Ideal for cutting heavy-duty materials, metal shears provide mess-free cuts due to their scissor-like mechanism (as compared to a nibbler). Metal shears make jobs easier for someone who often works with roof projects and the like.
However, metal shears need to be chosen carefully, since some of them have different gauge ratings depending on the type of metal that you use (e.g. mild steel vs. stainless steel). That’s why I’ve listed down some worthy picks below for you.
6 Best Corded and Cordless Electric Metal Shears
For common steel cutting jobs, you might prefer either corded or cordless electric metal shears such as these:
Ideal for up to 18-gauge steel (1.2 mm) and 20-gauge stainless steel (9 mm), the Milwaukee 6852-20 18-Gauge Shear has a cutting spit of up to fifteen feet per minute. What I like the most is the variable speed, ranging from 0 to 2,500 SPM, which allows you to work on all kinds of projects while properly manipulating different materials.
It has a 6.8-amp motor that ensures constant power while the swiveling cutting head allows you to work your way into corners, which is useful during certain types of cuts. Moreover, its ergonomic tactile grip helps you easily make straight cuts. Along with the metal shear, you also get a hex wrench for simple repairs.
Things I Like About This Product: It has variable speed which reduces the workload of the motor when high speed is not needed. This can also help with softer materials without bending or breaking them by accident. I also like the swivel cutting head because it assists with corner-cutting.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The metal shears might not come with a case, or if it does, it’s just probably a plastic one.
Yet another corded metal shear in my list that has a comfortable swivel head (up to 360 degrees) is the DeWalt DW890 Swivel Head Metal Shear. This allows easy maneuvering for corners and curves. In terms of cutting capacity, it can continuously cut through 7/32-inch sheets and up to 5 1/2-inch radius or larger.
Because of its 5-amp motor with a ball-bearing design (for smoother operation), it has more durability than most power tools of the same category. It is applicable for up to 18-gauge in mild steel and 20-gauge in stainless steel.
Since it only weighs five pounds, it’s better suited for long hours of cutting than heavier shears. With a max wattage of 470W, these metal shears also have variable speed, which can be adjusted from 0 to 2,500 SPM.
Things I Like About This Product: It has a pivoting head that can be used for cutting difficult shapes and corners. The light weight of the tool helps reduce user fatigue in the long run. It also has a trigger lock to ease the control of the unit.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The cord could have been placed more strategically to avoid accidentally going near the blades.
If you are new to metal shears (or just want to try a pair), the Galax Pro 4 Amp Electric Shear may pique your interest. It has a 4-amp motor and can cut up to 16-gauge thick mild steel. To ensure that it doesn’t warp edges as it cuts through, a 1/4-inch ribbon is created for each cut made by its three-blade system.
The tool has a lock-on button, which allows you to focus on your task and less on the unit itself when cutting your material of choice. The design allows you to cut in either a straight or curved for ultimate flexibility. It has a variable speed of 0 to 2,500 SPM as well, much like the other picks above.
Weighing less than five pounds, it is easy to carry around if you tend to have sweaty hands or need to work for long hours. When you order, it already comes with a hex key for maintenance, a user’s manual, and a warranty card should you see any defects.
Things I Like About This Product: A clean cut is certain due to its three-blade system, which creates a 1/4-inch ribbon as it passes through. The lock-on button is useful when it comes to making precise cuts and the lightweight design might be appealing to beginners.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: It may not have as much power when working on ridges as compared to flat materials.
The DeWalt DCS496B 20V MAX Offset Metal Shear may catch your eye if you want to work on spiral duct seams and circular cuts (minimum cutting radius of 1-inch), in which it can cut up to 20-gauge thanks to the offset shear design. Along with variable speeds of 0 to 2,300 SPM, this tool also has a swivel function for corners.
Much like the picks above, for milder steel it has a capacity of up to 18-gauge. If you prefer lightweight tools then you may be in luck – this metal shear is only at four pounds. Another plus point that I liked is the replacable blades (although it might be a long time before you worry about that depending on usage). It is also backed by a 3-year limited warranty.
