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Thread: working with sheet metal

  1. #1

    Default working with sheet metal

    In the July 2021 QST magazine, page 53, there is a project that describes how to build a project in a metal box that is approximately 8"x4"x6" (w, h,d). In it there are 2 holes to mount a pair of analog V/A meters, a square hole for a power switch, and on the back of the project there is a square hole to mount a power socket and 2 holes to mount a couple of power transistors on a heat sink. I'm far from a sheet metal expert. Where does one go to learn now to do a project like this, and where does one go to find the necessary tools to do this kind of project. The article in the magazine is nice to read, but it assumes that everyone reading the article would, somehow, turn into an expert metal smith! I don't mind learning new things, but I have no clue where to go to make an attempt at fabricating a sheet metal box of this caliber. Any suggestions on this are well appreciated.
    73/ wt1v

  2. #2
    Super Moderator 5B4AJB's Avatar
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    Tooling like this can be expensive to acquire but give excellent results.
    I have a single one of these type punches, perfect for fitting RF sockets. It may not get used a lot, but its satisfying to get good results when it does get used.
    There are probably different shapes available now, especially for fitting square switches etc.

    Not having a square punch myself, I'd drill out as much as possible and finish the square shape with files - time consuming I know, but it works...

  3. #3

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    There are hand tools that can make the job easier, such as hole saws, chassis punches, and metal nibblers (for square or rectangular holes.) The bending of the metal is a bit more complicated, even if you have access to a metal brake. Allowances have to be made when making a bend.

    You might research YouTube for videos about building metal enclosures. Another alternative is purchasing ready-made project boxes and adding the necessary holes yourself.

  4. #4

    Default metal tools

    The nibbler tool looks interesting. I might go for a small square hole punch (!" sq) because it can be used at the corners with a saw or nibbler to finish the sides.The only part of the cabinet that I find perplexing are the 2 V/A circular meter holest. A metal punch that large has to be the exact size, and even then for a punch this size it would be very expensive. Any ideas on this part?
    syd

  5. #5
    Super Moderator 5B4AJB's Avatar
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    A nibbler could do the large holes, even if the holes are a bit wonky, they'd be covered up by the meters eventually. A "hole saw" set is useful to have, but they are always the wrong size

    K6CPO hit the nail on the head, buy a hobby box ready made and forget making one, the diecast ones are pretty R.F. tight, maybe a bit pricey, but in my experience, well worth it...

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by 5B4AJB View Post
    A nibbler could do the large holes, even if the holes are a bit wonky, they'd be covered up by the meters eventually. A "hole saw" set is useful to have, but they are always the wrong size

    K6CPO hit the nail on the head, buy a hobby box ready made and forget making one, the diecast ones are pretty R.F. tight, maybe a bit pricey, but in my experience, well worth it...
    The holes for the meters could be cut with a hole saw that is slightly undersized, then finished with some careful work with a round or half-round file. I used to fit aircraft parts in just that manner. One thing to remember when working with sheet metal is to deburr all the sharp edges left by cutting or drilling. The parts will fit better and it also reduces the chances of cutting yourself on a rough edge.

  7. #7

    Default a hobby box?

    Sounds like a nice idea, but I cannot find anything that fits this description on EBay or Amazon for that matter. What would I search for to find such a thing? Try searching EBay for a hobby box and you will see lots of stuff, but nothing related to sheet metal working.
    syd

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by syd View Post
    Sounds like a nice idea, but I cannot find anything that fits this description on EBay or Amazon for that matter. What would I search for to find such a thing? Try searching EBay for a hobby box and you will see lots of stuff, but nothing related to sheet metal working.
    syd
    A dremel tool with a cut off wheel https://www.amazon.com/Dremel-4000-4...728227&sr=8-36 will get you much further than any nibbler tool https://www.amazon.com/RadioShack-Ra...5728125&sr=8-6 or knockout punch https://www.amazon.com/LICHAMP-Manua...728857&sr=8-15

    may as well get a sheet metal break while you are at it https://www.amazon.com/KAKA-Industri...dDbGljaz10cnVl
    Last edited by brandon lind; Thu 8th Jul 2021 at 07:24.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by syd View Post
    Sounds like a nice idea, but I cannot find anything that fits this description on EBay or Amazon for that matter. What would I search for to find such a thing? Try searching EBay for a hobby box and you will see lots of stuff, but nothing related to sheet metal working.
    syd
    You're using the wrong search parameters. Try searching for "project boxes." Here's what I got on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=project+b...s_ts-doa-p_6_8

    The only difference is these are mostly plastic. You can find metal ones at any of the usual electronics supply sites, Mouser, Allied, etc. Just about any project built in a metal box can also be built in a plastic one. You just can't use the box as a ground return.

    https://www.alliedelec.com/view/sear...roject%20boxes
    Last edited by K6CPO; Thu 8th Jul 2021 at 20:39.

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