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Brian Elfert
05-04-2011, 10:07 PM
I need to cut approximately 300 lineal feet of hardware cloth to width to fit various width window openings. I also need cut it into about 40 pieces so I need to make lots of cuts.

I have done this in the past with an ordinary pair of wire cutters. Making 24 or more cuts per foot is slow and hard on the hands. Is there a power tool that I could use for cutting hardware cloth? It needs to be either a cordless tool or a pneumatic tool as I have no power at the site.

Would either an air shears or a die grinder with cutoff wheel work? Other ideas?

Harry Hagan
05-04-2011, 10:14 PM
What will power your air supply? Iíd invest in something that would be useful later on like an angle grinder with a cutoff disk. That will make quick work of that hardware cloth.

If youíll be powering the air supply with a generatoróIíd make the angle grinder an electric one.

Dan Hintz
05-04-2011, 10:19 PM
Either Harry's suggestion of an angle grinder, or they do make air-powered metal shears (not sure about battery-powered shears, but I'm sure someone makes them). I use a pair of electric shears from HF.

Jerry Bruette
05-04-2011, 10:21 PM
A die or angle grinder with cutoff wheels will make short work of all your cuts. If you could set up some sort of bench to work from and let your cut offs drop to the ground as they're being cut should save any binding of the wheel.

Jerry

Brian Elfert
05-04-2011, 10:26 PM
What will power your air supply? I’d invest in something that would be useful later on like an angle grinder with a cutoff disk. That will make quick work of that hardware cloth.


I have a gasoline powered air compressor. There is no electric power at the site. The original purpose for the air compressor was to power a pneumatic stapler, but I can use it for other things too. Would a die grinder with a cutoff wheel work, or is there a better type of air powered grinder to use?

I am doing work at a Boy Scout summer camp. There are a number of campsites that have old log shelters with open sides built in the 1940s. Over the years the open sides have been framed and screen installed to keep out insects. I am replacing the screen and also installing hardware cloth so the boys and animals don't destroy the screen. This will be my fourth year working on this as it takes a long time. The longest part of the project has been cutting the hardware cloth and I want to speed that up.

Harry Hagan
05-04-2011, 11:35 PM
193679http://www.harborfreight.com/4-inch-air-angle-grinder-95504.html

I see it's back-ordered. Try your local HF store if you have one.

Brian Elfert
05-05-2011, 12:39 AM
I do have a local Harbor Freight store where I could get one of these. I'm wondering if the 4" grinder would get tiring to hold versus getting a die grinder with cutoff wheel instead? Hardware cloth is only 19 gauge so either one would cut the wires just fine I would think. I guess I can stop by Harbor Freight and take a look.

Harry Hagan
05-05-2011, 11:02 AM
Do like Jerry suggested. Take some plywood and make a workstation at a comfortable height. Design it so that you can securely position the hardware cloth while being cut. Experiment and see if itís feasible to include a guide to slide the angle grinder along without having to hold it up or even maintain a straight line. This would require a slot for the blade to travel through without contacting anything but the hardware cloth where you intend to make the cut. For larger windows make a longer guide that you can clamp along the workstation edge.

Chris Fournier
05-05-2011, 11:03 AM
Makita makes a nice electric hand shear which would really plow through your job.

Brian Elfert
05-05-2011, 1:33 PM
Makita makes a nice electric hand shear which would really plow through your job.

Will an air powered shears work just as well as an electric? I have no electricity at the site. The Makita battery powered shears is way too expensive at nearly $300.

I have some friends who have the air tools so I could probably test shears versus a cutoff wheel. I have some small pieces of hardware cloth. I am thinking about making a simple jig to hold the hardware cloth. I would have to make it on-site since I have no way to haul it. The Scout camp has tons of scrap wood.

ray hampton
05-05-2011, 2:09 PM
If the cloth are coated with plastic, it may build-up on the cutoff wheel

Brian Elfert
05-05-2011, 3:18 PM
The hardware cloth is galvanized with no covering so at least I don't have to worry about plastic buildup.

Steve Ryan
05-06-2011, 10:27 AM
Look around for an old sheet metal hand shear. There is a type that is just like the lever type paper cutters. An old heavy duty paper cutter would work, but it would not allow unlimited cut lengths like the metal shear would.

Curt Harms
05-07-2011, 10:03 AM
http://www.amazon.com/Campbell-Hausfeld-PL154300AV-Gauge-Pnuematic/dp/B0009KN9VI. Kind of a one trick pony but faster and IMO easier than a cutoff wheel if you're doing quite a bit of cutting. Here are other options depending on your feelings toward Harbor Freight http://www.harborfreight.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=shear

Dan Blackshear
05-07-2011, 11:15 AM
Maybe this?
http://www.amazon.com/Malco-TSHD-Turboshear-Heavy-Duty/dp/B0002894R0/ref=pd_cp_hi_ (http://www.amazon.com/Malco-TSHD-Turboshear-Heavy-Duty/dp/B0002894R0/ref=pd_cp_hi_1)

Says it will do 18 gauge, not sure how heavy your hardware cloth is.

Walter Plummer
05-08-2011, 11:05 AM
Something to consider is that most air tools will run a compressor to death trying to keep up. We have a large screw compressor at work and one die grinder or sander will keep it running. If you can, try it out before going to make sure it will work for you.

Curt Harms
05-09-2011, 8:28 AM
Something to consider is that most air tools will run a compressor to death trying to keep up. We have a large screw compressor at work and one die grinder or sander will keep it running. If you can, try it out before going to make sure it will work for you.

