What are the Different Types of Shears Used in Metal Fabrication?

Blog | December 4th, 2019

Different companies have been benefiting from the metal fabrication industry because many construction methods, equipment assembly, and others use a lot of metal. The metal fabrication industry caters to a lot of consumers and clients, be it for an individual or a huge company. These consumers and clients want different types of metal, which prompted metal fabrication industries to use numerous types of shears. They use these shearing devices to achieve a smooth and accurate finish on the metals that they work on.

Alligator Shear

Mostly used to cut long metal stock, these alligator shears have hinged saw and are operated by a hydraulic cylinder. Alligator shears are used to cut l-beams, angle iron, pipe or rebar. They can also be used to cut scrap metal for shredding. This shear’s cutting motion is operated by a piston which extends to close the upper jaw down. The main benefit of using this shear is it is cost-effective, durable, and strong. The disadvantages, on the other hand, are its inaccuracy and rough finish.

Metal Guillotine

The guillotine for metal fabrication is comprised of a shear table, a work-holding device, a gauging device, and shears. Metal guillotine cuts metal by clamping the metal with a ram, then moving the blade down across a fixed blade. To make accurate cuts on any type of metal, the moving blade can be set in either straight or at a specific angle. Among the advantages of guillotine are its speed and cost-effectiveness. The drawback of this, however, is its tendency to produce rough edges.

Bench Shear

Bench shears offer mechanical advantage through a compound mechanism, making them ideal in cutting medium-sized sheet metals with rough shapes. This bench shear can be used for different purposes including cutting in a 90-degree angle and cutting round and square bars. A bench shear boasts its ability to produce a clean cut.

Power Shear

A power shear can is operated electrically or pneumatically and controlled by hand. This kind of shear is ideal for cutting large pieces of sheet metal. This shear works with an upper blade moving towards a lower fixed blade, exerting tension on the material being cut. For its application, power shears are used for cutting straight lines or large radius curves. The key advantages of power shears are that they are flexible since they can cut not just lines but also curves, efficient, accurate, durable, and maintain high-quality finish.

Throatless Shear

Far from the previous shears wherein the metal must be clamped between blades, throatless shear offers a different take in fabricating metal sheets. Throatless shears are used to make straight and curved cuts in sheet metal. One difference of this shear is that they allow the metal to be moved around the cutting blade freely, making it great for cutting any types of shapes.


From machines, snips are hand tools that can also cut sheet metal. There are two types of snips: tinner snips and compound action snips. Tinner snips have long handles and short blades that can cut low-carbon tin or mild steel. Tinner snips can be classified further based on how they cut a blade. Straight pattern tinner snips are for cutting straight lines, while duckbill pattern tinner snips can cut sharper curves.

The compound action snip can cut through aluminium, mild steel, or stainless steel. This kind of snip has a linkage that increases mechanical advantages. Just like the tinner snips, they also come in different types that depend on the way they cut the blade.

One obvious advantage of snips is that they are suitable for any kind of cutting work. The drawback of these snips, however, is the nature of its usage. They must be hand-held all the time, which can be labour-heavy and time-consuming.


Nibblers work through a blade that moves in a line around a fixed die in a series of up and down punching strokes. The advantages of nibbles are that they are robust and durable. These nibblers can produce distortion-free cuts, speed, and low force feed.

Knowing the different types of shear for metal fabrication can help you decide which one should you buy or hire. If you have more questions, just contact us at McKean’s Sheetmetal.

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