Metal Duct Tools

aviation tin snips image by Christopher Dodge from

Sheet metal, air conditioning and heating contractors rely not only on experience and skill to achieve professional results, they depend on hand and power tools to cut sharp, sheet metal ducting and install leakproof connections.

Whether installing a new system or expanding or repairing an existing system, the right set of tools improves speed and reduces effort. Become familiar with duct work tools and outfit your toolbox with the right tools for your metal duct project.


Snips are the scissors of the sheet metal trades, that is sharpened cutting blades controlled by the squeeze of hinged handles. The cutting blades of these tools are finely serrated to facilitate gripping. A cutting mechanism located near the tool’s hinge increases cutting power by using mechanical advantage, a feature called compound action. Snips are a basic tool used to cut ducting and sheet metal components to size, alter shapes and create access holes.


The hand crimper reduces the size of a piece of metal duct or pipe by smashing small indentures around its exterior. Like snips, many hand crimpers use compound leverage to reduce the effort required to operate the tool. The crimper looks similar to a pair of handheld garden shears in that it has two short, hinged handles and two wedge-shaped heads. Because the crimper’s task is only to smash, the interior of its heads are blunt. Crimping is part of the process of connecting ductwork. Once indentures, called crimps, are made around a pipe or duct’s exterior, the pipe’s size is slightly reduced and it will fit inside of an uncrimped piece of the same size.


Handheld notchers cut precise shapes and angles into sheet metal and metal ducting. Like snips and crimpers, notchers are a scissors-like tool. Notchers feature either compound leverage action or simple spring-loading. While the shape of a notcher’s head varies according to application, most notcher heads cut V-shaped notches of varying lengths and angles. The cuts created by notchers often begin holes used to connect fittings and offshoots to a main duct line.


The seamer is a hand tool used to crimp seams, and bend and flatten the edges of sheet metal. The two hinged handles of the seamer control the pressing action of two flattened plates at their ends. Sheet metal or ducting is placed between the seams, the handles are compressed and the plates smash or grip the metal material.