Sheet Metal and Deburring Tools

Updated February 21, 2017

If poorly equipped, the sheet metal worker faces difficulty and danger -- injury caused by razor sharp edges, damage to expensive materials, lost time and increased effort. Sheet metal workers, whether for construction, manufacturing or hobby, must use the right hand and power tools to accurately cut, shape and deburr their materials. An comprehensive kit of sheet metal and deburring tools includes both simple, handheld implements and powerful, motor-driven machines. Become familiar with the types of tools, and choose the tools that fit the requirements of your sheet metal project.


Files are a traditional, handheld metalworking tool used to shape, smooth and deburr. A file is essentially a metal bar covered in sharpened points or scales. Files appear in a variety of shapes according to their application; round files fit into holes, flat files run across a sheet’s surface and triangular files easily fit into corners. Files allow a worker to apply the soft touch of the human hand to deburring, smoothing edges, levelling surfaces and shaping contours.


Snips, also called shears or tin snips, are a scissor tool designed to shear through sheets of metal. Snips look and act like scissors -- hinged handles and sharpened blades that compress and cut through materials. The snips blades are usually wedge-shaped and feature serrations. The handles of the tool feature a mechanism, compound cutting action, which increases leverage and allows a worker to cut through tough sheets of metal.

Circular Saw

Equipped with an abrasive, metal cut-off blade, the average circular saw becomes a sheet metal shearing tool. Circular saws use an electric motor to spin circular blades, also called discs or wheels, which cut straight lines through metal materials. There are two basic types of metal cut-off blades: steel blades coated with diamond or mineral grit and discs formed of mineral grain bound with adhesive. As reflected in their relatively high cost, diamond-coated blades offer superior strength and longevity.

Angle Grinder

The angle grinder, like the circular saw, spins an abrasive disc. Uniquely, the angle grinder’s blade sits perpendicular to its body, allowing its operator to reach difficult spots and cut with side-to-side and straightforward motions. Most angle grinders are lightweight with small blades, 3 to 10 inches in diameter. Angle grinders effectively cut, nip and deburr sheet metal.

Handheld Rotary Tool

The term handheld rotary tool refers to a range of lightweight, portable drilling machines, similar to what a dentist uses to drill and shape teeth. Abrasive or sharpened attachments, called bits, discs or wheels, mount to the end of the tool. The tool’s electric or air-powered motor spins the attachments as its operator presses them against a sheet metal surface. Attachments for deburring are often called rasps and those for cutting are called discs. These tools perform a variety of tasks on a small scale, including cutting, deburring, polishing and buffing.

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About the Author

Based in Hawaii, Shane Grey began writing professionally in 2004. He draws on his construction experience to write instructional home and garden articles. In addition to freelance work, Grey has held a position as an in-house copywriter for an online retailer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in theater arts from Humboldt State University.