Things I Like About This Product: The 360-degree swivel head provides easy use on corners and spiral cutting, while the variable speed is helpful for different kinds of materials. It is also not too heavy to carry around.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The locking mechanism could be designed better. Also, this is a bare tool so you’d have to buy batteries separately.
Part of the One+ tool collection, the Ryobi P591 18V One+ Offset Shears also comes with a flexible head, which rotates to help you cut curves and other challenging tasks. It can be used on various materials other than standard metal, such as chicken wire, shingles, and vinyl siding, making it a great addition to your arsenal for DIY home improvement projects.
The variable speed trigger helps reduce motor stress when you’re not using it for heavy-duty tasks. As a cordless unit, it can cut up to 1,000 feet of sheet metal on a single charge (with a compatible battery such as the P108). It can work with 18-gauge sheet roofing.
The extra or replacement blades are simple to order online or in stores, so the tool is easy to maintain. As it is part of the Ryobi One+ series, you can use the battery interchangably with other tools in the series.
Things I Like About This Product: Aside from the flexible head for curves, it is a convenient addition to your garage tools, especially if you have others in the Ryobi One+ series.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: Cutting angles may require a bit of a learning curve with this particular tool.
Yet another set of metal shears for lighter jobs is the Makita XSJ02Z 18V LXT Compact Straight Shear, which can cut 18-gauge stainless steel or 16-gauge mild steel. However, you can also use it for up to 22-gauge of spiral duct seams. With a speed of 4,300 SPM, these metal shears have a double blade design to minimize and even prevent jagged or distorted cuts when it passes through.
Due to the barrel grip design, the tool is ergonomic even for sweaty hands, and allows convenient one-handed gripping at times. Additionally, the 4-pole motor increases its speed, while solid aluminum housing makes it both durable and lightweight at the same time.
There is also a convenient light on the side to let you know when it needs to be charged (and it warns you when the tool is overloaded as well), so you know when to give it a bit of rest. Its head is also designed with radius capability for circular cutting. It is backed by a 3-year limited warranty.
Things I Like About This Product: The rubberized grip is ergonomic and helps when working with sweaty hands. It also has a light that warns you when the battery needs to be charged right away (no more guesswork needed).
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: It is a tool only and you need to buy both the battery and charger separately.
2 Best Pneumatic Metal Shears
For those who prefer air-powered metal shears, I can recommend you the following tools:
When it comes to heavy-duty power tools, Ingersoll-Rand is a great company to consider and the Ingersoll-Rand 7802SA Heavy Duty Pneumatic Shear proves that. This pair of pneumatic metal shears can cut 20-gauge steel and make angles and circles on different types of materials, including metal, tin, plastic, and aluminum.
When using its trigger actuation, you will have more control when making your cuts. It has up to 4,200 SPM of speed and 4 CFM of average air consumption. Another plus is that it weighs less than three pounds, so it is easy to handle. It works for 3/8-inch hose sizes with a 1/4-inch air inlet NPTF. Last but not the least, it is backed by a 1-year warranty.
Things I Like About This Product: This tool is lightweight so it is ideal for users who prefer metal shears that are long-lasting through a job. The high SPM means it can be used for tougher metal.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The handle would be better if it has a rubberized grip rather than just a textured grip.
Another pneumatic metal shear in my list is the Neiko 30066A Pneumatic Metal Cutting Shear, which has an air consumption of 4 CFM at 90 PSI, and uses a 1/4-inch NPT air inlet. Also capable of handling 18-gauge standard steel (and 14-gauge aluminum), this tool has up to 2,200 RPM of speed.
Additionally, it has a swivel head so you can cut curves without warping the material. Plus the pistol-shaped grip helps with the overall ergonomics of the metal shear. Moreover, it only weighs 2.4 pounds, allowing the user to easily handle it for the whole job, with little fatigue.
As similar to a previous pick, it creates a swirling strip as it goes through the material to make a clean cut without distorting it. You can also limit the speed if you connect a valve into the air-line, which might be useful for softer metals or materials.
Things I Like About This Product: The tool is lightweight to reduce user fatigue while its mechanism creates a swirling strip to ensure a straight and clean cut.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: It might not be that ideal for cutting ribbed or corrugated sheet metal as opposed to flat sheets.
