How to build a metal roller

Written by danny donahue
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How to build a metal roller
Working with sheet metal requires knowledge and the proper tools. (aviation tin snips image by Christopher Dodge from

Working with sheet metal trim is a skill that takes practice. Cutting and bending metal to cover window and door frames when siding your home also takes the proper tools. One of the most important tools you will use is the metal roller. A roller holds the roll of metal so that you can pull out how much you need, measure it and cut it with out having to deal with a long, unrolled strip of trim. These tools can cost quite a bit, but, with a few materials you can make your own metal roller and get on with the job.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Plywood (30 inches by 10 inches by 1/2 inch)
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Speed square
  • Drill with 3/8 inch bimetal bit
  • 2 all thread rods (1/4 inch by 8 inches)
  • 4 washers (1/4 inch inside diameter)
  • 4 nuts (1/4 inch inside diameter)
  • 2 adjustable wrenches
  • Roll of sheet metal in the box
  • Flat iron bar (2 inches by 30 inches)
  • 2 wing nuts
  • Work gloves
  • Safety glasses

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  1. 1

    Measure across one end of the plywood, from either side, with your tape measure. Make a mark on the wood with your pencil at 15 inches. Place your speed square onto the end of the plywood, line it up with your mark, and make a V mark with the bottom of the V pointing at the 1 inch mark on the square. Repeat at the opposite end. Drill through the plywood at the point of both V marks.

  2. 2

    Twist a nut onto one end of a rod so that the end of the rod is flush with the edge of the nut. Flip the rod over, slide on a washer, and slip the all thread through one of the holes in the plywood. Slide a washer onto the top of the rod and twist on a nut to secure the rod to the plywood. Grasp both nuts with a wrench and twist to lock the rod firmly to the plywood. Repeat with the other rod.

  3. 3

    Measure and mark the flat bar at a point in the centre of the bar 1 inch from each end. Drill through the metal bar at both marks.

  4. 4

    Rip open the cardboard box and pull the roll of metal free. Hold the roll firmly to prevent it from unrolling when the binding is released. Locate the ends of the binding, flip the plastic and pull the long end to release the binding from the roll.

  5. 5

    Lay the roll of metal between the rods on your roller. Slide the flat bar through the open middle of the roll of sheet metal. Slip the holes in the bar over the all thread rods and push it down to the bottom so that it holds the roll in place. Twist a wing nut onto each threaded rod. Do not over tighten the wing nuts as that will bind the sheet metal and prevent you from pulling it out for work.

  6. 6

    Pull the end of the sheet metal so that it comes out of your roller face down. Pull out only as much as you need for the job at hand, plus 12 inches. Roll the sheet metal back onto the roller and twist the wing nuts down tightly to secure the roller and left over metal for transport.

Tips and warnings

  • Work gloves are absolutely necessary when working with sheet metal.
  • Safety glasses are needed whenever you work with power tools.

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