Okay, so with this post, I'm basically "outing" myself as someone who didn't know how to cut metal with snips for a long time. Sure I could make a cut, but I always ended up with a wavy edge requiring excessive sanding and/or filing. Another builder showed me this approach to get much better results and I'm passing it along in case it can help anyone here who is as dense as me.
After laying out your cut line, make an initial cut about 1/8" to 3/16" away from that line as I'm doing here. Make sure that the blade which is supporting the piece you want to keep is laying flat against the material.
Next, trim away half to two thirds of the excess. As before, make sure the blade on the side of the "keep" part is flat against the surface of the material.
Lastly, cut on the line, of course keeping the blade on the "keep" side of the line flat against the material. Note the neat, undistorted edge.
If you've done it right, the scrap material will curl into a spiral. This approach takes more time, but yields superior results as compared with making the first (and last) cut on your line.
- On thin material, (say .016 or maybe .020) it may only be necessary to make one preliminary cut about 1/16" away from the line before making a final cut. On thicker material, creeping up in three cuts improves the results.
- I like to use bypass snips like these instead of the in-line ones. They're especially beneficial when cutting thicker material.
- When I bought these shears, they had little "serrations" on the edge that left marks on the aluminum. I took them apart, ground those off, and they cut like a dream now. When cutting forces get high, I take them apart and do a quick sharpening job on the grinder.
Hope someone finds this useful. If you have additional thoughts, please feel free to reply below.