2 Best Metal Shears Impact Driver Attachments
If you already have an impact driver and you’d like to turn it into an instant metal shear, you might like these two choices:
For those with DeWalt tools (or other brands as well), you can try the DeWalt DWASHRIR Metal Shears Attachment, which can connect to any 1/4-inch hex shank. This also means you can use it for the majority of 18V and 20V impact drivers and drills.
As for its cutting capacity, it can be used for 18-gauge of steel while its 360-degree swivel head is useful when cutting curves. These shears can work on corrugated sheet metal, flat sheet metal, asphalt shingles, wire, plastic, vinyl siding, steel mesh, rubber, and cardboard.
With a 1-inch minimum cutting radius, you can also use it for creating squares or 90-degree corners with a stopping and repositioning technique. It also doesn’t consume a lot of battery life when you use it for your drill or impact driver.
Things I Like About This Product: It has a swivel feature for curves and different angles and it can be used for various brands of 18V and 20V impact drivers.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: You might need to modify the sides of your impact driver a bit if it is an older model because of the design of the attachment.
Fitting most corded and cordless drills and drivers, the Malco TS1 Turbo Shear Sheet Metal Cutting Attachment can be used on 20-gauge of galvanized steel. The cutting attachment can be attached to any drill or driver that has 1,200 RPM of speed.
Moreover, it can be used for different materials such as sheet metal, roofing, steel mesh, enclosures, automotive body panels, furnace jackets, ductwork, vinyl, building panels, and the like. Due to its offset design, it is safe to operate without risking hand injury.
Also, the jaws on the attachment can be replaced when worn out. For better stability with the impact driver of your choice, you can also separately buy a TSDC drill clamp for this cutting attachment.
Things I Like About This Product: It has an offset design for safety while using your tool. It can also be powerful enough for corrugated steel roofing panels in addition to flat metal.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: It may run more slowly on cordless or portable drills as compared to using corded-electric ones.
The Methodology: What I Considered When Picking the Metal Shears Featured Above
To choose the metal shears mentioned above, here are some criteria that I considered (and you should, too):
You can choose from corded, cordless, and pneumatic units, as well as attachments that you can just use for your existing impact driver. Corded shears are best for long-term use while going cordless is more ideal for portability. Pneumatic units are for heavy-duty tasks while attachments are for light to medium-duty ones.
Steel Gauge or Thickness
Typically, most metal shears can cut from 18-gauge of mild steel to 20-gauge of stainless steel, but the value can vary depending on the design of the unit. If you want to cut through thicker material, then it’s best to go for metal shears made for higher gauges.
Ease of Use
Are your shears ergonomic when you hold them? Do they slip or are they easy to hold? A metal shear should be comfortable with few vibrations. Pivoting features can also help with cutting curves and corners. A lightweight yet durable metal shear can also be easier to carry around.
Know the SPM of the metal shear and check out if it is variable speed or single speed. If you work on different materials, it’s best to go for variable-speed units so you don’t accidentally warp the material if it’s too soft.
If you are looking for a corded electric metal shear, I would suggest the Milwaukee 6852-20 18-Gauge Shear and the DeWalt DW890 Swivel Head Metal Shear, both of which have a variable speed for material flexibility. You can also try the Galax Pro 4 Amp Electric Shear if you’re on a budget.
On the other hand, if you want to go cordless, portable options include the DeWalt DCS496B 20V MAX Offset Metal Shear, which is lightweight to carry around, and the Ryobi P591 18V One+ Offset Shears, which can have interchangeable batteries with Ryobi One+ series tools.
Pneumatic or air-powered metal shears that can do most metal cutting work include the Ingersoll-Rand 7802SA Heavy Duty Pneumatic Shear and the Neiko 30066A Pneumatic Metal Cutting Shear, both of which are lightweight. For a steady grip, you might like the Makita XSJ02Z 18V LXT Compact Straight Shear.
Metal shears in the form of impact driver attachments are also in the market – the DeWalt DWASHRIR Metal Shears Attachment and the Malco TS1 Turbo Shear Sheet Metal Cutting Attachment are both compatible with various brands.