Product Review: Flanger and Nibbler
We recently tested two products from Eastwood, an air-powered flanger and a nibbler attachment for an electric drill. Both proved to be easy to use and well worth owning. Take a look:
Falcon Products Nibbler
Falcon Products Nibbler.
The nibbler attachment comes in a plastic-wrapped packet. It chucks easily into a drill and has its own handle to allow two-handed operation. Two things are important when using a product like this. First, the drill should be a powerful one. This is not the time to use a battery-powered drill because these things just don't have enough torque. We used a good 1/2 horsepower, variable speed drill that plugs into a good, old-fashioned outlet.
The second thing to consider when using a nibbler is to properly secure the metal being cut. If it's on a car body you have plenty of structure working for you, but if you're cutting a piece of sheet metal you need to clamp it to a work surface so that you can cut accurately. You also need to use two hands, so all the more reason to clamp the sheet metal.
Once we'd marked the sheet with soapstone we dribbled cutting oil on the marks. This allowed for proper lubrication of the nibbler head, something important for such tools. The cutting heads get very hot and there's lots of friction, and lubrication makes everything easier to use.
We marked our cut using our soapstone marker.
Next we dribbled some cutting oil on our cutlines.
We then made our cut. If you want your cut to be perfectly straight, clamp a guide to your steel..
We found the nibbler to cut easily and controlling it took little effort. There was very little distortion on the edges although straightening might be necessary on extremely critical pieces. We cut a rectangular piece and an ogee-shaped curved piece to check out basic function of the nibbler and were quite pleased with the results.
Our rectangle cut with very little distortion.
We cut our contoured piece freehand, without any guide lines. It was an easy cut to make and also had very little distortion.
The Falcon nibbler is an excellent addition to the tool box and is quite suitable for those who can't justify purchasing a dedicated air-powered version.
Astra Pneumatic Flange/Punch Tool
Astra Pneumatic Flange/Punch Tool.
We were very intrigued about the idea of a two-in-one pneumatic flanger and hole punch tool and couldn't wait to try out this one. We've used manual flanging pliers and found them to be awkward and the same is true of the several hole punch tools we have in the shop. They work, but not well or easily.
That is not true of the pneumatic flanger/hole punch. It breezed through flanging our cut-out rectangle and curved pieces of sheet metal. Because the flanging operation entails a strike of the tool head in a small (1/2 inch or so) area, attention must be made to avoid overlaps and bumps in the metal. That said, the results are easily good enough for welding and grinding before a bit of filler is added to smooth things off.
Our rectangle after flanging and punching.
As for the hole punch, we love this feature! The tool produced consistent, smooth-cut holes in our sheet metal. This is a very useful feature that will come in handy for a variety of projects, particularly when we need to fashion light brackets or straps.
We find these two Eastwood tools to be extremely useful and shop "necessities."