Basic tools for metal working with electronics ?

Thread Starter

DarthVolta

Joined Jan 27, 2015
476
I don't really have any proper tools for the metalworking that goes with hobby/repair electronics. I have a drill and a dremel. So on a small budget, I'm making a shopping list, I'll get some drill bits for metal, and a few hacksaw blades. A little file set. I need a bench vice soon too.

What else should I think about putting in a tool box for metal, without just throwing money at it for something I'll barely use ?

Are cheap drill bits with screwtappers any good ? What about stepped drill bits ?

I would like a full metal workshop, but that's not going to happen. Maybe someday I'll get a mini lathe
 

hexreader

Joined Apr 16, 2011
411
Step drills (even cheap ones) are fantastic for hobby use - buy a set as soon as you can!

Nibbler is handy too... ... but NOT the kind that is used with a power-drill. Get a simple manual nibbler the square kind. Only good for thin aluminium though.

... and maybe power file... ? probably not

If you ever go for bigger metalwork tools, mill/drill is far more useful than a lathe.

Vernier caliper is handy for easy measuring, but mine eats batteries.

... but of course, it all depends upon what you want to do...

.. oh, and I find a good quality metal square to be cheap and useful
 
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jpanhalt

Joined Jan 18, 2008
9,718
Basically, all I use are a drill (drill press), metal snips/shear, metal nibbler, and files. Hacksaw? I can't remember the last time I used one.

I used to use a small table saw with carbide blade for PCB's on occasion, but usually use a vinyl tile shear now. I also use a disk sander for shaping PCB's.

As for files, for working aluminum, you may want to investigate a Vixen file (https://www.amazon.com/Aircraft-Tool-Supply-Nicholson-Vixen/dp/B005VR56SI ). Also good for working lead. It is quite coarse with serrated edges and just peels aluminum sheet like a plane peels wood.
 

Thread Starter

DarthVolta

Joined Jan 27, 2015
476
On a side note, I see wire crimpering tools for AWG16-22 and the M/F spade connectors. That would step up my wiring a lot, I should get that ASAP too
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
20,894
As to Hacksaw, I have three varieties, but for small work, at the very least get a Junior Hacksaw 6" version. Cheap!
When buying drill bits, Taps etc do NOT buy any that are Chinese origin, that also goes for any precise measuring and machining items.
Chuck type hand tapping wrench.
The PanaVise also is handy for small item bench work,
Max.
 

jpanhalt

Joined Jan 18, 2008
9,718
As to Hacksaw, I have three varieties, but for small work, at the very least get a Junior Hacksaw 6" version. Cheap!
When buying drill bits, Taps etc do NOT buy any that are Chinese origin, that also goes for any precise measuring and machining items.
Chuck type hand tapping wrench.
The PanaVise also is handy for small item bench work,
Max.
Agree. Poland and Israel are "import" sources I have had good luck with. (Of course? UK, Germany, France too.) I don't use a Panavise. I just use a 2" machinist vise similar to this: https://www.grainger.com/product/4KXD4?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI38zZppf46QIVBm-GCh0eTgT-EAQYAiABEgLcmfD_BwE&cm_mmc=PPC:+Google+PLA&ef_id=EAIaIQobChMI38zZppf46QIVBm-GCh0eTgT-EAQYAiABEgLcmfD_BwE:G:s&s_kwcid=AL!2966!3!281698275552!!!g!470847567000!

Edit: Wow, I didn't see the current price. Must be cheaper elsewhere.
 

Travm

Joined Aug 16, 2016
315
This may not be for you, but I love my angle grinder. 4 1/2". It can also make a mess, but if your cutting steel, it's the cats meow.
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
2,259
Not mentioned were Jeweler's saw and Drill Press frame for the Dremel and/or electric Hand Drill. Not much call for metal work with the dying out of tube chassis'.
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
10,956
Some of my handiest tools:

8" metal shear from Harbor Freight for cutting copper clad boards. It has metal bending attachments, but I've only used it for bending a few times. Sadly, they no longer sell this tool.
clipimage.jpg

Metal punch (this is from Harbor Freight), I bought mine from an auto parts catalog in the 70's.
clipimage.jpg

Sears HandiCutter, great for cutting down male/female headers:
searsHandiCutter.jpg


Mini drill/stand:
clipimage.jpg

Nibbling tool:
clipimage.jpg

Reaming tool:
clipimage.jpg

Several board holders (don't have pictures for the larger ones):
clipimage.jpgclipimage.jpg

Dremel tool with flexible shaft:
clipimage.jpg
 

shortbus

Joined Sep 30, 2009
7,760
If you plan on building a lot of aluminum enclosures, hole punches really come in handy.
While those are handy they are expensive. I hardly even use mine anymore since I found the step drills, they cut a round hole with next to no burrs and in many more sizes than hole punches. And the Harbor Frieght ones are very good, they last as long or longer than the Stanley ones I got at work.
https://www.harborfreight.com/2-piece-titanium-nitride-coated-high-speed-steel-step-drills-96275.html
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
20,894
While those are handy they are expensive. I hardly even use mine anymore since I found the step drills, they cut a round hole with next to no burrs and in many more sizes than hole punches.
Me too, I just sold my Greelee set, it still looked new, although nice, they tended to sometime cause some materials to split, whereas a step drill was just as clean.
Max.
 

KeithWalker

Joined Jul 10, 2017
1,043
Me too, I just sold my Greelee set, it still looked new, although nice, they tended to sometime cause some materials to split, whereas a step drill was just as clean.
Max.
Thanks for the information, Max. My Greenlee punches are just about worn out. I have never tried a step drills. I will get a set.
Regards,
Keith
 
Dennis;
Is that flexible Dremel tool is something that you would attach to the motor's chuck?
Or is it a separate tool on itself?

Never mind. A Google search has already answered it.

Thanks for bringing it, I will certainly purchase one.
 

Thread Starter

DarthVolta

Joined Jan 27, 2015
476
Mainly I just need to work on aluminium and sheet steel, for electroincs chasis/enclosures/etc. Over the years I've barely been able to do anything, for lack of tools (and I barely knew any EE).

I have nice sharpening stones

I don't have the budget for more expensive stuff right now, so l'll get base level stuff
-hacksaw blades
-cobalt drill bits
-19pcs file set
-crimper tool

Then I'll get
-stepped drill bits
-dremel replacements, and I have some deburring bits
-something like a dyna-vise
-a drill sharpener
-ruler/compass set
-mid-quality calibers

That will be a big step up in my metal-working capability.


What about the plastics ? I don't think I can open much of anything without damaging it. I have a cheap 20pcs opener/spluger kit, it don't have much confidence in them at all.

I should get an exacto knife kit
I have a glue gun
I don't have any basic epoxy type stuff. It would be nice to patch up plastic sometimes.
 
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MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
20,894
I don't have the budget for more expensive stuff right now, so l'll get base level stuff
Although watch out those that are of Chinese origin for any precise metal working instruments such drills, taps etc, Especially drills, they are are often sub-standard steel and can even bend!
Results in false economy! :(
A digital micrometer is also very useful.
Max.
 
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