaolingBao Oct 5 '16 at 23:26
  • @XaolingBao That sounds like a great follow-up question! I'd ask that. My experience is limited. I just know patience prevents blades snapping – Web Head Oct 5 '16 at 23:28
  • Just wanted to update that Plan A did NOT work (or is taking a crazy amount of time for not so good results). I will be ordering this amazon.com/gp/product/B00A8RFB5Y/… so hopefully this will work out well. I think this should be good, and anything that gets messed up can be fixed with the deburring tool for touchups. Thanks so much for your time both of you, I just hope this saw works :P @CreationEdge – XaolingBao Oct 10 '16 at 22:43

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