Good point about capacity and duty cycle but Brian has a gasoline powered compressor so he doesn't have to worry about killing an electric motor. I don't know if compressor heads are prone to overheating or not. My shear doesn't use that much air--probably 4 c.f.m. at 90 p.s.i. which seems like a common spec. I used mine to cut some 1" X 2" wire for critter cages. The wire is probably 18 or 20 gauge and the pneumatic shear worked great. The hardware cloth I'm familiar with is much lighter gauge.

Brian Elfert
05-09-2011, 4:18 PM
I found someone who said they had used a circular saw with metal cutting blade to cut hardware cloth. I have a cordless circular saw and I am thinking about going this route. I just don't want to buy a $40 blade and find out it doesn't work.

The air compressor I have is 8.9 CFM @ 90 PSI.

ray hampton
05-09-2011, 4:37 PM
there is one problem using a circular saw unless you can turn the blade backward, I would be afraid that the teeth on the blade would catch the links of the cloth, I have seen cloth and thin metal cut with a circular saw with a KNIFE blade [NO TEETH
your toilet paper and paper towels ROLLS are 6-10 feet long and cut with a saw to the size that stores sell

Jerry Bruette
05-09-2011, 8:49 PM
Brian

If this job is for a Boy Scout camp why can't you get a few of the young strapping Scouts to help out by doing the cutting after you do the measuring? Sounds like a possible merit badge weekend.

Jerry

Norman Hitt
05-09-2011, 9:07 PM
I would be VERY hesitant to use ANY Blade with Teeth on it, because unless the hardware cloth is held down securely on BOTH sides of the cut, it can grab the wire and cause a serious accident, (and you sure don't want that at a remote location). I recently bought a "VERY THIN" 4 1/2" cut off wheel at Lowes, made by DeWalt (DW8851). It fits a 4 1/2" angle grinder and I think would be a much better and safer method because it has no Teeth. Unfortunately, I am out of town and haven't got to try it yet, but it looks very good.

I looked it up on Lowes Website and it is shown as a 4 1/2" XP Cutoff Wheel, Item # 292621, Model # DW8851, and is priced at $ 3.38. On a pneumatic angle grinder (like that HF model if you can find one that shows a 6 cfm air usage at full blast) it should cut really fast, and your Compressor shouldn't have any problem keeping up, especially since you probably won't make ALL the cuts without stopping.:D

Brian Elfert
05-09-2011, 11:20 PM
Brian
If this job is for a Boy Scout camp why can't you get a few of the young strapping Scouts to help out by doing the cutting after you do the measuring? Sounds like a possible merit badge weekend.

The camp has what they call a "work party" the first weekend of June. I am going up about 5 days early to work on the project during the week. The boys still have school that week plus per BSA rules I need a second adult for youth protection and safety. I've tried to find a helper, but no luck yet as everybody is working during the week. There are other adults up at camp during the week, but they all have other projects.

I am concerned about a saw blade hooking the metal. I would like to do a test at home, but I don't want to buy a $40 blade that might not work.

Brian Elfert
05-10-2011, 8:46 PM
I got a clarification from the person who recommended a circular saw. He used an abrasive blade intended for a circular saw. He did not use a blade with teeth on it. That seems a lot safer and the blades are a lot cheaper.

I thought I had a section of hardware cloth to test with. I ended up buying a 5 foot section to test with as the hardware cloth for the project was shipped to the camp already.

Jerry Bruette
05-10-2011, 9:01 PM
I think the CS with an abrasive blade would be the route I'd take. It would be easier to handle than a die grinder or angle grinder with cut off wheels. And no need to buy another tool although buying new tools isn't a bad thing.

Be sure to wear a face shield, I'm sure you'll have alot of stuff flying off the abrasive wheel.

Jerry

ray hampton
05-10-2011, 9:52 PM
I think the CS with an abrasive blade would be the route I'd take. It would be easier to handle than a die grinder or angle grinder with cut off wheels. And no need to buy another tool although buying new tools isn't a bad thing.

Be sure to wear a face shield, I'm sure you'll have alot of stuff flying off the abrasive wheel.

Jerry
KEEP your MOUTH shut or you might eat steel DUST
HOW SAFE would a circular saw be if the handle were built so that I could hold the saw so the dust chute were pointing AWAY from me[ I hope that this make sense }

Dan Hintz
05-11-2011, 7:22 AM
Come on, Ray, it's a feature of hand-held saws... you're part of the design... you're the dust collector.

ray hampton
05-11-2011, 1:30 PM
Come on, Ray, it's a feature of hand-held saws... you're part of the design... you're the dust collector.

MAYBE you could be right BUT it is still a good idea

Steve Campbell
05-12-2011, 10:17 AM
Brian I'm sure you know but just a reminder that any time you cut metal with an abrasive wheel you get enough sparks to start fires. I would hate to see you burn down the camp.

Steve

Brian Elfert
05-30-2011, 1:56 PM
I finally tested the abrasive blade with my circular saw last night. (Nothing like last minute!) It worked great. I went to Home Depot and found they have 6.5" abrasive blades instead of 7". I bought some extras just in case since it it two hours round trip to the store at the camp where I am going tomorrow.

The wires are small enough that there really aren't any sparks. The shelters I will be working in have concrete floors. If a stray spark gets outside it is so green and wet nothing would burn. I could probably dump a gallon of gas on the ground and light it with no resulting fire. No face shield, but I do have a full face respirator that works even better.